We all know the feeling of being ghosted: silence loud as whales. I’ve never done well with silence, even if it’s the productive kind.
In fact, this silence—whether experienced through text, or social media, or even in person—can threaten to eradicate everything that came before it. The sensation of skin, the probing conversations, the nights that feel buoyant and right.
I am often the one to un-ghost. I send streams of messages until I get a response, even if it’s not the response I’m looking for. Or I become a ghost myself.
We’re all guilty of this. But when he sends you an “I miss you,” with whatever emoji or punctuation he feels like adding, it can be tough to formulate a response. The pain may be too great.
You may be tempted to send an “I miss you too” back. But if you’re feeling the need to resist responding in any capacity, here’s some food for thought.
Turn your phone off (or on airplane mode).
Most of us experience ghosting through those pesky metal devices we cart around with us. Even if you alienate your phone to a different room, the bottom of your purse, or your car, you may feel the urge to fumble for it and send a quick text back.
Or a call. Or ten voicemails.
Turn your phone entirely off. Entrust it to a friend, if you’re that keen. Or turn it on airplane mode for the afternoon. (This is actually a great self-care strategy).
Log out of social media.
The same goes for Facebook or Instagram or SnapChat.
We often turn to social media as a means of giving us information, particularly when in the grip of heartbreak and anger. It can also be a funnel for wild emotion.
Resist the impulse to social media stalk or bombard by not giving yourself an option to do these things. Log out of your accounts, delete the apps temporarily on your phone, clear your computer cache.
(You guessed it: this is also a fantastic self-care strategy).
Acknowledge and breathe through the emotions.
When someone ghosts me, I step into an emotional panorama. I am angry, frustrated, keenly sad, disinterested, self-justified. The key to managing these emotions is to first acknowledge them—do this by sitting with them, rather than your phone.
Identify the emotions you are feeling. Write them down or say them out loud. I like to articulate the emotions surging through me when driving (lots of great self-care can happen when driving!).
Once you’ve named your emotions, breathe through them. Let them be. But accompany them with deep breathing, drawn up from your belly. The goal should not be to stopgate these emotions—it should be to let them have their peace in a safe and mindful way.
This can also tame any impulse to lash out in a text.
Turn the focus on you.
Giving into that “I miss you” text doesn’t necessarily honor you. After all, that text is about him: I miss you. In many cases, responding to this expression of need is akin to desiring to meet his need—rather than yours.
I am all about you meeting your needs.
Turn the focus on you. Once your phone is in airplane mode (or shut off entirely), take some time for some self-care. You’ve been needing some love these last few days, after all.
Pile on the indulgences. Let yourself sleep in. Go to that yoga class you’ve been dreaming of. Eat healthy, nourishing food. Exercise.
Take care of those things on your to-do list that have been nagging for days and weeks. Finally order those new contact lenses. Book your next annual exam. Call your dad to see what he’s up to. Send an email to your friend in Bermuda.
Make every action today (and tomorrow) about you.
Have other important conversations.
I’m always keen for conversation. If there’s an issue in a relationship, I tackle it with words. This can be both a good and a bad thing.
You are likely tempted to “have that conversation” with him about ghosting. (Or not).
Instead, seek out other important, meaningful conversations. Talk to your roommates about setting up a regular roommate dinner. Ask your boss for a raise. See a counselor.
When you surround yourself with non-limiting, productive conversation, suddenly your need to respond to that whining “I miss you” gets all the smaller.
Take the time to prepare a balanced response.
It’s very hard to match ghosting with more ghosting. As I mentioned before, I am initially inspired to do this—but I don’t get very far. Eventually I cave. Eventually I have a need to speak.
So, take the time now to prepare a balanced and neutral response. It may be something as simple as: “It’s good to hear from you. Want to meet up for a conversation?”
Above all, don’t invite a text conversation. In-person communication is always supreme.
Whatever response you do send, make sure that it is from a space of power, not anger. You have a right to your emotions, but if he is being manipulative in any capacity, emotions can be fodder for more ghosting and maltreatment.
If you fear that this ghosting technique is more of a technique than a symptom of carelessness and disinterest, it may also be time to move on.
Move from a space of love.
Whatever you choose to do, tap into your reservoir of innate knowing and profound love. Moving from this space is always going to be more productive in the long run.
I’m not saying he deserves compassion here—I’m saying that you do. Move gently and lovingly. When you do so, you always find your power.