It can take days to get the hint.
Ghosting is the king of all unpredictable behaviors — you never really expect to find it on the menu. Usually, it happens completely out of the blue. As far as you can tell, your latest coffee date with Bob was great. You walked around for hours, admired local street art, bought some artisan bread at the market.
Days later, scrolling through the unanswered texts and calls, you start feeling anxious. You send yet another message. ‘Just let me know you’re okay.’
Then, you call a few friends.
‘Have you heard from Bob? I’m worried about him. We had a great time the other day but he did seem a bit tired. Have you…’
‘We saw him just yesterday running around the park with the dog,’ they say. ‘He’s definitely okay.’
For a second you feel relieved. You check your phone again, for any response you might have missed. And then it hits you.
You’ve been ghosted.
It’s Not You
Now that you’re no longer haunted by the picture of Bob lying on a hospital bed connected to a drip, your mind’s attention does a 180. It turns on you.
The questions come flooding in. You’ve had good chemistry for weeks. What could’ve gone wrong? But before you fry your brain scrutinizing every detail over and over, focusing on what you did wrong, remember this:
When you get ghosted, it’s usually not about you.
The chances are high that this particular round is entirely on them.
More often than not, it’s the other person’s own insecurities, assumptions, or anxieties playing the lead in the decision to blank you out. To them, your dynamic first seemed to be a good match but now it just feels odd, like a badly mixed Margarita — served in a wrong glass, too heady, and not enough zing.
Or worse, they’ve been two-faced with you from the start.
Some people can’t handle heady cocktails all that well. And some people play games they were never prepared to take any further. So instead, they decide to simply vanish.
Because let’s face it, avoidance is always easier than confrontation.
1. They’re Jealous
My boyfriend used to have a friend who always wanted to compete and to top everything my boyfriend did. He mimicked his behavior a lot. But my man was always a few steps ahead, and this friend got jealous.
Their relationship turned awkward, and the friend’s silences grew longer and longer until he disappeared completely.
But he did leave a trace — bitter comments. Weeks before he ghosted us, he started spreading gossip about my boyfriend behind his back and attempted to steal some of his ideas.
When insecure people get jealous of you, they often can’t even admit their jealousy to themselves, let alone face it head-on. So they alter their behavior in subtle ways, which are hard to notice at first.
They want to see you less, let out steam on your mutual friends, or they try to be you. And when they don’t succeed, they cut all the ties and do a runner.
It’s not your fault when someone else can’t handle your success.
2. They’re Self-Conscious
No matter what we say, most of us do care about what others think. And we care a lot. It’s human nature, even if we’d rather it wasn’t.
So when you’re out with someone new and find yourself trying hard to make a perfect impression, chances are pretty high they are doing the same. They also want you to see them in the best possible light.
And often, even after a few good dates, people still feel uneasy being themselves. And they can’t put their finger on why. Something is just off with the chemistry, and explaining it would be too awkward. It’s easier to escape the situation.
I once ghosted someone too. She was my best friend.
I didn’t cope well when I found out I wasn’t hers. It turned out I was only a substitute for her real best friend, who lived in another country for years, but then decided to move back in.
At first, I tried to make it work. But it felt uncomfortable and odd, like a cheap sweater gone scratchy far too soon. I needed to define who we were to each other, but at that point, she didn’t want to understand. I felt like I had no choice but to remove myself from the friendship, to save everyone’s sanity.
And I, too, disappeared without further explanation.
3. You’re Their Guinea Pig
The dating world is of course full of players in disguise. From my experience, here’s how they play their ghosting games: They chat you up at the bar, and you agree to go out. A few evenings in, you’re smitten. Everything is perfect. Your new date is charming, showers you with compliments and gifts, remembers all your likes and dislikes. Those eyes and smiles are always fixed on you.
‘Too good to be true’, flashes through your head, but you wave your instinct away. You want to believe what you see. And they never let you doubt them for another second.
It goes on until you’re caught in their web. They enjoy knowing it and start constantly asking to be ensured of your affection. Now, they want you to prove your commitment.
And then, one day, they don’t turn up at your usual Friday night happy hour.
No responses to your texts. All calls go to voicemail. You walk home alone, puzzled. This time, you know your gut was telling you the truth. They entangled you in that web, only to turn away and leave you squirming in it.
Why? This is hard, but you were their guinea pig. Your dates were like a trial job interview. Once they’ve been assured of their skills, they moved on to pursue the real goal — the person they actually want.
Throw Away The Grudge
Getting ghosted sucks for sure.
It’s unfair, shady, cowardly, and a huge pain in the neck.
You feel angry, sad, and betrayed. Take all the time you need to process your feelings. Do give them space to peak and patience to calm back down.
But the best point of action after that is to take your grudge and throw it far away.
Because if you held on to it, it would only make you more miserable. The ghoster won’t know, will he? He’s no longer there. Therefore, this grudge serves no further purpose.
Here’s what I realized — once I recovered from the initial shock of being ghosted so blatantly, in the end, I rather appreciated the action.
I knew if this person did it once they would do it again. I knew I could never fully trust them again. And keeping someone I can’t trust in my life wouldn’t have been good for me anyway.
You don’t need anyone who’s no good for you.
And this works both ways. When I walked away from that friendship, it was painful. And I felt guilty. But with time, especially when my friend didn’t make much effort to stay in touch either, I knew it was the best for both of us. I gave her space to embrace her true best friend and did myself a favor by not forcing myself to be the third wheel.
Every individual situation is different, but finding a way to accept what happened always helps.
Acceptance is a powerful tool. It’s not always easy to find, but once you get a grasp of it, don’t let it go.
Not all ghosters are bad people — most of them aren’t proud of themselves for it. We all make mistakes.
At the same time though, you’re always better off with someone real and genuine. Someone who does have the guts to deal with life, and with the consequences of their actions, head-on.
This article was originally published on PS I Love You. Relationships Now.