Have you ever experienced a spark with someone and wanted to build a connection with them? Only to find at some point that they are no longer interested in you? Even worse – they block you or simply stop responding to you. I’m so sorry if that’s ever happened to you… And I’m here to share some of my experiences with ghosting and how I deal with the extreme confusion, abandonment, and anxiety that follows from such an unpleasant experience.
What IS “Ghosting”?
Think of it as someone flipping like a switch on you and just walking out the door without explanation, or ever getting back in touch again. There is no accountability or mutuality to “ending’ the relationship – there is simply an abrupt exit.
It is a form of silent treatment without ever breaking the silence.
Sounds awful, right?! It is. And unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.
I’ve had different relationships and friendships in the past where I’ve wanted to build a deeper connection with somebody. At first, it felt like they were really interested too. And then for no reason at all, out of the blue, they would remove me from their social media or just stop reciprocating my efforts to stay in touch. It was neither pleasant nor easy to move on from.
And the reason I’m writing this post is that a few months ago, one of my closest friends in adulthood ghosted me. This has been one of the hardest ones to get over. And it became a learning opportunity for me, which I want to share in service to all those that may have been in my shoes.
Long story short
For over six months, I kept checking in with my friend and trying to get in touch over video calls, phone calls, and eventually just texts – all to no avail. I first heard vague excuses for not picking up my calls, and then completely stopped hearing back. Eventually, I wrote a boundary-setting message to let them know this was very disrespectful to our friendship and that I wasn’t up for it anymore. I ended by stating that if they wanted to have a proper conversation to discuss what was going on, I was available. But if not, this would mean I’m taking a step back from our relationship.
And unfortunately, it’s been multiple months since that message went out, into a black hole with no response. Because of mutual friends, I know that this friend is very much alright and that they’re simply choosing to not talk. So, just like that, almost a decade of friendship went down the drain.
So how does anyone deal with something like that?!
How do you deal with the emotions, the void, the shock, and more that come from being ghosted?
First – let’s address this through a spiritual lens.
I have seen multiple past lives in regression, where my relationship with this friend had major ups and downs. We have been perpetuating patterns of love and hate, but never to the extent where we rid each other from our lives. Having seen so many past lives together, I could tell that as souls, we belong to the same soul tribe and enjoy reincarnating together, but that our human lives sometimes get in the way of our eternal bond.
My belief at this point is that the reason we’re so attracted to some people is that we’ve shared multiple lifetimes with them, and some of those memories slip through the “amnesia“.
However, the other person’s circumstances and mental health may not allow them to celebrate our soul contract. It can seem quite the opposite, where they are sabotaging the relationship that we might hold so dear.
This is often the case in twin flames also: the “runner” will ghost the “chaser” and it can feel so confusing and hurtful.
What can we make of all of this, spiritually speaking?
While we’ve chosen to meet again, it’s our free will to determine the course of the relationship in this lifetime. Can we make a relationship work out? Or will this lifetime mean separation from them?
And just because we’ve been loving before doesn’t dismiss the suffering ghosting can cause in the present reality.
So, I consider ghosting and one-sided breakups as some of the most painful events to happen in our spiritual contracts. Not just metaphorically, but literally too, at a biological level. What do I mean by that?
Let’s expand on the attachment theory a bit, to understand the biological effect of ghosting.
Basically, as kids, we have two biological needs: the need for (physical and emotional) connection and the need to be authentic.
When we are connected to our caregivers in a “secure” attachment style, it means that we are frequently and consistently receiving their love.
As a result, we feel safe and supported by them. So as adults, we are safe and secure within ourselves and don’t get as easily startled or feel abandoned when there’s an absence of a loved one.
Now, a caregiver may have not intentionally abandoned us. Unfortunately, even the most considerate caregivers can’t always be there for us due to different reasons. For instance, a caregiver that had to travel for work, away from their child, can trigger abandonment wounds in the child. Or a caregiver may have not been keeping well and were hospitalized. Again that leads to separation anxiety.
I once had a client working through her anxiety and we realized that even though her mom was very loving and always supportive, her love got “distributed” amongst all the other kids too. So sometimes our anxiety can develop from having the attention and care, but not having enough of it.
In summary, our childhood connection with our caregivers plays a big role in this deep-rooted biological anxiety within us.
With that piece of psychoeducation shared, let’s address ghosting again.
At a high level, you begin to have thoughts like I did something wrong, I’m not a good friend. I can’t keep any of the friends that I have happy. I’m a failure. I’m just not good enough. And so on. And then there’s this whole range of emotions that get triggered.
One of them is anxiety. If you have an anxious attachment style, then ghosting fuels even more anxiety! Because even before they started acting fishy, you were already feeling nervous. And you may have questioned if this relationship is going to survive.
And now here we are, questioning what happened. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy!
How does “authenticity” relate to ghosting, attachment, etc?
Authenticity is our second biological need. And as Dr. Gabor Mate says, you can’t be authentic if you believe you’re going to lose your connection with your caregiver. Because that connection is the pillar for your survival, you will give up being authentic to quite literally, stay alive.
Now, how does that impact us when we are being ghosted?
For certain people, we might take ghosting more personally. We might make it to mean more than it really is. The logical mind would like to believe yes, the other person was immature because they left, they didn’t talk to me properly, etc. But if we are emotionally triggered and we have a different attachment style that’s not secure, it can mean that we (unconsciously) treat the other person as an extension of our caregiver. And so, we begin to rely on them for validation and love.
And when that love and care is taken away (especially so abruptly), it can be a huge shock to our nervous system. This shock means we might experience more self-doubt, inner criticism, miss this individual, and try to repair the relationship beyond the point of what’s considered “healthy” for our self-esteem. It’s not that we don’t want to experience high self-esteem – it’s more like our nervous system is driving us to do what feels safe. In other words, keep pursuing something that once felt good.
So, it’s important that we understand this attachment comes from our biological needs. There’s nothing inherently wrong with “missing” someone who has chosen to no longer be with you. But it’s harmful to us now because clearly that person is gone and doesn’t share the same love.
As you build awareness of your psyche and biology, you can rewire your attachment styles and mend your broken heart.
But why would someone do that in the first place?!
If I put myself in their shoes, a couple of things come to mind such as:
- Maybe they don’t have the courage to say that they no longer want to continue this relationship so they decide that you’ll eventually figure it out.
- Or, maybe they got so turned off when something happened and their survival response got triggered. In other words, their unconscious programming made them “flee”.
And while yes, you are accountable for your actions and you might introspect what you could have done differently, you’re not accountable for their actions. This means, that even if your actions affected someone, as adults, as “regulated” adults, we do have a responsibility to help each other understand our boundaries and our triggers.
So to me, ghosting is one, sign that this person’s nervous system is not regulated. Especially not in this relationship, right now.
And that two, they clearly haven’t understood how to convey what their boundaries are. So there they’d rather just walk away/go silent.
And I don’t want to keep chasing somebody who doesn’t know how to be safe enough in themselves to express their needs. Because chances are, they are often on autopilot and blaming us for triggering them (we seem like a threat to their survival brain). If they hadn’t ghosted us and instead chosen to work on their trigger, the relationship might have actually become stronger!
So in this case, I’m not trying to say we’re better than them. But, it’s just to help us see the person’s psyche and that this isn’t as personal as we may make it to mean. We don’t have to feel responsible beyond our actions (which sometimes are aligned in our view, in which case there’s nothing more we can or need to do).
I hope that helps take some of the pressure off of you for feeling so rattled by all of this.
And now let’s talk about tactfully dealing with ghosting.
Practical Tips to Deal With Ghosting
How do you deal with this situation? I like to offer a couple of different tips.
#1 – Acknowledge the injustice.
So one tool I always recommend to my clients is a two-minute pity party when you are feeling at the edge of your emotions. It’s scientifically proven that it can take as little as 90 seconds to let those feelings pass if they are truly allowed to.
So give yourself permission to put on a timer and just vent for two minutes straight!
You may imagine that you’re speaking directly to them and saying whatever is in your heart. This little activity makes sure that you don’t have to fight against yourself. You don’t have to keep justifying or analyzing their behavior or minimize your own hurt.
You also don’t need to wallow in your hurt. This tool allows you to have small doses of “release’.
#2 – Create your own closure.
Another tip that I consider pretty helpful is that you may choose to write a letter or actually message them to create closure for yourself.
But not from a place of oh, I’m still trying to save this connection, but more like I’m really sorry that this is the way you chose and that this isn’t working for me. So I’m going to take a step back. And it was nice knowing you for as long as I did. This relationship did mean enough for me to actually message you and say this.
Or something to that effect. Of course, ultimately, you get to decide whether you actually send that to them or not. But writing your feelings and thoughts down will help you process the experience much better than just trying to play it all out in your head.
You may choose to journal your thoughts over the course of a few weeks or months, as you ride and process the waves of emotions.
#3 – Build awareness around your biological needs.
The third tip I’d recommend is for to evaluate your attachment style.
The quiz I’ve linked to in the previous statement can be helpful to determine how your childhood development impacts your adult biological needs.
The quiz results also come with a detailed PDF from the expert, Diane Pooler, detailing different tips and tools to help you become more secure as an adult.
You may also start learning more about healing your nervous system so that you can come back to regulation sooner than later. As a trauma-informed life coach, I offer a lot of nervous system psychoeducation to my clients. These tools and tips are also what have helped me heal and ground myself through my own grief. You’re welcome to reach out for 1:1 support if you’d like to work with me.
#4 – Rebuild the trust (in yourself and relationships).
Essentially there is no method that can foolproof us from the pain that comes from dealing with ghosting. But I want you to remember: one, you are not crazy for not knowing how to deal with this. We are humans that are biologically designed to connect with each other. So when a connection is ruptured, it impacts us deeply. The second piece is that it will take time to mend your heart. And that’s okay.
In the meantime, develop practices that allow you to just grow your trust.
Be around people that make you feel loved. And give yourself permission to grieve this relationship no matter how long or short it was to you.
Related: How to Not Love “Too Much”
You may have a challenge dealing with some of these emotions. Just know that you don’t have to do this alone. As a trauma-informed, certified life coach, I’m here to guide you through much deeper tools and processes that I use in my personal life as well as my coaching practice so that you are fully supported.
#5 – Consciously distract yourself.
You may also consider taking a break from this person or from this situation by just focusing your energy on something else. As somebody that dwells in her emotions a lot, it is just such a lifesaver to not wallow in my emotions and temporarily allow myself to be consciously distracted.
Yes, the two-minute pity party I mentioned before is helpful. And consider shifting your focus to things that could fuel you. Things that could boost your morale and rebuild some of that lost confidence. It could mean taking new hobby classes to fill the “gap” of enjoying together. Or calling different friends versus this one at the same time you would typiaclly have conversations.
None of this is to suggest running away from the problem. But a temporary distraction allows people to create enough space so that emotions aren’t driving their decisions. When done consciously, distraction becomes a healthy coping mechanism. And then, we’re not operating out of anxiety or just perpetually waiting for this person to return.
It aches my heart to know how common ghosting has become in this digital era. And even though I’ve shared tips to deal with this tragic experience, I am well aware of the time and determination it takes to mend a broken heart. So go gentle on yourself, as you build a secure attachment style within yourself and you slowly but inevitably build a solid circle of friendships and loved ones that will stick with you.
My hope and prayer for those that ghost us is, that may they find the strength and vocabulary to express their needs. May they realize that they have other options than just walking away – there are always kinder ways to end a relationship if that’s what this comes down to.
And I extend a warm, compassionate hug to those that have been ghosted. You’re not alone in this – and I’m here to listen to you if you ever need someone to share your pain with.
Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to fill in this form and submit an application to become eligible for a complimentary session with me.
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