How to Overcome Ghosting
Overcoming ghosting isn’t always easy. In fact, being left abruptly, with no explanation, has become a common phenomenon today. Moreover, it sometimes has traumatic effects. After all, as humans, we need to bond and build solid ties. Indeed, to a great extent, this influences our psychological well-being.
A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships emphasizes the fact that, as humans, we have the basic need to belong. It affects our self-esteem, sense of control, and the development of a more meaningful life. If it fails, it causes parts of us to collapse. This often justifies seeking specialized help.
If you’re struggling to overcome the experience of being ghosted, here are some strategies to help.
The person who’s been ghosted may spend years wondering why they were abandoned with no explanation.
Ghosting is a term that describes a situation in which an individual ends a relationship without giving any explanation or offering the opportunity to close the link. Although the term is new, these types of experiences aren’t. In fact, leaving an emotional bond with no clear communication is a frequent phenomenon.
In addition, thanks to new technologies and the virtual universe, these dysfunctional dynamics have increased. Someone only needs to leave a message unticked or take themselves off social media to brutally remove themselves from another’s life.
A paper written by the University of Vienna (Austria) argues that, although scientific literature tends to focus on romantic relationships, ghosting also appears in friendships. They claim that being ghosted is experienced in a more painful way than a direct and argued rejection. This is because the brain can’t tolerate what remains in limbo or what it doesn’t understand.
How do you know if you need specialized help?
Behaviors lacking in affective responsibility have always been around. However, technology has articulated other methods of relating and creating links, and also of breaking them. It was the philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Bauman who spoke of the current prevalence of liquid relationships and fragile ties.
It’s true that relational fragility seems to be increasingly prevalent in society today. But, there are usually many inter-individual differences when it comes to ghosting. There are those who manage to overcome it and others who find themselves stuck in an intense and long-lasting pattern of emotional grief. This is when psychological help is needed.
The Erasmus University of Rotterdam (Netherlands) conducted a study into ghosting experiences among app daters. They discovered that ghosting isn’t always carried out with harmful or conscious intent. Even though, undoubtedly, the consequences are immense and there’s a direct impact on the sufferer’s mental health.
Therefore, you shouldn’t feel ashamed or uncomfortable if you find yourself stuck in this kind of experience. You’re not the only one. Next, we’re going to explore the characteristics that suggest you might be trapped by the experience of ghosting.
People who experience ghosting in an extremely traumatic way can benefit from acceptance and commitment therapy.
If you’re struggling to overcome ghosting
- You feel increasingly irritable.
- Your emotional pain is constant.
- Your self-esteem is low.
- You keep asking yourself what you did wrong.
- You feel sad and hopeless.
- You frequently question and criticize yourself.
- You fear being rejected by other people you meet.
- It’s difficult for you to trust others.
- The memory of ghosting occupies much of your time.
- You avoid making new friends or meeting potential partners.
- You can’t stop checking your ghoster’s social media.
- You’re feeling tremendous emotional turmoil that won’t go away.
- Your emotional pain has lasted for more than six months.
Psychological treatments to overcome ghosting
If you decide to take the plunge and go to therapy to overcome your experience of ghosting, you’ll need to go through an evaluation first. The psychologist will gather information from you to make an adequate diagnosis. For instance, you could also be suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress.
Research conducted by the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain) states that in these situations, there’s a frequent psychological experience of ostracism. It’s a phenomenon that integrates feelings of loneliness, depression, and helplessness. It requires an appropriate therapeutic approach. The most useful therapies are as follows:
Acceptance and commitment therapy
If you’ve been suffering the emotional discomfort of ghosting for some time, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can help.
As indicated in a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, ACT is an effective approach capable of reducing suffering and addressing different psychological conditions. When it comes to overcoming ghosting, it can help you in the following way:
- You commit yourself to change. Also, you aim to improve your well-being.
- You work on your values to set new vital goals.
- You accept what happened. Moreover, you leave room for your negative emotions and learn how to handle them.
- You apply cognitive defusion to promote a more flexible and healthy mental approach.
- You use mindfulness. It means focusing on the present and not being carried away by the past, your difficult emotions, and adverse thoughts.
- You understand that everything that’s happened to you is part of a context. You’re not guilty of it, but you must learn to live with it.
To overcome ghosting, you must accept what happened, focus on yourself, and set new life goals.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a model used to help with emotional grief and also helps overcome ghosting. It uses a broad methodology based on the following axes:
- Emotional validation and reinforcement of your self-esteem.
- Prevention of relapses. It also offers you tools for facing any future difficulties on your own.
- It guides you to change your behaviors for healthier kinds that allow you to reduce your suffering.
- Emotional regulation. It gives you strategies to manage your discomfort, difficult emotions, and anxiety associated with your experience of ghosting.
- Cognitive restructuring. You learn to identify and modify your negative and distorted thought patterns linked to your ghosting experience.
- Techniques to solve problems. If you’re stuck in your feelings of grief, you might’ve stopped facing the most basic of challenges. CBT will allow you to empower yourself in this regard.
Emotion-focused therapy (ECT) is an approach developed by humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers and later improved upon by Leslie Greenberg and other therapists. This model will help you overcome ghosting, thanks to the resources it offers for coping with the process of grief and better managing your discomfort. With this therapy, you’ll:
- Learn emotional regulation techniques.
- Promote reflection to give meaning to your experiences.
- Facilitate emotional transformation and promote greater well-being.
- Manage states such as anger, guilt, sadness, or shame linked to your experience.
Thanks to these resources, you’ll be able to develop a new life stage free of discomfort and suffering. You’ll no longer wonder why your ghoster left you. Instead, you’ll focus on what you’re living for. The answer lies in working on your happiness and well-being and overcoming the pain you’ve suffered.
Last recommendation for overcoming ghosting
Not everyone who goes through the experience of ghosting needs help. There are also those who suffer the consequences of the experience in silence. Indeed, many people don’t take the step of asking for help because they hope that time alone will heal the wound.
However, time, far from healing, will only make the wound even bigger. Therefore, make sure you don’t hesitate in consulting a professional. After all, you deserve to recover and get on with your life free from worry.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Forrai, M., Koban, K., & Matthes, J. (2023). Short-Sighted Ghosts. Psychological Antecedents and Consequences of Ghosting Others within Emerging Adults’ Romantic Relationships and Friendships. Telematics and Informatics, 80, 101969. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0736585323000333
- Freedman, G., Powell, D. N., Le, B., & Williams, K. D. (2019). Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 36(3), 905-924. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0265407517748791
- Gloster, A. T., Walder, N., Levin, M., Twohig, M. P., & Karekla, M. (2020). The empirical status of acceptance and commitment therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Journal of contextual behavioral science, 18, 181-192. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212144720301940
- Koessler, R. B., Kohut, T., & Campbell, L. (2019). When Your Boo Becomes a Ghost: The Association Between Breakup Strategy and Breakup Role in Experiences of Relationship Dissolution. Collabra, 5(1). https://online.ucpress.edu/collabra/article/5/1/29/113028/When-Your-Boo-Becomes-a-Ghost-The-Association
- Leckfor, C., Wood, N. R., Slatcher, R. B., & Hales, A. H. (2023). From close to ghost: Examining the relationship between the need for closure, intentions to ghost, and reactions to being ghosted. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 026540752211499. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/02654075221149955
- Navarro, R., Larrañaga, E., Yubero, S., & Víllora, B. (2020). Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(3), 1116. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7037474/
- Timmermans, E., Hermans, A., & Opree, S. J. (2020). Gone with the wind: Exploring mobile daters’ ghosting experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(2), 783-801. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0265407520970287#bibr27-0265407520970287