Ghosting causes psychological damage

Graphic by Valerie De La O.

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Suppose you woke up this morning feeling great. You reached for your phone, checked your Snapchat for messages and notice that generic avatar for that amazing person you met last night, but your message still unopened. You’ve been blocked. Worse yet, you’ve been ghosted.

Ghosting is a term used for the act of cutting off all communication with a person you’re dating — or a friend — suddenly and without notice or explanation.

According to Fortune Magazine, it is a trend that has become increasingly popular since 2014.

I’ve had break ups with girlfriends and none of them were as sudden or confusing as being unceremoniously ousted by a friend I had known, trusted and depended on for two years. The break ups hurt, but I wasn’t questioning my own worth as a result.

Crushed doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings experienced when a friend “ghosts” you. Mortified, humiliated, complete despair. Those words are better suited to what I felt.

Then come the questions.

I wondered what I had done to them. Did someone put them up to it? Was there something I could have done to prevent it from happening? All these went through my mind. Questions that remain unanswered.

Then there is the most painful question.

Why am I not worth anything to them after everything I’ve done for them? I had been there for them when they were suffering emotionally as they had for me. It just didn’t make sense that this would happen and the pain was intense.

Why does being ghosted hurt so much?

In her article on Psychology Today, Jennice Vilhauer said the same pathways in our brain for physical pain are activated with social rejection. Ghosting doesn’t provide the cues for how to react, she said.

After being ghosted by varying degrees, I wonder why individuals even resort to such a hurtful act and the emotional ramifications on the ghoster.

There are a myriad of reasons people ghost. They’re afraid of confrontation, they think you’re a bad influence or dangerous or they just lost interest.

The list goes on. In a Cosmopolitan article, one person admitted to ghosting because he didn’t want to tell the woman he was dating that she was being annoying.

To be fair, there are instances where cutting a person off is necessary. When a person is harassing you, sending inappropriate photos, or a danger to you and your family. Those are justifiable reasons to ghost, but when you are ghosting to avoid an awkward conversation, that isn’t healthy

In an interview with Global News Morning Winnipeg, therapist Susan Wenzel said ghosting doesn’t help a person learn how to end a relationship in a healthy way.

Clearly, ghosting is not good for either the person being ghosted or the person doing it. The emotional toll it takes on the victim isn’t worth it and, unless you’re a cold-hearted individual with an unhealthy amount of emotional detachment, there is going to be some level of guilt after the fact.

Ghosting is a cruel way to end any relationship. It is an action best left for dealing with the real troublemakers of the internet and social media, not the person you just went on one date with. Your friends don’t deserve this treatment either. Keep your integrity intact by being upfront and honest with people instead of avoiding them. You’ll feel much better about yourself and the other person’s dignity will be preserved.