How to Cope With Being Ghosted

how to cope with being ghosted

Verywell / Laura Porter

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Ghosting occurs when someone you are dating or have a friendship with disappears without a trace. This could happen at the very beginning of a relationship or in the middle of one, as well as in person or online. Dealing with being ghosted is incredibly difficult—especially because you usually don't know the cause or know how to react.

The person suddenly quits all contact with you—they won’t respond to texts, emails, calls, or social media messages. The mental health effects of being on the receiving end of these actions can be very challenging.

Learn more about why people ghost in the first place and how to cope and move forward if it happens to you or someone you know.

Why Do People Ghost?

People ghost for a variety of reasons. Relationship experts and psychologists agree that people who ghost are avoiding an uncomfortable situation. This evasion, while perceived as a lack of regard, is often because they feel it’s the best way to handle their own distress or inability to clearly communicate.

Ghosters themselves admit they don’t want to hurt you or they don’t know what to do. Sometimes they don’t think discussing a situation was necessary or they became scared. Ghosting is a passive way to withdraw.

But some ghosters perceive that to disappear completely might actually be the easiest and best way to handle the situation for all. Others ghost because now that it’s common, it’s an almost a justifiable way to exit a relationship nowadays.

In today’s dating culture, being ghosted and ghosting is common.

Why Does Ghosting Hurt?

This cowardly act, unfortunately pretty normalized by our culture, can cause immense pain. As you have no clue about what happened, your mind first jumps to many possibilities. Was your new love interest injured in a car accident? Is their family okay? Maybe it’s just a crazy busy time at work and they will contact you again soon? 

You might feel a wave of different emotions: sadness, anger, loneliness, confusion. Mental health professionals find no response to be especially painful for people on an emotional level. You feel helpless and shunned without information that could guide your understanding.

Ghosting is a form of silent treatment, which mental health professionals have described as emotional cruelty. You feel powerless and silenced. You don't know to make sense of the experience or have an opportunity to express your feelings.

Besides your embarrassment and self-esteem taking a nosedive, grief and depression are other common reactions that can impact the person who is being ghosted. Others exhibit signs of mild loss or moderate depression and shut others out.

Unfortunately, after a while, the uncertainty and lack of closure might cause you to question and fault yourself. When you opened yourself up to dating in order to find a relationship, you probably wanted to appear polished and as if you had your act together. But to create intimacy, you knew you needed to go deeper and be vulnerable. The result is you opened yourself up to hurt.

How to Cope When You've Been Ghosted

It's not always easy, and it often takes time, but there are things you can do to start to feel better even if you've been ghosted by someone in your life.

Rid Yourself of Blame

After someone disappears suddenly, it’s hard to not feel regret, embarrassment and shame. After all, you risked for the sake of growth and it backfired. While ghosting feels so personal, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

Because you usually can’t find a cause and there is no explanation furnished, you may blame yourself. You might want to put up walls so you don’t get hurt again in the future. Or you may tell your friends you will stop dating completely, using a cognitive distortion like all-or-nothing thinking.

Now is the time to regroup, be kind to yourself and take a break. You are not to blame for someone walking away without a peep. Nor is it your fault that the other person couldn’t maturely give you the truth.

Nix the Shame

Shame comes about sometimes when we are reminded of previous rejections.

Meredith Gordon Resnick, LCSW

Ghosting carries an echo of old rejection. It's painful because it activates—and emulates—a previous hurt or betrayal by someone we didn't just think we could trust but whom we had to trust, often during our formative years. Here's the catch: It's not necessarily about the betrayal but about our not having processed and integrated that early memory, and what it meant to us.

— Meredith Gordon Resnick, LCSW

Resnick, whose trauma-informed books about recovery from the effects of narcissistic relationships have helped tens of thousands of readers, reassures those who were ghosted and bids them to take care.

“Understood this way, we can see why self-compassion is in order,” she says. “Being dropped and feeling unseen is always painful, and there is never shame or embarrassment in feeling what is real.” 

Choose Self Care

How do you move forward? You need self-compassion and self-care. Invest in time with friends and family who can support you. Also, you might indulge in activities that make you happy like taking a yoga class or returning to a hobby that you love. You can also try homeopathic treatments or acupuncture.

Elena Klimenko, MD, and Integrative Medicine Specialist sometimes uses a "broken heart " homeopathic treatment for a heartfelt loss. She says, “In traditional Chinese medicine like acupuncture, the heart meridian—which starts at the heart and runs to the armpits, then down each arm—is responsible for heartfelt matters and some deep emotions. Proper acupuncture treatment can also facilitate recovery and take the edge off the difficult feelings."

When you think of the ghoster, be sure to reframe your ideas about them and the relationship. After all, they violated the contract of what it takes to be in a mature, healthy relationship. That includes mutual respect, good communication and thoughtfulness. Therefore, this wasn’t the right person for you, anyway.

Build Resilience

David C. Leopold, MD DABFM, DABOIM, and Network Medical Director for Integrative Health and Medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health says, “When patients experience any emotional or mental health challenges, I focus on helping them build resilience and enhancing their self-compassion and self-care."

Dr. Leopold uses a comprehensive approach, including engaging in physical activity, prioritizing sleep, optimizing nutrition, cultivating meaning and purpose, and, reducing stress through practices like mindfulness and meditation.” 

Therefore, if you’re emotionally exhausted and stressed, where do you start in taking care of yourself? “Multiple studies clearly show that eating healthy improves mental health—reducing stress, anxiety and even depression. And any form of exercise, even just walking, is a potent natural anti-depressant,” says Leopold. 

If you’re ruminating too much, use an app to increase mindfulness or begin a meditation practice. Leopold suggests you don’t forget about finding meaning and purpose. “Studies show focusing on meaning and purpose increases oxytocin, our 'feel good' hormone, which increases feelings of connection and improves mood.” Overall, he advises that you take this time “as an opportunity to focus on you and enriching your resilience.”

A Word From Verywell

Despite ghosting being normalized, it's more about the problem the ghoster is having than it is about you. Being ghosted is not a reflection on you or your worthiness. Nor should it render you powerless. The people who ghosted you didn’t treat you with integrity. They lacked the courage to do the right thing by explaining why they no longer could continue a relationship with you.

The experience might result in your exhibiting a variety of negative emotions and questioning yourself. Don't play the blame and shame game. Hold your head up high, hold onto your dignity, and let them go. Someone better could be out there looking for you.

Give yourself the self care and build your resilience during this painful time. If you’re still struggling to cope after being ghosted by a romantic interest, a friend, or someone in the workplace, reach out to a doctor or a mental health professional for assistance.

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