Ghosting is not okay

It hurts to hurt

Graphic Renee Barnes

It’s easier to ghost now than ever before—and the practice isn’t limited to romantic relationships. With increasing access to social media apps and mobile phones, anyone can just leave a text message on “read.”

Maybe you opened up to someone and were waiting for their response, but a reply never came. You might then start overthinking, you go down a rabbit hole and your mental health starts to spiral. 

I’ve been ghosted before and it’s not a nice feeling. I feel like I wasn’t worthy of an explanation or that I didn’t matter to that person. I don’t think anyone would enjoy feeling this way whether or not they support the practice. Ghosting hurts—plain and simple.

Whether it’s with someone you were somewhat close to or simply an acquaintance, it doesn’t matter. It hurts either way. If a guy is a bit of a player and uses girls sexually, it’s likely a defence mechanism based on his past experiences. Meanwhile, the girl gets pushed into the cycle of hurt for no reason.

It’s common to not hear back from someone whether or not you actually did something wrong. You might look at yourself and think you’re the problem. The truth is that it doesn’t hurt less even if you’re not at fault.

Ghosting is not that different. It might be all someone knows as their primary communication style. Maybe you were ghosted by someone who’s fallen victim to the practice one time too many themselves, and this becomes their norm.

We don’t always know the impact of our actions on people’s lives and how they may affect their communication style. It doesn’t need to be a mystery. The key is always empathy. We’re not always aware of what other people are going through or how our actions will affect them. There are better ways to deal in a situation than to leave someone hanging.

I’m a firm believer in conversations. I think a real conversation among individuals, especially those who are arguing, can go a long way. A proper conversation can mend relationships. I think a lot of relationship issues stem from miscommunication.

I’m also a believer in exceptions. If you’ve tried to end things with someone and they won’t stop contacting you to the point that it reaches harassment, then it’s okay to end communication altogether. You tried. You did your part and they wouldn’t listen. That’s understandable. Maybe that was the only way to get them to stop.

Although ghosting implies that someone disappears out of your life without notice, they are still sending a message. Sometimes silence is an answer in itself. Words can hurt, but sometimes silence is worse.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 2, published September 19, 2023.