And what not to do when it happens“It happened again,” she sobbed into the phone.
Without asking, I knew what she meant.
My friend Sandra has the unenviable track record of being the most ghosted person I know. Once, she had an unbroken string of being ghosted five times in a row. The relationships were of different lengths, with very different people, but the outcome was the same.Poof. Gone. No text. No call. No explanation.
The other person would go from talking and texting every day to completely vanishing off the face of the earth.
In the past, I would always be just as surprised as she was. But by the time number five came along, we could both see the signs. Most people I know who are ghosted always seem to be completely caught off guard. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Sandra’s dating misadventures, it’s that it never happens suddenly.
There are always signs — you probably just chose to ignore them.
There is an old saying that love is blind,sometimes I think it might be more accurate to say, “love is blinding.”
The most common reason Sandra misses the signs of ghosting are because she always listens to the words of her partners instead of paying attention to their actions. She is choosing what she wants to hear instead of believing what she sees.
Here are some of the actions that she consistently misses. If you are experiencing these actions from your partner, then they may be getting ready to ghost you.
Sandra would often ask a clear question like, “Want to go to John’s party on Friday night?” and get an answer like, “Can we play it by ear? I’ve had a pretty big week.”
Of course, this is an acceptable response but what you should be paying attention to is if this becomes the only response. If they are reluctant to make plans in the future or any concrete plans at all, it’s a sign that they are planning their exit.
Be on the lookout for some variant of “This relationship is not my priority right now.”
Their actions will clearly demonstrate that intention too. For one, you’ll find that you are always the one initiating plans. They never reach out first or make plans unless it’s a late-night booty call.
They will also refuse to engage in any emotional labor. They will respond that “nothing’s wrong” when you know that something is clearly wrong. After all, there is no point in having long emotional conversations on how to mend a relationship you no longer want to be in. Obviously, they will also have zero interest in providing you emotional support if you are feeling down. They will tend to pull away even more when they sense that you are in need.
The feeling usually manifests as sadness, a heaviness, or a sense of general anxiety whenever you think about the relationship. Deep down, you know there has been a shift in their behavior. Though they haven’t done any one thing that’s awful, you know that there is a distance and aloofness that you just don’t understand.
Sandra didn’t always expect them to ghost, but she always had the initial feeling that something wasn’t quite right every single time.
What Not to Do
Every time Sandra was ghosted, it would cause her to want to reach out and grasp for this person even more. I get it. She was hurt and confused, and she wanted to connect to the only source that could give her answers. The worst part was that not having a defined end allowed her to stay hopeful.
“Maybe he’s just caught up in a big project,” she would say after day five of no contact. We both knew it wasn’t true and it was hard to see her suffer.
It has always been hard for me to be completely blunt with Sandra but I can say it to you and spare you her pain. Remember, don’t give any more of your personal power to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Here are some things you shouldn’t do if someone ghosts you:
Don’t ask their friends to guess what happened. Don’t continue to care about their well-being or hope that they will come back to you. Whenever you find yourself investing energy into wanting to understand what happened or trying to find a place for them in your future — stop.
There is a very predictable path that occurs before the ghosting. Maybe it won’t play out exactly this way, but most of the time, they will send you a clear signal by putting progressively less and less effort into the relationship. If they deflect every effort you have to talk about it or work on it, then it’s probably because they’ve already checked out.
Yes, it is possible that someone is very busy and does have a lot on. But someone who is invested in you and the relationship will try to make future plans to guarantee that they could spend time with you. When someone actually cares, you’ll know.
If your gut starts telling you that they’re no longer treating you the way you deserved to be treated, stop making excuses for them. Respect yourself enough to let them go.If you actually get ghosted, consider yourself lucky. Be grateful that this happened now instead of after 10 years and two and a half kids. Be glad that this person is setting you free from investing any more effort into someone who clearly isn’t worth it.