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5 Signs That You’re About to Be Ghosted

5 Signs That You’re About to Be Ghosted

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.

1. Their communication starts to fade.
It’s not so much that there’s anything wrong with what they say, it’s just that the way they communicate has changed. They used to respond instantly but now, the responses take longer and longer each time. The answers that used to be full of sweet nothings and longing are now short and factual. More often than not, your calls are returned with text messages. They seem to “forget” to respond more frequently and will tell you that they fell asleep or were just busy at work. In the beginning, they may even be very apologetic about it.

2. They get flaky.
Shortly after their communication starts to fade, their presence will start to fade too. The most obvious sign is the last-minute bail. In the beginning, they will usually still commit to plans but will change their mind at the very last minute. They’ll choose work, their friends, and even their cat over you. At first, they will at least attempt a decent excuse but after a while, the excuses deteriorate to some variation of “Sorry, it’s been a big week. I just need some downtime.”

3. They become vague and non-committal.
It doesn’t take someone very long to start realizing that bailing still takes effort, it’s much easier just to stop making plans altogether. And that’s exactly what they’ll do. It’s easy to spot when they are moving into the non-committal zone — it’s when they won’t give straight answers to direct questions.

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.

4. They stop investing in the relationship.
If all the previous signs were subtle hints that they were no longer invested in the relationship, there is one very glaring signal that will send a clear message — they tell you. They will say things like, “I really need to focus on my career right now” or “I’m not sure I’ll have too much time outside of my activities this year. I really want to do that marathon.”

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.

5. You have a gut feeling.
This may seem like a vague sign, but it’s not. Often, you may not be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong but your intuition has probably picked up on a lot of body language and subtle signaling clues that your rational brain cannot or does not want to see.

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:

1. Don’t send them long essays on how you feel.
I know you want to. You want to tell them how much it hurts and that you are confused or that you don’t understand. You want to tell them that, whatever it is, you could work on it together. Don’t. If they had wanted to talk, they wouldn’t have ghosted you. Don’t open yourself up more to someone who has closed themselves to you. They don’t deserve any more of your vulnerability.

2. Don’t ask them for closure.
Here is an important truth in life — you are not always going to get closure from the people you want it from. Every time you send them a text asking them for a response, you are giving them another opportunity to reject you. What’s worst, it’s likely that waiting for them to respond to your texts will just continue to erode your sense of self-worth and increase your anxiety. Someone who didn’t have the courage to say goodbye isn’t going to tell you the truth anyway.

3. Don’t make assumptions.
The first thing that happens each time Sarah gets ghosted is that she assumes it’s about her. The truth is, you can never know and there’s no point wasting your energy on trying to figure it out. What you can do — is learn from it. If you are getting ghosted multiple times in a row, then it probably says a lot about the kind of people you are attracting and your sense of self right now. Learn how to stop reliving the same relationship over and over again.

4. Don’t force a meeting or a confrontation.
Don’t plan to “accidentally” run into them or go to their house unannounced. Remember the old saying — you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. You may be able to get them to the same physical space as you but that doesn’t mean you can make them talk. All it will probably do is give them the impression that you are totally crazy and make them feel more justified in ghosting you in the first place.

5. Don’t invest any more mental or emotional space.
You have every right to grieve and to feel sad about what you believed was a real connection. Allow yourself to feel everything that comes up from needing to let go of the hope that you held and the memories of the good times. Deal with the past but don’t invest any more in the future.

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.

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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.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. — Gloria Steinem

Photo by:  Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

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