Why didn’t they call me back or return any of my messages? The feeling of being pushed to the curve without an explanation is heartbreakingly painful. This feeling is also known as ghosting, and it causes you to recount and analyze every part of your fleeting relationship to find the why. Unfortunately, you may never learn why you’re being ghosted. In fact, when someone ghosts you, it reveals more about the problems they’re experiencing than it says anything about you. So, let’s discuss how to move forward after someone who doesn’t deserve you vanishes.
What Is Ghosting?
Ghosting happens when someone ends a relationship without an explanation by ignoring messages and calls. While many often use this term in dating, it also applies to friendships and professional situations. For example, an employee suddenly stops showing up to work, or a friend starts avoiding you.
8 Signs You’re Being Ghosted
Unfortunately, ghosting doesn’t happen immediately. It’s more of a slow, painful process as the person inches further away. And that process involves early signs that you can detect to protect yourself from the heartbreak that might ensue.
- You’re often the one who texts first
- They rarely respond to your calls or messages
- If they do respond, their answers are brief
- They often cancel plans or never make follow-up plans
- You have the feeling they’re disinterested in you
- Your conversations are superficial – it’s difficult to get to know them
- They’re quiet on social media, or perhaps they block or unfriend you
- Their body language, tone of voice, and behavior become cold
What To Do When You’re Being Ghosted
Heartbreak is never easy to overcome. Unfortunately, it takes time to heal your wounds, but it is possible. So, before we discuss how to move on, let’s dive into what you should do when the person you care about is pushing away.
- Don’t assume the worst-case scenario. Our brains tend to shift straight to “What did I do?” or jump to conclusions about their intentions. But there could be valid reasons for their disappearance.
- Ask what’s wrong. It may seem scary to directly ask for an explanation, but you deserve every right to know why. However, don’t expect a response. They may fear confrontation or could be dealing with personal issues, anxiety, or uncertainty about how to handle the situation. But it’s always okay to say, “Hey, I haven’t heard from you in a while. Is everything okay?”
- Reflect and evaluate. Indeed, reflect on the relationship about whether this person’s behavior is a one-time occurrence or part of a pattern. Consider if the relationship is worth pursuing based on their actions.
- Let go. You may have an immediate knee jerk response to continue sending follow-up messages. But if they are consciously avoiding you, it’s better to prepare yourself with coping mechanisms rather than spending more time trying to win them back.
8 Ways to Move On After Being Ghosted
1. Allow yourself time to grieve
Ghosting can trigger feelings of rejection, confusion, and self-doubt. It’s important to acknowledge these emotions or whatever is coming up and allow yourself adequate time to mourn the loss. Additionally, perhaps you had expectations and envisioned a long-term relationship with this person. Therefore, be kind to yourself, give yourself as much space as you need to process, and work towards acceptance.
2. Remove the “It’s my fault” dialogue
After ghosting, you may think you did something wrong. But it’s important to know that while people ghost for several reasons, one clear theme remains: they don’t want to face confrontation. While it certainly feels like a lack of respect, in their minds, they believe it’s the best way to cope with their anxiety, stress, or problems with communication. So, as difficult as it may be, learn to free yourself from the blue (this post on cognitive distortions is a good place to start!). For example, maybe after reflecting and investigating your thoughts, you realize that you deserve better and prefer someone upfront, honest, and comfortable with discomfort.
3. Practice somatic healing techniques
Did you know our body processes the trauma we face? It’s true, and one of the best ways to release the emotional pain stored in your body is through somatic therapy. We can do this by increasing our awareness about the relationship between our hips and emotions and practicing a few movements to release the heartache from ghosting. For example, shake your body, complete a body scan, dance it out, breathe deeply, or practice a reclined butterfly pose:
- Lay comfortably
- Open your legs and place your feet together
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart
- Breathe and repeat, “I am worthy of love”
4. Accept that no response is the outcome
It’s okay if you’re still holding onto hope or struggling not to contact them. But when someone chooses to cut off all communication without explanation, remember it tells you about their inability to communicate their feelings and address the situation. So, while this is certainly painful, rather than dwelling on the unanswered questions or trying to force a response, learn how to set healthy boundaries that protect you and focus on your well-being. You deserve respect, honesty, openness, and effective communication.
5. Learn about attachment patterns
Learning about attachment theory and the four attachment styles can help you discover how your subconscious deals with heartache and how your childhood affects your day-to-day relationships.
- Those with secure attachment can regulate their emotions, manage conflict well, communicate openly, and trust others.
- Those with anxious attachment fear rejection and abandonment and rely on their partner for validation.
- Those with avoidant attachment avoid intimacy, struggle to trust others, and are uncomfortable expressing their feelings.
- Lastly, disorganized attachment shows signs of both avoidant and anxious attachment.
To discover yours, reflect on your relationships with your caregivers and your past adult relationships. Noting any similarities, patterns, and traits, whether good or bad, will help you determine the type of partners you’re attracting and how to discover self-help strategies for avoidant attachment or self-soothing techniques to help you heal after being ghosted.
6. Reframe the ghosting
When something doesn’t meet our expectations, we often dwell on what could have been. But instead of wishing for them to return, reframe how you view them and the relationship. For example, you might see red flags, situations where they crossed your boundaries, or flaws that didn’t connect with your values or beliefs. Additionally, if they can’t communicate with you, they aren’t the right person for you after all. So, reflect on what you learned from the situation to attract someone on the same wavelength as you.
7. Surround yourself in a field of support
Beyond self-care, like doing what you love, learning a new hobby, therapeutic writing, etc., ensure you invest your time with those who love you. Support can help heal your wounds, allowing you the space and time to vent and have your feelings validated, heard, and accepted. Therefore, call a friend, visit a family member, or speak to a mental health professional to receive tools and techniques to process your emotions and advance your healing.
8. Reflect on what you want for future relationships
Use this experience as an opportunity for personal growth. Reflect on what you want in future relationships and how you communicate your needs and boundaries more effectively. For example, ask yourself:
- What are my values? And what values do I want in a partner?
- What do I believe I deserve, and am I attracting partners that match my worth?
- What kind of person do I want to be with?
- How do I want to be treated?
- Is there more work I need to complete within myself before I attract someone who deserves me?
- Why am I attracted to those who display unattractive qualities?
Self-reflection is a wonderful tool to help you explore and understand yourself on a deeper level to attract the partner of your dreams.
Remember that being ghosted is not a reflection of your worth as a person. It’s gut-retching, that’s for sure, but with time, boundaries, self-reflection, and self-care, you can heal and move forward.
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