What Does Being Ghosted Mean (and How to Deal)

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Everything went perfectly on your big date or at the coveted job interview. The other party promises they’ll get in touch. You wait. 

Radio silence. You start to wonder — have they suddenly fallen off the face of the earth? 

You might have been “ghosted,” the modern term for people who say they’ll be in touch, then disappear without a word. They cut off all contact, going well beyond the silent treatment.

While ghosting is increasingly common, it doesn’t feel good when it happens to you. Read on to discover more about this phenomenon — and what to do if it happens to you. 

The Reasons Behind Ghosting 

People ghost for various reasons. One common motivator among would-be romantic partners is that they just aren’t that into you. Ouch. While it stings, they may have been too intimidated to say, “I don’t think this is going to work out, sorry.” Instead, you’re left hanging, wondering if they’re okay, puzzled over what went wrong. 

Sadly, ghosting doesn’t resign itself to the romance department. Many job applicants have multiple tales of jumping through interview hoops without ever hearing back from a hiring manager or headhunter. It’s maddening, especially after devoting substantial time and effort to completing lengthy online forms, even taking aptitude tests. Who wouldn’t think, “Gee, they couldn’t even bother with a cut-and-paste rejection letter?”

However, the motivations behind ghosting aren’t always nefarious. Your interviewer probably isn’t sitting at their desk taking wicked glee in daydreaming about you sitting by the phone. They might have already decided on another hire, and your interview was a formality. They could also be buried in paperwork, especially with the pandemic still impacting several sectors. 

That person you dated might have hidden a secret — like they were already in a committed relationship. Conversely, something on the date might have triggered them without you even knowing it if they experienced trauma in the past. They might feel safer walking away without a word rather than risking confrontation. 

Is ghosting wrong? It’s hard to argue with the need to feel safe. Otherwise, it is more polite to let the other party know why you’re cutting off contact. 

However, you could feel baffled if you’re on the receiving end. Are you being ghosted? Here’s what to do if you suspect the answer is yes. 

Dealing With Being Ghosted: 8 Tips

Remember — you can only control your behavior, not anyone else’s. You don’t want to act a fool because someone else decides to ghost you. Here’s what to do if you suspect the worst.

1. Take a Mindful Moment 

Too often, people react in the heat of the moment, then do something they later regret. If you think you’ve been ghosted, please resist the urge to send multiple frantic texts or emails. Instead, take a mindful minute. Breathe deeply. Give yourself a time frame — 24 hours is usually a wise rule — to think before you act. 

2. Give It Time 

There’s no set timeline for things like when to call after a date or job interview. Maybe the other party doesn’t want to appear too eager. If they said they’d be in touch within 24 hours, follow up sooner — but otherwise, give them a week or so. 

3. Politely Reach Out

If it’s been eight solid days of radio silence, reach out to the other party. If following up on a job interview, send a polite follow-up email reiterating your interest and offering to provide further documentation to assist their decision-making. Send a casual invite for a repeat performance if that cutie never called or texted after your date. 

4. Practice Radical Acceptance

The worst part about ghosting is not knowing. Why did the other party disappear? The uncomfortable truth is that you may never get an answer. It doesn’t mean that you deny how much your experience may hurt. But it allows you to accept the present reality and keep that pain from becoming suffering.  

5. Distract Yourself

That old cliche about a watched pot goes double for inboxes. Checking your notifications every few seconds will only lead to rumination. 

Instead, distract yourself with pleasant activities that get you off your devices. Try a new style of yoga or hit a HIIT class with your BFF. Go hiking — preferably in an area with lousy WiFi reception. 

6. Process Your Emotions

Being ghosted understandably stirs up negative emotions. Find a healthy outlet for releasing them. Make it a ceremony. Pour out your feelings on a piece of paper and set it aflame. Say goodbye to that potential future, mourn it well, and keep going. 

7. Look at the Bright Side

There’s one bright side to ghosting: it reveals who you probably shouldn’t have a relationship with in the first place. Think about it. You shouldn’t have to chase too hard after a potential mate — if the chemistry isn’t there, you’re free to seek it elsewhere instead of wasting time on a dead end. 

An employer who expects you to jump through hoops for crickets isn’t likely to be one that would properly reward your hard work and effort, anyway. Some positions look good on paper, but toxic office environments can turn the best job into a nightmare. Ghosting you is a clue that the workplace may not be the healthiest. 

8. Embrace New Possibilities 

The upside of ghosting means you’re free to seek any other opportunities or partners you’d like. It’s okay to give yourself a few days to wallow in misery — but then it’s time to return the smile to your face. The best way to do so is by dusting yourself off and putting yourself back out there. Shine your awesomeness on someone who appreciates it instead of tossing your pearls before swine. 

What Being Ghosted Means and How to Deal

Ghosting — when someone disappears without an explanation or trace — can hurt. Deal with it gracefully using the eight above tips. 

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