Becoming ghosted when dating sucks, there’s no denying that. Picture yourself getting excited about receiving your usual good morning text from your new beau, only to be met with silence. So, you decide not to make not hearing from them a big deal and contact them later. When you choose to reach out, you receive no response for weeks. Ultimately, the pain subsides, and you move on, accepting that you’ve been ghosted, but what happens when your ex-love interest pops back into your life, denying that they ever ghosted you instead of issuing a heartfelt apology for their actions or a clear explanation? Does this scenario sound familiar? If it does, you’ve likely experienced ghostlighting.
Ghostlighting. The term includes an unpleasant combination of ghosting and gaslighting, in which the victim is subject to endure additional lousy behavior from the ‘ghoster’ and, in turn, made to feel like they are the ones that misinterpreted the lack of interest, or worse, made the entire scenario up, which harms their mental health. This emerging dating trend, ghostlighting, includes the most insidious parts of ghosting and gaslighting, as it involves someone completely exiting from your life without any explanation and later denying your experiences to be accurate as if you made it up in your head, which subsequently causes you to feel bad about the exchange, (which is the gaslighting part). In most cases, the ghostlighter won’t even own up to their bad behavior and why they ceased contact and will say, “What are you talking about? I didn’t ghost you.”
The others will admit that they weren’t in touch but will do everything they can but take accountability for the lack of effort, attention, and care. Picture one of your exes who randomly pops back into your life and tries to convince you that they were on a month-long trip with their mother (she doesn’t like you either) and demands you not to be upset at them for not reaching out, which is toxic and infuriating. Toxic bachelors and bachelorettes alike intentionally leverage this technique to mislead someone into thinking that the relationship can be salvaged when the reality is that you probably are better off without this person in your life. With ghosting, the relationship usually has a sense of finality, as the communication is severed indefinitely. Conversely, ghostlighting is more of a manipulative form of communication where the person doing the harmful act dares to continue to return into the victim’s orbit, allowing the vulnerable person to believe they still have a chance.
So why would a ghostlight? Are they an emotional masochist? We hope not. Instead, they lack emotional intelligence, have difficulty effectively communicating, and fear integrity, vulnerability, and conflict. A therapist could solve all issues if they decide to seek one. More importantly, we’re focused on helping you avoid these emotionally manipulative partners to seek healthier options.
Here’s how to navigate being ghostlit
Trust your judgment and lean into your intuition: Although you may experience self-doubt when examining how this former partner truly feels about you, tap into your first mind and intuition.
Eliminate the confusion: It’s important to remember that gaslighting aims to cause chaos and confusion about particular events taking place in your life. The ghostlighter will, without a doubt, intentionally sow seeds of doubt, making their victim question their mental health, sanity, perception, and reality. Trust what you know to be true for yourself.
Set your terms: You can determine how you would like to interact with people you once were in a relationship with. You can choose not to let them back into your life, which is probably best, as ghostlighting is a red flag that showcases a lethal combination of poor communication skills, manipulative dating tactics, and emotional harm. However, if you decide to interact with a ghostlighter, take some time to reflect on why you’d like to keep them in your life first, as self-introspection is always helpful.