How do you know if your partner really is into you and values your partnership, even if you’ve been together for some time? For me, the answer is simple: active and consistent communication. Unfortunately, that requirement is hard to come by nowadays in modern dating. For example, recently, I was on social media, mindlessly scrolling through my X feed, and came across a viral post about a person who thought they were in a loving, committed, and respectful relationship built on intentional communication until they weren’t. The jilted lover wrote, “I just got “dumped” because I playfully asked “Did I get ghosted” because he hadn’t responded to my text of “Did you make it safely” in 3 days. Did I do something wrong?” Their post was sparked from a simple text to their partner, concerned about whether they made it to their destination; it read, “You make it safely?” After not hearing from their significant other for some time, they followed up with a “Hi” and finally asked a question we all secretly dread hearing the answer to, “Am I being ghosted?”
For singles worldwide, the thought of being ghosted is triggering. We’ve all been there, even myself. One minute, you’re speaking to your boo every day on the phone or sending playful emojis via text message, and the next, you’re checking your device every second, trying to understand why you haven’t heard from the future love of your life for days. Ghosting can leave you disorientated, disappointed, and deeply hurt, and can also prompt you to ask yourself, “Was it me? Did I do something wrong?” Of course not, sweetie; they weren’t that into you, emotionally unavailable, or simply too self-absorbed to see outside themselves and consider someone else’s feelings.
Sometimes, we don’t need to try to psychoanalyze every action someone does and instead come to terms with them being a shitty person to us. And that’s fine, as we’re all human, but we don’t have to continue to condone and accept bad behaviors or punish ourselves for it. Interpersonal relationships are already complicated enough without you playing the blame game.
However, when it comes to the person on X who felt they were being ghosted, they were actually experiencing ghostlighting. As I discussed in a previous article, ghostlighting is a 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. When their partner asked if they were ghosted, they fixed their thumbs to type an elongated multi-paragraphed response (something they couldn’t do for three whole days) and said, “No, I wasn’t ghosting you. I got home from Vegas yesterday and slept all day because I was exhausted. It took me a minute to respond this morning because I wanted to process my thoughts before engaging. If you already feel like I am ghosting you, we have a bigger problem on both ends. I apologize for not effectively communicating this from the beginning, but I am not the kind of person who is constantly going to be communicating all day, every day.”
Of course, the people on X had to flood the comments with their opinions, some in favor of the ghosted person and others taking up for the ghoster.
One user said, “He wasn’t feeling you. Nobody is that busy for 3 days, and they can’t reply. And if you continue trying to force that relationship, you’ll end up unhappy.”
Another noted, “I don’t think anyone did anything wrong; you two have different communication styles and expectations, so it’s probably not a match.”
However, both sides did begin to add psychology-based terminology into the group chat to justify each party’s behavior, like “anxious-avoidant” and “anxious attachment” to describe their communication styles, which I thought was frankly unnecessary as it takes away from the action at hand, and pacifies bad behavior and vilifies the person who felt slighted and hurt due to lack of communication. It takes two minutes to respond to a simple check-in text. All this person had to do was say, “Yes. I made it.” That’s all, that’s it, that’s the tweet!
Why did you decide not to have common decency for your partner and respect for your relationship by not responding? It’s simple: you wanted out of the relationship and weren’t feeling them anymore. The stove got too hot in the kitchen, and you were looking for an exit. Perhaps they were seeing other people or emotionally unavailable or anxious-avoidant. Still, the bottom line is they weren’t that interested in the other party, and that’s OK, but stand on business, be transparent with your partner, and call it for what and how it is.