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    How to handle being ghosted

    Getting ghosted is no fun and occurs in many relationships and not just with a romantic partner.

    People ghost for various reasons, and the impact this can have on the other person is often a detriment to their mental health and emotional well being.

    What is ghosting?

    Ghosting is when someone you spend time with, whether you’re dating or a close friend, disappears without a trace.

    Often, people ghost after only a few dates or in the middle of a relationship, a disappearing act that can either be online or in person.

    Mental and physical pain

    Mental pain

    Getting ghosted by someone you care about or have developed feelings for can be a profoundly painful experience, especially since there is usually no closure involved.

    It’s hard to know how to react since most people don’t understand the reason for ghosting.

    Sudden interruption

    The person ghosting has suddenly cut all contact and won’t respond to emails, calls, social media messages or texts.

    All this can produce complicated feelings for the recipient of ghosting, and the impact this can have on a person’s mental health can be profound.

    Why do people ghost?

    There are many implicit theories about why people ghost, and the main message is that people attempt to avoid uncomfortable situations or conversations by ghosting.

    This lack of explanation or regard, no matter how painful it can be for the person on the receiving end, is the ghost’s way of avoiding distress and their inability to effectively communicate their thoughts and emotions.


    Research posits that people do not want to hurt others and are unaware of how to manage the situation and the relationship.

    Some people didn’t feel that discussing a situation was necessary, while others became scared. 

    Essentially, ghosting is a passive way to exit a relationship that can cause profound feelings of abandonment and social rejection in the other person.

    Lost interest

    More research into ghosting suggests that people ghost for various reasons. 

    For example, many believe that disappearing is the easiest and best thing to do, while others ghost simply because everyone else is doing it.

    Therefore they feel their actions are justifiable!

    Why is ghosting so painful?

    Ghosting is painful for so many reasons. This cowardly act can send someone spiralling into a world of torment and worry.

    Silent treatment

    Whether ghosting manifests as a slow fade or if someone abruptly cuts all connections, one of the first inclinations for the recipient of ghosting is to think that there may be something wrong.

    For example, the person getting ghosted may worry that the guy/girl they were dating has been in an accident or injured somehow.

    Some of these thoughts might spiral into other concerns, such as, is the family okay? Are they just incredibly busy at work?

    The silent treatment involved in ghosting can be detrimental to a person’s mental health; the lack of closure and answers can severely impact a person’s self-esteem. So what did they do to deserve all this?

    Other emotions

    Other emotions such as sadness, anger, confusion and loneliness may surface after a little while.

    Mental health professionals explain that getting ghosted can be tremendously painful because there are so many elements of helplessness and a feeling of being sidestepped.


    Being ghosted can impact future relationships, and it can take a while to rebuild trust and mutual respect in others.

    Essentially, ghosting is a form of silent treatment that mental health experts deem as emotional cruelty.

    The person getting ghosted feels helpless and silenced. It’s almost impossible to make sense of things, and there is no opportunity for feelings to get expressed or heard.

    Mental health impact

    Mental health

    Ghosting can cause many unpleasant emotions such as embarrassment and shame, but it can also trigger other mental issues such as depression and grief.

    Some people may experience depression and grief in milder forms, while for others, it can be overwhelming where they end up withdrawing from others altogether.


    One of the side-effects of being ghosted is people start to question themselves, believing they are at fault or that something is wrong with them.

    Opening ourselves up to others and being vulnerable can be a challenging and intimate act. However, when we get shunned for no reason by the person we trust, this can cause a whole range of intimacy problems for the next relationship.

    Belief system

    Many experts believe that our relationships predict beliefs that we hold about ourselves -these belief systems are created in early life and get mirrored through adulthood.

    People who have gotten ghosted in the past may consider speaking to a therapist who can help them work through any unresolved issues they may have.

    How should a person handle being ghosted?

    Being ghosted by someone you cared about is not easy, but there are ways you can start to feel better about what’s happened.

    Often, our self-esteem and identity are the first things that get thrown into disarray when something comes to an end, but there are ways you can start to build resilience and move forward.

    Get rid of blame

    When someone we love disappears out of nowhere, it can cause many feelings and emotions that we may never have experienced beforehand, from shame, regret, and embarrassment to anger and heartache.

    Opening up

    Since there has been no explanation or a genuine understanding of the cause, talking to others such as friends, family members, or even a therapist can be an emotionally frustrating and triggering experience.

    It can be tempting to put up barriers and not want to talk or deal with what’s happened, but the truth is, sharing your story with people you can trust can be incredibly cathartic.

    The idea is to try and move forward without putting too much pressure on yourself; remember your heart has been wounded and needs time to heal.


    Many people who have experienced ghosting may tell their friends or relatives that they no longer want to date – psychologists call this cognitive distortion.

    As difficult as it may be, this is a period where you must try to decompress and take some timeout for a while.

    People must remember that they have no control over the actions of others; getting ghosted is not their fault, and they mustn’t assume responsibility for others’ lack of maturity.


    Trauma-informed therapists have acknowledged the effects of ghosting in some of their most recent literature.

    One mental health expert explains that ”self-compassion is a must when dealing with the pain of being ghosted.”

    ”Being dropped and feeling invisible and unseen is always going to be painful, but there should be no embarrassment or shame in what is real.”

    Healthy relationship

    Healthy relationship

    Healing comes from a change in perspective, and many dating experts will tell you that the right person doesn’t disappear or abandon you. Shifting our way of thinking can be an incredibly empowering way to move on from the heartbreak that ghosting can cause.

    Some experts believe that self-care and compassion are great ways to move forward and heal from the clutches of being ghosted; some suggest activities such as:

    • Yoga
    • Homoeopathic treatments and acupuncture
    • Counseling
    • Engaging in activities that make you happy, whether that be hanging out with friends or doing some exercise

    Moving forward

    Being ghosted is essentially the other person breaking a promise. They violated the contract of what it means to have mutual respect, communication, and a long-lasting relationship by ghosting you.

    By failing to communicate with you in an honest, respectful and mature way, they showed you they were never the right person for you, which can be the basis for moving forward.

    We’re here to help.

    Contact us today if you’d like a confidential and free chat with one of our qualified mental health and addiction care professionals at White River Manor in South Africa.