the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly withdrawing from all communication without explanation.
I want to preface this post by saying that if you’re in an abusive or toxic relationship, either romantic, platonic, or familial, then it is 100% okay to remove yourself from that relationship and you do not have to offer up an explanation.
That being said, I want to discuss what it’s like to be ghosted and the effects this can have on your mental health. Ghosting another person can have serious, lasting consequences.
I was seventeen when I experienced ghosting for the first time. My best friend from high school no longer viewed me as worthy of her friendship and cut off all contact without an explanation. We went from sending each other messages multiple times a day, sharing secrets and confiding in each other, to complete radio silence overnight. We had been friends for five years. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement.
My already low self-esteem took a nosedive. A side-effect of living with anxiety is that I regularly experience feelings of inadequacy. My experience of being ghosted led me to believe I was unworthy of anyone’s attention. If my own best friend no longer thought I was good enough, how was I supposed to be good enough for someone else?
THE LASTING EFFECTS
As a result of my social anxiety, I have a desire to be liked by everyone I meet. Since being ghosted, my desire to be liked by everyone has reached alarmingly unhealthy levels. I’m obsessed with being good enough. When someone takes an instant dislike to me, it destroys my self-esteem. I end up stuck down a rabbit hole of anxiety. My need to be liked by everyone means I try my absolute hardest to be the textbook definition of perfect. Now my brain knows there’s no such thing as perfect, yet I still strive for it anyway. Needing to be liked by everyone has meant I’ve allowed myself to be walked all over and pushed around. I’ve allowed people to destroy my self-worth with their bare hands.
It’s been eight years since being ghosted for the first time and I’m still unable to get close with anyone again. I’m selective about which parts of me I show people. I don’t open up easily and prefer to handle things alone. And I will go weeks without speaking to anyone. Thanks to social media, seeing posts and photos of other people’s friendships does make me green with envy at times. I want that. I’m just too scared of being burned again. I’m in my twenties and I’m too scared to create meaningful friendships.
You may think someone will just move on if you ghost them – and some may do exactly that – but the effects can last a long time.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT
I have attempted to get in touch with her on two occasions and each time I’ve been met with silence. No apologies and no explanations. As I came to terms with what happened, I experienced bouts of anger, resentment, bitterness, and feelings of worthlessness. I believe I know why she cut off contact. I’m 99.9% certain it’s right but I will never fully get closure on what happened. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with the fact it wasn’t my fault. I was never the problem – she was.
You may internalise what’s happened to you and blame yourself, but know that their actions reflect the person they are much more than it is ever a reflection of the person you are.