This is not a claim to fame. No one wants to admit to being on the quiet end of a ghosting. If you’re not sure what being ghosted means, it’s when you’re in a relationship and the other person just disappears (like a ghost).
The term made its way into widespread use when Charlize Theron apparently ghosted on Sean Penn. I’m no Sean Penn, but here’s how it went down with me and my (former) boo:
1. It Takes a Minute to Click
You may be being ghosted and not even know it. I had been in a relationship with a man I was dating and I could feel some distance. Rather than acting like a mature rational adult and asking him about it (I probably didn’t want to know the answer), instead I pushed him away, texting him, “You could have at least said goodbye to me in person.” Yes, it makes me cringe too just thinking about. Not-so-surprisingly, my message went unanswered. He doesn’t like to argue and knows better than to take the bait.
He’s a pretty fast texter, so I should have caught on. But at the same time, unless there’s a direct question, he may not always respond. I put the phone down and refrained from firing off anymore heated texts.
It took me a few unanswered texts to realize the purposeful silence. Ironically, I wrote about this ages ago, about being broken up with by a British man and not even knowing it was happening, due to being non-confrontational. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, the ghost has an accent.
2. Denial Kicks In
I was out with a friend when she asked me what kind of guys I like. I answered the question briefly, like I do have a type, but it really depends on the person. I went on to explain the guy I was dating wasn’t technically my “type,” but I was attracted to him for all the right reasons, him being smart, funny, thoughtful, and we got on well. Clearly, there was more to it, but that was the short answer. She forgot that he was in my life, her being a new friend, and asked where he was. Ummm. Well, we weren’t really talking at that point. Her response was, “I’m so sorry, I would be so upset if I were you.” I actually said, “Maybe I’m in denial, but I think we’ll sort it out next week.”
Yes, I was in denial. I actually said it, but didn’t listen to my own words.
3. Distraction Comes in the Form of The Mindy Project
Nope. We did not sort it out the next week. I am a pretty independent girl, I have my own stuff going on, but he had become my person. He was my best friend, my confidant, but it may have been one-sided, I wasn’t necessarily his. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was upset and I wanted to talk to someone about it, and he would have been that person. Sure, I could go hang out with friends, but I didn’t feel like I was very good company. So, I threw myself into Hulu and binge-watched The Mindy Project. It was actually very helpful. Mindy Kaling is so smart and funny and knows how to tackle life. Her alter ego Mindy Lahiri, may not be as on top of things, but she was a nice guest at my pity party. I thought to myself, “Mindy dates a new guy every week. She doesn’t dwell on heartbreak,” but I had to remind myself, it is in fact a TV show. Even so, watching episodes back-to-back was a much needed time filler.
4. Negotiate a Meet-Up
The show came to an end and my worries returned. But, I had a plan. I called the ghoster and left a voicemail. I didn’t want to text or send an IM on Facebook that could easily just sit there unanswered, hanging there tauntingly. I figured if I called he’d hear my delightfully charming voice and couldn’t resist seeing me (a bit of sarcasm here). I tackled this like a business venture. I made the call, and then followed-up with a text in the middle of the week. He was cool and up for a meet-up that Thursday. Thursday came and went and we didn’t meet. I wasn’t bummed, I wasn’t really up for it either. But, oddly enough, I ran into him Friday night. I never run into him in the “real world,” so it was an odd turn of events. We had a quick chat, and I excused myself to meet my friends for dinner. We ended up having a nightcap that evening, which resulted in a “sleepover.”
But, then, he ghosted me. Again! I was like, seriously? I thought we made up and if not, I would’ve handled things differently, like tell him what had been on my mind. But, nope.
5. Remorse Brings Resolution
We had a nice time, things seemed to have fallen back into place, but we didn’t talk about things, and there was no resolution. In hindsight, I realized I was the one who caused this relationship to come to an end. I thought he was being rude and dismissive, but I didn’t recognize my own poor behavior. I wasn’t seeking out articles on being ghosted, but they kept popping up in my news stream. One article, told from the ghoster’s perspective, basically said that cutting off ties like that may be necessary because one person in the relationship can be so… overwhelming.
Wait, was that person me? I thought he liked my needing him. But, clearly there’s a difference between needing someone and being needy. So, while yes, I see now that going to him for advice could have been too much, but at the same time, I also brought a lot more to the table, like being smart, funny, pretty… depending on the lighting (and humble). My biggest regret was that without an ending it was like the beginning and middle of the relationship never happened.
6. Things Turn Up
Slowly but surely I started to adjust. I forgot how much I do like going out, meeting people, hearing their stories, telling them some of mine. When it’s just you and one person all the time, it can easily become stagnant, and you may not be able to see who you are, when only seeing yourself in the reflection of another (who isn’t that keen on you). Now that I was out more, every once in a while someone would ask me out, and in one instance, my answer was, “I can’t. I’m heartbroken.” Admittedly, it’s such an odd thing to say, but it just came out before I knew it.
The person doing the asking made me laugh, responding, “You know the best way to get over a heartbreak?” I replied, “To get under someone.” I was NOT making a suggestion, it’s a quote. I thought author Dorothy Parker made up that quip, but actually hers was about martinis and getting under the table, so I’m not sure if the “get under someone” advice is credited to anyone.
I ran! While I was no longer in a relationship, I wasn’t ready to jump into a new one (or a new bed more likely, based on the glint in this new suitor’s eye).
7. Looking Back Allows Movement
I deleted the ghost’s number from my phone. I didn’t do so because I was angry or being a jerk, I just didn’t want to be tempted to text him. And, of course, I had the phone number stored away somewhere in email, so I could collect it if needed, but it would require a search.
I would go long stretches of not thinking about him, but then I’d think, “Look at me, I haven’t thought about him in so long.” Of course, that’s when he’d stay on my mind. I had a moment of weakness and went into my Facebook messages to find his number. As you know, Facebook isn’t like email, you can’t easily search by keywords. I had to scroll through three years of emails. I didn’t read every single email, but I scanned.
Reading backward, I remembered what a kind and patient person he was. I didn’t even realize it at the time, and it was kind of like, “Who is this guy? Where was this guy the past year?” I also could read my own words from a different perspective: I could hear myself trying to entertain him, keep him interested, rather than being more myself. It felt like these words were coming through in real-time, but alas, they weren’t.
Even so, I got the closure I needed. Reading our old exchanges, which could be deemed modern day love e-letters in a way, reminded me of how good things were (and weren’t at some points) and how to handle things better going forward. I was able to retrieve his number, the reason I time-traveled through FB pages, but ultimately I didn’t use it. The memories are starting to fade, which is a good thing when you’re ready to get over someone. You just have to be ready to let go.
I feel like I should reach out to the ghost to ask if he’s okay with me writing up this story, but he probably won’t respond! In that case, fair game.
Things sort of fell into place from there, like my roommate politely telling me he wanted his GF to move in and me move out. It was good timing = I was ready for a change.
If you want to find out where I landed, you can read that story here.