“There is no greater silence than the usual text that was not returned for 78 days.” – Anyone Who's Have you been Ghosted
Despite recent mass-spread awareness about ghosting – the action of breaking up with someone simply by disappearing into thin air, just like a ghost – it's still happening and it's still a total bummer. Actually, it appears as though you can't go online lately without discovering another disturbing story about an epic ghosting gone wrong.
Just ask Sylvia, the girl who was ghosted by this man. A guy we'll call “John” recently wrote into Ask a Manager looking for a solution to his sticky workplace question. His dilemma: a decade ago he ghosted his ex-girlfriend and today she's going to be his boss. What proceeded was a detailed account of one from the worst ghostings ever.
As John recounts:
“More than a decade ago, after i was still being young, I had been inside a relationship with a woman, Sylvia, in a country where both of us lived. Sylvia desired to settle down but I wasn't prepared to commit so young. We clearly had different expectations in the relationship. I didn't get sound advice and, well, I ghosted her. Over the Christmas break, while she was visiting her family, I simply moved out and left the country. I took advantage of the truth that I accepted a job internationally and did not tell her about this.”
His reasoning for his actions? “I simply desired to avoid being untangled inside a break-up drama. Sylvia was rather emotional and became obsessed with the relationship, tracking me down, even causing various scenes with my parents and friends.”
Uh, newsflash John – people do have a tendency to get “emotional” whenever you disappear from your shared home and real life a thief at night. Especially after you've been together for three years.
Ask a Manager's Alison Green agrees. She responded, saying,
“That's some serious emotional destruction that you simply inflicted there. I am not surprised that she contacted your family and friends; she was probably concerned about whether you had been alive or not! (Really, consider it. If you came home one day and your long-time partner was gone and had left no note, would you just shrug and continue on with your lifetime, or can you try to figure out if she were okay or otherwise? Obviously I don't know the details and maybe it moved into boundary-crossing inappropriateness, however, you can't expect to disappear on the long-term partner with no note or anything and never ask them to try to find out if you're okay.”
Green explains that there are basically not a way to salvage this situation.
“Normally I’m keen on people putting aside personal emotions to be able to conduct themselves professionally, but I don’t even know what that will seem like for Sylvia in this situation,” she writes. “She’s most likely going to become shocked and horrified when she discovers that you work at her school, and that she’s supposed to manage you.”
While hopefully, no one will ever end up on each side of a similar situation, the storyline of “John” and Sylvia still provides a good illustration of why we should avoid ghosting the people we date.
It delays closure.
Although I firmly believe that other people can't give you closure and instead you need to make your own closure, ghosting makes this harder on both sides from the fence. Overt rejection can sting, but it's far more easy to maneuver on when you have a definitive answer. I'd much rather be rejected than waste time wondering whether the person I had been dating was kidnapped by a cult.
The same applies to the ghoster. Sure, being honest about your feelings toward someone can seem to be really uncomfortable within the moment, but it's a lot much better than pulling a disappearing act. By ending things in a mature and kind matter, you both can move ahead. Do you want to spend your life wondering whenever your ghosting is to haunt you or do you want a clear break?
It burns bridges.
As the story above demonstrates, ghosting equals bad karma. I can't help but think how differently John's situation would have turned out had he just broken up with Sylvia just like a decent human being. Sure, cooperating might have been awkward, however they probably could have worked through it. Exactly the same can't be said about his unique circumstances.
It's a garbage human thing to do.
No one wants to hurt anyone's feelings, but when you ghost someone it sends the message you don't think they're worth having an explanation. Not cool. Instead, be kind and tell the truth. Don't be a garbage human. Your future dates will thank you.