Casper the Not-So-Friendly Ghost

We’ve all been there: the read message, the open Snapchat, the seen Instagram DM. The pit in your stomach that hits as soon as you see it. You’ve been ghosted, but why

What does ghosting even mean?

Ghosting is a term that’s been coined recently, and it can actually be found in the dictionary. Loosely defined, it’s an unfortunate phenomenon of being completely phased out of someone’s life with no explanation; no texting, no calling, no communication. It’s a complete and total ice out from someone that you thought cared about you. Studies show that roughly 50% of men and women experience some kind of ghosting in their adult relationships, and roughly the same percentage have been the “ghoster”.  

(Gif Courtesy of GIPHY)

How do you know if you’ve been ghosted? Well, for most victims it’s pretty straight forward. Ignoring texts or calls, breaking Snapchat streaks, or in more intense situations, being blocked on social media. Ghosting, linguistically speaking, is just a colloquial term for a form of social rejection. Social rejection is a terrible feeling and scientifically proven to provoke emotions similar to that of physical pain. The feelings activate the same neural tract, which explains why ghosting hurts as much as it does, validating the victims' emotions (no you are not just “being dramatic”. Science is on your side here!). 

So why do people ghost? Usually, it’s to escape unknown emotional territory, escape feelings, or try to avoid hurting the other person. Ironically, in an attempt to protect the other person’s feelings, they hurt them even more. So, if this is such a terrible phenomenon, then why is it becoming so normalized in our culture? 

Relationships in modern society are more “go with the flow” regardless of what anyone says about how they feel. Ghosting has become a part of that idea; if you treat something as casual, the less respect you will then have for that thing. Unfortunately for all the hopeless romantics out there, that thing is a long-term relationship. 

So, the question of the hour: how do I avoid getting ghosted?

There are many things that you can do to attempt to stop the other person from icing you out in whatever kind of relationship you two have. Most importantly, though, is communication. If you and your partner/friend/whoever are open and honest about your emotions, what you want from the relationship, etc., then there is a lesser chance of you falling victim to the read receipt. After all, relationships that are founded in maturity and openness are the ones that are more likely to last.