The visible trace of #ghosting
The visible trace of #ghosting
Regularly in relationship counselling sessions we are hearing about the increasing phenomenon of ghosting: ‘The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication’ – this is the Online Dictionary meaning of ghosting – so what’s it really about and why is it happening?
Typically, after a period of being in relationship whether brief or sustained, there is an abrupt ceasing of communication, a disappearance out of nowhere from contact without any explanation, a total disconnection, an avoidance of confrontation in conversation, and an ignoring of any further efforts to communicate from the ghosted partner – #radiosilence.
Ghosting has become so normalised in current relationship practice it feels important to understand why this occurs and to explore what’s going on with our communication in relationships, and what’s underneath this increasing trend? And it is not only reserved for the arena of dating, it now also permeates work culture, job interviews, cutting off of family members, and icing out and disowning in friendships.
In our fast, distracted, immediate world, it has become easy to have disposable relationships. These transient and disconnected interactions increase the feelings of separation and abandonment amongst us, and are at odds with the foundational principles for loving relationships and brotherhood in humanity – which are interconnectedness, openness, inclusivity and equality.
With the advent of such social media platforms as messenger, texting on mobile phones, and chatting to potential partners on online dating apps, ghosting behaviour has become so common and so effortlessly easy, it is instantly recognisable and commonly acceptable as part of dating life and a normality of dating etiquette, spreading like an infectious disease; whereby the ‘ghosted one’ can easily turn into the ‘ghoster’, acquiescing to the culture, and in the process lowering their own standards and eventually succumbing to the behaviour. This leads to both the rejected person and the rejector hardening up, suppressing any sensitive feelings they have felt. This behaviour certainly is not true or successful for relationships, but is sought to provide a relief from the intensity of the many ill thoughts and feelings that arise and are being exposed from being on the receiving end of ghosting and resorting to ghosting in the first place.
To understand the behaviour of ghosting we need to see and feel that many people are scared to deal with confrontational moments in relationships, ill-equipped and out of practice to handle the real and challenging moments of communication that arise between people. These fears drive the behaviours of avoidance, guilt and protection. The protection is not only about not being rejected or abandoned themselves, but also about not wanting to own or feel that they have hurt others from the lack of true expression and honesty about what they are feeling and their real intentions or motives – thereby protecting themselves from the realisation that we are all equally vulnerable and fragile as human beings and can be easily scarred by these situations. Being in protection harms all of us, as the need to guard destroys the ability to share intimately who we are in depth in our relationships – it crushes our sensitivity, de-sensitising us from feeling what is true and loving. It’s impossible to let people in to love you if you are walking around in protection.
Ghosting can offer a quick and distracting fix to a potentially confronting moment, keeping the individual ego and aspect of our personality apparently safe and still comfortable, oblivious and unconscious to the greater harm to the collective whole of relationships.
This has become a mainstream societal behaviour that avoids the responsibility of telling the truth and is critically lowering the bar of standards and values in our communication and expression in relationships, and consequently de-humanising people. It has become so widespread that it has seeped into the workplace consciousness, for example, persons searching for employment, going for interviews and never hearing back from prospective employers with a respectful email of yay or nay; or in a workplace dismissal where there is no comment to further enquiries as to why, how and what happened in the ceasing of employment. These careless moments show an increasing rise in the lack of common courtesy, making people feel replaceable and irrelevant. These situations could easily be considered as being abusive and rude.
To conform to and give-in to this behaviour there has to be a disconnection from one’s own feelings; once disconnected, it is possible to act in a way that supports individuality and a separation from others and their feelings – and from this position it is then possible to act carelessly, dismissively, callously and senselessly.
To ghost someone is to express from a place of adopted ignorance and little awareness to the fact that there will be repercussions for all involved, as if one is operating in a vacuum where there are no consequences for your behavioural choices, and resisting the truth that we are all connected and therefore all have the capacity to feel every consequence of every moment in our lives. It is living with an arrogance that defends any accountability to creating harm, moving from one irresponsible moment to another, leaving behind the collateral damage, unseen and unaddressed and therefore satisfactorily unaccounted for. When we move on in this kind of ignorance it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we have left behind what feels uncomfortable and undealt with in relationships, but the actual reality is that everything that has occurred that has not been healed is still impacting every living moment in your present life.
Not always taken advantage of are the greater opportunities for healing that reveal themselves in these moments. Difficult and deconstructing as these experiences may be, they always offer a greater reflection for consideration. We can learn how to not close our hearts off from other potentially intimate moments in relationship just because someone has betrayed our trust. We can learn how to value ourselves despite other people’s behaviour towards us. These trials in life can identify issues of abandonment or rejection from our family of origin. Mostly nothing is ever lost and experiences like these can be powerful moments of learning, realisation and advancement if we choose to work with them in a more evolving way that doesn’t get stuck on positioning ourselves as a ‘victim’, or appropriating blame and judgement on another.
It is important to reflect on these lessons in life in a way that neither places oneself as the victim nor targets blame at another. This allows incredible space for the healing of any previously unidentified aspects of one’s own withheld expression in relationships, often revealing our own part as contributors to these moments, for example, asking the question; ‘Why have I attracted this situation at this particular time in my life?’
Critical to this issue of ghosting is the blockages and divides in communication in relationships. The greatest loss that is experienced is the dumbing down reduction and constriction of our true expression; the intimate detail of communication that shares how we really feel about anything that we are experiencing in our daily lives and within our relationships, whether it is of importance or seemingly trivial, amazing or disturbing. There are so many moments that get lost to not expressing what is so obviously there to express in the space that is there if we so choose it, and we lose the opportunity to reveal with absolute honesty what we feel, and therefore equally lose the moment to learn and evolve from the situation. Whether you are the ghoster or on the receiving end of a ghosted moment, the ‘harm’ is that there can be a turning away from the full expression of what you truly know, your true voice, for a lesser or zero form of communication and this creates suffering for everyone involved. The harmful outplay can be that you choke on your own unexpressed words, feelings and emotions and then suppress and silence another’s opportunity to express, ultimately retarding the further growth and development in all our relationships.
The fact is we are a humanity that doesn’t feel safe to speak the truth.
We all know and can feel deeply what is going on around us, at work, in our relationships, everything that is not okay, every loving moment that is threatened by an act of disrespect, selfishness, abuse, ignorance or dishonouring. Every truth-filled moment that is crushed by corrupt actions, lies, discrimination, deception and deliberate intent to manipulate and mislead. Turning a blind eye to these truths and shutting down our ability to communicate what we are feeling is damaging and suppressing of our awareness, giving it little or no voice, or regard.
Equally we are becoming more stunted, at a loss and awkwardly out of practice to express fluently our appreciation and love and care for one another. This degradation of true communication and expression then only safeguards talking about the ordinary, editing the extraordinary and truly intimate moments instead into the mundanity and ‘need to know’ functional norms of life.
The widespread impact of ghosting brings more visibility to the toxicity, cruelty and lack of accountability (on all sides) in ‘so-called’ modern relationships, and there are many just turning a blind eye to these realities and by doing so are enabling the movement in this direction. Ultimately what it exposes is that there needs to be an evolutionary change in what we will accept as ‘normal’ in relationships, as these behaviours are nowhere near the first and very basic foundations of a true relationship which begins at decency and respect... and that’s before we get anywhere near love and true purpose in relationships.
We have to make a stand to care about the way we treat one another and take responsibility to express what needs to be expressed in the truth of the moment, otherwise we will continue to feel the suffering of one disconnected moment to another, whilst the bar gets continually lowered in the dishonouring, and our connections become cheapened and meaningless in the process.
This is not the true future of evolutionary communication and loving expression in relationships. Within us all when we are connected to the highest aspect of ourselves, we hold the power to express with true intelligence and wisdom, bringing enormous loving truth and healing to one another and our relationships. It actually is our true service in relationships to stand responsibly and communicate in this honesty; this supports all of us in our Evolution, this is our forever future.