The Pain of Ghosting

That Too Many of Us Know

The Pain of Ghosting

I’ve had my opinions on why ghosting someone sucks for years. Never for a moment did I think a person who ghosts someone else was an admiral human being. In fact, the contrary. I still believe that a person who just stops responding for no reason is a coward, and spineless. These individuals are not ready to date, because I believe dating adults need to understand how to end a relationship, and handle rejection with grace. But that is an article for another time (or just the one I link to later on), for now, let me share my recent experience with being ghosted.  Just so we are on the same page, let me start with the definition.

What is ghosting?

It is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

Why am I writing about this?

Because, I was seeing a guy for almost 9 weeks, and out of the blue, he just stopped responding to any messages where I said I wanted to see him. And then, just stopped messaging me altogether.

The thing about this is, I always assumed that ghoster’s would be douchebags, or FuckBoys, or people with zero confidence. I thought that I was smart enough to spot someone who would do that to another person a mile away. Well, I was just knocked down a peg, and my dating confidence was in fact called into question. It’s difficult to be left with all these unanswered questions. To be just left wondering. And what’s worse, to have it done to you by someone that you genuinely thought was just a kind, amazing soul. This guy and I clicked. We made each other smile, and the in-person chemistry was fantastic, or so I thought. Because ultimately, I will never know for sure. My perception remains invalidated due to his silence.

It’s not that I expected this relationship to be forever. But, he made me happy, and did incredibly sweet things for me and I tried to be spontaneous and thoughtful in return. I felt amazing in his arms, and just thinking about him made me smile.  But here I am, wondering, if it was all in my head?

The lack of closure, is uncomfortable. The uncertainty of what happens if we ever run into each other again is real. These situations are not what I expected to encounter as an adult in the dating world. Ghosting, shouldn’t happen when you’re in your late 30’s (as we both were). There just doesn’t seem to be a rational reason with the simplicity of texting at our fingertips.

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But then the compassionate, bleeding heart in me goes… wait… did something happen to him? Maybe it wasn’t me. Perhaps that last message I sent him was the final kick in the nuts, and I’m the real asshole now. Maybe I pushed him too far, and really, he was planning on seeing me, but wanted it to be a surprise (Ha… OK that is a stretch).  In short though, welcome to my brain, because it would be easier for me to be the one in the wrong.  If that was the case, I can fix my behaviour, own it, or basically have some sort of control. Being ghosted like this, takes all power away from me, and leaves that sickening helpless feeling. Which, I know some of you may be wondering what my final text to him was, because if you know me at all, helpless is not something I tolerate.  So here goes pain and all:

“Kinda bummed you just stopped messaging or making an effort to see me. I thought we got along well, and really enjoyed spending time with you. Le sigh…”

Of course his response… Nothing!

So, to all of us out there dating, please don’t ghost other humans. If you have no idea how to face rejection or reject another human, please give the Handling Rejection section of How to Start Conversations. In short, just be good to each other. Truly, we have all been through enough with 2020!

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Part II: Rejection in the World of Non-Monogamy

In Part I, I talked about how in a monogamous driven society, rejection is something that we try to avoid.  It is not something that is viewed as a necessary skill-set to have.  Instead, it is something that we accept as part of our adolescence but strive to avoid it in adulthood.  We do not regard it as a very important piece of the adult emotional repertoire.  But, as I mentioned at the end of the piece, in the world of non-monogamy things are very different, because not only is rejection unavoidable, but it is a skill-set that you have to be more than proficient at using.  Rejection becomes a natural part of your relationships, and you must be ethical in how you reject others, and emotionally stable enough to handle rejection in return.  Therefor rejections is a skill-set in non-monogamy.

At this point, I am going to make a bold statement.  That being non-monogamous is far more intense for your emotional spectrum than monogamy is.  And further, to actually flourish in non-monogamy, you need an emotional IQ that is far more developed, especially comparison to the requirements of monogamy.  And why do I feel this way?  Because, the road traveled in non-monogamy is filled with heartbreak, rejection and requires a heightened awareness of your wants and needs and of all those you want to interact with.  And quite honestly, if you cannot handle that, you are not ready to explore the amazing world of multiple people, even if it is just for sex.  While I am not specifically trying to scare people off, I hope that those who cannot handle their own emotions, take a moment here for some serious reflection.  Even if you have the ability to turn off your emotions when it comes to sex, there is zero guarantee that your partner or the people you are intimate with are doing the same.  And if you cannot handle that fact, then you have zero business opening up your body or mind to others.

I recall reading on a swingers forum a few weeks ago, a post from a guy who said that he could no longer swing because he had just been ghosted by a woman he and his wife were seeing.  The rejection was just too much for him and his marriage, so they were quitting the lifestyle.  He made a choice to avoid negative emotions and the only way to actually accomplish that was to walk away.  And when I read that initially I judged him pretty harshly.  Don’t worry it was only in my head.  But then I realized, it takes a huge amount of emotional intelligence to understand what he could and could not handle in his life.  And rather than trying to pretend that non-monogamy could be a perfect little world free of heartache, he took the more realistic and quite pragmatic view.

And for many when entering a lifestyle filled with more than one person, you become attracted to the shiny and new, and forget to take into consideration all the bad or negative, with rejection being incredibly high on that list.  Just think about the singles dating pool, and how many people you just were not attracted to.  I dare say that you had a connection with 1 – 5 % of the people you met?  Now shrink that pool almost infinitesimally, and try to make a connection, physical attraction or even an emotional spark.  There is a very slim chance that things are actually going be 100% great right from the get go.  And thus, you need to be mature enough for both you and your partner to politely decline people.  While at the same time remembering that it is a small pool, so you do not want to be an ass about it and get a bad reputation.  Nor do you want to be in a position of taking one for the team, or doing anything you are not absolutely on board with.  It’s difficult to navigate.  And for those who hate rejection or try to avoid confrontation at all costs, will find this part of the lifestyle incredibly challenging.  And let’s face it, ghosting is never OK, so there is no way to avoid this.  You just cannot sleep or engage with everyone just because you cannot say a polite, “no thanks”, that would be pretty unreasonable.  So guess what?  You have to toughen up a bit and both accept a “no thanks” with grace, and learn to give the same with courtesy and compassion.  It’s important to dig deep and develop those skills that we often wish we could just avoid.

After reading this, you may ask why in the world would you ever subject yourself to a lifestyle where you are constantly setting yourself up for heartbreak.  Honestly, because the highs are so amazing, it supersedes the pain.  Most people would agree, that the joys of falling in love far outweigh the heartache in trying to find love.  You would be missing out on amazing things if you tried to just avoid being in pain or causing pain, and thus the brave among us, rip off the Band-aid and put ourselves out there.  We open up to the possibilities, despite the potential downfall.  Non-Monogamy is a high, a rush and a bliss that while I could always remember my life in monogamy as sacred with my partner, I instead chose a life where I live to put myself out there, pain and all, for the chance of butterflies or a new connection, and I do it with my partner lovingly by my side.  I accept that in non-monogamy rejection is unavoidable and I take great pride in handling it, and being kind when I have to flex that skill and I hope you do the same.

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