Sean Swaby reflects on how ghosting has changed him.
Ghosting will make you a better person?
I admit it, I have been a ghost.
I’m not proud of walking away and it’s not my intent to be a flake. Most of the relationships I have ghosted, I felt some regret about the emotions that contributed to my decision.
Ghosting happens when a person disappears from personal relationships or a group with little or no notice, and they ignore any attempts at contact. The person vanishes, they become a memory. It is one thing when a distant friend ghosts, but it can happen to close friends, dating relationships and even long term couples.
The Ghost in the Machine: Ghosting and your relationships
If you are conscious, the act of ghosting will bring you face to face with yourself.
The act of ghosting has not contributed to me becoming a better person. Ghosting has taught me that how you meet your needs is the important question. If you ghost, know that it will leave emotional echos. Even 20 years later, I still remember the times I have ghosted people. Memory is better used as a reminder of the good rather than as a wasteland of regret.
Relationships get complicated, but it’s the emotional connections and the links that make life richer. Sometimes we feel pain, disappointment and stress and love can get really hard. The hard times can fracture our love and make ghosting seem like a good option, but we lose something if we fade when love becomes difficult.
Speaking my mind and having the courage to step up is important, even when it is hard.
Going offline without pissing people off
We all need to go off line sometimes. When I ignore my wife or my kids, that ends up hurting my family and I feel like an ass.
How we go offline can either build our relationships and make us better people or it can erode our relationships and cause our character to fade a little. In my mind, human decency asks me to speak to a person face to face if I want to change the relationship. That is difficult and causes me untold sleeplessness, but friends and family matter.
Batman Was a Ghoster
As an introvert, I had to look myself in the mirror and ask whether ghosting is the domain of an introvert? Do introverts tend to ghost more than extroverts, because saying good bye feels about as comfortable as a teenager on marbles?
Ghosting holds a special appeal to introverts. We can leave quietly without conflict. With the wave of a finger, we can swipe right out of someone’s life. introvertspring.com
Goodbyes can be awkward, but most introverts value relationships and even a short “Goodbye” is managable. I would love to be Batman and just disappear, but that’s probably why he wears a mask and carries a toolbelt. People would tell him how pissed off they are because when he feels done, he walks.
Even extroverts can be rude and insensitive. Ghosting is not just about avoiding goodbyes. Often it happens because someone does not have enough empathy to respond. Assholes come in all shapes and sizes, regardless of their personality.
Why do we ghost?
We ghost because it meets a need:
- We are overwhelmed or uncertain
- We feel that a relationship or an encounter is over
- We feel empty
- We reach our limits and can’t give (or take) any more
- We just need a break
- The relationship feels like it is at a standstill
- We fear disconnection from the other person, so we back off first
Ghosting is a response to complex emotional needs. Relationships are tough but some of the best lessons we can learn come from staying when things are tough. Learning to tough things out can often bring deeper self-understanding and transforming love. You can read more about this in my article, The Six Loves that Create Lasting Love.
It will never be pretty, but staying and working through the hard stuff is what makes a relationship better because you know you gave it your all.
The one thing you can do if you want to change your ghosting ways
Long lists make my brain tired. Scientists call this cognitive load. Cognitive load is where long lists of things to pick up at the store exhaust our will power and make us more susceptible to buying the chips and cookies. At least, that is what I tell my wife.
So rather than give you a list of 9 things you can do about ghosting, I will save your brainpower for more important things. If you really want a long list that will make you laugh, go to my list of 9 Ways That Ghosting Can Improve Your Relationships.
Rather than a list, I will leave you with a song…. no make that one line.
The song, Spirits in the Material World is by The Police. They repeat a stunningly simple phrase:
In the song, they remind you and I that what makes us more human is not found in:
- An addiction to spending money and buying more stuff
- Being safe or coasting through life
- Politics or fame
- Evolution, revolutions, and not in constitutions
- Rehearsing our failures or living with crushing regret
What makes you and I more human is our ability to be who we are even when things are really hard. We bring dignity and love and honor by how we live our lives. Ghosting can make us better humans by realizing that you and I are important to the people we are closest to. No one can take our place.
If we are conscious, the act of ghosting will make us face ourselves. And that is what makes us good.
Join the Good Men Project, because we are the tribe for the ex-ghosts and recovering ghosts. Unghost your life and join the conversation that no one else is having.
Keep it Real
Photo by Dave Russo