Published on January 27, 2023 Updated on February 1, 2023
Ghosting is a term that has become all too familiar in the dating world. But, whether the term is personally familiar or not, the actual act of ghosting can be a painful and confusing experience for anyone on the receiving end.
If you’ve been ghosted, it’s important to remember that this experience is not a personal attack. Instead, it may reflect the ghoster’s attachment style and the avoidance strategies associated with it.
Whether you’re prone to being the one who ghosts others or have been ghosted in the past, it’s reassuring to know that we can all learn healthy coping strategies to behave more compassionately during a breakup.
To help you answer any questions about ghosting, this article will cover:
Ghosting is when someone abruptly stops all communication and contact with another person without warning or explanation. Ghosting is common in the modern dating world due to the advent of certain technologies, but it can happen in any type of relationship.
Ghosting is becoming increasingly “normal” in romantic relationships, especially among those using dating apps. Although research differs on the exact prevalence of ghosting, studies suggest that around 25 – 80% of people have been ghosted in the past.
For more information on ghosting, including its association with the different attachment styles and how it can affect mental health, check out our page: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Over Being Ghosted.
As ghosting can be hurtful and confusing to others, it’s worth being mindful of the effect of our actions during a breakup. We can be mindful by choosing more direct ways to cut communication rather than doing so without an explanation.
The following actions may help with this approach:
Clearly stating your intentions may make you less likely to ghost someone because it sets clear expectations and boundaries from the start of the relationship. When you’re upfront about what you’re looking for and what you are and aren’t comfortable with, it’s less probable that you’ll end up in a situation where you feel like ghosting is the only way out.
To state your intentions, you could say something along the lines of, “I’m looking for something casual, not a relationship.”
Openness and honesty promote clear and direct communication, which can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. When you’re open and honest about your feelings and needs, your partner may not be caught off guard or left wondering where they stand.
Practicing openness can also help you become better at recognizing your own emotions, and identifying when something isn’t working. So, openness can enable you to take appropriate action rather than engaging in avoidant behaviors.
Approaching a breakup with empathy encourages us to consider the other person’s feelings and needs. When we place ourselves in other peoples’ shoes, we tend to act more kind, considerate, and honest in our communication. As a result, the pain and confusion that the other person feels are lessened.
Being empathic during a breakup also reduces the chances of confrontation, which may be the fear driving our ghosting behaviors in the first place.
One way to be empathic towards your partner during a breakup is to acknowledge their feelings. This could be by saying, “I know this may be upsetting and a little confusing, but I don’t think we are right for each other.”
When breaking up with someone, using “I” statements helps you focus on your own feelings and experiences rather than placing blame or making accusations about the other person. This technique can also help reduce your partner’s defensive and emotional response, making them more open to hearing and understanding your perspective.
“I” statements typically take the form of “I feel” or, “I think” rather than “you are” or “you do.”
Avoiding avoidance strategies means facing difficult and uncomfortable emotions and situations head-on rather than trying to escape them.
The idea of this may be scary, especially for someone with an insecure attachment style. If this is the case, it’s important to remember that being open, honest, and empathic with someone, and using “I” statements when breaking up with them, makes confrontation far less likely.
If facing a breakup head-on still seems too scary, that’s OK. It may take time to feel comfortable with situations like this. If you’re struggling to know how to communicate and avoid ghosting, seeking support from a family member, trusted friend, or mental health professional. Doing so can help you approach the situation with more clarity and guidance, which may help you navigate these tricky situations.
When you have clear boundaries, you may not find yourself in a situation where you feel you need to ghost someone, as you might feel less uncomfortable and dissatisfied in your relationship. Setting clear boundaries is also an open, direct way to communicate, which can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts during dating.
Considering the consequences can help you avoid ghosting someone because it forces you to think about the impact of your actions on the other person (and yourself!). Once you recognize the effect ghosting has on the other person and the potential guilt it may cause you, you may be less likely to engage in avoidance behaviors.
Furthermore, intimacy and trust are two important elements of secure attachment. Avoiding conservations or conflict that have the potential to lead to healthy solutions may be a missed opportunity for moving past insecure attachment and into gaining secure attachment.
Evidence shows avoidant attachers who earn attachment security show a change in breakup behaviors. They begin to show more compassionate, direct breakup strategies, like openly saying they want to break up. Similarly, people with an anxious attachment style are less likely to engage in on-again-off-again relationships when they gain attachment security.
You can find out exactly how to transform an insecure attachment style in our article on how to become more securely attached.
Ghosting is a complicated phenomenon that has become common in the modern dating scene. Ghosting can be a painful experience for anyone involved, one that may leave people feeling rejected, confused, and questioning their self-worth.
Understanding our attachment style may help us identify why we ghost or why ghosting has happened to us. If you find yourself guilty of ghosting, it’s important to remember that becoming aware of your attachment style is a continuous process. Addressing an insecure attachment style takes time, practice, and reflection.
We all make mistakes, and if you’ve been guilty of ghosting in the past, it’s never too late to make a change. Being more mindful and considerate of our actions and how they affect others is the key to managing breakups in a healthy, less hurtful way.
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