When Someone You Love Disappears on You

Let’s talk about being ghosted. It feels terrible.

There are things that you can do that will make you feel better. There are also things that you can do that will make you feel worse. I’m going to give you some pointers on how to feel better in the short-term and in the long-term.

What does it look like when you’ve been ghosted? A person you were close to suddenly drops off the face of the earth, with no explanation as to why. Or maybe there is an explanation, but it’s a lame one. You know the person is still out there because you can see the person on Facebook messenger or you still have friends or family members in common who report to you on how they are doing. However, your efforts at contact are met with silence.

It can happen with a boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, parent, or other family member.

On the receiving end, it feels like death, only worse because it’s personal. It’s a bit like divorce that way, except with a divorce, you usually have to have some amount of contact to iron out the terms of your divorce. With ghosting, the other person just cuts you dead and ignores you. It’s sudden and you have no control over the matter.

You may find that you instinctively run after the person, trying to fill the black hole that suddenly appeared in your life. As you do, you are met over and over again with silence, a continuous rejection of you that you cannot understand or argue against. Each time that you reach out, you may feel your heart bloom with hope, and you may frantically check your phone 100 times per day hoping that the person has finally responded. Each time that you reach out, you reopen the wound, and you come crashing down when you realize that the person is still not responding, that you have not found the magic trick that will make the other person respond to you again.

Let’s look at what you have control over. You have control over you. Let’s work with that.

1. You control the narrative in your head. When someone you love ghosts you, you get to control the story as to why she or he did it. What do you most need to hear to move on with your life?

a. If you are a rescuer, don’t tell yourself that the person is scared, anxious, or needs help. You will keep chasing after the person to help them.

Tell yourself that she did it because that is who she is and you can’t change her. YOU CAN’T CHANGE THAT PERSON EVER. It’s true. You can’t. If the person doesn’t want to change, you can do everything within your power and still not change the person.

Tell yourself that whatever reason she may have for ghosting, you deserve better, and it’s time to take care of your needs for a change

Focus all of your change efforts on yourself instead. (Then you can see how hard it really is to change someone!)

(And if you later learn that the person really didn’t ghost, that she was in a coma and unable to use her phone as a result, then you can always reevaluate your options. You don’t have to continue to treat the person like a ghoster if she isn’t one.)

b. If you are a blamer, you can tell yourself that the person is a jerk, but only if you can then keep yourself from sending him nasty messages spelling out all of his failings. Stick to the message that he is not worthy of you (but don’t send him that in a text, either).

c. Don’t blame yourself. The one gift that a ghoster gives you is control over the narrative. You squander that gift if you blame yourself.

This isn’t to say that you can’t do an honest assessment of your part in the break up of the relationship and the ghoster’s part in it as well once you’ve moved through some of the pain. You can and you should. Initially, though, when you are in pain and when your brain is looking for a simple solution (doing this stupid thing = pain), don’t feed the beast.

2. Reach out to those that love you. Let them tell you how great you are. Spend time with them to avoid thinking about the other person. They will remind you, just by being with you, that you are loved and lovable.

3. Get some exercise. Go outside. Get some sun and some Vitamin D as a result. Getting exercise will pump up the endorphins to make you feel better. Also, emotions are stored in the long muscles of your body, so when you exercise, you literally move through those emotions.

4. What do you need to do to keep from running after the person? If you need to, you can delete them from Facebook, messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and your phone contacts. You can delete all text messages you have shared. You can make it as hard for yourself to chase them as possible.

Can I help support you through this? You can reach out to me here.

When you are feeling better, when you have had some time and perspective, then you can take a deeper dive into it.

1. Do you have a pattern of being with people who ghost? If so, why? What do you see in them? Do you find yourself ignoring the early warning signs of ghosters? When they start to pull away, do you chase them instinctively? What are some changes that you could make to help yourself? Are there ways you could stage an early intervention for yourself if you see early warning signs of ghosting with a new friend or boyfriend?

2. Does the other person have a pattern of ghosting? Can you see the pattern without feeling a need to rescue or blame? You cannot hug them long enough to magically put all their broken parts back together again. You cannot blame them viciously enough to teach them never to do it again (in fact, direct shaming and blaming of them will probably have the opposite effect – they are ghosting to avoid feelings).

3. Can you be grateful for the time that you had together without having it trigger a desire to contact the ghoster? It may be that gratitude will trigger an ache inside of you, a longing for the ghoster. It may be that gratitude will trigger feelings of love for the ghoster. Either of those and more can make you reach out to the ghoster in a weak moment. If you cannot feel gratitude without wanting to contact the ghoster, then maybe you wait a bit longer to work on gratitude so that you don’t find yourself chasing the ghoster again.

Do you want some help working through the deep dive? Reach out to me here.

How to Break Free of An Addictive Relationship

Some people bring us a great deal of pain along with the joy, and yet we keep running after them anyway.

When people look at the relationship from the outside, they may not understand it.  “Why do you want to be with him?” they ask.  “He treats you badly,” or “He’s mean,” or “How could he do that to you?” or “You don’t deserve that.”

“Why do you want to be with her?” they ask.  “She doesn’t like your friends and won’t let you go out with them.”  “She is a b#@%%!” 

On the receiving end, you’re hearing what they’re saying, but thinking, “But you don’t understand.  You don’t see this person the way I do.  You don’t see the kinder, gentler side that the person only shows to me.”

And you may also be thinking, “And now I’m not going to talk to you about my love anymore.  You’re not a safe person to talk to.  You’re judging him and you’re judging me.”

On NPR, the singer Dessa was talking about her inspiration for heart-centered lyrics in her latest album, “Chime.”  One inspiration was a relationship she had which she described as breaking up from the beginning, but they kept at it for years.  “As soon as we started dating, we started breaking up,” she said.  After years of this, she still felt her heart explode with hope when she got a call from him. She ended up screaming at herself and her heart in her car in the rain.  Why did her heart keep leaping in hope for this man when she knew intellectually that the relationship was a bad one, forever doomed?  She went so far as to have a fMRI done, in which she was shown a picture of her former boyfriend, then a picture of a man who looked like him but wasn’t him, to find in her brain where the love was so that she could erase it.  Then, once they isolated the target area, she went to a specialist to stop reacting in that way to her former boyfriend.  She saw her behavior as the equivalent of a muscle cramp. She wanted a muscle that was strong and could flex without cramping.  Afterwards, she had another fMRI to see if she had successfully rid herself of romantic love for him.  The fMRI showed that she had been successful.

I think that with any form of addiction, it can be a lot easier to see it clearly from the outside looking in than it is to see it from the inside looking out.

In a “normal” relationship, there are highs and lows, but they aren’t anything like the spikes of an addictive relationship.  It’s like comparing hills to mountains and fjords.  The highs are higher and the lows are lower in an addictive relationship.

In an addictive relationship, when your partner is attentive and happy, the sun shines brighter.  While most people experience this when first in love, it usually fades over time.  It may not fade as much in an addictive relationship because you cannot count on your partner to be this way on a regular basis.  As a result, when it happens, it is a much bigger event than when you are dealing with a person who is generally happy or even keel.  You can take for granted that your partner will be there for you, will be the same person that s/he always is.

In an addictive relationship, when your partner is sullen, withdrawn, angry, drunk again, neglectful, mean, cheating, threatening, etc., you may look to fix things so that your partner can be attentive and happy again.  You may rage against your partner.  You may cry.  Your lows are lower than they would be if you were not in an addictive relationship.  If you were not addicted to this person, then when she continuously acted this way, you would say, “Enough.”  You would not only say, “Enough,” you would act on it.  When you are addicted and chasing the high, you might say, “Enough,” but you don’t mean it.  Your partner returns to being attentive and happy, your heart blooms with hope and love, and you are still riding the rollercoaster of addiction.

Why do you do this to yourself?

1.       You may have an addictive personality.

Some of us have addictive personalities.  It is just who we are.  If we aren’t addicted to a person, we can be addicted to food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, work, TV, our phones, video games, and more.

This person may feed your addictions.

2.       You may be repeating old patterns.

Some of us are recreating what we learned at an early age.

Some of us grew up with parents in addictive relationships.

Some of us lost a parent to addiction, whether because the addiction took over the parent’s life and left us with little time with the parent, or because the parent actually died from the addiction.

Some of us grew up without a parent.

Some of us grew up with parents who weren’t constant in their love for us or who showed us that love was conditional upon our meeting their needs and expectations.  We couldn’t rely on them.  We had to provide the love for them, as they couldn’t provide it for us.

Some of us were taught to put other people’s needs always before our own.  If we aren’t caretaking for others, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Some of us are afraid of getting close and so we do a lot to push people away, even if we really want to get close, or we think we do.

What would you like to do differently (if anything)?

If you suspect you are in an addictive relationship, take some time to answer the questions below.

1.       What do you see as signs that you are in an addictive relationship?

2.       If you could change your relationship in any fashion, what would you like to see happening instead?

3.       What are you willing to do to make your relationship better?

4.       What is the other person willing to do to make the relationship better? If you don’t know, that’s a conversation that you need to have, either on your own or with me, a mediator, counselor, or spiritual advisor, or another trusted, neutral professional.

5.       What will you do if the other person isn’t willing or able to do enough to meet your needs? (You can answer this question now or you may wait until after you have implemented the answers to steps 3 and 4.)

You can choose whether to continue with an addictive relationship.  You cannot choose whether or not the other person will relinquish their addictions or their addictive behavior for you.

Please let me know if I can help. You can reach out to me through this website or book time with me on fiverr.