How to Handle Getting Ghosted

At first, you might think that your text message just didn’t go through. Or maybe they just missed it. Not much. Then another text also remains unanswered. You tried to call and you were sent to voicemail without a callback. At the same time, maybe they are still posting on social media, or you hear through the vine that they are chatting with someone else. If you’re facing a new diagnosis or an outbreak of ulcerative colitis (UC), losing someone you thought was there for you could be especially hard to take. You might be wondering if your UC might have something to do with this.

“It hurts more if you’ve established role models,” says Leah LeFebvre, PHD, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Alabama, who studies ghost images and other aspects of romantic relationships. “If you’re used to texting this person all day long, you feel this gap in a different way.”

“Ghosting” has become a popular way to end relationships, especially among young adults, says LeFebvre. The strategy of disruption is most often defined as a one-sided end of all communication. Usually, it comes with little to no warning.

“I generally think ghost images are one-sided,” says Tara J. Collins, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Winthrop University in South Carolina. “Usually a person makes the decision to stop communicating. It can be temporary or permanent. “

Collins says that while the term may be relatively new, it isn’t, or ghosting or breaking up with someone by avoiding or ignoring them. She explains that ghosting combines age-old breakup strategies like avoiding the other person and pulling out of the relationship.

“We live in this environment that has so many different possibilities to communicate with each other digitally,” she says. “This is the only new aspect. You are using technology to send the message, or not, about your desire to end the relationship. “

Why do people ghost

LeFebvre says ghosting is a sign that your partner, or maybe a friend, is no longer interested. This tends to happen when a partner doesn’t feel like they have to justify ending the relationship. Ghost images are more likely when there is a feeling that it wasn’t a particularly intimate relationship to begin with.


Other times a person may have ghosts because they think the relationship is not going in a safe direction or fear the other person’s reaction. If you’ve been a ghost, it can be tempting to think that another partner is involved and, says LeFebvre, it’s possible that’s true.

There is no data to suggest that ghosting is more likely to occur if you have a health condition like UC. Collins says his research suggests ghosting is more about the relationship, not you. It may reflect immaturity on the part of the person doing the ghosting. But it’s more likely to happen in more informal relationships.

“In these situations, it can seem awkward to have a long, seated conversation,” Collins says.

The ghost isn’t always the worst thing that can happen. “It’s funny because when I first started hearing about ghosts there was a lot of rhetoric that it was a really terrible way to end a relationship. The more I examined it, the more nuanced it seemed to me.

How to deal with a ghost

It can help you realize that this loss is not necessarily a reflection of you or your UC. It has become a normal part of dating. LeFebvre’s studies of ghost images show that many people who say they were ghosts also ghost someone else. She says thinking of it as something that is normal life can make the loss easier to deal with.

“Not everyone will be interested in you,” LeFebvre says, “and that’s okay.

Usually the best thing to do when you’ve been a ghost is to move on. You may be able to send a text or two, but if there is no response, there is usually no point in continuing to contact you multiple times. LeFebvre says it will probably only cause you more pain. Maybe you could reach out at first, if only to make sure the other person really ghosts you – and doesn’t think you ghosted him.

“If you do [reach out] and they’re still not responding, take that as a clear signal, ”Collins says.

Your partner may come back at a later date. Sometimes people will use a more temporary form of ghosts to have unwanted relationships, Collins adds. If that’s the case, she says, “you’ll have to ask yourself if this is the kind of relationship you want.”


Can you prevent ghosting?

Since ghosting has become normal and accepted in some circles, at least sometimes, there is no sure-fire way to avoid it. If this worries you, Collins suggests that you talk to your partner or friend about what you are in control of early on in the relationship. It can help you feel closer, which will make ghosting less likely. It will also help you and your partner be on the same page about what to expect from the relationship and how to end it if that time comes.

Sarah Lemansky discovered she had UC in high school. Now 24, she has recently started dating again. His strategy is to be upfront about the CPU from the start. She says she’s heard plenty of stories about people who waited to share their diagnosis until about a month after starting a relationship. Often, she says, this information is not well received and it is never the same again.

“I’ve been blunt from the start that I have poo issues,” Lemansky says. “If you can’t face it, goodbye.”

Lemansky’s confidence in standing up for herself and others is bolstered by a strong community of women she has found who share similar experiences with UC or Crohn’s disease in a group called Girls with Guts. She also relies on her family and on a strong relationship with herself, which she nurtures through creativity and art.

“You have to make room for other people’s comfort levels,” Lemansky says. “If anyone has a problem [with your UC], you can’t force them to be comfortable. It becomes more of a challenge the longer you wait.

WebMD function



Leah LeFebvre, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.

Tara J. Collins, Associate Professor of Psychology, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC.

Sarah Lemansky, patient, Franklin, MA.

Imagination, Cognition and Personality: Consciousness in Theory, Research and Clinical Practice: “Ghost in the romantic relationships of emerging adults: the strategy of disappearance of digital dissolution”.

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