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You may or may not have heard of the term “ghosting.” This isn’t a type of haunting, but rather a term now used commonly in the relationship world. Whether your teen is using the word or you heard it on TV, it’s become an everyday occurrence.
What is ghosting?
This is when someone you have some type of relationship with – whether you’re dating or friends – cuts off contact with you without explanation. They stop communicating, stop responding to texts, and unfriend you on social networks.
In essence, they become “ghost-like” in your life. They disappear, but they still haunt you because you received zero closure about the end of the relationship, or why they no longer want anything to do with you. Needless to say, it’s easy to see how this form of silent treatment can wound people, especially teens.
So, why do people ghost in the first place?
So, You’ve Been Ghosted: Why It Might Have Happened
1. The Person Wants to Avoid Conflict or Awkwardness
The number one reason for ghosting is that the person who does it is keen to avoid the awkwardness and discomfort involved in ending a relationship.
The only reason they don’t have to officially “end it” face-to-face is because so much of the dating world (and the social world) is now conducted online. These days, technically no one ever has to have a difficult conversation. They have the safety of screens to hide behind so they don’t have to face hard situations, especially when they may hurt another person.
Simply put, it’s easier for the ghost to stop communicating than let down the ghost-ee gently.
2. The Person Isn’t Mature Enough to Have a Relationship
In many cases, ghosting is a sign of emotional immaturity.
When you forge relationships, you take responsibility for the other person’s trust in you. People who ghost either can’t handle the weight of that trust or get scared about having it at all.
The result? They bolt.
This showcases a lack of maturity and an unpreparedness to build real relationships. More than likely, the person who ghosted has some growing up to do.
3. It Happened to Them and They Now See It As a Normal Part of Dating
More often than not, ghosting and dating go hand-in-hand for many people simply because it reflects their own experiences. The more times someone is ghosted, the more likely they will see it as normal, according to The Huffington Post. This increases the likelihood that they’ll do it to someone else, too.
Ghosting a Friend: Why It’s Hurtful
Ghosting isn’t just something that happens in the dating world – it also happens with platonic friendships, too. It’s especially hurtful when a friend gives you the cold shoulder without rhyme or reason.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, social rejection like ghosting lights up the same parts of your brain that also are tied to physical pain. Scientists have even posited that taking a pain reliever like Tylenol for soothing the pain of social rejection may help.
How to Talk to a Teen Who’s Been Ghosted
Needless to say, if you hear that your teenager has been ghosted by a friend or a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, you should try to be empathetic.
Don’t blow off the situation as “teenage drama.” Your teen may be dealing with deep feelings of hurt, rejection, confusion, and insecurity.
If you can, offer them a nonjudgmental ear so they can voice their feelings. Expressing their hurt and talking it out can offer your teen some relief.
At the same time, reassure your child that the actions of others have no reflection on their worth as a person. Encourage them to move on from the person who ghosted them and focus on their own well-being.
Encourage Your Teen to Treat Others the Way They Want to Be Treated
Ghosting is a phenomenon that is detrimental to any social institution like dating, because it involves being cavalier with others’ feelings. It’s ultimately selfish because it’s less about the ghosted person and more about the one doing the ghosting.
The more this behavior is normalized, the more people will continue to treat each other with little respect in other areas of life.
If you can, teach your teen to rise above negative social behaviors that are deemed acceptable, like ghosting. Ask them to stop and consider the consequences of their actions. How would they feel if someone they cared about ghosted them?
According to Mic, a preferable alternative to ghosting is to send a simple text explaining why you no longer want to pursue the relationship with the person in question. This is an action that’s easy and respectful. Yet, it still minimizes the awkwardness of the break-up that most people dread.
After all, it’s not hard to treat each other like human beings, right?