Before I begin this letter, I should probably clarify what it means to be “ghosted”, for those fortunate enough to not be in the know. To be “ghosted” is simply to be in that situation when someone in an ongoing relationship decides to cut off all communication from the other party, usually without any explanation given. It derived from the trend of dating apps and the idea of casual flings, where one would perhaps feel less of an obligation to continue the conversation, but nowadays, this particular term is also used for platonic relationships.
Most of the people who speak out about this phenomenon are those who have been ghosted, and for good reason. It’s a downward spiral of confusion, to anxiety, and then a disgusting mixture of hatred, self-loathing and rage, and you can’t keep that in for long, no matter how mature you are or how above it all you may claim to be. It’s an awful place to be in, and yet it’s not necessarily a place you can’t choose but to be in, because I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and I’ve come out a stronger person because of it.
While I have been ghosted several times in my short span of life, I’m not sure I’ve actually experienced much more than the first sting of sadness and a sense of loss when the other person wouldn’t reply me anymore, out of the blue. I’ve read the experiences of people who have continued to pursue the relationship and gotten burned in the process; I’ve had once-friends who did the same to me, and I couldn’t bring myself to follow through anymore. I’ve had almost strangers texting me and dropping the subject after a few days of radio silence, easily moving on and I was all the more glad for it.
Which makes me sound like a wretched human being, but hear me out, if you’d like.
I’m far from being a serial ghoster, but I’ve done it a number of times, perhaps a little less recently. Thank God for the semblance of emotional maturity that adulthood brings, I suppose. The idea that romance is dead and we millennials as a generation are incapable of long-lasting relationships is a ridiculous notion, in my point of view, but only because everything is overshared, and the dating apps and the constant texts and “slide into my dms” are merely making the dysfunctional side of society a lot more obvious than it ever was. However, I can’t deny that for a lot of us, the concept of casual dating and no strings attached is one that’s so sought after in relationships, because of the numerous other responsibilities we have, coming into adulthood. It’s not a completely logical notion, sure, but it sure is pretty attractive. Walking away is a lot easier with a looser grip.
And perhaps we’ll know when we’re ready to cross that bridge together, but to everyone I’ve ghosted, obviously it wasn’t going to be with you.
Nevertheless, looking back on the past few years, it’s never been about malice from my side, when I inevitably ghosted you. Call it self-preservation. Call it growing up. Call it moving on; call it any loathsome name you’d like and it probably wouldn’t be close to the actual reason. Logically, I knew that there would be some degree of hurt experienced by the other party, but again, that’s changeable, in and of itself.
Because what I can’t understand is the act of uselessly longing for something, or someone I can’t have anymore, because moping about it would be unproductive. Brooding is not a great look on me and if the other party wouldn’t give me the clean break, I’d give it to myself. Drowning in self-loathing and wondering what went wrong would be a waste of time, my time; and there is always a better use for my time than dwelling on the what ifs and could bes of that relationship. Because my self-worth isn’t dependent on how much people like me (no matter how few that might be), and if a ghosting happens, there’s no use trying to pick apart the texts and overanalysing our old conversations.
If there’s one thing that people do consistently, it’s that we change. We are continuously being molded and reshaped according to our experiences, and life events, and unexceptional memories and that includes relationships of any kind, with anyone. Ghosting is sad, yes, but it happens. It happened between you and me, and it’ll happen between us and different people, and honestly, if we hadn’t given a name to this occurrence, it wouldn’t have gained this much power over our thoughts and self-esteem. We’d probably just know it as a thing that happens, and moving on would be a piece of cake without attaching all these obscure meanings and connotations, when what truly happened was merely the immediate halt of communication between two people.
So to everyone I’ve ghosted; to those I’ve exchanged pleasantries and promised plans that were bound to fall through, to the ones that have revolved around my orbit for too many years until I decided to move away to another constellation, and to everyone else that doesn’t fit anywhere: I wish I was a little more sorry about ghosting you, which is why this isn’t anywhere close to an apology. But endings aren’t always a Hollywood brand, and we just didn’t end up with a happy one, that’s all. The harsh truth is that sometimes, just sometimes, people ghost and there’s not really any good reason, or even a reason at all for it. And I can’t speak for myself, but that doesn’t make every single person who’s ghosted someone else is the worst scum ever. It just makes them flawed, scratched up, and utterly human, same as you and me.