Goodbye ghosters! How to boost your self-esteem in less than an hour

Ghosting: When people suddenly pretend they don’t know you

You know this kind of person:

The girl you used to be friends with turned acquaintance, who still hangs out with your friends. Accidental encounters are usually accompanied by the nagging feeling of not having had closure and the self-worth crushing question of what you’ve done wrong.

The established author you have turned to for career advice, happily answering your questions until the day you send him your (previously requested) work samples. Follow up e-mails and phone calls remain unanswered and leave you with a sour feeling that you are strangely familiar with from somewhere else.

The crush you have been messaging, who replies with one word answers only and who avoids any type of message that could lead to actual conversation. Once again, you feel rejected, cast aside, g h o s t e d.

Ghosting: The cruel act of suddenly ceasing all contact with someone without explanation has happened to most of us at least once and — as I am writing this — I am sure that I too have ghosted someone before without having any recollection of my own cruel actions in the past. (As I consider myself a bit of a goody though, I am guilty rather of “slow fading”, ghosting’s gentle sister, who only gradually ceases communication with someone.)

Two popularly referenced reasons for ghosting are:

“Not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings”.

How honourable! Wait, but then why don’t you just try and break it to them gently if you are so empathetic?

And:

“Saving the time and energy that it requires to deal with someone’s hurt feelings”.

How honest! Wait, but why are you telling this to me and not to the person you have been ghosting if you are so practical and insensitive to other people’s feelings anyway?

The obvious reason is:

F e a r.

The fear of actual interpersonal relationships, which are not rose-tinted fantasies. Please remember that by closing a door on someone, sooner or later another door will open up to them. Whereas, when you leave them in a perpetual state of limbo, that door will not close entirely, leaving little room for other doors to open up all the way.

Another less apparent reason for ghosting is hidden in our subconsciousness: The anticlimactic buzz that we get out of not being interested in someone, who is keen on us, or who needs our friendship or help. Deep down we experience a neurotic high, which is purely based on our fantasies about ourselves. The fantasy of “being out of someone’s league” comes along with positive images about ourselves, such as being “important”, “cool”, “attractive”, “untouchable”, “smart”. The list of desirable traits that we want to be associated with goes on.

So, why do I refer to this phenomenon as a “neurotic high” or “anticlimactic buzz”?

By ghosting we make use of an old defence mechanism, which was formed early on during our childhood years. Even if we have had a fairly decent childhood, there were always moments where we felt helpless and dependent on our parents’ good will. Sometimes we would feel treated unfairly or even poorly. In order to survive this harsh reality we developed an “I don’t need you because I’m smarter than you” pattern, which back then, secured our mental sanity.

Nowadays unfortunately, while not being dependent on our parents anymore, we still relive this old pattern, which prevents us from actually connecting with and disconnecting from people, which turns us into smug, ghosting zombies. This, however, is too harsh a reality for us to accept if we do not accept ourselves as the incomplete human beings that we are. “Smugness”, “paternalism” or “fear of intimacy” are not on our list of desirable traits that we want to be associated with. No one considers themselves a baddy.

The less confident a person is, the more likely they are to ghost someone. So, as a fellow ghostee keep that in mind the next time you come across your estranged friend, the self-centred author or your overly polite, slow fading crush!

Now, after having spent the three minutes that it takes to read this far you probably wonder, what you can ACTUALLY do to boost your self-esteem in less than an hour after it had been crushed by those cruel (yet utterly human) ghosters? The answer to this is the same answer I would give you as far as any interpersonal problem is concerned:

L e t

g o

a n d

a c c e p t .

“How on earth can I let go and accept while my Facebook wall is plastered with their status posts of “great times” and me receiving automatically generated invitations from them to boring events, which I will never attend..? Wait, what?! You mean:

U n f r i e n d

t h e m ?”

Yes, that’s right. A little bit of a Facebook spring clean can go a long, empowering way.


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