Dating is not what it once was. With so many emotionally immature people in the dating scene, finding love in this day and age can take a toll on just about anyone. Relationships these days are based on temporary feelings because people feel as if they have so many options. In fact, these days, jumping from one person to the other is the in thing. The new trend, ghostlighting, is the combination of two dating phenomena you’re likely already and unfortunately familiar with.
First, there’s ghosting, when someone you’re talking to suddenly disappears or cuts communication with you without explanation—literally, no word. The second is gaslighting, when you’re made to doubt your own feelings, thoughts, intuition, and judgment when they are, in fact, reliable sources of information you should trust.
How do you know if you’re a victim of ghostlighting?
Here’s a scenario of ghostlighting: So, you’ve been seeing this new guy for a few months or even years and then, they pull a slow fade or even worse, totally disappear. They cut communication and even avoid seeing you physically. So you end up frustrated, confused and angry. And even though you have all these feelings of disappointment, you suck it up and decide to reach out to the person ghosting you. You let them know how hurt you are and tell them that you’d prefer it if they were straight up about why they are pulling away.
At the first confrontation, they have the nerve to turn it back on you. For your information, they say, they weren’t ghosting you at all—”just busy!”—and you’re paranoid for thinking it.
How to deal with ghostlighters
Listen to and trust your instincts. Ghostlighting is the worst form of manipulation tactic because it can make a person feel like they’re going crazy, or that they can’t trust themselves. So when you realize that a romantic partner is ghostlighting you, strive to stay firm in your own observations instead of being swayed by what they tell you.
Refuse to fall into a cycle. Let’s say that after being defensive, ghostlighters pull a wild card and tell you they still love you and that they were just overwhelmed with work and life. It can be tempting to believe that you were just overthinking everything and that you’re fine with their disappearing act, since it’s “only temporary,” and you don’t want to give up on them just yet. But you know your truth. Gut instincts exist for a reason: to protect you. If something feels off, it almost always is.
Move on. When you’re ready, you can move on to someone else who is more open and available. The right partner won’t make you doubt your “something is up” instincts or even disappear long enough to make you have them. Wait for that person. They’ll be worth it.