It sure is tough out there in the dating world. While technology, dating apps, and the internet have certainly made some things about dating easier (i.e. Tinder, FaceTime, and read receipts,) it’s made many things more difficult, too.
Having the whole world at your fingertips has benefits, but constant access to everyone and everything can also put a strain on communication. This probably has a lot to do with how ghosting became a full-blown dating epidemic.
As if getting ghosted isn’t traumatic enough, ghosters are rarely gone forever. Just when you think you’ll never hear from the guy who ghosted you again, he always seems to pop back up–sometimes even years later. What do you do when the guy who ghosted you comes back to haunt you?
How To Know You’re Being Ghosted
Dating is hard on pretty much everyone. Getting dumped by a new flame you’re taking an interest in is a rare kind of pain. But, sometimes, they don’t even have the decency to tell you when they want things to cool down. This is when ghosting happens.
Ghosting is when someone you’re seeing stops communication with you without formally ending things or explaining why. This can take many different shapes. Some ghosts will slowly start to give shorter and shorter responses until reaching out to them no longer feels worth it. And, some will just vanish into thin air – ceasing to respond or get in touch with you entirely.
Ghosting, in whatever form it takes, can twist the knife of getting dumped just a little extra. Not only are you sad and rejected, but you get no closure or understanding of what happened. It can be hard not to wonder if it’s really over or if you’ll be hearing from him again.
What Is ‘Breadcrumbing?’
The art of ghosting is all about creating confusion and avoiding responsibility. Ghosts will make you feel unsure of where you stand with them. People are often left wondering, “am I actually being ghosted?” or thinking things like, “something’s off, but he just reached out today.” If this is happening to you, you’re likely the victim of a special kind of ghosting: breadcrumbing.
Breadcrumbing is basically another way of saying “leading someone on.” Instead of just disappearing from your life, they’ll leave you “breadcrumbs” to keep you interested. This usually means checking in every now and then or sending a quick, flirtatious text. So, now you can get ghosted without even knowing you’re getting ghosted. But, fear not. Here’s how to spot a breadcrumber right off the bat.
If you worry you’re being breadcrumbed, you probably are. You’ll feel the person pulling away. Breadcrumbers are often hot one second and cold the next. Another telltale sign of a breadcrumber is when they keep in touch with you, but they are less invested than you are in actually seeing each other IRL. It’s easy to think “why would they reach out if they aren’t interested in me?” While that thinking makes sense for most of us, breadcrumbers want to keep you on the line even if they have no interest in a relationship with you.
So, why does breadcrumbing happen? Breadcrumbers don’t want to date you, be a partner, or have any kind of responsibility. What they do want is to have you at their mercy. Breadcrumbers want the ability to reach out to you and the feeling that you’re waiting to hear from them. They want to emotionally manipulate you for their own enjoyment.
Possible Reasons They Ghosted You
It’s difficult to grapple with getting ghosted. And, it’s not always easy to understand why they did what they did. Here are five common reasons people ghost:
1. They’re Just Not Interested
When a guy loses interest in you, (or never really had it) he may not feel the need to formally end things. As far as he’s concerned, if he’s finished with the relationship, the relationship is finished. He thinks it doesn’t need any more explaining than that.
2. Life Got In The Way
It can be hard for some of us to understand, but some people put dating on the backburner when life gets busy or difficult.
3. They’re Avoidant
Everyone has one of the four attachment styles, and this dictates how they deal with relationships. People with an avoidant attachment style are likely to avoid difficult conversations. They might opt to disappear rather than tell you what’s going on.
4. It’s Been Too Long
Sometimes when you don’t text someone for a while, it can feel awkward to strike a conversation back up.
5. The World We Live In Makes It Easy
Ghosting has become so commonplace that some people think it’s a fair way to end something. Some people think that dating or “situationships” don’t require a big breakup conversation.
What To Do When A Ghoster Returns
When it comes to dating, ghosts almost always come back. It seems strange that someone would bother to return after disappearing, but this is actually very common. There are many reasons why your ghost might come back to haunt you. So, how do you move on from there? Here’s what to do when the guy who ghosted you reaches out:
1. Remember How It Felt To Get Ghosted
Regardless of how you may feel about the person who ghosted you, it can be overwhelming to hear from them again. Think about how it felt when you first realized you were being ghosted. You may have been shocked because you felt things were going well. Maybe you felt heartbroken. Or, maybe you didn’t even care much about losing this person, but it hurt your self-esteem. Identify how you really felt when this happened; it will affect whether or not you want to engage with him again.
2. Identify What You Want
Once you’ve identified how you felt when you were ghosted, think about what you want moving forward. You might simply want closure. Maybe you want to put an end to this chapter. Or, maybe you want to give your ghost another chance. Figuring out what you want will make your next step clearer.
3. Embrace The Moment
One of the most difficult parts of getting ghosted is losing control over the situation. Relationships should have a healthy balance of power, and ghosting removes that. Losing control can cause anxiety, confusion, and even panic. When your ghost reaches out to you, they’re returning the control. Keep this in mind if you start feeling overwhelmed by what to do next or tempted to rush to respond. Take your time, and enjoy the fact that the next move is entirely up to you.
4. Give It Some Time
If you’ve decided that you want to have a conversation with your ghost, you may feel pressure to get back to him right away. There’s nothing wrong with giving it a few days and getting yourself to a place where you feel ready/confident in your decision. Plus, giving him time to enjoy a taste of his own medicine might help him realize that ghosting is not okay.
If you’ve decided that you don’t need anything from your ghost, you don’t have to respond. Responding in any way opens the door for further communication. If you’re over it, there’s no need to complicate things. Don’t give them the satisfaction of accomplishing what they set out to do: hear from you. Not only will they get the point, but it feels so good to imagine them waiting for a response.
6. Hit The Block Button
Not responding puts a halt to the potential conversation, but there’s always a chance of a double text, and it could leave you wondering what might happen next. Blocking him puts a definite end to the conversation and will get him out of sight and out of mind.
If you decide to exorcise your ghost once and for all, it’s a good idea to follow it up by unfollowing him. Your ghost isn’t as important as he seems; he’s really just some guy. Constantly seeing him on your Twitter feed makes him seem like a bigger deal than he is. If you choose to end the relationship, getting him out of your social media feeds will make it much easier to move on. (And, yes. This means no checking his tagged Instagram photos, either.) That’s the ultimate trick to ghost-busting.
There are a few reasons why you may want to respond to your ghost. One reason to respond is to end things formally. He should’ve ended things by being clear and communicative. Now, you have the opportunity to do so. You can tell him it’s over while giving both of you closure.
Another reason to respond is to call him out: Ghosts shouldn’t be able to get away with what they did. Whether you intend to rekindle your romance or kick him to the curb, it’s helpful and cathartic to make him acknowledge what he did instead of treating it like the elephant in the room.
In modern dating, society has made many of us feel that being clear about our needs for commitment or respect makes us needy or overbearing. It doesn’t. It’s normal to have needs. And, this is a great time to make them clear by asking what will change if you give the ghost another chance.
What Should You Say?
If you do choose to reply to your ghost, what do you say? Here are a few options:
- ‘Hey – has everything been okay for the past [ amount of time]? I’ve been worried.’ If something in his life has kept him away, he has the opportunity to tell you about it. If not, he’ll feel rightfully guilty.
- ‘Why are you reaching out to me?’ This is about as straightforward as it gets. He’ll have to explain himself if you’re going to continue the conversation.
- ‘Hey! Just so you know, I’m only interested in talking if we’re going to have open and consistent communication.’ He’ll know he’s making a commitment to consistency if he wants you in his life.
- ‘I’m surprised to hear from you. I’m willing to start talking again, but I need to know what will be different now.’ This is a great way to set a boundary. He’ll have to tell you whether or not it’ll be worth it to continue being in contact with him.
- ‘This is [your name here.] Did you mean to text someone else?’ He definitely meant to text you. But, this makes it clear how strange it is that he was silent for so long and thinks he can just strike up a conversation.
- ‘I’m glad you reached out. Now I can tell you how happy I am that you disappeared on me. You did me a big favor. I’m blocking you now.’ You get the opportunity to say your piece, and he knows what he did and that it’s over.
- ‘I’m not interested in chatting. I’ve moved on.’ This is direct and will end the conversation.
- ‘I have a huge problem with ghosting. Don’t text me again.’ This will also set the boundary that you don’t want to talk anymore, but there won’t be any question that he knows what he’s done wrong.
- ‘I’m not interested in talking to you anymore, but I hope things are well.’ This is the text to send if you want to end communication while still being gentle and cordial.