You can deal with the pain of being ghosted in healthy, effective ways.
Ghosting is deeply painful for many people. If you feel confused, anxious, sad, or angry after being ghosted, you are not alone.
Why Ghosting Hurts
All human beings have the core basic need of belonging. Our survival throughout human history required us to live in community. When you are rejected or experience loneliness you will naturally hurt.
Your brain processes rejection and loneliness in the same region as physical pain. Ghosting, in other words, causes literal pain.
You are not over-reacting or too sensitive if ghosting hurts you. Rather you are having a very normal, and understandable, reaction to being denied belonging.
Ghosting Can Cause Trauma
Ghosting also hurts because it can cause trauma. This often happens when ghosting triggers past traumatic memories.
Trauma makes the past feel like the present. When this happens, you may become overwhelmed by painful emotions. Having your traumatic memories triggered by ghosting makes the whole experience even more painful.
You Can Deal with Pain Effectively
Learning to deal with your emotional pain requires finding the right coping skills. These coping skills can be either cognitive or behavioral. An example of a thought-based, or cognitive, coping skill is using self-validation. A behavioral coping skill includes taking a walk when you feel upset or calling a friend.
While there are many coping skills, it’s helpful to find the right coping skills for what you are feeling. There are different coping skills that help most for different emotions and situations.
Dealing with the Pain of Being Ghosted Skill #1: Let Go of Reminders of the Person who Ghosted You
Getting rid of any reminders of the person who ghosted you is important to cope well. Otherwise, every time you see something that reminds you of this person, you are likely to experience another wave of intense, painful emotions.
These reminders may be literal. You may, for example, a sweater or water bottle of theirs in your space. It’s important to get rid of any of these items.
The longer you were with someone, the more stuff you will likely have. This can be an emotional process but it’s essential to clear your environment of triggers of this person who ghosted you. If necessary, call a trusted friend to help you with this cleansing of your space.
Some of your clothing may also hold memories such as what you wore on your first date together. You may not want to get rid of your clothes, but you may choose to pack these items of clothing away until you feel better.
Clean Your Feed
Also, you may need to eliminate reminders on social media of your ghoster.
For your mental health, it’s important to hide or delete this person from your socials. This can be hard to do yet crucial for moving forward. You may reopen the wound of being ghosted without cleaning your feed. This, of course, will only delay your healing process. This is especially true if you see them out on a date!
Tips to Eliminate Environmental Triggers
Anything in your environment which reminds you of the ghoster can delay your healing. To heal as quickly as possible, it’s important to care for yourself effectively and eliminate these environmental triggers.
When you are clearing out items, you may feel tempted to reach back out to the person who ghosted you. One of the stages of grief is bargaining therefore it’s natural to have the hope that if they see your message, they will want to get back with you. But this sort of thinking only prolongs your pain.
To move forward, it’s important to release their items. Remember, they ghosted you. It’s completely appropriate – and healthy – to prioritize your mental health over their stuff. To release their items, you may choose to donate them or use your local Trash Nothing.
Dealing with the Pain of Being Ghosted Skill #2: Work Through Negative Beliefs About Your Worth
One of the most painful things about being ghosted is how it can trigger feelings of low self-esteem. The pain of rejection may seem to “confirm” to you a lack of your worth or desirability.
But feelings are not facts. It’s true that ghosting is very hurtful. Yet, you have inherent self-worth and are truly equal to all other human beings. Of course, when you are struggling with feelings of low self-worth it can be hard to feel the truth of your inherent worth.
To support healing any negative thoughts about yourself, ghosting may have triggered, it’s helpful to explore these beliefs.
Journaling Prompts to Improve Self-Esteem
Take some time to journal your responses to these prompts:
- What do you believe about your worth & value? How does this compare to how you see other people’s worth and value?
- How much do you value other people’s acceptance or approval of you? Do you ever hide parts of yourself because of this need for approval?
Notice any strong negative beliefs you may have about yourself as you journal. If you think critically about yourself, notice how ghosting can intensify these thoughts.
Practice self-compassion too. Notice that it makes complete sense why ghosting hurts so much when you personalize this behavior. However, when a person ghosts you, please know this is a sign they lack relationship skills rather than it being about your worth.
Healing Your Sense of Self
Once you have identified your negative beliefs about yourself which ghosting may have triggered, you will want to identify your hopes.
Journal now about what you want to believe in the future about your worth. If you believe, for example, “I’m destined to be alone,” what do you want to believe instead? Maybe you notice you want to believe “The right people will notice my worth and value.”
Or maybe right now you think “I’m not good enough.” Identify the future belief you want to have about yourself such as “No matter what happens to me, I know I am good enough.”
Look for Proof of Your Worth
Now over time, journal about experiences which validate your hopeful belief about yourself. These will differ for each person, but these may include noticing you have a friend who makes time for you consistently or a supportive supervisor.
Any experience which seems to prove your positive belief about yourself is worth noting in your journal. As you challenge your negative beliefs about yourself, you will ultimately love yourself more. Inherent self-love helps you heal from rejection, including ghosting, faster because you will no longer personalize others’ actions.
Dealing with the Pain of Being Ghosted Skill #3: Express Your Feelings about the Person who Ghosted You
Ghosting hurts intensely, in part, because their silence prevents you from expressing how they impacted you.
Without processing your emotions, these feelings can get stuck. This can lead to a build up of anxiety and ultimately panic attacks. Or you may find yourself snapping at people you love or getting road rage from this build up of emotion.
Furthermore, without caring for our emotions in the face of dating disappointment, it’s easy to build up a wall. Then we start to go on dates feeling like people are guilty until proven innocent. Or we stop dating altogether despite our desire for partnership because it just hurts too much.
Fortunately, despite the ghoster’s silence, you can still express yourself and move your emotions.
Embrace Your Anger
It is often easier to notice you feel grief, rejected, or confused after ghosting. Yet, underneath these feelings, it’s also completely natural to feel angry at the person who ghosted you.
Anger often has a bad reputation. Yet, anger is one of the most empowering emotions. You only feel anger when you have an unmet need or violated boundary. Your anger then reveals you need to be respected in relationships. After all, there are few things more disrespectful than ghosting a person and acting like they don’t exist.
Journal a Letter to Your Ghoster
While it’s not healthy or appropriate to confront your ghoster, you can still express yourself. To do this, you can journal a letter to your ghoster.
Since this letter exists for your eyes only in your journal, you can say whatever you want to say. There is absolutely no need to censor yourself. You can honor your authentic sadness, confusion, or anger without worrying about how you’ll come off.
Continue writing this letter until it feels like you have moved the emotions that are stuck for now. If you find yourself again feeling deeply hurt, angry, or confused, you can always write another letter. Keep moving your emotions until this process feels complete.
You Can Move On after Ghosting
Ghosting truly hurts. You can cope with the pain of ghosting effectively though.
When you choose to eliminate environmental triggers, you allow yourself to heal as quickly as possible. Working on your self-esteem allows you to stop personalizing the ghosting which helps you move on. Finally, journaling a letter to your ghoster allows you to process your feelings rather than feeling stuck.
When you have found you have coped effectively with your emotions after ghosting, please know there are other potential partners out there for you. There are absolutely people out there who will have the relationship skills to not ghost you. You can find your person effectively too even on dating apps. Finally, for support moving forward when you choose to date again, you may choose to read, “How to Make Dating Easier: A 5-Step Guide to Dating Success.”
About The Author, Krystal
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
She is currently working on her third book, Self-Love Made Possible: The 5-Step Guide to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy and Become Your Own Best Friend. To be notified of its release, please join the waitlist here.
Her course, Confidently Authentic: Stop People Pleasing and Start Being True to Yourself, provides the skills necessary to have a healthy relationship. This course features over a year of relationship skills you would learn in therapy. Students share this course has been “life changing.”
Each week, she answers your relationship questions from a place of expertise and compassion. To submit your relationship questions, please DM her @confidentlyauthentic.com or you may send an email to email@example.com to submit your question.