Consult with Krystal
A few weeks ago, this guy I had been seeing stopped responding to my texts – I got ghosted and it hurts. We weren’t officially dating or anything, but I was really excited about the potential. It had been a long time since I felt I was on the same page with someone. He seemed really attracted to me and it was mutual. But not only that, we had really good, deep conversations. We are both avid readers and love psychology. It felt so exciting to connect on that level with someone.
But out of nowhere, he stopped responding to my texts. We had plans to get together for dinner but when I texted to confirm, I received no reply. At first, I was worried that something had happened to him but then I saw him post on social media, so I know he’s alive. Ever since I got ghosted, I’ve been unusually depressed because it hurts so much. I know I’m being too sensitive. I know I should just get over it, but I don’t know how.
My friends keep telling me that it’s not a big deal because I can do better. But I don’t think they understand that he and I had a real connection. I know that ultimately, he probably is a narcissist or just has avoidant attachment, but this doesn’t help. I find myself just fantasizing about ways I can help him heal like sending him articles on attachment styles or recommending a therapist so we can be together. Deep down, I know this probably isn’t a good idea so I’m open to some ideas about how I can get over this pain after I got ghosted. Any ideas?
-Needing a ghostbuster
It hurts to be ghosted
Thank you for writing in. First, I want to validate how painful being ghosted is – it really hurts! Sometimes, it seems there’s an idea that if you weren’t in a “real relationship,” then you can’t possibly experience the hurt of disappointment and rejection. But that’s just not true. I find the more hopeful, and excited, we were about a connection, the deeper it cuts to be ghosted.
The fact you “weren’t officially dating,” doesn’t change the fact that you were becoming emotionally attached to this guy. There is nothing wrong with that – of course, you were feeling close to him and feeling hopeful. It sounds like it has been a long time since you felt there was both mutual attraction and a meeting of the minds. These types of connections are rare. This makes being ghosted all the more painful and confusing.
You can cope with the pain of being ghosted
While it does hurt to be ghosted, there are healthy coping skills to help you process this pain. Once you process this hurt after being ghosted, then you can feel like you can truly move on. In this article, I will provide three coping strategies to help you process your feelings of hurt after being ghosted.
You may find that just trying one coping skill helps or, you may benefit from using a combination of these coping skills. Take your time to care for your feelings and in time, you will feel resolved after being ghosted.
Coping Strategy after Being Ghosted #1: Validate your emotions
When we experience pain, rejection, or disappointment, it’s easy to fall into the trap of invalidating our emotions. Signs of self-invalidation include telling ourselves that our emotions are “stupid” or that we “should” just get over it. I see that you are invalidating yourself as you say you are being “too sensitive” and you “should just get over it.”
I also hear your friends, while well-meaning, are dismissing your pain. This reaction to your emotions is understandable. There is a cultural idea in the U.S. that sadness is weakness. This message is amplified by the current cultural phenomenon of “toxic positivity.” This is when people falsely believe that only positive emotions are valid. When someone believes that you don’t have the right to your pain because “at least” you have positive experiences in your life, this is toxic positivity. When someone believes any uncomfortable emotion like pain or anger is “bad” or “killing the good vibes,” this is toxic positivity.
How to validate your emotions
Despite these messages, as a licensed therapist, I can tell you for a fact there are no “bad” or weak emotions. They are all valid, and natural to experience. All emotions, when honored, have a gift for us. For example, the gift of sadness is it allows for positive change, healing, and the understanding of our personal resiliency. While it is true you will find a better match for you in the future – one who is emotionally available – it’s also true your pain right now is valid.
To validate your emotions, you simply honor that you feel a certain way and it makes sense. In this situation, you may self-validate by saying to yourself, “I’m hurt, and it makes sense I was hurt because I was really hopeful about [insert the guy’s name here].” Or, you may say, “It’s ok I’m hurt.” While, of course, self-validation doesn’t erase the fact that you were ghosted and it hurts, it lessens the pain because you are no longer shaming yourself for your emotions. Instead, you are providing kindness to yourself which feels like a relief.
Related: How to stop judging emotions for better relationships
Coping Strategy after Being Ghosted #2: Practice self-compassion
After being ghosted, it’s common to personalize this rejection. While I don’t hear you doing this, it’s important to mention in case you are. Often, being ghosted will trigger insecurities which make people think that this rejection is a sign you will be alone forever or that you are worthless. These reactions make sense as being ghosted really does hurt but at the same time, a person choosing to ghost you is never a sign of your worth. Instead, it is only a sign that they lack mature emotional or relationship skills.
If a person is personalizing the rejection after being ghosted, it’s important to practice self-compassion. This is the practice of both giving yourself grace by validating your emotions while remembering you are not alone in your pain.
How to practice self-compassion
Over the course of my dating life, I was ghosted quite a bit and I felt so alone in this. I took this as a sign that I truly am worth nothing. I also believed that I was the only person experiencing such pain and rejection. But had I been able to practice self-compassion back then, I would have remembered that rejection is a part of life. All human beings experience rejection and failure – it’s part of the human condition.
When you remember that it’s a part of being alive to experience rejection, you can be kinder to yourself and not fall into the trap of feeling like a loser or that you’ll be alone forever. If you put yourself out there, and dating requires such vulnerability, along the way, you will inevitably experience rejection and disappointment. When you’re self-compassionate, you are kind to yourself in this pain but don’t personalize it.
Related: What is self-compassion?
Coping Strategy after Being Ghosted #3: Stop analyzing why you were ghosted
I completely understand being curious as to why this guy ghosted you. It’s natural to want an answer when you are ghosted. It makes sense that you want this answer so you may help fix the problem and get him to return. Yet, this thought experiment is ultimately unhelpful and only reinforces your pain.
While he may be a narcissist, or have avoidant attachment, it’s not helpful to try to diagnosis him. This pattern of thinking leads you to fall into the trap of believing this is a problem you can fix. You know this is not a helpful practice, deep down. Furthermore, when a person falsely believes they can fix another person, this is a sign of codependency which is an unhealthy relationship pattern.
Related: The meaning of “codependency” and how to find healing
In my own codependency, I spent 11 years, on and off, trying to understand a chronic ghoster in my life. Often, I’d find myself obsessing as to why he kept ghosting me despite these amazing things he would tell me and my sense we really connected. But the real turning point in my life was when I realized, it didn’t matter why he kept ghosting me.
While my mind wanted to have an answer, understandably, ultimately, the most important thing was he made the choice to ghost me. Yes, of course, his pattern of ghosting me meant something about him but it was never my job to fix this. I was finally able to heal my dating patterns, and find my person, when I fully accepted actions always speak louder than words.
How to stop thoughts of analysis
It’s easier said than done to stop thinking unhelpful thoughts so a tangible coping skill is to practice thought stopping. You can stop the train of unhelpful thoughts through mindfulness. Being mindful, by the way, is the third tenet of self-compassion.
You can interrupt your thoughts of analysis by focusing on your breath – the inhalations, and exhalations. Or you may practice 478 breathing. You can distract your thoughts by focusing on cleaning or organizing. Or you can practice mindfulness by counting how many red items are in your room (or any color), or how many trees you can see from your window (or any object from any place).
You will find it’s almost impossible to keep analyzing the situation when you are fully mindful. This will help you no longer pick this scab so you may be gentle with yourself and truly heal.
Seek professional support as needed
By practicing these coping skills, you will likely help you stop hurting so much after being ghosted. Yet, if you find that these feelings of sadness and being “unusually depressed,” linger, I encourage you to speak to a therapist. Healing hurt can sometimes require support and guidance.
This is especially true if being ghosted triggered an abandonment trauma. This may be conscious i.e., if you hold a belief that you will always be alone, or people will always leave. Or this trauma may not be obvious. For example, you may deep down be terrified of abandonment after your parents’ divorce but may not clearly see that you carry this wounding. If this resonates with you as you read this, please seek support as trauma healing is completely possible but should be done with a licensed professional. To find a therapist in your area, you may use the Psychology Today directory.
Related: Dating with Trauma: What you need to know
This pain will heal
While this pain after being ghosted still feels so raw, understandably, in time with commitment to caring for your emotions, you will process this hurt. Take your time to feel your emotions without rushing yourself to start dating again if this doesn’t feel right. Try these coping strategies to see how they start to help. They are a practice though – you may need to practice these skills daily and throughout your day at first.
When your pain feels less intense, and when are you ready to date again though, I encourage you to read my article “Dating Sucks: 6 Ways to Change This & Actually Enjoy Dating” to guide your process in the wisest way possible. While we can’t prevent pain, or disappointment, as they are a part of life, this article will help you with dating effectively as needed.
I’m sending love for your healing process!
About The Author, Krystal
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. She has focused her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She teaches 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.
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 us @confidentlyauthentic.com or you may send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your question.