It doesn’t seem likely, does it? Someone who you’ve been in a relationship with for years, possibly even lived with or have a family with has up and left you without a word. Unless you were an awful, abusive partner, the situation is hard to fathom, but it does happen. You have been ghosted.
Being ghosted in a long-term relationship is indeed a painful and confusing experience. However, like with any painful experience in life, things will get better with time. Dealing with being ghosted in a serious relationship means focusing on your own health, growth, and the healthy relationships you have.
Is it Okay to Ghost Out of a Serious Relationship?
According to our Quora survey, when asked the question “Is it okay to ghost out of a long-term relationship?”, 100% of the respondents said NO, it is not okay.
The consensus was; unless you are being threatened with physical or mental abuse and you have no other way out, it is never a good idea to ghost your long-term partner.
Most of us would agree that just leaving someone suddenly and without warning is not a behavior that should be encouraged.
Ghosting has a cowardly element to it that makes the level of disrespect felt by the ghosted, even more intense.
It is an emotionally damaging act and could be quite traumatic to the person left behind, especially if they have low self-esteem. After having invested in the relationship, they are left with nothing, and in an instant, must start over again.
Why Do People Ghost?
Why do people ghost? Is it just that they are cowards who won’t make the effort to have a difficult conversation with someone they are supposed to care for? Or is there more to it?
According to this Huff Post article, it is more complicated than that.
Ghosting is a behavior that stems from a desire to avoid conflict. The ghoster is unwilling or perhaps incapable of facing conflict and perhaps believes that they are sparing their partner unnecessary pain. They are emotionally immature.
In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Dr. Freeman et all, discuss the characteristics of someone who ghosts their partner.
They found that a ghoster tends to subscribe to the idea of destiny. They use white or black thinking where their partner is either the “one” or they aren’t, the relationship is good or it’s not.
The relationship ends for them without you even knowing it and they don’t see the point in continuing with a relationship that isn’t going to meet their all or nothing point of view.
5 Tips to Help You Deal With Being Ghosted in a Serious Relationship.
1. Resist the Urge to Retaliate
It may be difficult not to lash out. This is understandable. Someone that you loved and trusted just up and left your long-term relationship without a word of explanation. You’re going to be angry.
Yes, revenge can be sweet. However, sinking to your partner’s level will probably only give you some temporary, momentary pleasure and give them validation for their behavior.
The best revenge when someone ghosts you is to build yourself up and become the best, strongest version of yourself that you can possibly be. This may look like a fresh new hairstyle, a new workout routine, a new job, or maybe even a move to a new location.
Need more info on how to resist the urge to communicate with your ex? Check out my article on How (NOT) To Respond to Someone Who Ghosts You.
2. Don’t Ask for an Explanation (more than once)
This is a matter of self-respect. If you are seeking further communication or an explanation from your ex, you are compromising your self-respect.
Understandably, you may reach out once after you realize that you are being ghosted, just to see if they have been physically harmed in some way.
However, once you know that no, they haven’t been abducted by aliens, it’s time to go silent.
When someone ghosts you, they are not treating you with respect. When you reach out to them, you are indirectly saying that it’s okay for them to treat you that way.
Check out Coach Natalie below. She does an excellent job of explaining why your silence is the best response to being ghosted.
3. Take Care of Yourself Physically
Now is not the time to skip meals and lay around doing nothing.
Of course, you may need some extra rest but don’t forget to take extra good care of your body during this stressful time. How well you are physically will directly impact how well you can deal mentally and emotionally with what is going on.
Stress lowers the immune system and the last thing you want is to develop an infection or other illness after being ghosted in a serious relationship.
If you don’t have the energy for your usual work-outs, go for walks. Tend to the tension in your body through an online yoga class or follow along with a YouTube video on gentle stretching.
Here is a great, 7-minute stretch routine for relieving stress and anxiety.
4. Tend to Your Self-Esteem
Depending on the level of dependency that existed in your long-term relationship your self-esteem is bound to suffer, at least a little bit.
If you relied heavily upon your partner to make you feel like a worthwhile human being, you will have to learn to build your self-esteem independent of them.
It is not uncommon for partners to be over-dependent on each other. We can get used to looking to an outside source to make us feel good about ourselves. We may not even know we are doing it.
Over-dependency is when you find yourself struggling to return to emotional independence when needed. For me, this involves a lot of worry and obsessing over what someone else thinks of me.Jessica King, intern Couple and Family Therapist
According to this skillsyouneed.com article, self-esteem can be fostered and grown by doing the following;
- Identify and Challenge Your Negative Beliefs
- Identify the Positive About Yourself
- Build Positive Relationships—and Avoid Negative Ones
- Become More Assertive and Learn to Say No
- Improve Your Physical Health
- Take On Challenges
5. Understand That it Isn’t Your Fault
When someone chooses to end a serious relationship through ghosting, their behavior is a reflection of them and their inability to act in an emotionally mature way.
In the unlikely scenario that you have committed some horrible abuse against that person, them ghosting you is not your fault.
People who ghost tend to lack the emotional maturity and the skills required to face intense confrontation. Perhaps their childhood was filled with abuse or they lacked proper role-modeling as a child, whatever the reason they lack communication skills, the onus lies on them to be accountable for their choices.
No one is perfect. We all bring our faults and insecurities to our relationships. In a perfect world, we should all receive respectful communication and honesty from those we trust and love the most.
Always remember that you are not responsible for the actions of others. Especially when that action is to end a serious relationship without explanation. You are not to blame.