'Ghostlighting' Is The Cruel New Dating Trend That Makes You Question What's Real

'Ghostlighting' Is The Cruel New Dating Trend That Makes You Question What's Real

In 2023, the dating scene feels like an uphill battle.

Putting in too much effort can make you come off as desperate for love, and being nonchalant can make you appear cold and distant. And some could argue that the lines of communication between dating prospects aren’t just blurred, they’re obliterated by the fear of rejection and lack of clarity. Still, when things fizzle out, there tends to be a mutual understanding of providing the other party with at least the slightest bit of insight into why things won’t be moving forward.

But when that doesn’t occur, one behavior that’s easy to fall back into is that of ghosting.

As many of us have come to learn, ghosting has become a common communication default in modern dating. It’s that sudden and complete end to communication and contact with someone, typically in a romantic relationship, without any explanation or prior notice. To be “ghosted” is to be cut off from texts, calls, and FaceTime calls so abruptly that it’s as if the person pulled a full disappearing act on you.

And let’s be clear: no one likes the feeling.

Ghosting hurts. It’s disorienting and confusing, and it leaves the person who was ghosted with unanswered questions that can lead to feelings of rejection and frustration. And let’s not forget, it’s sort of an immature way of ending a relationship in an effort to avoid confrontation. But what’s worse is when the “ghoster” acts as if it never happened in the first place. And that’s when we have a ghostlighting situation on our hands.

What Is Ghostlighting?

The term “ghostlighting” is just as the name suggests, it’s the melding of ghosting and gaslighting — the act of making someone doubt their own reality — that could send even God’s strongest of soldiers into a mental tailspin. It’s when someone vanishes out of your life for an extended period of time, only to return as if it never happened; no explanation or apologies, just a casual, “Hey, how’s it going?”

You’re probably wondering how someone could even have the capacity to do both gaslighting and ghosting to a person, and well, the reasons can vary:

Communication Skills Are Lacking: 

If you’re being ghostlighted, you’re dealing with someone who may be conflict-avoidant. When someone ghosts you, there’s a high chance that they’re avoiding a difficult or uncomfortable conversation, or they may find it challenging to express their feelings, so they choose to disappear instead.

Once their feelings have been processed, days or even weeks later, they could turn up and not think it’s worth rehashing.

They’re Spinning the Block: 

Easily the worst reason of all is a ghostlighter could be trying to see if they can spin the block on you or give you another try. When someone ghostlights you and doesn’t care to mention the reason for their disappearance or apologize for the impact it may have caused, it’s a clear sign of emotional manipulation.

In this case, they could have ghosted you to focus on their “number one” choice, and after things didn’t work out, they’re coming back around to see if there’s still an opportunity to “retry” things with you. And if that happens to be the case: run.

Life Happened: 

Sometimes life’s circumstances can truly get the best of us, and when that happens, we can either face it or run in the complete opposite direction.

Whether they were feeling the pressure from their job, family issues arose, or they hit a bout of depression and didn’t know how to share the news, the needs of their personal life might have taken precedence over that of their romantic responsibilities.

While it sucks to feel like an afterthought in someone’s list of priorities, try your best not to take it personally — after all, it wasn’t you, it was life.

How To Move Forward From Being Ghostlighted

Whatever the case and cause of your ghostlighing experience may be, it’s important to take time to reflect on how it made you feel without internalizing it as a character flaw on your end. Sometimes, a potential match may not work out, but no one deserves to be left wondering “why” or made to believe it never happened in the first place.

When you’ve been ghostlighted, and that person re-enters your life, pause and reflect about how you’d like to respond, stand in your truth, and don’t allow them to fuel any more new feelings of confusion. You know what’s real, and it’s up to you whether you cut them off completely or just need to set proper communication boundaries for what you will and won’t tolerate.

Whatever course of action you choose to take, just remember that no one gets to shape your reality but you.

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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

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