Ghosting comes back on people

Ghosting - what the sudden loss of contact does to us

Ghosting - suddenly disappearing from relationships

For 15 years I have been professionally dealing with the subject of "radio silence", which is now called "ghosting": that is, the sudden disappearance without explanation from close relationships. Ghosting has become the most widely used tool for breaking relationships with the advent of dating and matchmaking platforms. It describes the phenomenon that people with whom one meets, connects, becomes friends or even partners seem to vanish into thin air from one moment to the next.

Messages suddenly go unanswered, for those who stay behind it seems as if they had been dealing with a hologram the whole time - a ghost. This complete radio silence is above all a conflict avoidance tactic, a strategy for coping with fears. Most of the time you stay silent in order to avoid indignant reactions (because arguments or arguments are often perceived as a threat, or at least as annoying and time-consuming). Others keep silent because they feel hurt or out of shame. And then there are those who keep silent in order to punish - or to manipulate.


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Ghosting - breaking contact has the potential for destruction

In any case, as far as I know, ghosting is always accompanied by deep doubts, grief and grief. A sudden loss of contact without explanation has the potential to destroy. When I leave someone close to me like this, I attack his or her basic needs, such as the need for attachment and orientation. After all, we all want to know where we stand and therefore would like to have a say in the outcome of a relationship. Because ghosting massively attacks the substance of human coexistence, it not only has lasting consequences for all those affected, but also for society as a whole.

Today the question of how we get in and out of relationships is the main topic on dating platforms: close relationships and closeness, which could make you vulnerable, are downright feared. At the same time, ghosting is considered to be the absolute catastrophe for relationships. The silence says: "You are not there" or "I have never been there". It's all an illusion. What remains are deeply hurt people who dare to enter into relationships less and less. Your perception is clouded. Did you just imagine everything? Did you do something wrong? Weren't they lovable enough? The permanent presence of absence torments. For people who are being hosted, it is extremely problematic when the other seems to vanish into thin air: it is almost a loss of substance.

We transfer our throw-away mentality to people.

Tina Soliman on ghostingTweet

An example: Laura's life began with the disappearance of her father, who left her mother shortly before she was born. When Laura was a teenager, her mother also disappeared. So from an early age, Laura's life consisted of losses that run like a red thread through her life. Two long-standing and intense relationships with men also ended with the sudden disappearance of the partner. Today Laura's life is peopled with ghosts from the past. She will probably only venture into any kind of relationship with great difficulty.

Ghosting causes serious mental disorders

The neurologist and psychologist Michael Linden speaks of a "post-traumatic bitterness". This is a reactive psychological disorder as a result of experiencing injustice, degradation or a breach of trust, characterized by gnawing feelings of bitterness, aggression fantasies, bad mood, withdrawal from social relationships or narrowing of life. The more often such people are abandoned, the deeper their wound becomes.

Demolitions and cracks are a part of life. But suddenly being abandoned is an attack on identity; we are much more concerned with unresolved issues than well-founded decisions. Silence has always been an effective, albeit brutal, form of showing that something is wrong with the relationship. But something decisive has changed in recent years: This way of dealing with one another has gone from being a shameful accident to being normal with a shrug of shoulders.

Online dating: evokes a throwaway mentality

It started online: In principle, we are constantly deleting people there when we swipe profiles from left to right on dating platforms. Ghosting is an expression of an advanced reification: In online dating you offer yourself like in a virtual supermarket. And do you say goodbye to a product? No. I'm not saying goodbye to a jam. I like it today, not tomorrow. I like you today, not tomorrow. I use you, enjoy you, then I throw you away. In a world in which products and services are available around the clock, this throw-away mentality is evidently carried over to people.

Wouldn't it be the task of the platform operator to counteract this and make it clear that there is a person behind every profile? However, we voluntarily make ourselves a product by placing ourselves on the virtual shelf, which is well stocked thanks to digitization. The others just have to grab it. If you don't fit, you go back, because why shouldn't the ordering principle also apply in relationships?


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Careful acquaintance: Disappears through online dating

Many users praise the freedom of choice but do not know who to choose. You let a catwalk of possibilities pass you by and overlook who one could have been. They stroke the surface of their cell phones more often than other people's skin. The algorithm-generated getting to know each other no longer captures what rapprochement means. Dating portals have fed, calculated and accelerated the encounter, which once happened unintentionally, into their program. This makes the unexpected meeting disappear as well as flirting or carefully getting to know each other. If an encounter does not keep what it - or the algorithm - promised, it will end before it has a chance to become real.

Ghosting did not arise by chance in an age of greatest communication opportunities, and it hurts all the more because there are so many opportunities online to see the "ghost" continue to interact with other people but ignore the abandoned. Norms such as commitment, consistency and interpersonal respect are necessary to keep a society together. If impermanence emerges as the new norm of digital togetherness, the consequences for social togetherness are likely to be massive.

Modern dating: how capable of conflict are we still?

The dating platforms, which are certainly the only way for some to come into contact with potential partners, also facilitate non-binding and irresponsible interaction with one another. But what happens when we no longer compete directly with others and no longer expose ourselves to confrontation? What if we disappear as soon as it gets more complicated? How capable of conflict are we then?


Tina Soliman is a TV journalist (including "Panorama") and has written three books on the subject: "Funkstille", "Der Sturm vor der Stille" and "Ghosting".


Interpersonal interaction seems to be getting more and more difficult. Although we all know that we cannot live without relationships, we avoid everything: closeness, conflict, partnership. Deeper relationships are the essential engine for our personal development. We need them to regulate our fears. The abrupt lack of communication is the unmistakable sound of an era of communication explosion. But there is no answer to the question: "What happened?" Perhaps the more appropriate would be: "What did not happen?"


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