My stomach was turning in knots. I was anxious, apprehensive, and a bit on edge. To my disadvantage, every passing minute heightened the sensation of all that I was feeling. And then I made the phone call. When she answered, with diplomacy and succinctness, I broke the news. I told her that it wasn’t working out that it’d be best if we ceased all communication.
Her response was, “That’s it – that’s all you had to tell me?”
Judging from her character and personality, I wasn’t surprised. What I did not expect, nor want was a plea that we carry on as a couple. However, I did expect such a quip of a response that echoed invulnerability. I also expected the follow-up text days – a text that, in so many words, said: “I want you back.” Not trying to toot my own horn, but her message did reek of such emotion 🙂.
Why the nervousness?
The truth is twofold. When I was a young boy, I avoided conflict as much as possible. Moreover, as an adult, things have changed. I can confront issues and people unlike before. However, depending on the situation, occasionally I must initiate such episodes with caution and ease. Second, it hurts to hurt other people. Even if in the aftermath of justly breakup, when the other person feels the hurt, it’s a heavy cross to carry.
As for some people, when calling it quits, it is not a heavy cross to bear. There’s no anxiety. No regret. No remorse.
You can call these people strong-willed for their resiliency. But it doesn’t matter, because strong will is only a virtue when exercised within the bounds of morality.
That said, when calling it quits doesn’t involve telling the other party, there’s no decency, diplomacy or virtue. Breaking up without disclosure to the other person has become the accepted norm. This type of split has a name. Gorgeous girls and dapper dudes – they call it ghosting.
I am not, nor will I ever aspire to become a member of the moral justice police. That said, I couldn’t have written this post without admitting that I’ve ghosted before as well.
Yes, it was a long time ago.
Yes, I was young.
But I did it, repented for my sins and vowed never to do it again. And though I can’t speak for everyone, I will theorize that my reasons for disappearing are relatable to others who have also ghosted.
Why did I ghost?
Before I explain, I’ll share what I believe is the most popular reason why others have ghosted.
Based on my conversations with other individuals, as well as other articles written on this topic, it’s probably the most common cause of them all. Simply stated, some will ghost when they don’t care about the feelings of the other person. This reason is justified when the relationship was short-lived, because to some, a short-term relationship is of little significance.
On the contrary, all relationships, short or long, are of significance. The time we invest in other people, be it for one week or more, is of value because our time is valuable. Aside from time invested, lest we not forget the valuable lessons and experiences we’ve sometimes gained from these short unions.
Now, back to me.
In the age of 56k dial-up modems and Netscape web browsers, I ghosted someone.
I did it because:
1) Fear of conflict. I didn’t have it in me to confront the person head on, so I took the easy way out via ghosting. This approach is never a good idea unless a soon to be ex is a crazy as fuck. Otherwise, it’s best to have sincerity and confront the person in real time.
By the way, meeting in the flesh isn’t compulsory in regards to confronting someone. Instead, a phone call will suffice. The funny thing is this: even when we know that our lives aren’t in danger, still, some of us have taken the easy way out via text message breakup or ghosting.
2) Heart breaker’s Remorse. I did not want to hurt anybody. I once stayed in a relationship longer than I should have, all because I didn’t want to hurt the other person. That’s crazy! Ironically, I was hurting both myself and my partner. My continued participation in that relationship yielded falsity of emotions and ultimately wasted her time, as well as mine.
Fear of conflict + Heart breaker’s remorse constitute both:
a) my rationale for ghosting.
b) nervousness when ending a relationship.
Furthermore, the common denominator in both scenarios was this: Discomfort.
The Fix: Finding Comfort in Discomfort
One of the things I wish I had learned early in life was the importance of finding comfort in discomfort. This means stepping outside of the zone of comfort to embrace adversity head-on. It’s a fact that too much comfort prevents courage. As silly as it may sound, finding comfort in discomfort is ancillary to absolute comfort – that’s a lot of comfort!
Let me explain –
Recall my reasons for pre-breakup nervousness and ghosting – the common denominator for both episodes was discomfort. Everyone, I lacked comfort within myself, hence my inability to confront adversity without reluctance or worse, absenteeism as in ghosting.
Instead, had I had comfort while in an uncomfortable situation, the idea of discomfort becomes defunct. That said, the result is absolute comfort.
OK, so how does one find comfort in discomfort? One can achieve this via:
2 Marginalization of all things that appear significant.
Concerning practice, what I don’t suggest is you purposely initiate and end relationships just as soon as you started them.
No. instead, practice with other people. It doesn’t have to be a significant other.
For instance, say that there is a pending issue between you and someone in your life – a matter that you’ve wanted to discuss, but could not because of discomfort. Now is your opportunity to say what’s on your mind and confront the issue head-on.
“But it’s too hard and I’d rather not…”, You say. Of course. But there is a way.
Accordingly, you must marginalize the issue. In The Perils of Perfection in Everyday Conversation, I spoke of VIP – people we’ve placed on golden pedestals. Psychologically, you must marginalize the stature of the issue or person you must confront. In many cases, we make things bigger than what they are.
For this point, you must remember the following:
Pretty boys, gorgeous girls, celebrities, our peers – all of whom are under the umbrella of VIP – are normal flesh and blood human beings.
Again, practice. If you’ve got an array of unresolved issues on your plate, categorize them, starting with the most minuscule of them all. Ease your way into the regimen of confronting problems and people.
Marginalize the giants in your head. If confronting something or someone does not result in death or severe injury, then what have you got to lose?
Over time, you’ll gain a newfound perspective and strength in relations to taking adversity head-on. And, too, you’ll find comfort in discomfort, thus absolute comfort.
A Requiem for Ghosting
In acknowledgment of the mantra “You don’t owe anyone anything” – this is true – but to an extent. In regards to relationships and breakups, there is no law or mandate which enforces in the flesh meetings or phone call sessions for calling it quits.
You can continue to ghost or break up via text with impunity.
However, in the vein of decency and respect, it’s best to do the right thing.
Despite the length of your soon to be nonexistent relationship, or the perceived resilience of the other person, break it off the right way.
One critical truth to remember is this: our relationships with one another affect our quality of life. If we treat others with disrespect and hate, we’re reweaving the fabric of society with cheap cloth. Conversely, treating one another with respect and maintaining healthy-loving relationships helps to rewrite the flawed policies of relationship etiquette.
Lastly, anyone can ghost. Anyone can text. However, a responsible person operates with decency, maturity and tact. Through practice, marginalization of all pseudo giants, acquisition of absolute comfort and ultimately, anti-ghosting, you build character.
In closing, RIP to Ghosting, for now, and forever more.