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Ghosting (Ultimate Silent Treatment): A Sign of the End of a Relationship

For most people, breaking up is not an easy task due to the emotional involvement entailed in delivering the bad news of a breakup and the drama that might ensue. These are the major reasons why people choose to employ ghosting rather than relating the news in person, through call or text.

While ghosting is an effective means of ending a relationship with no questions asked and no explanations required, is it a justifiable-humane action to undertake?



What is Ghosting?

Ghosting is a form of silent treatment. It refers to severing all means of communication or contact without notifying the concerned person of his/her decision to cease communication with them.

Not only is communication brought to an abrupt end, the initiator of the silent treatment doesn't respond to calls or texts from their other significant one. In the mind of the recipient of the silent treatment, their partner appears to have ceased to exist.



Reasons Why People Ghost Their Partners

There are several reasons why people ghost their partners.

  1. They feel they don't have the mental strength to relay their decision to break up with their partners.
  2. They are afraid or worried how their partners might react (and also how they might respond to their partners' reaction). Will drama ensue during the breakup?
  3. To escape the emotions they might experience during the breakup or witnessing the immediate emotional effects of the breakup.
  4. Their feelings for their partners has dwindled. They no longer feel any emotional attachment towards their partners. At this point, they don't care to let their partners know they're no longer interested in them.

The Problem With Ghosting

Remaining silent isn't a full-fledged tactic to use despite the reasoning behind it.

When you've been ghosted, you don't know what to make of the silence. Has something happened to your lover? Is your partner doing fine? There are no cues to provide a glimpse why your partner has remained silent by not contacting or responding to your calls or texts. Worry and concern registers in your mind because you're not used to the silence.

As time goes on, it dawns in your mind you have been dumped. Your partner ghosted you without providing the reason(s) for the breakup and not giving you an opportunity to respond to his/her decision. You're bombarded with questions and the realization that you should have noted earlier on.

Hurt, anger, hatred, rejection sets in. You feel it isn't fair. It isn't justifiable. You feel that person used you. More questions and uncertainty flood your mind without providing any evidential answer: Why was I blind to fall for him? Why didn't I see it coming? I wish I hadn't accepted his love in the first instance.

Unable to know the reason for the silence (breakup), you dig into the relationship for cues that might have led to the breakup. You're tortured psychologically because you don't have the answers, you weren't offered an explanation and the person walked out of your life as if it wasn't a big deal.

Your partner didn't give you a chance to express your emotions or respond to his decision to break up with you. It comes outright as lack of consideration on your part. You feel the person doesn't respect you enough to involve you in his/her decision. Why, you ask, did he/she treat me as if I'm nothing to him? As if I don't have a mind of my own or emotions to deal with.

Doctor Janice Vilhauer states in her article, 'Why Ghosting Hurts So Much' published on Psychology Today, "For many people, ghosting can result in feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable. If you have known the person behind more than a few dates then it can be even more traumatic. When someone we love and trust disengages from us it feels like a very deep betrayal."

Furthermore, she states, ghosting "essentially renders you powerless and leaves you with no opportunity to ask questions or be provided with information that would help you emotionally process the experience. It silences you and prevents you from expressing your emotions and being heard, which is important for maintaining your self-esteem."

This type of treatment is considered by health professionals as a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse.

Who are More Prone to Ghosting?

There are people who have no problem with ghosting. They can do it again without giving a second thought to it. According to Dr. Theresa E. DiDonato in her article, 'The Truth About Ghosting to End a Relationship' that appears on Psychology Today, she remarks some people who subscribe to destiny beliefs tend to think ghosting is a preferable way to end a relationship. Destiny beliefs refer to preconceived thoughts that being in a relationship with a person was meant to be the case and by breaking up with the person, the two were never meant to be together.

While it's difficult to know which people are prone to apply ultimate silent treatment, there are several predictors that can indicate a person is heading in that road. One such predictor is when people lean on destiny beliefs. She says, "If someone has strong destiny beliefs underlying how they think about the relationships, they have a fixed mindset about love: it's either perfect or forget it...People high in destiny beliefs may see no point in working on the relationship or even spending the time to communicate that it's over. Maybe that's why they cut off all contact."

© 2017 Alianess Benny Njuguna


Marissa from Nigeria on October 16, 2020:

In my opinion, we as humans do things that would benefit us before thinking about anybody else .So also in the case of ghosting, we do it mainly because we feel that's the only way out of something without actually having to deal with all the messy emotions. That's just a safe way out if you ask me.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on October 11, 2017:

You are right Deborah silent treatment doesn't help. When your partner realizes you've decided to remain silent, he too decides to remain silent or go on with what he/she was doing.

Dashingscorpia, you have said it well. Those people who continually employ silent treatment signify you don't matter a lot to them since he/she has broken the communication which is paramount in a relationship.

Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Kenya on October 11, 2017:

My sympathy Syrenagirl. Arguments are part of relationship but if what is argued doesn't get solved instead silent treatment is employed, then what was argued will keep on growing to a proportion whereby it might shake the relationship/marriage. Hope it will work out better.

Syrenagirl on October 11, 2017:

Yes it does shed some light, I to get the silemt treatment after every arguement and it seems like years and nothing ever gets resolved ;(

dashingscorpio from Chicago on June 29, 2017:

"...silent treatment comes in different forms in a relationship. The first one is a sign your partner is thinking of ending the relationship. The second one is a tactic used to get the other person’s attention or to inflict psychological torture." True!

The only other exception is you just had a major fight and they simply are angry at you over what you did or said. However it's not truly the "silent treatment" unless it goes on for days.

Someone once said:

"The person who least emotionally invested in the relationship controls it."

Anyone who utilizes the "silent treatment" is essentially saying they have no problem shutting (you) out of their life! Instead of trying to win them over or break through you should step back and look at it as an omen. Refuse to play that game. Move on!

"Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

- Oscar Wilde

If someone can flip a switch giving you the "silent treatment" shutting you out; they clearly don't think (you) are "special".

If they did they'd be worried someone else would snatch you up!

Deborah Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on June 28, 2017:

This is an interesting article. I recently had an issue with my boyfriend, in which he spoke in a very harsh and unkind manner. My feelings were hurt and I didn't want to talk to him. I wanted him to reach out to me and apologize for his mean behavior. After two days, I finally reached out to him. He didn't even notice I hadn't texted him.

So much for the silent treatment.


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