Have you heard of the term “ghosting?” Here’s an online definition:
“The practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation”
The idea is that someone starts connecting with you and then, without warning, they stop. It is pretty black and white. You are talking and then you are not.
When it comes to relationships, however, it’s not always black and white. And relationships are not always about dating. Ghosting happens in every relationship (i.e., friendships, bosses, co-workers, business acquaintances, extended family).
Here are some other ways it shows up:
You randomly connect with a past co-worker and both share how long it’s been. You catch up and talk about how fun it would be to have lunch together. Weeks later, you realize neither of you reached out, you both ghosted. So you give it a few tries but you hear nothing back. You move on.
Your cousins invite several friends to a family gathering and you hit it off with one of them. You talk, share, and laugh. You then talk about connecting in some other way. You might even feel you have found a new friend. Then later you try to connect and they respond with a friendly hi but never really commit to a time to meet. It feels evasive. You wonder, “am I missing something?” You move on but are confused.
At a networking event, you connect with someone and realize you have similar goals in your industry. You talk about meeting outside the event and collaborating in some way. You connect a few times to make that happen yet you hear nothing back. You maintain professionalism but are left confused.
Has this happened to you? Have you done it to someone?
Some situations will be no big deal but others will feel confusing and even hurtful. When it happens, the first thing to remember is . . . it’s not personal!
The tendency for us to “ghost” others happens all the time. At its core is the inclination to say something in the moment. For instance, in each scenario above, you both said “yes, that would be fun” but then, you each get back to life and other things get in the way.
Now, if someone does this to you, it will feel very personal. Trust me, it’s not. And if you do it to someone, you will likely minimize its impact on the other person or maybe not even realize you did it at all.
The interesting thing is, with technology, it happens even more. Technology is a wonderful way to stay hidden and create excuses. It enables us to avoid the more difficult task of being honest with one another. Don’t get me wrong, some relationships and connections are so toxic that the best thing to do is walk away with no explanation. But the majority of the time, it is more appropriate to be honest.
Although it happens, it can be painful. Feelings of rejection tend to surface. It touches on our deepest desire, and that is to be loved and accepted by others. No matter how successful you are in life, you will always be driven by the desire to matter.
Here’s the good news! You can connect with others and risk feeling rejected and it will not hurt. You can experience the pains and joys of relationships in a whole new way and even learn to laugh at the silliness of the human experience.
If you are struggling in this area, whether personal or professional, let’s talk about it. I can help you get to the heart of this issue and be free from it.