Why My Most Read Medium Article Concerns Me

Ghosting isn’t as mysterious as you might think

My most widely read Medium article is titled ‘Here’s How to Deal with People Who Are Ghosting You.’ According to Medium, it attracts approximately one thousand readers a week, which is pretty staggering to me. It’s an article that delves into why some people ghost others, without reason or rhyme. But it’s not so much the subject matter that concerns me, rather, that so many people are seeking advice on this matter. Has ghosting really become such a phenomenon? It seems the answer is yes.

When I wrote the article I had just come out of a brief but intense relationship. Ok, maybe relationship is not the right word, let’s call it a fling, although I loathe that expression — it makes it sound like we both shook hands while flying through the air in a half-twist summersault. The truth is, I felt a deep connection with this young woman, and I believe there’s a reason she ended up ghosting me in the end. I’ll get to that.

Like so many people who experience ghosting (the ghosted) I felt the gamut of emotions that are often associated with this silent rejection. But I mostly felt angry — angry that I could be so duped by a woman who I believed genuinely liked me, and that I was foolish enough to invest my emotions into a connection that ended up being so fleeting.

Photo by Diogo Nunes on Unsplash

Caught in a storm of emotions, it’s easier to vanish

I don’t pine for this woman, not now. I’ve moved on and accepted that it was nothing more than a wildly romantic, sensual, explosive, tender, and psychological meeting. But in retrospect, it was much deeper than she gave it credit for, deeper than say, two people getting drunk to let off some “steam” in the bedroom.

I recall after the lovemaking, our fingers tracing the contours of each other’s faces in the wan morning light. There was an undeniable tenderness we shared: kisses fluttered like butterflies over each other’s faces, eyelids, foreheads. I whispered, “I haven’t felt something like this in years.” And I meant it. She replied, “Me too.”

I detected no act in her voice, no lie. It was a voice that almost broke as if she were on the verge of tears. Then we slept—correction, she slept, and much to my surprise, she held my hand all night. At the time I remember thinking her clasp was a little too tight—there was a kind of desperation to her firm grip as if it intimacy were a rare bird and she had to grab hold of it before it shot away from her, destined for someone perhaps more deserving.

I don’t blame ghosters for their sudden disappearing acts, not really. Emotions are hefty, lumbering beasts that we often fail to understand. And how are we expected to grasp the complex emotions of another human being when we are so often wrestling with our demons?

Our hearts may feel one way, but often our heads are leading us in the other direction. We can easily overanalyze and overthink what should be a simple emotional exchange. In this regard, ghosting makes total sense — the choice to turn our tails and run, bury those feelings deep down and move on. Forget. Emotional avoidance at the expense of our hearts.

We’re too smart to let our hearts decide

Once upon a time, when people lived relatively simpler lives and social media didn’t exist, people met, fell in love and for the most part, they kinda went with it. It was a world of fewer distractions, even online dating was rare. Today we are presented with endless choices and distractions. It was Bryan Davis who said, “Too much information will make your brain choke.”

The problem with living in an Information Age is that it can pollute the mystery and magic between two people. It’s as if our smartphones are nudging us to constantly prove our intelligence, or parade (and glorify) our past experiences while placing ridiculously high expectations on others to tick boxes that never used to exist. We’ve grown too smart for our own good, or more to the point, we’ve allowed our media laden society to influence our decision making.

“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” — Jean Baudrillard

If we live in a world of too much information and less meaning, then don’t we owe it to ourselves to seek out deeper connections and more meaning? I have always found human connections to be relatively straightforward — you meet someone and you make your own judgment based on personal feelings, physical appeal, and personality. It is when our actions become influenced by misinformation, social trends, and technology, we run into problems.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Luddite. Social media was always destined to happen eventually, and society will always be shaped by technological advancements. But we should be mindful of what we deem socially acceptable, such as ghosting — it may be easy to do, given the power is literally in your hands, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Communication is about personal values

Imagine a world where people took more responsibility for the way they communicated and were more courageous with their emotions. It would be nice but sorry, it’s never going to happen. This is why I make the point of thinking for yourself, otherwise, you are giving in to fear, or unhealthy social “norms” like ghosting.

It’s harder to face the emotional monster staring back at us, causing us to ask questions of the soul, the heart, our very existence. It’s easier to simply hit block on your phone and wipe that monster from the face of the earth. But I’ve found nothing good ever really comes from the easy way out.

The woman I dated last year blocked and ghosted me in the end because, and I can only speculate, I believe I exuded certain vulnerabilities and sensitivities, as to say—I started getting a little attached. I hadn’t been in a relationship in almost five years and my heart leaped out of my chest before I realized what was happening. I didn’t act crazy or anything, I was just a little overzealous, and I believe she recognized my excitement and fled. Her choice was to not communicate this to me, to ghost me, leaving me with nothing but speculation and a great big puzzle piece in my heart.

I believe my article about ghosting has become widely read because people are still looking for an answer to this seemingly mysterious cultural phenomenon. But here’s the punchline: it’s not a mystery, it’s just a choice. Only you can decide what kind of person you want to be. If you’re a person with high standards then that’s great, but if you fail to communicate effectively with others then you are avoiding some key values and customs that your grandparents taught your parents for a good reason — because a life without responsibility is a vacuous one, a lonely highway. And unless you can hold true to some old traditions, like having the courtesy to say, “Sorry, not interested,” then you may not know which road to take when you reach the crossroads.