Ghosting: disappearing instead of ending a relationship

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Robert Maurer
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Ghosting: disappearing instead of ending a relationship

Last update: April 20, 2017

Giulia can't believe it. She had an affair of nearly a year with a man who seemed to be the love of her life. Suddenly, everything changed, she says "overnight". What is certain is that the man in whom she placed all her expectations has disappeared without saying a word. Giulia doesn't know if it was a way to end the relationship or just to stay away for some time.



The situation for Giulia is very confused. She called him and wrote him various messages, but she didn't answer. She doesn't know whether to try again. She sometimes thinks she might have a problem and that is why she disappeared. Other times, however, she thinks that he simply did not have the courage to face her face to face, which is why he disappeared into thin air and avoids her.

Camp abandoned, fire declared.
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Does this situation seem familiar to you? Giulia is a fictional character, but surely you too have known one or have been in her life. The fact is that disappearing without saying anything, instead of ending the relationship, has become a frequent practice. It is so common that it has been given a name, “ghosting”, meaning disappearing like ghosts. Why does this happen?

Disappear: a way to end or to carry on a relationship?

It is supposed that such a thing should not happen between two adults. When a relationship begins, the partners know it will continue until one of them wants to end it. It is reasonable to assume that the end of a relationship is openly discussed, so that the other understands that the bond has now disappeared and that everyone is free to manage their love life in total independence.



We all know that ending a relationship is rarely an easy feat. Both partners come out destroyed, perhaps one of the two a little more, usually the one who has not made the decision to break up, the one who is dumped or dumped. However, as unpleasant as it may seem, the minimum is to communicate to the other the decision to end the story.

It seems obvious, but for many adults it's not. They move away and demand that their partner understand that their separation is a way to end the relationship. Furthermore, it is very convenient for them, because by doing so, they avoid having to give explanations, scenes and unpleasant moments.

The problem is that such a situation contains a paradox. With a similar attitude, that is to choose to disappear, in reality those who disappear carry on in one way or another the bond. This because the person who is left will have uncertainties, doubts that will not allow him to close the matter once and for all. The "ghost" pretends not to know, but he knows it well, instead. All he does is close a door and open a window: he manipulates to manage the pain more easily than him.

Not ending a relationship complicates the pain

As difficult as it is, it is always healthier to end a relationship directly rather than leave it hanging and leave room for any interpretation or conjecture. When you know you have lost someone, like it or not, the acceptance process begins. This means grieving the loss, mourning it, and finding ways to reorganize your emotional world.


If it's a casual relationship, then disappearing can be an obvious and digestible conclusion. However, if the couple experienced intense feelings, made long-term plans, had expectations, then the situation is very different and more complicated. In these cases, disappearing is equivalent to abandoning, in the strict sense of the term. And for those who are abandoned it means experiencing an imprecise pain, which will not be without unfulfilled hopes and anger at being ignored while being an active part in the relationship.



People "disappear" because they don't have the clarity or psychological strength to end a relationship and they know they are hurting their partner. They solve the problem by causing him a great injury and this gives them great power and control over the situation. In this way, they protect themselves from pain because they prefer to ignore it and move on. Apparently. In fact, they hurt themselves too.


Ghosting is a typical attitude of selfish and immature people, who feel inferior to their circumstances. They don't trust their resources and have probably been abandoned in the past, so they don't want to face the pain. However, trampling on the partner's feelings, they lack honesty especially towards themselves. And this, sooner or later, will compromise their future relationships.

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