If you, like so many parents have to help your child through the really tricky terrain of being ghosted, here is everything you need to know.
WHAT IS GHOSTING?
Ghosting – the act of ending a relationship with someone (usually a boyfriend/girlfriend but it can be a bestie too) by cutting off all communication without tan inch of explanation or warning. It often takes the form of blocking someone of social media or can simply be suddenly ignoring all messages.
Ghosting is simply, darn painful. Typically, it comes out of no-where… from bestie to blocked in one foul swoop. It’s not always about the grass being greener, sometimes it’s just a wish to break up without doing the hard work, the talking, the explaining, that comes with breaking up!
WHY IT HURTS
Typically, girls (although guys too are ghosted) are left *without CLOSURE* or understanding and this has huge implications for their self-esteem. They are left questioning their self-worth instead of going, ‘s/he wasn’t worth it’. In part this happens because the girl in question believes herself to be in a more serious relationship than perhaps the guy does. Despite many encouraging those who have experienced this to brush it off in the name of you deserve better, it’s simply not that easy.
The ghostee is left feeling DISPOSABLE.
It also *SPIKES UNDERLYING INSECURITIES* (and which teen doesn’t have those, right!) It creates a feeling of SELF BLAME: maybe I’m not worth it, maybe I wasn’t good enough, maybe I should have put out more”.
WHY DO KIDS TO DO THIS TO EACH OTHER?
The ghoster often doesn’t have the skills to manage what feels unmanageable or uncomfortable. They simply don’t know how to break up effectively, how to use the right words. Others are just too lazy, and with the ease of disconnection that comes with blocking, why bother?! Worse still than the lazy ghoster, is the ghoster who makes out like they are doing the ghostee a favour: teens will say “I ghosted her to spare her feelings – I didn’t want to tell her I didn’t like her anymore”
What we know as adults though is there is no bypassing discomfort and these life skills are vital. Learning to name and manage our feelings, even when they are not pretty ones, is essential.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
The most helpful approach to your child being ghosted is simply to be with her.
1. Sit out her feelings: Let her howl at the moon at the injustice, the inexplicable hurt, the rage. It’s important to not dismiss how awful the experience is. While you may be able to see that the guy doesn’t deserve your daughter, she is not there yet.
2. Reflect back to her:
- “I know it makes you feel worthless” (not he’s pathetic and doesn’t deserve you)
- “I know you feel you might have done something to cause this” (not you haven’t done anything to cause this).
- “I know you are left questioning yourself”.(not you shouldn’t be asking what more you could or should have given in the relationship)
- “I know you can survive this, as sore as it feels right now” (not get over him, he isn’t worth your tears).
3. Encourage your child to get back into the world in an empowered way as soon as she feels able. So while taking her out for a treat shop at the mall or a fun mani is kind, taking her to climb a mountain, a writing workshop or some self-defence classes will give her a sense of something NEW emerging in herself. And that is what she needs to create distance from anyone who slashes and burns!
Sarah and Pam