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Ask a Therapist: How do I cope with being ghosted?

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In this age of online dating and social media, "ghosting" has become a common occurrence. Ghosting is defined as the act of stopping all contact with a romantic partner or potential romantic partner without explanation. 

It is a cruel form of rejection which often leaves the person who is ghosted feeling insecure, uncertain and deeply hurt. If you are ever on the receiving end of this social phenomenon, I want you to know the following to help overcome the negative mental health impacts of ghosting: 

It's about them, not you
What the ghostee is doing often says more about them - their shortcomings and inadequacies - than it does about you. They are intentionally inflicting pain by refusing to communicate their feelings. Since communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, consider this an important indication that you're likely better off without them in the long run.

Behavioural Activation (BA) can help overcome self-esteem issues
In an effort to counteract the negative reinforcement of being ghosted, Behavioural Activation is highly recommended. This treatment seeks to shift your focus away from cognitions (ideas around how you perceive what happened) and towards engaging in activities that make you feel good emotionally and/or physically (such as going for a bike ride outdoors, catching up with a good friend over coffee or knocking some things off your "to-do" list). Since when we feel low we lack the motivation to do things that invoke positive emotions, with BA, we create a plan to hold ourselves accountable.

Unlike avoidance, BA is a healthy way to distract yourself. By doing it regularly, you can increase your resilience so that when difficulties arise down the line, you are better equipped to cope.

Focus on your core beliefs and mental reframing
Having healthy, positive core beliefs (such as "I can do this, I am worthy of love, I can make tomorrow better") can lessen the sting of being ghosted. Someone who possesses an unhealthy core belief such as "I am unworthy of love" might think "I was ghosted because I'm not good enough," which will make them feel even worse about what happened and stop dating. Whereas a person who fundamentally believes that they are valuable might think "being ghosted is terrible, but I am not going to dwell on it because I deserve better." They are less likely to feel hopeless, and more likely begin dating again shortly thereafter.

If you're ready to seek therapy for relationship struggles, find the digital mental health therapy best suited for you and complete an assessment for individual support. 

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.