Ghosting: What is it? And are you guilty of it?

There’s now officially a word for that weird phase out/disappearing act that people can do to end a relationship before pretty much ceasing contact all together – and it’s called ‘ghosting’.

Yep, that thing where they (or you) just evaporate into thin air with no explanation whatsoever is now an actual verb.

But if you were labouring under any misapprehensions that ‘ghosting’ was a made-up thing, a recent You Gov/Huffington Post poll in the States revealed that 11% of adults had ‘ghosted’ someone over the course of their lifetime – and those aged 18-29 were more likely to have experienced it than any other age group.

*Insert sad face for all the Millennials*

Still unsure as to what ‘ghosting’ really is though?

According to an article in the New York Times, the modern-day dating malady is defined as ‘ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.’

Yep… Sounds familiar.

While we’ve been referring to that strange period when a relationship goes to seed and we just backed off (read: ran a proverbial mile from the situation) as the very vague ‘phasing out’ or ‘blanking’, it turns out that we’ve actually been ‘ghosting’/being ‘ghosted’ this whole time. Plus, in a sign that the totally-not-new-just-has-a-fun-name-now phenomenon is going mainstream, Charlize Theron allegedly ended her relationship with Sean Penn thanks to some classic ‘ghosting’ too.

Theron recently denied reports that she ‘ghosted’ her ex Sean Penn, and she was pretty upset to be accused of behaviour that is, frankly, kinda cold. ‘The fucking ghosting thing, like literally, I still don’t even know what it is,’ she told WSJ of the tabloid rumours that plagued the end of the couple’s relationship. ‘It’s just its own beast. We were in a relationship and then it didn’t work anymore. And we
both decided to separate. That’s it.’

But what actually constitutes ‘ghosting’?

The most obvious and auspicious mode of practise is undoubtedly the abstention from replying to a text and/or phone call… ever again. You’re simply, just not there – and you’re never going to be.

But of course in 2016, the age of online, another brutally effective way to ‘ghost’ or be ‘ghosted’ is a total social media blackout. Whether it’s restricted access to profiles, ‘un-friending’ or just plain ol’ blocking the ‘ghostee’ (get the hint, yeah?), social media is where former lovers who wish to make a break from it can be at their most devastatingly ruthless.

This isn’t just a thing in romantic relationships either; friendships can suffer the same fate and who hasn’t had that one friend who drops off the face of the proverbial planet – and social media timelines – now and again only to resurface months or even years later, if at all?

Sure, sometimes it’s just easier to forget your first love – it may ruin your relationships – but it’s not exactly the way you want it to all end now, is it?

‘Ghost’ or ‘ghosted’, a quick straw poll at Marie Claire HQ reveals that most of us have encountered it at some point or at the very least, know someone who has. And while it may be becoming more and more commonplace, let’s face it; it’s never nice to be on the receiving end of being, what is essentially, flat-out ignored. Our advice? If you’re being ‘ghosted’, then that relationship isn’t really worth investing your time and efforts into the first place, anyway.

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