- Ghosting means suddenly ignoring a love interest without giving them a reason.
- When someone feels socially rejected, pain receptors in the brain light up.
- READ MORE: Expert reveals why ‘no contact’ after a breakup is good for you
Those immersed in the dating pool will be all too familiar with ghosting: when someone ends a romantic relationship by suddenly withdrawing from all communication, without explanation.
A survey of 5,000 people by Forbes Health found that 76 percent of participants had been cheated on or had been cheated on themselves while dating.
But just because ghosting is common doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, and moving on can seem impossible after ghosting.
Dr. Roxy Zarrabi, a licensed psychologist in Chicago, explained why it is particularly difficult to heal from ghosting.
Ghosting is when someone ends a personal relationship with someone by suddenly withdrawing from all communication, without explanation.
The first reason is that not knowing the reason why someone cheated on you can be harder for the brain to understand, compared to when you know the answer.
This is because when we face the unknown, our brain craves certainty to protect us from potential dangers.
In other words, we go around in circles wondering what happened or what we did wrong.
Not knowing generates anxiety and can lead us to the worst case scenario.
Dr. Zarrabi said: “You may become obsessed with outlandish theories and try to find the elusive missing piece of the puzzle to reach closure, which only serves to make you feel worse and distract you from the painful feelings that ultimately , they must be processed.” go ahead.’
Ghosting is a form of social rejection, he added. Previous research has shown that when someone feels rejected, pain receptors in the brain activate in the same area as they would for physical pain.
This explains why people who go through a breakup in which they feel especially rejected often say they feel physical pain.
Being ghosted is also especially painful because it can reopen a previous abandonment issue or negative belief you have about yourself or others.
People who have suffered neglect, previous abandonment, betrayal or loss will find dealing with ghosting particularly difficult, Dr. Zarrabi said, because ghosting can take you back to old incidents and make you feel like you are reliving past trauma.
If you have an underlying belief that you are unlovable or that everyone you love will eventually leave, being ghosted can feel like your worst fears coming true, even if the ghosting is actually a reflection of the other person and not from you.
Another reason ghosting is harmful is because it can cause people to blame themselves.
Without answers available, you may turn inward and begin to blame yourself.
However, Dr. Zarrabi warned, this can “lead you down a path of endless doubt and suffering that will only exacerbate your pain and put a strain on your relationship with yourself.”
Ghosting can also lead to endless self-doubt. If you’re left in the lurch, you can start to analyze your past interactions with this person and look at the conversations from a different perspective.
“You may begin to question your reality, including your own judgment and signs you may have missed,” Dr. Zarrabi said. “These questions can quickly turn into unhealthy ruminations that prevent you from moving forward.”