Have you been ghosted?
You’re not alone. Nearly two out of three individuals in a recent research have been complicit in ghosting someone else but also suffered from being ghosted themselves.
If we were to regard the study participants as though they represented the entire society, it’s safe to say ghosting is a popular method of ending a relationship.
But what is it?
Ghosting is the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner), usually without explanation, by no longer responding to phone calls, instant messages, and so on.
If you’ve gone on a couple of dates and thought you might’ve met a potential prospect only to discover that he now blocks you on social media and refuses to answer your texts, guess what? You’ve been ghosted.
Ghosting a romantic interest may be more common than ghosting a friend, but both are known to happen.
But why would anyone do so, given ghosting can sink the victim’s self-esteem and create confusion—to say the least?
Some choose ghosting out of the mistaken belief that it’s a kinder way to let the other person down. If your date seems like the sensitive kind but has the mesmerizing chemistry of drying concrete, for instance, you might think it’s better to let the relationship fade than to resort to the famous “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse.
Others might cower from explaining their rejection, given the reception—or lack thereof—they imagine they’ll receive.
Regardless of the reasons behind it, ghosting is not a godly option.
Here are eight explanations why.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SIphotography
1. Is Unkind
If someone you used to have a relationship with pulled the plug on all communications, you might notice traces of anxiety. Or anger. Confusion. Self-blame. (This set of emotions would be understandable to develop whether the person who ghosted you shared a romantic relationship with you or a platonic one.)
See how different ghosting is from the New Testament’s exhortation: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
Ghosting is the antonym of being compassionate, gentle, or kind.
2. Is Selfish
People who ghost another don’t explain why they feel the need to end their relationships. But the unknown is hard to deal with—including when victims of ghosting are left wondering about why they’re treated as such.
Ghosting demonstrates that the doer is only interested in caring for their own feelings.
This attitude violates Philippians 2:4, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (BSB).
3. Devalues Others
“God created humans to be like himself; he made men and women” (Genesis 1:27, CEV). This means all humans deserve our respect, whether the person is represented by a few thousand pixels on a screen or sits a few feet away in the flesh.
But technology often makes it easy to devalue fellow humans.
Since we don’t share a three-dimensional space with the individual on the other side of the screen, it can be easy to overlook the fact that people come prepackaged with feelings. Or that they’re breakable.
The truth is callous choices (like ghosting) can wound another—whether or not technology shelters us from witnessing it ourselves.
4. Disgraces Christ
According to Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (NASB 1995). It’s hard to argue we can ghost anyone in the name of the Lord.
Besides, if you’re a follower of Jesus, what will others make of your ghosting behavior?
Will your action verify their presumption of Christians as arrogant jerks with lofty self-view and disregard for those they deem "unworthy"?
What if your portrayal of Christianity turns others off from receiving the true God?
5. Repays Evil
Romans 12:17 warns us not to repay evil for evil. Whether or not the other person behaved in such a manner that the only appropriate response is to cut him or her off—a weighty decision deserving a thorough examination—God’s call for us is to repay evil with good (Romans 12:21, 1 Peter 3:9).
Depending on the nature of the relationship, when someone ghosts you, the hurt might be astronomical. You might react in:
self-blame (“This must’ve happened because I’m not skinny/smart/sexy enough”)
shame (“I must’ve been unworthy for him to even explain why he doesn’t want to see me anymore”)
doubt (“I thought we hit it off! Did I lose touch with reality?”)
Romans 12:14 says we’re to weep with those who weep. But in leaving us this instruction, it’s clear God doesn’t expect us to be the cause of someone else’s tears—especially not with an intentional act like ghosting.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/eugenekeebler
7. Prevents Reconciliation
By single-handedly severing the communication cord, ghosting prevents any attempts at reconciliation. This is unfortunate because many conflicts end up shattering hearts simply because the responsible parties never attempted to discuss what happened.
I wonder if this is one reason Paul preferred singleness. “I want you to be without concern,” he explained in 1 Corinthians 7:32.
Makes sense. A single person doesn’t need to continually touch base with her significant other about what went wrong and how things can be made better.
But since ghosting happens to married couples and singles alike—some folks ghost former friends too, remember?—let’s return to this concept of reconciling.
Reviewing past pain with the person who caused it is, by definition, unpleasant. I’ve shared how in one case, it took years to pursue reconciliation myself.
Even though the pressures to avoid reconciling are real, our God is a God of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). The least we can do is to enable the possibility of talking things out rather than ghosting another person.
8. Generates More Ghosting
Strong emotions have fascinating characteristics. One of them is the unconscious tendency to transfer to an innocent bystander the strong feelings induced in us by someone else’s behavior.
Think about the famous joke concerning a string of violence: a man was humiliated by his manager. He felt so enraged that when he came home, he yelled at his wife, who then spanked the kid, who then kicked the dog, which then barked at the cat, which then—
Beats me. How do upset cats behave?
The point is, if you could interview every victim of ghosting, I doubt there were any who relished the phenomenon.
What’s more likely is those who have felt the pain of being ghosted turn around and then ghost another person.
Ghosting No More
Jesus once left an adulterous woman with a simple—but significant—goodbye. “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Please recognize the gravity of his response. Here was the sinless Son of God, the Great I Am, standing next to a woman guilty of sexual sin.
In spite of her obvious role in breaking the seventh commandment, however, Jesus didn’t condemn her.
But if Jesus didn’t condemn her for adultery, he wouldn’t condemn anyone for ghosting either.
So how about if you adapt Jesus’ instruction? Go and stop ghosting.
This is the essence of repentance: to drop the old behavior and do the opposite.
But to faithfully fulfill this mandate, you’ll need to develop skills that would make ghosting unnecessary by, for instance, learning how to best manage conflict resolutions.
Consider spotting—and scrubbing—other unhealthy boundaries. The momentum gained from removing one unwholesome behavior from your life can spur you to purge even more.
Who knows, maybe I’ll also address how to quit ghosting in the future.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/sticker2you
Originally published Friday, 24 March 2023.