Do you know what’s worse than ghosting? Ghostlighting.
In ghosting, once the person ends the connection, you’ll mourn about it, then eventually move on. Meanwhile, ghostlighting can lead to a cycle of heartbreaks, hindering you from discovering a healthy relationship. We’re here to discuss this dating behavior, why people do it, and how to deal with a ghostlighter.
What is Ghostlighting?
Ghostlighting combines the terms “ghosting” and “gaslighting.” Introduced in 2019, this dating behavior occurs when a partner you’ve been dating and talking to for months suddenly ignores your messages. Once you’re about to move on, they’ll start sending messages again without acknowledging what they just did to you, leaving you confused yet hopeful.
Why People Turn to Ghostlighting
The reasons why ghostlighters engage in this behavior are similar to ghosters, but they have more manipulative intent in their actions. Here’s a glimpse of ghostlighters and why they choose to go “on and off” in their relationships.
1They fear commitment.
Some folks are scared of getting too serious. When a relationship starts to feel real, they pull away to avoid commitment, leaving the other person in the dark. Some people love the benefits of dating without the responsibilities, so they move away when the other person starts talking about leveling up the relationship.
2They’re incredibly bad at communicating.
Ghostlighters, afraid of confrontation, vanish instead of facing the discomfort of having a serious discussion. For instance, you may have said something on a date that bothers them, but instead of trying to learn more about what you said or explaining how it made them uncomfortable, they would rather stop talking to you.
Sometimes, they regret what they have done, so they’ll try to return to your life. And since they’re afraid of exposing their true selves and having an uncomfortable discussion with you, they’ll pretend everything’s fine and never even acknowledge the ghosting.
3They love the thrill of controlling someone’s emotions.
Some ghostlighters may derive a twisted sense of satisfaction from controlling another person’s emotions— they’re simply wicked.
The power to make someone question their worth can be intoxicating for those with manipulative tendencies, providing them with a false sense of superiority. That’s why they can’t let go of their victims. When they see that their victim is already focusing on other activities or potential partners, they’ll jump back in to confuse the other person. They’ll say all the right things to get the other person back. Once their victims throw away all their other plans and potential dates for them, they’ll start pulling away since things are about to get serious (and “boring”).
4They’re dating someone else and came back to you since it didn’t work out.
One of the haunting reasons a person engages in ghostlighting is when they’re juggling relationships behind your back. They venture into the dating world, exploring different connections. However, when their other relationship fizzles out, they often reappear, leaving you feeling like an afterthought. This behavior stems from their inability to commit and a fear of being alone.
When their backup plan fails, they seek comfort in the familiarity of your connection. Despite the temporary reconciliation, their true intentions remain clouded, creating confusion and hurt in your heart.
5They’re unsure of their feelings for you.
Sometimes, people send mixed messages because they aren’t sure of their feelings. They might genuinely like you but are plagued by doubts about their emotions. Some factors, like your religion, family dynamics, career, or hobbies, may affect their thoughts about having a serious relationship with you. The uncertainty leads them to pull away, leaving you in a state of emotional limbo.
How to Deal With a Ghostlighter
Ghostlighters thrive where boundaries are weak. Not every ghostlighter is like this, but most feed off your attention. That’s why the best way to deal with them is to remove all the possible ways to contact you. Facebook? Instagram? Threads? X? Telegram? Block them all.
We know it sounds harsh, but you don’t deserve someone who doesn’t even acknowledge their hurtful actions. You need to be with someone who can take accountability for their mistakes.
The pain may be too much right now, but at least you no longer have to spend in a cycle of hope and heartbreak. You can also turn to friends and family if you need a shoulder to lean on. Surround yourself with positivity and let the love from those who genuinely care for you remind you of your worth. There are also hobbies that you can venture to help you forget about this person.
But let’s say you still want to give them a chance. This person just ghosted you once, and they have a valid reason for doing so. Maybe you did say something wrong, or their mental health is deteriorating, and they spent time healing alone. All we can say is trust your gut.
If something feels off, it probably is. True love doesn’t rely on over-the-top displays but flourishes in sincerity and consistency. Trust your instincts; they are your wisest advisors.
But if you feel this person has changed, go for it. But make sure to define your limits clearly and communicate them assertively. For example, you can go on dates with this person, but casual sex is now off the table until they can prove they’re willing to commit to you. Remember, someone who genuinely cares about you will honor your boundaries with reverence.
Ghostlighting sucks, but you don’t have to get sucked into it.
Remember, the most radiant love stories begin with self-love. Cultivate a strong sense of self-worth, reminding yourself of your unique qualities and strengths. When you’re sure of yourself, you’ll not settle with people who are unsure of you. So go ahead and let a healthy relationship find its way to you.