Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Ghosted: Dealing with Digital Breakups

Dating in the digital age demands we have thick skin. Rejection has always been part of courtship, but it’s never been as scary as now. One text and we can be cut out of somebody’s life without explanation. 

This level of dismissal is beyond painful. And today, we’re expected to deal with it, together with other equally ambiguous ends.

Sometimes someone we’re dating will stop all communication with us and assume we’ll get the hint. Leading to emotional chaos in the short term and resentment in the long term.

It’s also possible that our paramour slowly pulls away without explanation. They might reduce their phone calls and text messages, and reschedule plans to see us last minute. Resulting in a vague sense that something is off and that the end might be in sight, but without giving us enough information to properly address it. Leaving us confused and feeling like losers. 

And finally, our crush might break up with us using strong and unambiguous words, but leave out appreciation for our time together or even an explanation. An abrupt end that’s polite in that it gives us no hope and a quicker time to heal, but it comes at the expense of making us feel unseen. As if all the time we spent together had no meaning or significance. Reinforcing the idea that we truly are alone in a strange world that doesn’t care about us.

These unclear and discourteous ends are often a consequence of understandable but selfish desires. Such as having someone around as a backup plan while we keep an eye open for someone better. So it’s an expression of our independence. But it comes at a steep price. 

Cynicism. 

Ambiguous breakups seriously damage our ability to believe in ourselves and the kindness of others.

After all, we’re left with nothing but doubt and our own interpretation of the truth. A blueprint for pandemonium.

“Did it all mean nothing to them? Was there someone else? Did they have sex while we were seeing each other? What makes them better than me? Am I really just an unloveable piece of shit?”

Just because we don’t see a person in front of us doesn’t mean that our text messages are being received by a machine. There is a vulnerable person on the other end. And it’s essential that we remember that.

If we’re going to end a relationship, we should always seek to do so with as much respect and kindness as we can muster. No matter how briefly our lives got tangled up.

Tell them what good things we’re taking away from the experience. Share in what ways they’ve changed us for the better. And perhaps say what we wish the future to gift them.

This leaves the self-worth of the other person intact and makes them look forward to entering a relationship with someone else. Even if typed with a cool heart, our appreciation still provides solace.

It offers them a clear head without ruminations. And upholds their trust in humanity, giving them the courage to date and love again.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach