Monday, June 29, 2015

Ghosting: The Ultimate Silent Treatment

[ed. Whatever the term, this method of ending a relationship has to be one of the most hurtful and destructive things a person can do to someone that once loved you. In the end, it's just simple cowardice and a lack of character, no matter how it's rationalized.]

It was not long ago that Sean Penn and Charlize Theron were a happy couple: appearing together in the front row of fashion shows and at film festivals, hugging on the beach. Recently, though, it was reported that Ms. Theron had stopped responding to Mr. Penn’s calls and text messages. She was “ghosting” him.

What’s Ghosting?

Ghost, a word more commonly associated with Casper, the boy who saw dead people and a 1990 movie starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, has also come to be used as a verb that refers to ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.

Who’s Doing It?

The term has already entered the polling lexicon: In October 2014, a YouGov/Huffington Post poll of 1,000 adults showed that 11 percent of Americans have “ghosted” someone. A more informal survey from Elle magazine that polled 185 people found that about 16.7 percent of men and 24.2 percent of women have been ghosts at some point in their lives.

Victims of Ghosting Speak

Justine Bylo, 26, an independent account manager in publishing, has felt what this is like firsthand. She once invited a man she had been dating casually for about eight months to a wedding. As the day approached, he stopped responding to Ms. Bylo’s text messages, and she ended up attending the wedding alone. A few weeks ago, she found out that he had been dating another woman at the time.

“It happens to me so often that I’ve come to expect it,” Ms. Bylo said. “People don’t hold themselves accountable anymore because they can hide behind their phones.”

Elena Scotti, 27, a senior photo editor and illustrator at Fusion, the media company, has also been a victim of ghosting. She once flew to Chicago to attend Lollapalooza and spend time with a man she had fallen for while studying abroad. “We were inseparable,” Ms. Scotti said. “I was talking to him every day and sleeping in the same bed with him for six months.”

After the one date in Chicago: crickets. “He fell off the face of the planet,” said Ms. Scotti, who didn’t see him again until he moved into her building in Brooklyn with his girlfriend three years later. The silent treatment continued, Ms. Scotti’s former flame ignoring her even as they passed each other in the hallway.

In a less dramatic but similarly confounding fashion, Aaron Leth, 29, a fashion editor, found his texts unanswered when a man he had been dating for a month disappeared after he and Mr. Leth had bought the ingredients for a dinner they planned to cook later that evening. “He went home to take a nap and said, ‘I’ll call you,’ ” Mr. Leth said. “I’m still waiting, two years later.”

But Wait. Let the Ghosts Explain Themselves.

Many of those who have ghosted are contrite, citing their own fear, insecurity and immaturity. Jenny Mollen, 36, an actress, avid Twitter user and the author of “I Like You Just the Way I Am,” a collection of essays, had been dating a man for three months when she told him her grandmother died, and froze him out of her life.

Her grandmother had died — months earlier. “He came to my house one night banging on my door, and I pretended I wasn’t there,” Ms. Mollen said. “I didn’t know how else to extricate from relationships. It was me being young and not knowing how to disappoint.” She theorized that people who fade away do so out of a desperate need to be loved, even after a breakup. “If you disappear completely, you never have to deal with knowing someone is mad at you and being the bad guy,” she said.

by Valeriya Safronova, NY Times |  Read more:
Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images