These days, ‘ghosting’ is in all our vocabularies, often sharing the same linguistic headspace as ‘swiping right’ and scrolling through Instagram. But if you’re in a serious relationship and looking forward to a future with a long distance partner who ghosts you, it can be an incredibly painful thing to go through.
If it’s happened to you, you’re probably full of doubt, uncertainty, and a sense that finding closure is impossible with your relationship in this state of limbo. You might wonder if you’ve done anything in particular that has caused this to happen.
If that’s where you are right now, be reassured that you can get over this and you can heal, although it will take time. Here are 5 things that can help you get back on your feet after a long distance ghosting.
1. Let yourself mourn (but accept that healing takes effort)
I’m never going to suggest that anyone ‘fake it till they make it’. You don’t have to fake anything, and it’s absolutely natural, normal and healthy to let yourself grieve for the lost relationship.
However, it also helps to be aware of putting too much weight on negative feelings.
A little storytime to illustrate what I mean: the first time someone broke up with me (not by ghosting, but it was still painful), I didn’t want to make any effort to move on or to not feel in love anymore. Surely (went my internal monologue) if I tried to not feel what I was feeling, I wouldn’t be being true to myself? If I was meant to move on (again, so I thought), surely it would just… happen one day?
Perhaps for some people that’s true. But in my case, I eventually had to accept that I wasn’t just going to wake up one morning and be over it – not without some action on my part, anyway. Plus, a lot of the thoughts and feelings I was putting on a pedestal were actually negative self-talk and attempts to bargain with my situation which were ultimately not doing me any good.
It’s a cliche, but a true one, that thoughts are not facts. This is something that I’ve only been able to really appreciate with experience. I’ve now been through break-ups when I really wanted the relationship to continue and I’ve also had break-ups when I knew things had run their course. Every time, I felt the same mourning for the relationship – but those feelings didn’t mean we were meant to be together. I see that now, I couldn’t see it the first time.
So, don’t feel that you’re not allowed to be sad, but try not to let those feelings run the show.
2. Try not to overthink it
When someone breaks up with you, especially with no explanation, you’ll be full of questions.
Unfortunately, with your first few break-ups, it probably doesn’t feel like an explanation to know that your partner didn’t want the relationship to continue. It certainly wasn’t enough for me, during that first break-up. Like the proverbial toddler asking ‘why’ over and over again, I wanted to know exactly why they felt like things wouldn’t work between us, why they felt like our differences were such a big deal, why we couldn’t try again for a few more months.
At some point, you hit infinity with this line of questioning and there is no ultimately satisfying answer. It doesn’t serve you or your wellbeing to keep at it – so give yourself a break and try to look forward, not back.
3. Remember your own worth – and ask for help if you’re struggling
Self care is extremely important right now. Being kind to yourself is a crucial part of moving on and recognising your worth outside of the relationship.
Unfortunately, the time when you most need to do it may also be the time when you least feel capable to begin. Self care is work and it takes up energy that you probably lack right now. That’s why it’s good to ask for help.
Reach out to family and friends, even if you don’t feel much like doing so. Another good option, if you really don’t want to speak to anyone you know, is calling a helpline (I’ve phoned a few in the past, including Mind and Samaritans, and both were great). If you really find it difficult to get out of bed or to feel joy in anything at all, definitely think about seeing your doctor or looking for a therapist.
Also, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘transform’ after a break up. It’s enough to do simple things that make you feel good, without making 101 new promises to yourself that you’re going to run a marathon, write a book and learn a new language. If you’ve managed to make some soup, call a friend and practice a hobby you enjoy, you’re doing really well.
4. Address your daily ‘pain points’ by doing something completely different
Sometimes changing your routine a little can make all the difference to how long it takes to move on from a bad experience.
You might decide that you don’t want to let the experience of being ghosted or broken up with dictate what you do with your life, and that’s fine if that’s what works for you. But you might also find that taking a new hobby, meeting new people, or even just rearranging your furniture and putting up some prints can remove the discomfort of associating everything you do and see with your partner.
If you’re struggling to get them out of your mind, think about your most significant ‘pain points’ during your day and try to make sure you’re doing something totally different at those times.
For example, if you always woke up and texted each other right away, do something else in the morning instead, such as going to a new class or taking an early walk outside. If you always had date night on Fridays, make sure you have something else to look forward to at those times. And definitely, definitely connect with the people who care about you.
5. If your long distance partner ghosts you – be cautious if they get back in touch
Unless your (ex)partner has an extremely good reason for the ghosting (i.e. something that was genuinely beyond their control, such as an accident or health problem), I don’t really recommend rekindling a romantic relationship if your partner gets back in touch after a long period of radio silence.
It can be good to have a final conversation so that you can both get closure (and it’s probably the mature thing to do – don’t ghost them right back just out of spite). But if they’ve ghosted you for no proper reason, it’s a very good sign that long distance relationships just aren’t for them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it doesn’t reflect badly on either of you, as long as you’re both honest.
Time to just be friends, perhaps?