communication breakdown

I’ve picked up a new word and the use of an old word in a new way.

I am disturbed the first word even exists, or was needed to be made to describe something that shouldn’t exist. I do recognize that I’m way behind the times. This word has been out for a long time and has already been studied.

That word is Ghosting. Apparently I’ve been a long time victim of this and never even knew it. It’s the way that people just stop communicating anymore and just fade away like a ghost.

From Urban dictionary:

Ghosting

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.

Carmen: How was your second date with Kyle? 

Beth: I thought it went well, but I’ve texted him a couple of times since then and he’s been ghosting me. 

Carmen: What? I thought he was more mature than that.

by Ghostface Illa November 27, 2013

There was something more scientific here.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much

Much of what I read up on, including the first definition, refers to this as something between people dating but I see it more in general relationships as well. This can be between ‘friends’ and people i’ve just met. Basically any and all types of relationships between two people are at risk. When I was growing up, I think the girls called this ‘The Silent Treatment.’ That has also been shown to be a cause of a myriad of problems to kids growing up and the lifelong psychological traumas they encounter. Today we see this as bullying and there have been too many stories of suicides and other negative outcomes. I’ll come back to this shortly.

Unfortunately, the second word that I was exposed to was something that came from this first problem.

The second word is adulting.

This is the verb form of adult, even if you won’t find it in a standard lexicon. The idea is that to adult (verb) is to actually behave like an adult doing those things that an adult is expected to do because, well, we’re adults even if we don’t like the things that we have to do.

These two words seem to be playing off each other.

My first example comes from someone I met someone during a speeddating event. Admittedly I suspected she was at the younger end of my self imposed agist age range, but sometimes I do come across someone that age that has their shit together. I took the chance based on the few minutes chatting and she selected me as well. A good enough place to start from I thought. We went out a couple times and it was pleasant. The first time I met her at a brewery where we met up with some of her friends and we played cards. It was enjoyable and fun but filled with undertones of concern. Here is where I actually heard someone use adulting in a sentence. While it was in front of me and not online, they all were on their phones quite a lot. It was odd for me to hear people talking about how difficult adulting was. I drove her back to her place. I think we went out again soon after but I admit I’ve blocked most of her out of my mind by now and I can’t recall when or where.

So, we met up again and I took her on a picnic. It felt like a good day and it was a long day at that. I drove her back again and we went inside. We talked for a bit and after an eventual side hug, we parted for the evening. First off, yeah I know. Side hug. That’s the non-kiss of death to start with and a major red flag. She needed to pack as she was off to a wedding in the morning and I was headed out of town myself. I tried to chat with her over the next several days by leaving messages but things were silent. I hate lack of closure and ambiguity. A short break and then I called and left a message that rang into voicemail. Almost immediately after though, I received a text message back explaining that all the silence was because she didn’t know how to talk about things. I suspect without my attempts, she would have never found any words to use. Adulting must have gotten too hard, for the best way of not having to confront an issue and bring closure to it, is to take the selfish route and just not do anything that isn’t helpful for the self.

Ghosting as a way of handling communication is an immature response and one that helps me because these women weed themselves out of my life. Ideally, you’d find a mature person who just says they’re not interested to you in person. The next way, and starting to get less personal, would be on the phone. Then, with at least a shred of decency, would be an unprompted text message.

But this ghosting thing is the crazy part. It lacks any decency which seems to be far too common these days and maybe stems from the overuse of technology in people-to-people interactions. Perhaps they believe that others are just objects on the other side of the screen that don’t have feelings, and that respect for others is something that you have to actively manage. I thought respect was just normal. It seems that respect is an adult skill though and one they are still struggling with.

My second example is from someone that I thought of as a great friend. She was a trusted confidant and someone who’s opinion I valued. Then one day soon after a conversation about the future… nothing, with over two months now without any communication. We did have bumps in our friendship from a mutual attraction that wasn’t addressed early enough and that we struggled with whenever we spent time together.

Lack of closure is a serious thing for me. At first I thought she might have been traveling and just out of communication that way. Then it turned into concern. There are aspects of her life that I know about that scare me. Those things about her life I knew about were slowly creeping their way into my conscious thoughts and little by little those small concerns grew into fears that she had been in a car accident having fallen asleep at the wheel or someone that she was worried about physically harming her actually followed through.

If you don’t want someone to worry about you, don’t tell them these things. As part of our relationship as friends, we said that if there were ever to be any problems or issues that we would talk about them and not do exactly what she did. Being a friend is a responsibility. I’ve heard how great pain comes from great feelings. I had changed that in the past to great pains shows you how great your feelings were. I’ve now changed it one more time to great trust betrayed leads to great pains.

Unfortunately, it’s these types of acts that tend to leave us with that baggage that the next person gets stuck facing. I am fully aware that every relationship that didn’t end cleanly has taken a chunk out of my ability to trust. The greater the betrayal and the more I never saw it coming, the larger portion of the trust I choose to hold back for the future. Is this a fair thing to do to someone else? Of course not. It’s the safe approach to hold just a little back for a belief that you are helping to preserve a part of yourself. There’s always a lingering doubt in the back of my mind that the person I’m with could at any moment throw a curve ball I never anticipated.

Here’s the catch though. I don’t look for those hidden curve balls. That’s probably why I don’t see them coming. It’s the only way I know of to try and compensate for the underlying missing trust. It still hurts when they finally hit me, but keeping myself closed off is the greater hurt to myself because I haven’t even given them a chance. Innocent until proven guilty gets flipped to guilty until proven innocent. That’s not a way to live. I try and force myself to take the blow and get back up again. One day that punch to the gut will be a caress on the cheek.

With this recent issue with my friend, this lack of closure is somewhat devastating. Without closure of any kind (which I’m working on creating for myself), my emotions are left spinning wild. I hope to find out soon that she’s alive and well. That really is the worst fear and concern more than what could have been if she gave things a try. After knowing she is well, she falls into the immature category of someone that lied and broke her promise to me and worse than not respecting others, it seems she doesn’t respect herself. She broke a promise to be open and honest and the lack of decency and awareness to recognize that your actions have consequences to others is a serious core issue.

My plea, which I anticipate will fall on the deaf ears and blind eyes of those out there that the plea is intended for, is that if you don’t have the maturity to adult enough to talk to someone, then try and have enough emotional awareness to call or send an impersonal text message saying you’re done. Not a vague message that leaves things in limbo. If you’re not sure, ask someone to proofread your message before sending it. 

Don’t write something like, “If things were different, maybe it would have worked out.” (Vague and confusing). If you don’t mean that, then don’t say it. If there were many many things different in many relationships then they probably would have worked out. It’s not constructive to be vague. I would wonder if there was some misunderstanding we should have talked about. Was it really a missed opportunity? “It’s me, not you.” Really? I agree it’s you. If you were really that interested and trusted me, then it would be about us. How about just saying, “This is not working for me because (insert reason(s) why so the person can understand what happened and maybe even grow from it). I don’t see a future for us and I’m not interested in seeing you anymore.” I can’t see anything vague in that. 

Communication is between two people and effective communication is with two people actively working on it. As such, closure should be a complete thing between two people and a healing closure takes a proper approach so one person isn’t left hurting. I’ve read that the benefit of ghosting is that ghoster won’t have to deal with conversations with the ghostee and can avoid having the issue dragged out. It doesn’t have to go that far, especially for guys. We get direct statements. We may not like them, but it doesn’t leave innuendo and reading between the lines to wonder about. I believe that women have the same desire to just know.

In a world of oversharing, why open myself up like this? I just want to believe that one person at some point in their life either comes across this or someone mentions this or references an idea and someone chooses to NOT just be silent but takes a step forward in their ability to communicate with someone else.

As Bill said, “Be excellent to each other.”

-SFA

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