See, it's quarantine time.
Maybe you met somebody via a 3.7-star dating app after exams ended. And just when you thought your convos with your match were showing high-level promise—and you were looking forward to at long last seeing this person after quarantine—they suddenly started leaving you on read. You're, like, o_o
Or perhaps, because you've been following self-isolation practices, you've only been texting the SO you were dating pre-quarantine, but one day you realize they're not replying anymore. You're, like, hey u there???
This is the world that ghosts and ghostees visit.
Ghosting: To abruptly "cut off all contact with" someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.
If you have recently been ghosted, know that it's not your fault: People may choose to ghost because they think it’s easier than explaining themselves. They may even be more inclined to do so during this stressful time. But these people sometimes don’t realize how hurtful their vanishing acts can be.
So, I invite you to come on a ghostee’s journey and learn some ways to move on—with the help of Alexa Echo.
Stage 1: The restlessness
Alexa, play: “Futile Devices” by Sufjan Stevens.
Relatable song lyrics: “It's been a long, long time / Since I've memorized your face.”
Note: A "long, long time,” huh? What an uncanny coincidence!
You just called a cute person from the comfort of your home. As you prepare for some quarantine-special yoga, you smile, thinking that online "dates" are not so bad after all. You send a text to schedule the next call.
Every time your phone vibrates, you pounce, only to see that it’s a message from a friend asking you to go grocery shopping with them. Did something happen to your new "boo"? Judging by that green dot though, you know that someone’s active on Messenger, just not replying. Yikes.
Move-on tip: Trust your gut that something feels off. Compare your situation with these tell-tale red flags:
Received excuses to cancel and flake on plans? Check.
How about responses that are few and far between? Yes.
Got a feeling that you’re the one making more investments? Sigh, yes.
Stage 2: The recognition
Alexa, play: “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith.
Relatable song lyrics: “This is not a good look, gain some self-control.”
Note: Sam Smith wrote this song about the person who broke his heart—and won 2 Grammys and peaked at #1 on the UK Singles Chart.
You start to realize it’s over. You predict that your love life is done for. To detoxify, you divert energy into some comforting exercises, like cooking your meals for the week. You start chopping onions to become (temporarily) immune to crying for lost causes. You, like Sam Smith, make your heartbreaker your muse, and decide to:
- Cut your own hair by following a tutorial YouTube recommended to you
- Drink lots of water, because "drinking water" is a solution to many of life's problems
- Pen an Oscar-worthy Korean drama screenplay so you will get famous and get too busy maintaining your reputation to think about people who wronged you
Stage 3: The relapse
Alexa, play: “I’ll Never Love Again” by Lady Gaga.
Relatable song lyrics: “'Cause my world keeps turning, and turning, and turning / And I'm not moving on.”
Note: The A Star Is Born soundtrack can be a strong tonic. Give it a try.
You feel as though you've lost a part of yourself. Quarantine sucks, you think, because you can't exactly physically confront this person, even if you wanted to.
Did I do something wrong? Am I not good enough?
These thoughts are like Siren songs: debilitating, but you give in to them regardless. You wonder if these songs are the Premium version and if you've somehow unlocked the "unlimited subscription" option.
No matter what the reason was, remember: Your ghost should have communicated and given you closure. You’re not to blame.
The prospect of giving in to escapist tendencies with your nose in The Bell Jar may seem alluring—but you know you will move on. Just not now.
Move-on tip: Give yourself time, food, sleep—whatever lowers your blood pressure and makes you feel better, but set a time limit to maintain a moderate work-wallow balance.
Stage 4: The 99.9% recovery
Alexa, play: “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande.
Relatable song lyrics: “Look what you taught me / And for that, I say / Thank you, next.”
Note: Yes, you saw this coming.
Time’s passed. You no longer feel inadequate. You see that you're already on a tight student budget thanks to corona, and giving out any more undeserved emotional investments can be costly.
But sometimes you do get those quasi-Proustian memories, where certain food, song lyrics, or words remind you of your ghost (or the date you had over the Internet ether).
But remember, you are in control.
Life events, like song lyrics, are up to your interpretation. You can choose how you feel, react, move on.
Move-on tip: Learn from this experience (love, patience, and pain?) and see that letting go is being kind to yourself.
Stage #bonus: The revenant
Alexa, play: “La La La” by Naughty Boy ft. Sam Smith.
Relatable song lyrics: “But when you read your speech, it’s tiring / Enough is enough.”
Note: Is Sam Smith back to haunt you, too?
What if just when you thought this was over, your ghost returns from beyond the grave?
Maybe your ghost is benching (checking back to keep options open)?
Or zombieing (sending a sudden message for a renewed relationship)?
Or maybe your ghost never left, and was orbiting this whole time (voyeuristically keeping tabs on your social media activity).
Move-on tip: You may want to swipe left on your ghost’s reappearances. You may want to give them a second chance. Whatever you choose, think it through—only you know what you feel and want.
Getting over getting ghosted can take time. Give yourself the space you need, find what makes you happy, and treat yourself the way you would a friend. No matter how you're feeling, I offer you Facebook's new "Care" reaction!
For another read, check out this NY Times article.