In 2017, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary officially added some relatable entries—to “photobomb” and to “throw shade.” And, of course, to “ghost” somebody.
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.
People may choose to ghost because they think it’s easier than explaining themselves. But they sometimes don’t realize how hurtful their vanishing acts can be.
If you have recently been ghosted after a date (or a few dates), I invite you to come on this ghostee’s Silk Road 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 returned from a first date. You think it went well. You send a text to schedule the next one.
Every time your phone vibrates, you pounce, only to see that it’s a message from a friend demanding WeBWorK answers. 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 in 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. To detoxify, you divert energy into some comforting exercises. You, like Sam Smith, make your heartbreaker your muse:
- Print out your messages and compose some blackout poetry
- Pen an Oscar-worthy Korean drama screenplay
- Perform the melancholic songs you wrote about your bruised vanity
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 lost a part of yourself.
Did I do something wrong? Am I not good enough?
These thoughts are like unlimited Siren songs: debilitating, but you give in to them regardless.
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 far too luring—but you know you will move on. Just not now.
Move-on tip: Give yourself time, food, sleep—whatever lessens 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, 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 went on).
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 reject 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 be painful. Give yourself time, find what makes you happy, and treat yourself the way you would a friend.
Photobomb? More like lifebomb. Want to throw shade? Anytime! But hey, although your heart, as of now, may very well feel like a ghost town, it, too, will go on.
For another read, check out this NY Times article.