Life is all about great combinations – Barbie and Ken, jam and bread, gin and tonic, it just keeps getting better and better. But then there are those partnerships which are always toxic.
Say hello to ghostlighting! A combination of two terrible dating trends have arrived to test our patience and give us trauma. Yet again.
Getting ghosted is a disappointing and confusing matter. You know you like someone, you are in that nice talking stage, maybe meeting up a few times – and then, out of the blue, when you are least expecting it, they randomly disappear. Complete radio silence. It is the absolute worst, and it always leaves you feeling like you are the problem.
So just imagine when someone has the nerve to ghost you, only to pop back into your life to gaslight you. Yes, that is exactly what ghostlighting is all about – a little similar to zombieing, except in zombieing the ghoster can come back for any reason. Here, the ghoster comes back for a specific purpose – to gaslight their victims.
Today, let’s talk about this toxic dating trend and its impact IRL.
So, What Is Ghostlighting?
what is ghostlighting?
So you have been ghosted. It is a horrible feeling, but it is not something you cannot move on from easily. It might take some time and some thinking on your part but eventually you will come out of it stronger.
But if your ghoster comes back into your life and gaslights you, it becomes all the more difficult to move on.
Gaslighting is an emotional manipulation tactic. If somebody is gaslighting you then they are basically trying to make you believe as if your own reality is not true. A gaslighter will constantly try to undermine, deny, question, and retell your narrative – as if your narrative was not true at all.
Ghostlighting is a toxic combination of two toxic dating trends. Before we talk about ghosting and gaslighting together in detail, let’s look at a few possible reasons behind why your ghoster might come back into your life.
1. It Could Be The Result Of Insecurity:
There can be a number of reasons why someone might reappear in your life after ghosting you. Typically, ghosting is the result of insecurity – the ghoster might feel the need to control all their relationships, no matter how casual or serious.
In such cases, the ghoster might reappear, only to point out how ‘you’ instigated them to behave the way they did, smoothly shifting the blame justifying their unhealthy behavioral pattern.
2. They Could Be Acting From A Place Of Jealousy:
So they ghosted you. And now they are watching your Instagram – finding out how well you are doing without them, which obviously makes them regret their decision of ghosting you, and feel the urge to undermine your happiness. So, they come back into your life.
They are back because they can’t tolerate the fact that you are doing well without them. And thus, begins the pattern where a former partner keeps coming back, only to make the same mistakes again and again.
3. They Just Can’t Stay Away:
A serial ghoster who loves to come back into your life, every time they miss you is the absolute worst of the lot. These kinds of people just cannot stay away, and you can be rest assured, they will come back from time to time, to haunt you.
This process of coming back and going away at the ghoster’s convenience can be incredibly disruptive for the victim. Plus, if your love interest keeps ghosting you only to come back and tell you, it was all you and not them, it’s a big Red flag that you should definitely avoid!
Why Would Someone Ghostlight In The First Place?
Now that you have a clear idea about ghostlighting meaning, let’s delve a little deeper into this trending dating phenomena.
The thing about most toxic dating trends is that the focus inevitably shifts to the victim’s journey towards healing. And all that is very good – it is vital that we talk about the psychological impact of such negative dating trends.
But don’t you think it is also important that we talk about other aspects of a dating phenomena? Let’s look at ghostlighting, for instance – why would anyone resort to ghostlighting in the first place? Or how can you spot a ghostlighter and save yourself from a negative experience?
We feel that these are also questions you should ask – it makes you aware, it makes you strong, and it prepares you for what is coming.
Hopefully, a romantic reckoning is soon going to be upon us. A dating Renaissance is already on its way with positive trends like wanderlove ruling our hearts at the moment. Ultimately, it all boils down to us – more importantly, the conscious choices that we are making especially in matters of heart.
Going back to the topic at hand, let’s look at all the possible reasons why someone would ghostlight you in the first place.
1. They Lack Effective Communication Skills:
Sometimes, even ghosters feel bad. And they come back trying to apologize. But not everyone is good at apologizing. When a ghoster who is not good at apologizing comes back with the intent of doing so, they often end up pretending like the ghosting did not happen in the first place – instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they end up brushing their behavior aside.
In such cases, the ghostlighter’s poor communication skills make it nearly impossible to understand what their victim must be feeling. Perhaps they are struggling to have an open conversation with you about their past behavior. It is also possible that they were not able to communicate the problems they were facing within the relationship they had with you in the past.
The only solution they had was to ghost you since they had already failed to communicate the problems to you. In such cases, the ghoster doesn’t believe themselves to be at fault – and naturally, expects everything to be normal when they return.
2. They Fear Honesty, Conflict, and Vulnerability:
It is very much possible that your ghoster is not being honest about why they ghosted you in the first place simply because they want to avoid opening up and exposing their vulnerable side to you.
They are thinking that if they choose to be honest then they will be opening the door to conflict and confrontation – and many of us out there hate confrontations. So in order to avoid going through so many emotions, and most importantly opening the door to conflict, they will end up ghostlighting you. It might sound like – “come on, when did I ghost you? I was so busy for the past couple of months with work. It’s all inside your head.”
For example, someone was talking to you and other people at the same time. Now they might ghost you and a few others to pursue another person. Weeks later the new relationship fizzles out and this person makes a reappearance into your life. It might be so much easier to just say that they were busy, instead of explaining about their unsuccessful relationship.
Most people are inherently averse to conflict especially in relationships. So it is feasible that the ghostlighter might just skip all the direct confrontations and instead, claim that they never ghosted you in the first place and it is all inside your head. Chances are you will be fine with these claims, sparing them any potential conflict.
3. They Are Emotionally Manipulative:
Sometimes, ghostlighting is intentionally deceitful. This is the time when it slowly creeps into a manipulative territory. An emotionally manipulative ghostlighter will try to string you along, explaining to you that you have too many expectations from them, or that it’s a you-problem, not them.
Again let’s take the example of the situation where someone is seeing you and a bunch of other people. Now this person keeps putting you at the very back on his list of dating prospects, only to return periodically to remind you that nothing is wrong.
You are technically being used as a dating partner at your ghostlighter’s convenience. Since they are not admitting the truth to you, you will end up sticking around, hoping for the potential relationship to work out.
Over time this will lead to a toxic dynamic of emotional manipulation between the ghostlighter and the victim. This is very problematic because the ghostlighter is intentionally deceiving the victim whereas, in the other cases the ghostlighting took place due to lack of communication skills, or fear of confrontation.
It’s the fact that this kind of ghostlighting makes you doubt your worth or make you second guess your expectations of how you should be treated in a relationship.
How To Spot A Ghostlighter?
Now that you are familiar with the ghostlighting definition, let’s talk about spotting ghostlighters – because these ghostlighters are terrible, and for the sake of our mental health we need to be cautious!
In such cases, a ghoster’s reappearance might feel exciting – the victim might actually look at it like a second chance. Of course you are bound to look at it positively that your ghoster from the past has walked back into your life because you are worth fighting for, or because they simply couldn’t stay away from your magnetic pull.
This means if your ghoster does come back to gaslight or manipulate you, you might not even see it initially. You will definitely be more susceptible to their negative comments and criticisms.
So, is ghosting abusive? YES.
Young adults who don’t have an understanding of themselves, human sexuality, and relationships are relatively more vulnerable to perceive abusive behaviors as love and not plain abuse.
While power assertion can be something fun to explore in intimate partnerships, it should never be equated with authentic love.
If it feels like someone is back in your life to make you feel bad about why they left you in the first place then don’t make yourself feel like you have to entertain their comments.
Protecting your mental health, avoiding heartbreaks, and saying no to abusive situations are equally important as being a kind person and believing in second chances.
There’s a cultural concept that your value is determined by who wants you and who rejects you. Now, that’s not true!
Just because a ghost is trying to re enter your life, doesn’t mean you have won at life. Think twice – if they are blaming you for the disappearance or criticizing you for your decisions then chances are they are ghostlighting you.
Dealing With Ghostlighting:
If you are in the middle of communicating with a ghostlighting narcissist, or a ghostlighter in general, no matter how much self-doubt you feel, trust your judgment and most importantly what your gut says about the situation.
Don’t forget that the primary component of gaslighting is to create confusion about reality. The gas lighter will try to make you doubt, hoping to make you question your perception, your memory, and sometimes even your sanity.
So if you have been questioning what you initially believed about a ghoster who has made a reappearance in your life, it is vital to remember that they might be trying to confuse you. If you are wondering whether you were ghosted in the first place or you should actually blame your ghoster then it’s best to stick to what you know is true.
Of course, you can set your own rules for interacting with your ghoster. You can simply choose to not allow them back into your life which is a good thing. Because after all, at best ghosting points to poor communication skills, and at worst, points to emotional manipulation.
You can also ask them about why they ghosted you. In which case, you are giving them the opportunity to gaslight you. Because now they will have the chance to make you believe that your perception is false. However if you keep feeling a desire to continue your relationship with the ghostlighter then maybe it’s time for some self- introspection. Part of this introspection will help you understand your worth and set boundaries for your future partner.
Feel free to share your insights, thoughts, and experiences on dating in 2023, in the comments below.
Barsha Bhattacharya is a senior content writing executive. As a marketing enthusiast and professional for the past 4 years, writing is new to Barsha. And she is loving every bit of it. Her niches are marketing, lifestyle, wellness, travel and entertainment. Apart from writing, Barsha loves to travel, binge-watch, research conspiracy theories, Instagram and overthink.