Haunted! When the ghost returns..

Ghosting, ghosting, ghosting, there’s lots to say about it. In fact, I’ve written two separate posts on the topic: when ghosting occurs in a romantic context and in friendship. There’s a term following the vanishing act which I’m positive will soon be part of the English vocabulary and that is: haunted. To be haunted is shortly, when a ghost decides to return. This is how the story goes: one second there is (to different degrees) meaningful contact with another then, poff! One of the involved disappears from the radar. There is no one on the other line despite all efforts to reconnect, with time the hint is taken. Then the day arrives when out of the blue the ghost decides to reemerge. The ghost’s victim is now officially haunted. 

For anyone stunned or paralyzed when seeing a message, phone call or visit from a certain someone who’d evaporated from your life without explanation, this is for you! When a ghost pops up after an unreasonable amount of time knocking on your door, should you open the door just a crack or triple check it’s locked? Clearly there is no right or wrong way to deal with a ghost, each situation and background story will vary and therefore so will the response. If the ghost piques your interest or curiosity there are a few pointers suggesting it’s safe to peek through the door. But before getting into that let’s look at one of the fundamental parts of being haunted: the reaction.

Being haunted can be a delicate matter so it’s crucial to explicitly clarify to yourself where you stand emotionally in regards to the ghost, before you act. If you’re unfazed by a ghost haunting you I have nothing but applause. This is a strong indicator the ghost doesn’t ruffle any feathers and the whole ordeal is an emotional case closed.

However there are times when being haunted can be confusing and unleash all sorts of emotions, good and bad. If this is the case, I’d strongly advise that before you respond to the ghost, observe and pay attention to what surfaces mentally and emotionally.  Any type of intense feelings is a sign to restrain from impulsively replying and strive to find footing in neutrality before any action. Coming from a place of neutrality can reassure us from slam the door wide open nor in the ghosts face, too soon 

I say this because emotions blur our judgments. Excitement can be blinding of red flags and interpreted as dismissing harmful behavior. Over-excitement of the ghosts return can cause a person to unintentionally give a green light to toxic behaviors. Here are a few reasons ghosting occurs to begin with. One, it can be a way to keep options open. Let’s say a woman is casually dating a man and they hit it off. The man then decides to give a serious relationship a go with another woman. In his mind, ghosting is a better option than ending things with the first lady because if the serious relationship breaks down, great! He’ll have someone in line to slide back to, right? Other ghosts might haunt simply because they are bored, seriously, they have nothing better to occupy their time with. For others, ghosting and haunting works as an ego boost, they feel special when they, like a yo-yo, can behave badly and return as they wish. It gives them the impression that they must be holding some kind of super power. Good old plain ghosting can also be a sign of taking someone for granted, assuming the haunted will always take them back regardless of how they behave. As you see, we might not want to jump to welcoming the ghost back with open arms. 

On the flip side, negative emotions can close the mind  and cut a valuable relationship off based on false premises. Sometimes there are valid explanations for ghosting, situations having nothing to do with the haunted one. Ghosting might have been the result of  a personal crisis or serious unforeseen situation. I want to underline the word “explanation” in this context. This is not to be confused with excuses for the behavior. Reasonable explanation and insights into what occurred in the ghosts life doesn’t take away from the haunted experience at all. But it could bring in some sympathy for the ghost, opening the door for repairing the connection. 

A person can have “accurate” feelings towards the ghost but it’s still best for one’s own sake to arrive at neutrality. And, there is no time pressure to reply, take all the time you need to get there! Once you’re in the vicinity of the emotional zero in regards to the ghost you’ll clearly understand if you are genuinely receptive to the ghost or disinterested.

The following part only applies if there is a tiny part of you that genuinely would like to salvedge the relationship, if not ignore the ghost and  move along. No response is valid communication, silence sends a loud and clear message. 

 Now let’s get into two main giveaways regarding the ghosts’ sincerity when they haunt.  

Foto av lil artsy pu00e5 Pexels.com

The magic ratio

If the ghost in their initial contact follows what I’ve named the 1:1 douchiness/accountability ratio, there might be hope. The formula is easy: the severity of the ghosting needs to match the degree of accountability. 

The “douchiness” element is based on the level of  intimacy and energetic investment into the relationship. The manner in which the ghosting occurred can also affect the severity of the douchiness. Let’s face it,  ghosting someone after two dates versus at the altar will likely lead to different aftermaths. The accountability part of the equation includes expressing acknowledgment of the lacking behavior, meaning: taking responsibility for the ghosting and related potential repercussions. Somewhere within the accountability package an apology might show its face too. However an apology alone doesn’t mean much without the main parts of accountability. Apologizing without explicitly acknowledging the ghosting can be an easy and quick way to get off the hook. 

The ratio is telling of the, shall we say, quality of the haunting There are ghosts out there who will swoop in and act as if nothing has occurred which is a huge no, no. Let me give an example. Two people are on the verge of entering a romantic relationship when suddenly one party disappears. Years pass by when the ghost suddenly sends a facebook message with a “Hi, what’s up? “. This obviously doesn’t cut it and is nowhere near the ratio. 

I understand the ghost wanting to tiptoe back or test the waters to see if they can slide back undramatically, instead of cutting to the chase and going for the douchiness/accountability formula. On one level, I can sympathize with the ghosts’ position and it being vulnerable. Yet on another level, I feel that if a person has it in them to put another through being stood up without explanation the least they can do is put some effort into it.

The intention deadline

Another point revealing the prospects of mending the link with a ghost, is them sharing the purpose for initiating contact in a timely fashion.

Interestingly, I found that ghosts typically drag out conversations and stay in small talk until asked what they want. The truth is though, the haunted doesn’t owe the ghost anything, including meaningless chit chat. If you’re curious and they haven’t not disclosed their true motive, then don’t waste time and ask. For all you know, the ghost might simply need a favor, peptalk or a listening ear. I strongly believe it’s the ghosts responsibility, since they are the one reaching out, to state their intent and do so quickly. You’d be surprised to know there might not even be a reason, which is sort of another slap in the face. Just as with the douchiness/accountability ratio, the intention requires some effort on the ghosts part and in my eyes that’s the least they can do. If they do, they might genuinely want to patch what you two once had. 

What I’ve mentioned so far are only words and they obviously need to be followed by action. This is a strong case of only time will tell. I want to finish by emphasizing that if the haunted person decides to let a ghost back into their life it’s not a guarantee for anything (as with everything else). If the situation doesn’t work out there is no need to beat oneself up for it or return to the ghosting event. The ghosting experience should also not be  weaponized, it’s not intended to be repeatedly used to hold over another’s head . Once the ghost is completely through the door, it’s time to let bygones be bygones. 


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