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Last year I was ghosted by a man I had been dating for six months. There were no signs that he was going to leave – one day he just did. We talked every day for six months and then suddenly there was nothing.
Being ghosted after six months was one of the most confusing experiences of my life. Ghosting someone after two weeks? Sure. I don’t agree with it, but I can get my head around it. But I dedicated six months of my life to a man who didn’t even have the decency to break up with me, and that hurt.
I always knew the relationship wasn’t going to last forever. He told me from the very beginning that he didn’t like commitment and I told him that was okay. Perhaps I was naïve for trusting someone who “doesn’t do commitment”, but I had just gotten out of a pretty traumatic relationship and I was okay with something less intense for a while.
But as we spent more and more time together, I began to think that things were different. I began to think that I was different. He started to treat me like his girlfriend and I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.
We spoke every day, he treated me well, and we had a lot of good times together. I trusted him with my feelings and he trusted me with his. It wasn’t love, but we were two people who enjoyed each other’s company and for a while things were nice.
Until one day he just disappeared.
For the first few weeks I assumed he was just busy. He had a busier schedule than me and often took longer to reply, but as the weeks went by I realised he probably wasn’t coming back.
I was confused and hurt and I didn’t know what I had done wrong. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that this was his fault, not mine, and so I struggled with intense feelings of guilt and shame for months.
The sad part is I didn’t realise I liked him as much as I did until he left. I didn’t let myself feel the feelings I had for him out of fear of getting hurt, but when I look back I know they were there. At the time I was struggling with my mental health but he made me happy during a very difficult time and I’ll always be grateful for that, despite the fact that he also caused me a tremendous amount of pain.
That’s not actually the end of the story. Around six months later, as soon as I had come to terms with what had happened, he popped back into my life. I was cautious but the little words “I miss you” made me believe that maybe this time things would be different.
This time we only talked for a few weeks before he ghosted me again. It wasn’t a surprise – I always assumed he’d do the same thing twice – but I still kicked myself for letting him back into my life.
I never asked him why he left me in the first place, but I acknowledged his disappearance and he gave me a vague answer about family problems. I don’t mind not having the answers since nothing he could have said could justify the way he left, but the lack of an explanation left me just as confused and hurt as before.
This experience was a huge wake up call for me. I have a habit of letting people who have hurt me back into my life. That’s just who I am – I tend to see the best in people and I like to believe that people can change, but the reality is that some people will hurt you over and over again if you let them. It’s up to you and only you to protect yourself from such people.
I’ve been in toxic relationships with people much worse than the man who ghosted me and so it took me a while to accept I had been taken advantage of. Even though the ending was terrible, he was still a good person and I had a hard time accepting that someone so kind could do something so cruel. It was difficult to deal with at the time, but these days I just see the whole thing as a learning experience.
I don’t mind being single. In fact I’m beginning to enjoy it. I’m finally learning how to be happy on my own and it feels great.
If I’ve learned anything from the past few years it’s that you shouldn’t let someone else determine your happiness. I have so many goals and dreams and none of them involve other people. Life is a journey which I’m able to go through alone, but if people want to join me then I’ll happily welcome them. I believe that human connections are vital in maintaining happiness (read more about that here) but I will never, ever ask someone to stay in my life when they don’t want to.