You start chatting with a partner and suddenly the person stops responding to you. Frustrated, you think and confront the person concerned in order to have more explanations. But the person completely denies their behavior and blames you. This behavior has a name: “ghostlighting”.
Ghostlighting is the contraction of two English words, “ghosting” (no longer responding to messages overnight without explanation) and “gaslighting” (a mental manipulation technique based on lying and distorting certain information). This practice consists of disappearing overnight within a relationship, and blaming the other partner when caught in the act.
For the person victimized by this behavior, ghostlighting is not without consequences. It can lead to confusion, obsession, but also lower self-esteem. A range of emotions which is totally calculated by the author of this unhealthy tactic. According to psychologist Stéphanie Sarkis, contacted by Women’s Health, the goal is to “make the person believe that they are going crazy or that they cannot trust themselves”. Instead of explaining their actions, the person focuses on the victim, preferring to give a false excuse that will make them feel guilty or highlight one of their faults. Basically, she dumps herself onto the other in order to free herself from all responsibility. On top of that, the author shows no empathy for the suffering he may cause to his partner.
Several reasons explain this behavior according to experts. Digital exchanges would play a big role, for example. At a time when discussions are facilitated by instant messaging and dating applications, exchanges very quickly become ephemeral. For Barbara Santini, relationship expert and psychologist, contacted by Glamor UK, this would lead to dehumanization: “Our screens often dehumanize interactions. People forget that there is a real person with emotions on the other side. Plus, we live in a world of Snapchat stories and Instagram posts 24 hours a day. This fleeting nature can unfortunately spill over into our relationships.“.
But it is also a sign of fear of commitment. Like gophering, which is a variation of ghosting, the possibility of wasting time and having feelings causes perpetrators to evade responsibility. Barbara Santini characterizes “ghosltighting” as a sign of “a fear of vulnerability in the other person.” She adds : “Commitment requires vulnerability. Ghostlighting allows individuals to escape the weight of emotional depth, opting instead for superficiality“.
So if you see signs of this tactic with your partner, experts advise ending the relationship as soon as possible. We must move forward, and not blame ourselves, because only the author of the ghoslighting is responsible. And to find the right partner, don’t hesitate to set your limits and listen to your instinct, above all else.