Ghosting hurts. It’s often feels unexpected, unwelcome, and unwarranted.
Whether it’s a friend, a lover, or a potential romantic interest, almost everyone has been ghosted, where one party abruptly cuts off all communication from another without any explanation, and MTV’s newest reality TV show that premiered Tuesday, “Ghosted: Love Gone Missing,” illustrates that some people just can’t handle it.
According to a 2016 survey by the online dating app “Plenty of Fish,” 78 percent of users reported being ghosted.
MTV’s new series follows two hosts who guide a poor “haunted” individual through finding his or her ghost, tracking them down using social media and interviewing people to find the person who suddenly disappeared from the relationship without providing any reason why.
At the end of each episode, the hosts find the ghost and sit him face-to-face with the person he left, allowing the “haunted” to confront their ghost in person and forcing the person who broke off communication to give an explanation.
In the series’ premier, a young woman named Julia was ghosted by her best friend since childhood, Del, after skipping the anniversary of his coming out party. After convincing Del to sit down in a studio across from Julia, who is pregnant out of wedlock, Del explains he ghosted because he began sleeping with Julia’s recent ex-boyfriend and dated him for two months. In the end, the two decided to “make-up” and Julia even made Del the godfather of her child.
A happy ending to be sure, but finding one’s ghost is not likely to share a similar story.
Diane Barth is a psychotherapist based in New York and author of the book, “I Know How You Feel: The Joy and Heartbreak of Friendship in Women’s Lives.” Barth told The Federalist that being ghosted by a friend can be just as damaging as being ghosted by an intimate partner, and sometimes is even worse, especially if the relationship was long-term and included major life events that were shared, as was the case with Del and Julia.
“In my research for my book on women’s friendships, I found that women struggled with a need for closure with friends who ghosted them as much as they did with lovers who disappeared on them,” Barth said.
Barth said that tracking down one’s ghost, however, was not healthy behavior, and the kind of closure Julia received from confronting her ghost was rare to come by.
“People ghost for a reason, and hunting them down is both shaming and disrespectful,” Barth said.
People who track down those who ghosted them almost always say they’re looking for closure, for an explanation of what happened, for a way to close off their bad feelings. But in my experience, there’s sometimes also a desire to punish and embarrass the person who ghosted them, which having a television crew track them down will likely do.
The series’ second episode embodies a more common case of ghosting, where a New York couple split after one woman, Jordan, ghosts her boyfriend Ross for seemingly no reason. When the couple come face-to-face at the end, Jordan reveals that she stopped talking to Ross because of an offensive stand-up comedy routine Ross performed sharing intimate details of the couple’s sex life.
Both ended up deciding not to make-up, with Ross saying the reason Jordan gave for ghosting changed the way he thought of her when she failed to come to him to talk about the skit.
“Like I said, I’m sorry for what I did, but I thought that we had a pretty open line of communication. I would rather have a relationship where if I do mess up like that we could talk about it,” Ross told Jordan, who also decided to remain separated.
Like Julia, Ross also found the closure he was looking for in this episode, but once again, this closure can be hard to come by and probably would not have happened had a national television crew not aggressively tracked down Jordan and pressured her into sitting down face-to-face with Ross.
The reality show gives false hope to hurt individuals craving an explanation from their ghosts as to why they disappeared, glorifying the idea of stalking down the perpetrator to demand answers in a desperate search for closure. Barth advises people to avoid tracking down their ghosts, as it rarely provides the closure one is looking for, often exposing unflattering truths.
In the end, if someone ghosts you, is that really someone you want to be with anyway? It might be cruel, it might sound harsh, but most people ought to accept that no response is a response, and move on.