Hello everybody, welcome to episode 196 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is about what to do when you're ghosted by an ex.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now today, folks, we’ve got a question on the table that was sent in from a woman who really seeks to rebuild a broken relationship. As you’ll see, she’s putting in a lot of effort, taking initiative and trying to be mindful of the stages of breakup, yet nothing seems to be working. I think it’s time to look at this from a new angle and offer some thoughts and questions to her that she maybe hasn’t considered yet, and that could possibly help her shake up her approach not only to her relationship with her ex, but more importantly, her relationship with herself. This question is a long one, so let’s get right into it and please listen closely. Here we go…
QUESTION: “I was ghosted. We were coworkers/friends for a year and dating for three months of that year. When we met last, I pretty much said to him “I am still interested in dating you, what do you think?” He did not want to be boyfriend/girlfriend like I was thinking. I wanted it to be his idea too, not me coercing him into it.
Not long after that conversation, we talked about some random things and he made a move on me that I pushed away and rejected. We did text more after that meeting, but he stopped responding after a couple weeks and that was how it fizzled out. I later expressed that I was getting impatient for him to be ready…and he didn't reply. It's been almost a year since then.
He’s shy and I worry that he is feeling shameful about making that move and that I hate him or something. I reached out again recently because I still want to be with him. And then my message never said delivered. Wow. I realize this relationship must really be over if I was blocked by him. I was blocked in two places we talked.
After a year of going through the breakup stages, I want to give him another chance…maybe for my sake as much as his. I know he needs to heal too before it will work. I wonder why he doesn't see that we could do some of the growing together. He wants to be perfect first but I am not perfect nor looking for perfect.”
What a tangled web this is – my word. Thank you asker for sending this question in.
I know this is an absolutely terrible place to be in right now; I was in the same spiral at one point as well. Although our situations are different, I do think that what I shared in my moment with you in your current moment is, unfortunately, a sense of hope that’s too seductive to allow us to see the reality of what’s actually good for us.
Allow me to explain.
Throughout this question, you’ve described 3 1/2, maybe 4 romantic moves on your part: the last time you saw him, texting after you rejected his move, texting him that you were getting impatient after that, and then the last time when you realized you’d been blocked.
None of these efforts were met with any interest by him. The only interest and effort he has shown was the one time he made a move on you, which I assume was physical.
On top of that, after that move didn’t work, he stopped messaging you. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that he made that move after you two were talking about “random things”, as you said, which are not romantic or relationship things.
So I get the hunch that at that time, he felt he no longer had you in his grasp because the conversation wasn’t about you trying to win him back. If that all adds up, he likely pursued you because he felt a moment of weakness in which he wanted what he felt he’d lost or couldn’t have.
None of this is healthy.
Interest and Coercion
You say you wanted it to be his idea to be interested in you and want a future with you; that you don’t want to coerce him.
However, if you look at this question again or try to read it from another perspective (say if it was about two people you didn’t know) you’d see that this is entirely a one-way street.
He’s not initiating or trying in any way, and as much as you’d hate to coerce him into something (rightfully so), all of your actions are efforts to do that.
He clearly isn’t interested right now, and it’s time for you to start realizing that this is something to be grateful for.
Imagine What Dating Would Be Like…In The Real World
Imagine how it’d be to date him with all of this in the air. It’d be a disaster for both of you – both of your sakes.
He’d constantly be looking for a way out because that’s what he does, and you’d never feel like you were enough. The growth you talk about isn’t going to happen with things as they are right now, because he wouldn’t be open enough or enthusiastic enough to be receptive to learning, and you because you won’t allow yourself to believe that, you wouldn’t be able to grow either.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t see any evidence that points to anything different. You said you think that he feels shameful or as if he thinks you hate him, but I’m not sold on that because if he did feel that way, he’d try to apologize.
And in the unlikely event that he felt that way and still didn’t apologize, then this would scream poor communication, a fractured ego who doesn’t want to admit their wrongdoing, or a lack of effort to come after you or fight for you, which he’s exhibited anyway.
So to me, you thinking that he’s feeling that way is just a means of soothing yourself, which we all do; reaching for something we need to hear, something we need to be true so as to not confront the very troubling truth.
It isn’t based in reality, unless there’s something more you haven’t told me, which I highly doubt.
Ghosted Because “He's Shy”?
The only other leg I see you trying to stand on is this idea that maybe he hasn’t been more vocal or put more effort in because he’s shy.
But even if he is shy, that’s not enough of an excuse to not fight for someone you love, is it? It isn’t to me.
And I don’t think you’d want to be with someone like that. I wouldn’t.
You said in one breath that the relationship is over if you’re blocked, then immediately switched gears and said that you wanted to keep going after him. You had it right the first time.
I know it’s the worst, and it’s so painful and hard to understand, but if it’s done, let it be done. You’re still going through those breakup stages, and that’s ok.
Once you’re truly on the other side of them, you’ll see what I mean. A year may feel like a while to go through them, but people heal on different timelines, and the timeline can be especially long if we’re continuing to reach out, staying in the same mindset, and not accepting even the possibility that it’s over for good.
You're Better Off Without This Guy
It may not feel like it, but you’re clearly better off without this guy.
I worry that this episode has felt stern – that’s not my intention. It’s not my intention to make him out to be this terrible person. He’s probably not that bad if you’re so hooked on him, but he’s still not ready or willing, and that’s a fact.
And if you were to date him now, he’d not come close to being the best partner he could be or the partner that you’d want to have.
Being Ghosted: Conclusion
I suggest you start to turn your focus inward instead. Rather than focusing on him and how to get him back, shine the light on your own behavior.
Why do you feel so much desperation for this man, as if there’s nobody else like him in the whole world; a world which consists of about 3.5 billion men? What does he maybe represent to you subconsciously that you don’t understand, and how could it be filling a void?
What would it actually be like to be involved with him right now with his current behavior? Are you really respecting yourself by continuing to reach out to him like this?
Is continuing to reach out actually helping, or maybe establishing more distance?
Asking these types of questions of yourself could do you a lot of good right now. They’ll help you to see things from a new perspective by tapping into the uncomfortable, maybe blind spots of this situation.
Odd as it may seem, that’s the best way to break this unhealthy and painful cycle that you’ve found yourself in.
To the woman who sent this question in on being ghosted, I really hope this helped. I know it might’ve sounded too blunt, and perhaps not terribly optimistic at times, but whether this relationship is meant to be or not, it’s going to be important to start considering different viewpoints and possibilities so you can get yourself out of this personal rut.
Clearly it’s becoming a struggle for you and recapturing what it looks like to take care of and respect yourself now is going to be important with or without him. And that goes for everyone who’s missing a lost love – we mustn’t solely devote ourselves to getting them back, as though our entire being depends on them and only them.
Challenging our thoughts and caring for the other parts of ourselves requires paying attention to the other parts of ourselves; something tough to do when all our energy is being put into another person. That’s going to bring us to the end though everyone. Really hope everyone out there still believes in love, whether of not you're recovering from being ghosted.
There’s no reason not to, sometimes we just have to alter our approach to getting it from others and from ourselves.
So take care everyone, be kind to yourselves, and be sure to stop in next time where we’ll answer a very unique question about the recent GameStop phenomenon. I’ll talk to you all then.