What’s the difference?
A recent Valeriya Safronova article in the NY Times focused on the act of sudden, unexpected withdrawal and non-communication in romantic relationships. It shines a light on the cruel act that many victims in toxic relationships refer to as being discarded.
Safronova attempts to define the behavior by citing Charlize Theron’s decision to “ghost,” refrain from communication with, Sean Penn, with whom she’d been engaged and involved in a two year romantic relationship. Unfortunately, Safronova’s misuse of the term creates more confusion than understanding.
Cause and Effect, the dividing line
In the realm of toxic love, there are offenders and there are victims. And sometimes, it’s difficult to tell them apart. Sean Penn’s behavior has been called “controlling” in many tabloids. There are those who deliberately harm those around them, and those who will respond to the harm they are dealt. One of the behaviors that is especially harmful is abrupt cessation of contact, “ghosting” which takes the victim totally by surprise. It is a form of betrayal and abandonment.
Safronova provides the reader with explanations from ghosting offenders who give their self-absorbed reasoning for their actions. Their entirely “me-focused” intent leaves no room for them to consider the affect their behavior will have on the other person. And it is not unusual for emotional predators to “ghost” victims at-will, absenting themselves and then reappearing based on their selfish needs.
So how does “No Contact” differ?
A victim who is “ghosted” may find that responding with “no contact” is the only way to get their abuser’s harmful behavior out of their lives.
Some offenders will attempt to blur the lines of behavior by causing their victims shame about responding to or defending themselves against the harm they’re dealt. In this way, the wrongdoer will use their prey’s adaptive responses to “gaslight” them. Here’s how it works:
- They’ll enrage and harm.
- They’ll feign innocence as the person responds.
- They’ll place the victim’s reaction under a microscope and use it to defame them to the world.
In the eyes of the predator, they, not their target, are the perpetual victim. In cases of ghosting and the resultant no contact, they’ll claim the victim is behaving inappropriately.
Turning your loss into a win
If you’re a person whose been “ghosted,” you may eventually consider yourself “lucky.” The offender has clearly shown you that they have a character flaw. They disappeared because they put their own selfish need, whatever it was, above your safety and trust. Yes, you’re greatly harmed by their immediate absence, but it’s a clear sign that they lack the elements of bonding in their brain that would enable you to find ongoing happiness together. You’re now free to find a more meaningful life without their inevitable harm.
“Ghosting” creates a lack of closure
Once you realize you’ve been “ghosted” you’ll likely begin to ruminate about what you did to engender such ill treatment. The end is not defined by a conversation in which you discuss your views and determine that it’s best to part….. which is the hallmark of how other relationships end. Instead of a sit-down to talk out differences, the victim creates a one-way discussion that plays over and over again in their brain.
The only form of closure you’ll ever secure with a sociopath is your personal commitment to “no contact.” which will protect you from ever having to endure “ghosting,” being discarded, betrayed or abused by them, again.