Though not necessarily a new phenomenon, it's one that's on the uptick in recent weeks as the summer dating scene heats up. But what is the trendy term, exactly? And how do we survive it? Allow dating expert Rikki Dymond to walk you through it all.
Rikki Dymond is a dating coach and Flirtini dating expert. Her mission is to "help women reconnect with themselves and use their natural feminine energy to bring forward mature and lasting love."
What is 'ghostlighting'?
A combination of ghosting and gaslighting, "ghostlighting" is the act of disappearing from a potential dating match. Upon resurfacing, that's when the gaslighting comes into play and your match somehow tricks you into thinking his or her disappearance was your fault. (Spoiler: it's not and never was.)
But why is it on the rise again? It's a busy season. Singles are "untyping", experiencing "wanderlove", and soaking up all the laidback season has to offer in the romance world. It's likely that your connection probably built a rapport with other people, too—a reason (but not an excuse) for the ghostlighting.
"Through the online dating space, everyone's dating," Dymond says. "There's a chance they connected with you and someone else and the same time. And if something didn't work out, they came back."
But an overcrowded dating pool isn't the only reason for the behavior. Sometimes it's subjective, and the person you're dealing with is not who he or she claims to be.
"Potentially, they're a manipulative person. Maybe they care about their own feelings over everyone else's," Dymond adds.
Regardless of specifics, the act is not one that's fun to deal with, so Dymond lends us her expertise. (Take note!)
How do you deal with 'ghostlighting'?
We won't sugarcoat it: ghostlighting is not fun.
"It makes you question your own thoughts and your own reality, and ghosting feels really terrible and it leaves us wondering, 'What did I do,'" Dymond says.
The first thing to do is realize that this happening is no fault of your own.
"Put it in context that it's about them, not me," Dymond says. "Just move forward with your head high and continue on your search for a partner, love, and romance because there are good people out there, even though we have to so-to-speak 'kiss frogs' on our way to find our prince."
And if you're a bit upset about being put in the situation, take the time to acknowledge those emotions. Then put 'em to bed.
"The first thing I would say is your feelings are very valid, whether it's hurt, shame, anger or betrayal," Dymond adds.
You're entitled to be upset, but don't let someone else's wrongs make you feel as though you are the issue.
Do you give someone a second chance after 'ghostlighting'?
So, the ghost has resurfaced with a few excuses, but something about the connection makes you hesitant to say "goodbye." We totally get it. You don't necessarily need to blow off a ghostlighter immediately, but there are definitely things to keep an eye on.
"If they're not able to apologize and recognize what they've done, that's a big red flag," Dymond warns. "Are they able to give you the reason behind their actions? If they're able to provide those things, you can move forward with an open heart."
Make sure that following the ghostlighting actions your match is consistent and keeping his or her word. Make sure they're treating you respectfully, the way that they had promised. If their actions match their promises, then you can certainly consider moving forward. But if the return of this shady dater doesn't bring joy to your life and only makes the process of finding love more stressful, perhaps it's time to reevaluate your choices.
Overall, the journey can feel frustrating at times, and completely fantastic at others. The important thing is to not let things get to us. Keep trudging on and be mindful of your intent; this will bring you one step closer to a match that's right for you.
"With all of these dating trends that are rising, we really just need to dive deep within our own heart, know exactly what we want, need and deserve," Dymond notes. "There might be roadblocks, and that's ok. Try to take that with a grain of salt. No matter what goals we have in our life, we're going to have issues. Don't let those sidetrack you."
Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few.
When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.
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