Ghosting and gaslighting are harmful relationship games where one person holds power over another — combining the two can double the difficulty of getting out from under a power dynamic. Sometimes the one doing the ghostlighting doesn’t necessarily mean any harm. They might choose to behave with negligence, or believe they are too busy, shy, or afraid to even be able to hurt someone’s feelings for reasons even they don’t understand. But conflict resolution is an important part of any kind of relationship, even if it’s a skill used to end it. If after weeks of ignoring you, the one who ghosted you reaches out and refuses to acknowledge their behavior and instead blames you for ghosting them — there’s something toxic afoot. Trust your gut. Yes, it happened.
If you’ve tried to resolve things with them, chalking the situation up as a miscommunication, or even accepting the blame without careful consideration, you might be feeling confused, frustrated, or inept. Ghosting and gaslighting are both a blow to self-esteem, but combined they can be devastating. In an interview with Forbes, Dr. Stacey Diane Arañez Litam explained that “People may internalize unhelpful beliefs about being ghosted that minimizes their self-worth or invalidates their inherent worthiness of love or connection.” After a ghostlighting event, if you’d like to continue connecting with the person you’re dating, make sure to clarify what happened without speculation, accusations, and as little emotional reaction as possible. If discussing things only makes everything worse, you two may not be meant to be.