If you’ve had the displeasure of dating in the digital age, you’re likely familiar with the concept of ghosting. But as daters become more aware of this behaviour, it’s become a little easier to look out for the signs and get ahead of a ghoster. Well, we hate to break it to you, but there’s now another more sinister phenomenon emerging in the wake of ghosting… Allow us to introduce you to ‘ghostlighting’.
That’s right, just in case you were sick of finding out new (and heinous) dating trends, cunning daters have evolved their approach to keep their options open—kind of like a virus.
If you’re just trying to find your way in the dating field, ghostlighting may be something to keep an eye out for. Here’s what it means and how to spot it on your quest for love.
What is ghostlighting?
A portmanteau of ghosting and gaslighting, ‘ghostlighting’ is the unholy child of the two. If you need a refresher, ghosting refers to the process of suddenly disappearing without an explanation after building a romantic connection with someone. A problematic offshoot of dating apps, it’s as awful and confusing as it is shockingly common. Gaslighting, on the other hand, is a deeply disturbing form of manipulation. It’s a tactic often employed by emotional abusers where someone deliberately attempts to distort someone’s perception in a bid to make them feel delusional.
And what do you get when you merge these two together? A ghoster who tries to convince you that they’re not. What this might look like is employing methods like breadcrumbs, lovebombing or orbiting to make you feel like they are still invested, only to leave you hanging without a trace time and time again. This way, they pose a question mark around whether they really are ghosting you.
Why do people ghostlight?
So, why might someone ghostlight you? One possibility is that a person is experiencing some change in circumstances that they’re hesitant to share. In some cases, the changes could be legitimately sensitive or private. Sure, we should give people the benefit of the doubt, but if your gut is telling you there’s something fishy, listen to your instincts. And besides, the person may just not be in the right place to date you the way you need.
A second possibility is that the person’s interest has moved elsewhere and may come crawling back when things don’t work out. There’s no real way to know for sure if you’re the fallback choice, but this is why communication from the beginning is make or break.
Lastly, the unfortunate truth might be that this person is just plain manipulative or deeply immature. Whether they’re aware of their actions or not, this doesn’t set up a great foundation for any kind of relationship—no matter how casual.
What do you do if you’re being ghostlit?
Nine out of ten times, you’ll know pretty quickly when you’re being ghosted. If you do find yourself being ghosted, trust us when we say it’s not something to take personally. Even Gigi Hadid has been ghosted by a man two decades older than her. And if they do decide to rear their ugly heads again and attempt to leave you questioning your own experiences, heed the message that they’re not worth your time.
It’s natural to be curious about what happened, and they should be ready to be as honest with you as they can, but the juice might not be worth the squeeze. While some people do have their reasons, it’s important to step back and assess if you really want to deal with someone who would treat you in such a way.
As the old adage goes: if someone is trying to tell you who they are, listen.
And remember, gaslighters and ghostlighters alike are experts in altering your perception. Keep your wits about you, and stay safe out there…