All about ghosting: And why it’s NOT okay for your teen to do it

It’s important that your teen knows that ghosting someone is not the right way to end a relationship that’s turned sour.

 Ghosting is an incredibly hurtful way to end a relationship.

The term ‘ghosting’ is being used more and more. But, what exactly is ghosting, and why should you teach your teen better ways to deal with conflict.

What is ghosting and why do teens do it?

“Ghosting” refers to breaking up with someone by abruptly stopping all communication with them. This trend is due, in large part, to the current generation of teens’ fascination with doing all things via texting and social media – including both starting and ending relationships.

Being “ghosted” is, of course, easier for the “ghoster” than the “ghostee” because the “ghoster” avoids the painful process of providing an explanation for the break-up.

The “ghosted”, on the other hand, checks his or her phone constantly, dreadfully distressed and confused about a sudden break-up coupled with a lack of an explanation.

”Ghosting” unfortunately occurs across all age groups but it is my observation that it is very prevalent in the teenage population – the group that was raised in the age of social media. Obviously, we would prefer that our teens be neither the “ghosters” nor the “ghostees”. As parents, we would like our kids to be sensitive and empathic in all relationships and to the best of their ability.

Teach your teen the following:

The easy way out isn’t always the best way out:  Just because it is easy to “ghost” someone and end a relationship via cutting them off abruptly does not mean that this is the best way to do it. Easy and responsible are not synonymous.

Always be kind: Our kids need to be as kind and responsible at the end of a relationship as they are at the beginning of that relationship.

Accountability: We need to teach our kids that they are accountable to one another. If they are not ready to do that then perhaps they are not ready for these sorts of relationships.

Be gentle: There are all kinds of variations of how to end a relationship that does not involve “ghosting”. Talk to your kids about some possible ways to end a relationship as gently as possible – they might not be easy but they are much more admirable than silently abandoning someone.

Encourage your teen to use the following statements instead of ghosting:

  • “I think that our relationship is not working out at this point in time”
  • “I believe it would be best to move on”
  • “I don’t want to leave you hanging. As difficult as this is for me to say I would like to move on from our connection”.

If the shoe was on the other foot

Talk to your teens about empathy and what it must feel like to be in another person’s shoes. Have they been ghosted or abandoned abruptly? Have they been frozen out of a peer group? How might they feel if they were ghosted? How do their friends act when they have been ghosted? This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss role reversal and empathy.

Expired relationships should have dignified endings

This will be good not only for their own sense of integrity but for respecting the feelings and dignity of the person that they are breaking up with. We certainly don’t want to raise a generation of avoidant individuals now, do we?