As part of PAPER's month-long "Sexpress" series, New York-based sexologist Shelby Sells will be writing weekly columns that investigate modern sexuality. Dive into her sexpertise, below.
Let's face it, we live in a world where people would rather fall off the face of the earth than confront their issues head on and be forced to deal with their feelings. Running away from an awkward or uncomfortable situation seems easier than dealing with it, but does that make it true? No! Being ghosted sucks. It usually leaves us feeling confused, frustrated, and looking for answers. I think I can confidently say no one likes being ghosted. How can we make it suck less? By embracing our inner Drake (getting in touch with our feelings), and finding closure on our own terms.
It's okay to reach out to the person potentially ghosting and see how they're feeling in order to gain clarity. Something friendly along the lines of "Are we still on for tonight?" or "Haven't heard from you in awhile so I thought I would check-in with you. Is everything okay?" to gauge a response. If your potential love interest still fails to get back to you after reaching out a couple times, I recommend giving that person space and accepting that it's over. I wouldn't take it personally; you two may just be in different places emotionally, physically, or in regards to prioritizing your time.
One of the first things we should do if we think someone is ghosting us is acknowledge that it hurts. Being rejected is painful on any level, from first (or almost) date to a serious relationship. Even being ghosted by a casual hookup hurts. Remember to be nice to yourself. How would you console a friend in a similar position? Offer yourself some sympathy and understanding. You are only human after all. These normal feelings of sadness and hurt are a sign that you are engaged in your relationships, the world around you, and your life. Talk about it with people you trust. This helps us understand our feelings, work through them, and move on from difficult times.
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Next, focus on taking care of your body and mind. Research shows eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising helps in relieving emotional stress. Drinking and partying may relieve sadness momentarily, but usually prolongs the suffering. When managing psychic pain, we must be mindful of our practices. Refrain from jumping off the deep end and hunting (showing up to places where you think a person will be to purposely run into them) aka stalking your ex. You're wasting your precious time and energy on someone who is unwilling to reciprocate.
Lastly, we must let go. Rejection is a natural part of life. Give yourself the time and space to process your emotions and then gracefully let them go. Hanging onto the past breeds bitterness and contempt (not cute.) Instead, try to channel your energy into something more positive like tapping into your artistic self, learning something new, or engaging in a hobby. Focus on being the best version of yourself and spending time with friends and loved ones. Hope is not lost. See the love around you and cherish it. No matter what happened you will feel better once you let it go. Moving on gives yourself the freedom and the opportunity to open up to wonderful new experiences and love interests.