Stood upI’ve been ghosted the other day.

Stood up, ignored, pariah’d, the thing Amish folk do to people who break their church vows.

And I’ve had a hard time dealing with it…

Let’s start by saying this is not the first time I’ve been a ghostee. It’s happened before, and I’m sure it will happen again.

But…that doesn’t mean I agree with the phenomenon. The one that seems to spread like wildfire in the dating scene and becomes ever more pervasive the more we ‘connect’ through our led lit devices and less through actual human interaction.

I’m not talking about friendships that slowly bleed out. You know, where neither one of you contacts the other person until you realise years have gone by. That, I get, that I’ve done…it happens, people drift apart sometimes…

But ghosting in this particular instance is when one party purposefully does not respond to messages or calls from the other party. Not even to say; “I’m sorry, but I’m just not feeling it, let’s call it quits”. They just disappear into nothingness…(though you might stil catch them scurrying around on Facebook…).

Here’s what happened this particular instance:

This was a person I’d planned to make a how it is to be you portrait off (which is obviously a big deal to me). We’d agreed on it digitally and had even met a few days beforehand. And it was all okay!

We’d agreed to meet at 14:30 and as I thought the location might not have been a 100% clear I’d send some texts well before that time to make clear where I was (which, as we live in proper Orwellian times, I knew he’d seen).

And there I was, at the agreed location, at the agreed time, all prepared and planned (questions, locations, scenes), all my gear strapped on and I’d even took some extra time in the morning to ensure I was as relaxed and open as I needed to be.

But nothing happened. He didn’t show up. Didn’t respond to the message I’d send after 15 minutes. Didn’t answer my call. Nothing. It was just me, my film gear and my dissipating mood at a rainy metro station.

Stood upI got stood up…

Looking back, I realise I went through a couple of stages and I’m sure anyone who’s ever waited in vain for a text back after the WhatsApp thingies turned blue goes through the same:

  • Relaxed grooviness: “Tsss, no stress, what’s 15 minutes anyway?”
  • Irritation: “Come on, I could make it on time and I’ve even been all relaxed and groovy for those first 15 minutes.” That’s where I sent a message in a semi-cool way asking ‘what’s up?’
  • Concern: “Shit, something must’ve happened.”
  • Confusion. After waiting for 45 minutes it slowly dawns on you that you may have been stood up but the whole ‘he could be lying in a ditch somewhere’ hypothesis was not ruled out either. So you send out another message saying that you’re not sure which of these scenarios is true and ask for a confirmation of any kind to put your mind to rest and go explore the city on your own.
  • Uber concern. It’s hard to believe someone would just not show up so I assumed the other scenario must’ve been true and started contemplating how to find out if something had indeed happened. Contact a roommate somehow? Call hospitals? And what then? I might just have to cancel my flight the next day just to make sure this person (who was also new in town) had a friend by his side. Now, I’m still a realist and decided to give it some time and not instantly assume the worst but still, in the back of my head, I’d made the inner pact to be there if he’d needed it (that was nice of me right? Or was it naive? I’m still not sure…).


So the moment I got the text saying something like “Oh hi, I hadn’t heard from you so wasn’t sure. I’m now at {vague, unverifiable} place” and no further response after I said I’d been waiting for 45 minutes I knew what the deal was…

I’d been banished from this person’s life like a leper to a far way island colony. Like I was indeed nothing more than that tiny insignificant speck in the universe that doesn’t deserve any respect or consideration I sometimes feel like I am (to be fair, we ARE tiny and insignificant specks in the universe, no issue there, it’s the deserving respect and consideration thing that’s always a big trigger of pain for me…).

And this hurt. And kept on hurting for the rest of the week.

Stood upAnd that’s where the following stages, derived from the 5 stages of grief, set in:

  • Shock & Denial
    “What? Seriously? Stand me up? Me!!??? No, this can’t be, it has to be some sort of misunderstanding. I must have been unclear in communication. He must have a reason for this and I’m sure he’ll get back to me on it. I mean, how can’t he?”
  • Frustration & Anger: “Bloody hell! Stupid, stupidhead! Who does he think he is? How can anyone treat another person like this? This is what society has come to…the whole world is going to hell!”
  • Depression & Detachment: “Why me? Oh God, why always me? What wrong with me? I must’ve said or done something wrong, I’m sure of it. My whole project is tainted because I’m incapable of human connections…sob sob sob…(I didn’t actually cry though…)”
  • Dialogue & Bargaining: This is where I sent a message (this was about 6 hours later) in which I definitely played the guilt and empathy card attempted to keep it with myself; as in, I didn’t blame him for anything. I’m still not sure if I should’ve sent this message but either way, the message was read and remains unreplied until this day.
    It was also during this phase that I started contemplating that it might actually not be about me at all (I know, gasp!). Of course I couldn’t know for sure…but…if I’ve learned anything in my past 36 years, it’s that most of the things that feel like they’re all about you, aren’t really about you at all. Most of the times it’s just the other being utterly incapable of dealing with rejection themselves. Or being too absorbed by something that’s happening in their life. In other words, it’s hardly ever personal. And that temporarily forgotten knowledge luckily started to seep into my consciousness again, lifting that heavy feeling of sadness that came with me thinking I was not able to ‘do’ this whole human being thing.
  • Acceptance: This took a bit longer. This took a bit of me complaining to friends and them telling me to not let it bug me so much. And it took some research with said friends and my trusty mate the internet. And apparently, ghosting is a thing! It’s not just me to whom this happens, it’s everybody! There’s even a name for it an everything. It didn’t make me feel better on a macro level (because, really humanity, what are we doing to each other?) but for me personally, in my little universe of self-doubt, it did wonders.
  • Integration: In the end, it no longer felt like a ‘thing’. It just remained a fact. One that has no apparent attachment or emotion and that I’m able to watch and observe from a distance; free again!


Stood upSo here I am…

on the other side of the experience looking back at it, learning from it and integrating these lessons in my life and behaviour, which leads me to the following:

  1. I’m sorry for my own bad behaviour. If I’ve ever hurt you in this way, or will do in the future than I apologise. I’ve always attempted to take the high road (and always will) but I, like you, am only human. I have my own fears and hangups and issues and because of that I make mistakes. If you feel so inclined, don’t hesitate to contact me so we can talk it through and I can apologise in person.
  2. I’m proud of myself. Even though it made me feel like an idiot for about a week or so, I’m proud of myself for feeling this (and sharing this) with the intensity that I did, it means I respect myself enough to not want to accept this in my life.
  3. I find this unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. Perhaps the ghoster does this to protect him/herself. Perhaps there’s fear for a bad reaction to the rejection. Perhaps he/she was so appalled by the ghostee that they didn’t want to waste any more energy on them. Sure, all understandable but here’s the thing: if you were on the other side, how would you want to be treated? That’s right, you would want to have at least the decency (because that’s where our society is at now) of a text message saying: “I’m sorry, but I’m just not feeling it. I really wish I could explain it a little better, but truth be told, I don’t understand it either. All the best!” In the end, all we want is respect and closure. To know we’re of enough value to be treated like human beings.
  4. I wish I was a wizard. I would love to wave a magic wand or fight a dragon or climb Mount Doom (I’ve obviously been spending some time in Middle Earth these past couple of days) to get rid of this particular evil (because people, life throws enough bullshit at us already, why would we want to make it harder on one another?) but of course I can’t. But…at least I’m currently doing everything I possibly can to make a positive difference in this behaviour.


I’m feeling. I’m sharing. I’m taking responsibility for my own behaviour as best as I possibly can.

And as much as I’d like to sometimes see change in other people…

At least I am the change I would like to see in the world.


What about you? Got any ghosting experience for yourself? Let me know in the comments!