facebook

Why You Should Ghost The Love Of Your Life (And 10 Things It Can Teach You)

Photo: getty
ghosting
Heartbreak

Pain has a way of changing your outlook on life.

Gabe (name has been changed) and I shared an intense connection since we were kids. He saw me in a way no one else did, and his unfiltered honesty could peel back pretenses that left me both exposed and exhilarated.

Dating should've been a no-brainer as we got older, but whenever we tried, something always got in the way: timing, maturity, egos. The intensity that drew us together had an equal propensity for repelling us apart; either I'd panic and run, or he'd push me away.

No matter who I was dating, Gabe was the person I thought of each night. I remained convinced he was my soulmate, that he and I were inevitable. Until I decided it was time to end things and make use of ghosting in a relationship that's toxic.

Everything came to a head during college when Gabe finally pushed me too far, and I made the impossible choice to disappear from his life. No one called it ghosting back then — it was simply survival.

Heartbroken, I told myself leaving Gabe behind was for my own good, though it felt like a vital part of me had died. I soon entered a frightening new period where I felt utterly alone for the first time. That's when everything changed.

By ghosting the love of my life, I kicked off a painful adjustment phase that taught me valuable life lessons I might never have learned had I kept clinging to the story I'd been telling myself since I was a teen.

Here's what ghosting in a relationship that's toxic can teach you about life and future romance.

1. You can exist as a separate person outside a relationship.

I didn’t know it, but so much of my identity was wrapped around what I thought Gabe thought of me. I tried like hell to be a good person, but if he didn't like something about me, that part of me was as good as garbage. I valued his opinions over my own.

After he was gone, there was no one to obsessively bounce my perceptions off. No one to impress. I slowly learned to quit looking over my shoulder for approval and instead turn inward. Life got so much easier once I realized I was free to be comfortable in my own skin.


RELATED: 4 Reasons Ghosting Is GOOD For You (And Your Sanity)


2. You teach people how to treat you.

The fact that I worshipped the ground Gabe walked on made it hard to stay angry, even when he got mad and spread rumors or sent insulting messages to me or about me to mutual friends. My solution was always the same: ignore him until the worst blew over, and then the cycle would start again.

We taught each other it was okay to be a jerk. There were no long-term consequences; we always took each other back. I didn't see how destructive this was or how miserable it made me until I was no longer stuck in the loop.

Post-Gabe, I vowed to tackle relationship problems head-on and exit any situation where honesty and mutual respect were lacking. Because I made it a goal, my commitment to communication has fostered more peaceful and meaningful relationships.

3. Embrace the parts of yourself your partner didn't like.

The very quality I admired most about Gabe (his unabashed honesty) was also what I feared most. He had a knack for exposing my biggest insecurities. Every bad thing I thought about myself seemed to get confirmed by him at one point or another. Sometimes I could shrug it off, other times it was devastating. 

I continued to beat myself up for years after, still trying to change those "undesirable" aspects of me. In time, however, I was able to find my place among people who either didn't see and/or accepted my so-called flaws. I realized it's okay to work on improving myself, just as long as I'm doing it for me.

No one should make me feel ashamed about who I am, especially not the person I want to share my life with.

4. Never accept second-best.

When you're convinced someone is your soulmate, you never really put forth the full effort with anyone else you're dating. You give the bare minimum and treat people like placeholders, which is a sh*tty way to operate.

Once I was on my own, I had a lot of regret over how I acted toward short-term boyfriends because the second Gabe came back around, I tossed them aside. I had to examine my own actions and decide what was truly important to me for relationships going forward.

I took some time away from dating to figure it out and became more selective about who I saw once I got back in the game. If it became apparent things wouldn't work out with someone, I immediately let them know and moved on.

My new direct approach caused some to lash out in anger, and all the while I'd think, "Phew, dodged a bullet there!" I was done giving and accepting second-best.

5. Evolving as a person is not a bad thing.

There's comfort in being near someone who's known you for years, yet they have the potential to pigeonhole you. It's like being cast in a play. Everyone has their roles, and if you stray, it throws the whole scene off. I wanted to change and grow, yet anytime I got around Gabe, I'd revert to a former version of myself and get completely lost in him.

My concerns and goals would go to the wayside as my primal aching for his approval took over. And believe me, it wasn't his fault. I was too in love for my own good. That's why losing him later felt like gravity had given up. I floated around in uncertainty figuring things out, and the person I emerged as on the other side wasn't at all who I expected.

I changed drastically yet harmonized with the person I'd been. I guess you could say I came full-circle. Every day I continue to evolve and discover unexpected new chapters.

6. Never give away your power.

After being on my own for a few weeks, I realized it was the first time I wasn't holding anyone up on an unrealistic pedestal, vying for attention and approval. Life was quieter. Calmer. I got a glimpse of how empowered I could be if I quit letting other peoples' opinions of me determine how I felt about myself.

I had my power back. It was strange and liberating. I continued to stumble (and let's face it — I still do), but the first step on the path to self-acceptance was realizing no one had power over me unless I handed it to them. And they wouldn't use that power to make me happy. That was my job.

As I stopped relying on outside validation, I learned to be my own cheering squad and to trust and value myself. My happiness was back in my own hands, and I planned to keep it that way.


RELATED: 15 Subtle Signs You're About To Be Ghosted


7. You don't deserve to settle.

I had a bad habit of wanting what I wanted, when I wanted it. Call it passion, though perhaps impulsive is more apt. I prided myself on charging boldly after whatever I wanted, even when it meant treating the people around me like cannon fodder.

I excused my actions by telling myself it wasn't "really cheating" since he was my "soulmate," but all that did was create catastrophic trust issues. After all, he cheated with me, so what was to stop him from cheating on me? Or vice-versa?

I knew if I wanted a different kind of relationship, one built on trust, I’d have to be different. I'd have to become trustworthy. That meant reigning in selfish impulses and fostering patience. As time passed, I grew to respect myself more and learned to devote my very best to one person and one person only. Suspicion has since taken a backseat to trust, and confidence is now behind the wheel.

8. Let go of regret.

They say regret is the worst feeling in the world. I'm inclined to agree. I think back to things I did and wish I hadn't, and to the things I wanted to say and couldn't, and it can feel like a vise crushing my chest. But that's part of being human. And the gift of reflection is a two-edged sword.

As I slowly lost focus on the grief of losing Gabe, I began to realize that the fact I loved him as much as I did was sort of incredible. So many people never find someone they can fully lose themselves in, yet I had the honor of sharing important moments of my life with someone who truly saw me and made the rest of the world fade into the background.

Why did that have to cause me so much pain and regret once it was over? I resolved some years ago that it was okay to cherish the happy memories and to stop trying to mentally rewrite history. It was what it was. I'm a better person because of Gabe — both for the love he showed and the times he broke my heart. Looking back now, I wouldn't change a thing.

9. Forgive yourself.

Immediately after I cut Gabe out of the picture, I'd lay awake tracing every problem that happened between us back to me. I'd said and done a lot based on the assumption he'd always be there. I wanted a re-do. But short one time machine, I had to settle for making peace with my past decisions, even the idiotic ones.

As soon as I quit reprimanding myself, lessons began to emerge from those mistakes. Tiny diamonds of knowledge only Gabe could've taught me. Though it hurt to lose him, I didn't regret having him, even if it was only for a little while. Realizing that helped me set regret aside and forgive myself for things I couldn't change.

That part of my life was behind me, but I was still here. I still had a lot of life to live and vowed I wouldn't repeat those "mistakes" with anyone else again. So far, I've made good on that promise.

10. Welcome new love into your life.

There was a period where I was forced to face the fact I still loved Gabe and feared I always would. The thought terrified me. For years I wouldn't even allow myself to think of him. Eventually, I reached a point when he popped in my head, and warmth and appreciation swept over me instead of pain and regret. I smiled at funny memories I hadn't thought of in years.

There were many things that made Gabe special, and it was nice to revisit them without my heart aching. Without me noticing, those wounds had healed and it was okay that we didn't work out. Gabe was an amazing person, after all. I saw in him a kindred spirit who inspired me, and the idea he was free to find someone who might truly make him happy brought peace to my once broken heart.

Letting him go to find his future family no longer felt like a raw deal. It was a happy conclusion to a story that turned out to be too big to fit inside the covers of my own.

In the end, the whole experience taught me how to love better and more fiercely.

Distance gives perspective, and the real magic happens in the unknown. That's where you finally discover what you're made of and the person you're meant to be. And sometimes that journey requires a total break before a new a story can begin.


RELATED: 7 Times It's Totally OK To Ghost Someone (Yes, Really!)


Carrie Manner is a freelance writer from Northern MN. In addition to writing for One Love Foundation and local newspapers, she blogs, copywrites, and writes fiction. Connect with Carrie at www.cpmanner.com or on Instagram and Twitter @cp_manner.

Author
Blogger