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Image / Self / Relationships

The 7 stages of ghosting grief


By Sarah Finnan
14th Feb 2024
The 7 stages of ghosting grief

To quote the ever-wise Hilary Duff: "Waiting for you is like waiting for rain in this drought. Useless and disappointing."

As a fiercely independent Aquarius, I’ve spent much of my life single and unattached but that’s not to say I haven’t experienced all the usual pitfalls of modern dating, because I have. Including ghosting, which I have learned incurs a seven-step grieving process if you’re to come out the other end in one piece. 

First: ignorance. 

Ah, ignorance is bliss they say, and boy are they right. Stage one is pre-Kylie Jenner realising stuff, when everything still seems perfectly normal and the fact that you haven’t gotten a text back doesn’t necessarily strike you as odd… yet. 

Ignorance quickly bleeds into denial which is similar to its predecessor but this time you’re acknowledging that something’s up.

Acknowledging but definitely not accepting. Denial is characterised by several falsified scenarios in which you account for the complete radio silence you’re experiencing. Maybe the person you’re interested in lost their phone. Maybe they’re asleep. Maybe they had a very unfortunate accident and are not seriously injured but are concussed and therefore unable to contact you. All technically possible but highly (highly!) unlikely. 

Next up is sadness.

This one hurts. Somehow the notion that their silence is intentional enters your brain and once it does, there’s just no shaking it. The whole relationship flashes before your eyes and suddenly you’re forced to face the loss head-on. Perhaps it wasn’t even a relationship to begin with, but then again, length of time is irrelevant here.

After that, it’s anger. Usually fuelled by words of encouragement from your best friend, you’re likely to spend much of this stage thinking “How very dare they?!” This stage also gives way to many one-sided conversations in which you say all you have to say, swiftly turn on your heel and storm off feeling like a bloody rockstar. 

Stage five is typified by a sense of hope. Hope that things will work out. Hope that they’ll realise what they’re missing out on and text you back. Hope that you misinterpreted the whole thing in the first place. Grief, I’ve learned, is never a linear process and stage five often gives the impression that you’re moving backwards, not forwards. But trust the process. 

The final two stages slightly overlap. Acceptance comes first (at long last!), shortly followed by a sense of peace or nonchalance. At this point, you realise that your mother was right all along – what’s for you won’t pass you – and you release all your frustration out into the world, wishing your ghoster a happy existence… or at the very least, a return to the land of the living.

Feature image courtesy of Netflix

This article was originally published in 2022.