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‘Ghostlighting’: A new destructive dating trend to look out for

The marriage of ghosting and gaslighting might just be another item on the list of dating trends to beware of.

The manipulation tactic, on its own, can already make someone feel bad about themselves and the relationships they have, while the disappearing act can cause them to question their worth and overthink the things they did and said. So how much more can ghostlighting disturb us?

Dating coach Cher Gopman said that gaslighting happens when someone is tricked into feeling that their understanding is the problem. Ghosting, on the other hand, is when communication abruptly ends out of the blue. In “ghostlighting,” the two go hand-in-hand in making the victim feel that any conflict that arose was their fault.

Gopman explained that ghostlighters begin their manipulation with “love bombing”— a tactic wherein someone “bombs” you with excessive affection and attention—followed by ghosting and reappearing as if nothing happened.

As the ghostlighter can’t be held accountable and will not take responsibility for their ghosting actions (because that’s just the way they are), the other party could be left feeling anxious and insecure, developing major trust issues and self-doubt, according to Florida-based-licensed psychologist Dr. Carolyn Rubenstein. Worst case scenario, this could affect future relationships, provoking a certain feeling of being “ghostlit” once again, thus becoming emotionally guarded and unavailable.

“Ghostlighters” are people who lack emotional intelligence and empathy as they refuse to be responsible for damage they caused, said relationship expert Rachel DeAlto. While they are characterized to be avoidant of disagreements and confrontations, and would not want to address their behavior, intimacy coach Jenn Gunsaullus advocated that fostering a space where open communication is valued must be upheld, too.


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