Datepartner goes underground: What now?

Couples therapist reveals
You can do that if you’re being hosted

© photoiva / Shutterstock

Is love the answer to all questions? Not quite. It also provides quite a few. Psychologist and couples therapist Oskar Holzberg answers them all

The only thing that helps with ghosting is to ghost the ghost …

“Ghosting” is the name given to the sudden disappearance of a person from a relationship, who then eludes any attempt at contact. Who dissolves into thin air like a ghost and leaves those affected “dumbfounded”. Many think that this only affects people who have found nice words, sex, maybe even love via Tinder or other online dating portals – but then one click is enough and everything is wiped out in the virtual world. No chance of finding out what went on in the disappeared person. But the sudden break in relationships and the stubborn silence after a breakup is not just a dating phenomenon. It even affects long-term relationships and people who have learned to love each other in an analogue way. The man who went to get a cigarette and never showed up is a proverbial figure from pre-digital times.

Those who ghost avoid dealing with their own feelings of guilt

What are the reasons for ghosting? For one thing, our consumer culture has also conquered our relationships – what we don’t like immediately loses its value for us. We’ll send that back and look for the better. And certain personality traits make ghosting more likely: People who are afraid of attachment can suddenly close themselves off when the closeness and thus also the fear becomes too great, narcissists: inside they instantly switch from worship to devaluation when they see themselves questioned. Those who ghost avoid having to deal with themselves and their own feelings of shame and guilt.

Fall in love with your partner again: Oskar Holzberg

Oskar Holzberg, 67, has been advising couples in his Hamburg practice for over 20 years and has been married for over 30 years. His current book is called “Neue Schlüsselsätze der Liebe” (240 pages, 11 euros, DuMont).

© Ilona Habben

We should know this when we’ve been hosted. Because as abandoned we feel completely worthless, disposed of like carelessly discarded Tetra Paks. And ask ourselves: should I have seen it coming? Could I have prevented it? What I have done wrong? And the answer is: no! No! And nothing! Well, we never do everything right. But none of this can be a reason to be abandoned so wordlessly.

When we’re being hosted we long to speak to the ghost. Believing we’d get along better if only we had an explanation. Ultimately, whenever we break up, we’re alone in accepting the pain, and no explanation from our ex will alleviate it. Instead, we should talk to other people, rage and mourn. But we should ghost the ghost. Turn away inwardly, banish everything that still connects us. And swear never to let this person into our lives again.

Love and everything that goes with it also brings out the worst in people. We are not to blame for that. Shit happens. No more and no less. We have to come to this position, if necessary with therapeutic help. So that we don’t get bitter and we lose the fear of being let down again so painfully. And keep looking for relationships that are good for us. So that we can continue to trust our love.

»Couple adox« is the podcast with Oskar Holzberg and his wife Claudia. You speak openly about topics that keep challenging relationships. Funny, exciting and insightful! I.a. on Audio Now.

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