Soon after news of Hollywood stars Charize Theron and Sean Penn’s split made headlines, reports citing multiple reasons for the break-up starting surfacing as well. The most recent one suggested that Theron never formally discussed the split with Penn.
Instead, she simply ‘ghosted’ him. But what is ‘ghosting'? Briefly, it is a relatively new term that defines an abrupt break-up, in which one partner cuts off all means of communication (not returning calls, not replying to emails or text messages) with the other.
Even though the term has not been used as widely before this, apparently Hollywood actor-comedian Russell Brand, too, adopted this approach when he ended all ties with his ex-wife, singer Katy Perry. Rumours claimed that he didn’t speak to her for a long time, before ending their relationship by sending her a text message.
A recent survey by a fashion magazine concluded that 16.7% men and 24.2% women in the US had been ‘ghosts’ during their lifetime. In India, too, several people have had similar experiences. But what makes people resort to ‘ghosting’?
IT professionals Ashray Singh, 32, and Sujata Parab, 29, broke up about six months back. The reason behind why the latter resorted to ‘ghosting’: Parab didn’t want to be answerable to Singh.
“One day, Sujata suddenly decided to head to Goa for a vacation with her colleagues. She told me about the plan only a day before she left,” says Singh, admitting that in their two-year-old relationship, they often found themselves embroiled in altercations, either because of misunderstandings or lack of compatibility.
“A few hours after her scheduled arrival time in Goa, I called her up, but her phone was off. When I called up after an hour, it was still off,” adds Singh, revealing that, the following day, in desperation, he called up Parab’s parents, who told him that she is fine, and is in touch with them.Finally, on the fourth day of her stay in Goa, Parab’s phone rang, but neither did she answer it nor did she reply to any of the messages that Singh left her. It was only afterhe went to her office, unannounced, that he found out the truth. "Sujata told me that our relationship was over the day she left for Goa. She didn’t give me any reasons for the break-up. She said I should know the reasons, and that she didn’t want to explain anything to me," says Singh, adding that he still doesn’t know why he received that kind of treatment.
On the other hand, while the person being ‘ghosted’ is, more often than not, left in the lurch, the ‘ghosters’ have their own justifications.
Saloni Panday, 26, an airline employee, and Yogesh Dewan, 28, an electrical engineer, had been dating for a year. “I wanted a way out of the relationship. I am bad at expressing my feelings, and I didn’t know how to convey the news to her,” says Dewan, adding, “She would keep tabs on me throughout the day. I would constantly be replying to her messages. I had told her several times to stop doing this, but she wouldn’t listen.”
So, to get out of the situation, Dewan stopped replying to Panday’s calls and text messages altogether. He even temporarily moved in with a friend, so that she could not locate him. Dewan was on a break from his job when he ‘ghosted’ Panday, so she couldn’t even track him to his office.
“As days passed, the frequency of the calls and messages from Saloni reduced. After about 20 days, I sent her a brief email telling her it was over. I got no reply. I guess, by then, she had come to terms with the fact that we weren’t dating anymore,” says Dewan.
(Names of all individuals have been changed)