“Ghosting Is Rude — and Difficult for Adults with ADHD to Comprehend”
“Ghosting sets off our rejection sensitive dysphoria. It makes us feel confused, disposable, guilty, and misunderstood. We start to trust new people less, which narrows our social circles and the experiences they could bring.”
Before I moved into my new flat, I exchanged numbers with a neighbor who lives with her partner. They’re a lovely couple, and I was excited about having them as potential friends.
She told me it was fine to message her with “any questions at all,” so I fired off a few, such as “Where are the gas meters?” and “What should I budget for monthly bills?” In return, I offered to help them with paperwork for their start-up. Since we all work from home, I asked if they wanted to occasionally “body double” with me.
Then, a month after I moved in, my neighbor blocked me. Her boyfriend messaged me, saying I should only contact them through him.
This was a weird and hurtful blow. My new neighbors seemed so nice, and I thought we were beginning to build a neighborly friendship. Why was I ghosted?
Ghosting as a Response to ADHD
No one wants to feel rejected — especially not someone with ADHD. The ghosting especially bothered me because I wasn’t sure what I’d said or done wrong.
[Symptom Test: Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria in Adults]
Had I bombarded them with too many questions? Was I being too friendly too soon? Did I overstep when I knocked on their door to ask if it was normal for the built-in dishwasher to trip the entire kitchen’s power?
It gradually dawned on me that our interactions had been mostly me talking. I was super stressed from the move, and my ADHD symptoms were off the chart, so most likely, I was anxiously blabbering nonsense. I realized I didn’t really know anything about them.
I don’t expect to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, I still worried that I had upset my new neighbors and wanted to straighten out any misunderstandings and make amends. But how? Not knowing what I had done wrong made me question how I was being perceived and how I was communicating in general.
While I wanted to feel part of my new community, I felt suddenly excluded and self-conscious. Then I became paranoid: Would rumors circulate about me? Would I have a reputation before even meeting all my neighbors? I spent months unsure if “being myself” would get me ghosted by everyone I met. I became isolated, anxious, and overly apologetic whenever I met other neighbors, fearing that I would inadvertently trigger another mysterious rejection for some unforgivable yet invisible faux pas.
[Free Download: Become a Small Talk Super Star]
Healthy Boundaries Aren’t Always Obvious
As someone who is quite open, I forget that conversations can have some implied motive, subtext, or a hidden agenda beyond the words being said. Since when was being manipulative more expected than being open and honest about our needs? When did we stop saying what we actually want and begin hinting at something different? Subtext is hard.
People with ADHD say what they think and ask what they want to know — not necessarily what they’re expected to say. We can cross healthy boundaries without realizing it. At best, this causes confusion. At worst, it causes psychological harm. How are we supposed to know someone’s boundaries — and if we crossed them? This confusion causes many of us to mask our ADHD.
How is ghosting better than being straightforward? There’s nothing hard to understand about the word “no.” Ghosting sets off our rejection sensitive dysphoria. It makes us feel confused, disposable, guilty, and misunderstood. We start to trust new people less, which narrows our social circles and the experiences they could bring. It’s also just plain rude!
So, if you’ve ghosted someone lately, message them and explain why. It’s the courteous thing to do, and it’s far less cruel than leaving them wondering forever. Is it possible you read the situation wrong? Is it possible they could learn from the experience and grow? I think so.
Ghosting & ADHD: Next Steps
- Learn: 7 Secrets to Making and Keeping Adult Friends
- Read: The ADHD Guide to Naturally, ‘Normal’ Flowing Conversations
- Free Download: Rein In Intense ADHD Emotions
- Watch: How to Reduce Social Anxiety and Foster Connections
- eBook: The ADHD Guide to Making Social Connections
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