How noncommittal behavior damages us

Research shows how our well-being and mental health can be damaged by noncommittal behaviors such as “disappearing acts” by others (ghosting), no-shows, being strung along (breadcrumbing), or unfriending. This cold, transactional behavior is increasing everywhere and it’s tempting to just give up on human decency. Changing social norms are enabled on apps that invite us to treat each other badly with one-click solutions.

In this world full of uncertainty, broken commitments, and erratic behaviors, we are starving for reliable people who live with integrity. Given these ambiguous times, we might not always be able to count on others, but could we count on ourselves to hold on to our own reliability and integrity? When others have let us down, don’t we owe it to ourselves to show up for ourselves? Showing up, even if no one else does, that’s essentially what integrity means.

We can begin to honor our own integrity by first acknowledging that we have truly been affected by the pitfalls of noncommittal behavior. Even though we’re supposed to believe that “not taking it personally” is the answer for any disrespectful act, the truth is that it does hurt when we are ghosted, played, or betrayed because human beings are hardwired for it to hurt, as neuroscience shows. It is important that we take a kind look at our grief, or the sense of disappointment and distress that comes with dashed hopes, a sense of betrayal, or the sting of rejection.

And on a deeper level, we can console ourselves by appreciating the truly reliable, committed people around us who do show up, keep up, and hang in there when all else fails. And more importantly, it’s well past time that we recognized these “boring” reliable qualities in ourselves, the grit of our integrity, our mettle. The stuff that might not get “likes” but holds us through the worst of times.

More than anything else, vowing to uphold our integrity is a rewarding way to get back our power after being treated disrespectfully. We don’t need to cave and play along with the pressure of social media. Selfish behavior ends by doing what we believe is responsible.

Source: Psychology Today