Lawmaker seeks to make ghosting an emotional offense

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2022 04:03 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2022 09:34 AM

A couple sits along the breakwater on Manila Bay on Friday as storm clouds gather on the horizon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
A couple sits along the breakwater on Manila Bay on Friday as storm clouds gather on the horizon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — Have you ever been "ghosted"?

A lawmaker wants to make "ghosting"--or the act of cutting off all forms of communication with a person one is dating--an emotional offense. 

In his House Bill 611, Negros Oriental Third District Rep. Arnolfo Teves said "ghosting" could be mentally physically, and emotionally exhausting. 

"In the age of social media and in today's world, the realm of dating has changed exponentially compared to previous years. Now, couples primarily communicate using cellular phones and in turn, use cellular phones as an avenue for meeting and dating," he said in his explanatory note.

"Studies have shown that social rejection of any kind activates the same pain pathways in the brain as physical pain, meaning there's a biological link between rejection and pain. That goes for friends and partners, alike," the lawmaker added.

Teves added that ghosting could make one feel rejected and neglected.

"Ghosting has adverse effects on the mental state of the one being ghosted and his or her emotional state is still adversely affected as he or she will be constantly thinking of the welfare or unexplained reasons of the one who ghosted," he said.

"The ambiguity with ghosting, is there is no real closure between the parties concerned and as such, it can be likened to a form of emotional cruelty and should be punished as an emotional offense because of the trauma it causes to the 'ghosted' party,'" the lawmaker said.

The bill defines "emotional abuse" as acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim, such as, but not limited to ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. 

It also defines "ghosting" as a form of emotional abuse that happens once a person is engaged in a dating relationship with the opposite sex. 

The same measure defines dating relationship as a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time. 

"A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship," the bill said.

The measure, however, does not prescribe any penalty for ghosting. In an interview with ANC's Headstart on Wednesday, Teves mentioned it could be community service or "just light reprimand."

"Ginawa ko lang ito. I leave it up to suggestions of the majority kung anong magandang penalty. 'Di naman kailangan kabigat 'di ba," Teves told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo on Tuesday.

(I just made this. I leave it up to suggestions of the majority, what they think would be good penalties. These should not be that heavy, right?) 

"'Pag ang tao kasi natatamaan emotionally, maraming nadadamay 'di ba, trabaho niya, pamilya niya, nasisira. Dapat magawan natin ng paraan," Teves said.

(If a person suffers emotionally, many others are affected, one's job, family. We should find a remedy.) 

"It's happening to a lot of people," he added.

Before filing the anti-ghosting bill, Teves also pushed for the renaming of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

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