10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Ghosting

Ghosting is an end of communication between individuals. The communication would come to an abrupt end and there is no discussion about it beforehand. Ghosting is a modern term and is mostly used among a younger generation. However, that doesn’t mean that the activity hasn’t been happening for decades. People have been cutting off communication, not returning letters, ignoring phone calls, and abruptly ending relationships for as long as anyone can remember! With the rapidly growing world of dating apps, social media, and other forms of online communication, the activity is more common than ever – leaving confused and heart broken people all over the world. This leads us to the psychology of ghosting…

Ghosting can have many psychological effects for both sides of the relationship, whether it is romantic, platonic, or work related. Unfortunately, people of all ages can claim that they have been on one or both ends of an immediate  cutting off ties like this. So what is the psychology behind ghosting? What pushes someone to ghost another individual? How does it feel to be ghosted? Is anyone capable of ghosting?  Here are 10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Ghosting .

It may take a few days to know if you’re being ghosted.

psychology of ghosting

The psychology of ghosting is a fascinating topic with many factors. While ghosting refers to an abrupt end of conversation, it may take some time to realize that you are being ghosted by someone. This may be because we would never assume that someone would just cut ties with us without a proper conversation. It also may be because we don’t believe we have done anything to upset them. This means that when someone doesn’t respond to our text messages, phone calls, emails, etc, we may not immediately realize we are being ghosted. We may give them some time to respond. Perhaps they are sick or they had something important come up. For many people, it can take a few days of zero communication to know that you are being ghosted. 

Ghosting can hurt people.

psychology of ghosting

One of the key takeaways from the psychology of ghosting is understanding the pain behind it. There is no way to avoid the simple truth of the matter. Ghosting hurts. And for many people, ghosting is more painful than a normal break up. It can make someone feel disrespected, disposable, and unimportant. It is a cruel form of rejection that many people do not know how to deal with when it happens. The person who is being ghosted is given no explanation, reason, or understanding of why the communication came to a halt. When a friend or someone in a romantic relationship, regardless of the intensity, is ghosted, they do not get closure. Not getting closure from a break up can leave someone confused and unsure how to proceed.

Ghosting can affect someone’s self worth. 

psychology of ghosting

As we mentioned above, ghosting hurts. Being rejected in general hurts but when someone is meant to feel unworthy of an explanation, it can hurt in a different way. Being ghosted can lead to many left over emotions that someone now has to sort through and figure out on their own. 

For people who suffer from low self esteem or abandonment issues, being rejected in this way can be traumatic. It may  bring up already existing emotional struggles. For someone with low self esteem, they are left to believe that they did something wrong which can only make their struggles more difficult to deal with. This can heighten feelings of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. 

People may ghost someone for different reasons. 

psychology of ghosting

In today’s age of dating apps and social media, ghosting is more prevalent than ever.  But why do people seem to fall off the face of the earth so easily? What prompts a person to abruptly end communication with someone like this? Many experts believe that ghosting can happen for different reasons. These reasons may include:

  • Not being interested in the person anymore in a romantic sense
  • Not being interested in the person anymore in a romantic sense
  • Not likely the way the person acted or spoke-Being angry with the person
  • Feeling unsafe talking to the person
  • They got too busy to continue using the dating app or social media they met the person on
  • It is simply the ghoster’s attachment style to act that way

Ghosting can be a reflection of someone else’s issues. 

psychology of ghosting

Break ups happen. It’s just the way relationships work. Sometimes things do not align or things go wrong and it leads to one or both individuals deciding to cut ties. Ghosting, however, is a way of cutting ties and leaving absolutely “no strings attached.” When someone chooses to ghost someone, it may actually be a reflection of them and their problems, rather than the problems they saw in the person they choose to not be associated with anymore. Someone who chooses to ghost another individual may be showing their emotional state and maturity level instead. Ghosting allows people to avoid conflict and not have to deal with the repercussions or their decision. Being capable of ghosting another person may actually say that the person doing the act:

  • Can act cowardly
  • Is an unreliable friend and/or partner
  • Lacks respect for others and their feelings

People may react differently to being ghosted. 

Ghosting is an extremely abrupt way to end communication with someone. When the person who is being ghosted reaches out to their friend, love interest, work client, etc., many times, they may be consistently met with silence. This means they are being ghosted. The person on the other end may ignore all signs of communication until it finally stops and they never have to talk to the person again or explain their rationale. Being a victim of ghosting can be difficult and people may react to it differently, depending on their emotional well being. For example, someone who has an aggressive mindset or stalking tendencies may not back down. They may repeatedly reach out to the person as the ghosting takes a serious emotional toll on them. They feel they need a response in order to let it go. In other situations, someone may feel hurt and disrespected but choose to let it go and spend their energy elsewhere. Everyone is different! 

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Not everyone may be capable of ghosting.

Being able to ghost someone can be a representation of the inner struggles of the person who is doing the ghosting. And as we mentioned earlier, when someone is capable of nonchalantly ghosting another person, they may also be capable of doing other things that are considered disrespectful or hurtful to others. Seeing as this is a relatively specific type of person, not everyone may be capable of ghosting. Some people cannot avoid conflict and cannot give someone a proper and reasonable explanation. Empathetic people, for example, would likely never be able to ghost someone after a couple weeks of dating because they know the hurt and confusion it would cause that person. 

Ghosting is not strictly romantic relationships. 

As we briefly mentioned above, ghosting has become a common term as of late. While the psychology of ghosting seems to primarily revolve around dating, that is not always the case. Ghosting can occur in a multitude of relationships. These may include:

  • friendships
  • family relationships
  • work based relationships

Many people who have experienced ghosting in non-romantic situations may agree that going through it in these relationships can be just as difficult, if not more painful! When dating someone, it may be expected that it won’t last forever. Where as in a friendship or a family relationship, there may never be an anticipated end in sight. And if the time does come for an end, most people may expect a proper discussion. Ghosting in relationships that are not romantic can have a serious affect on someone’s self worth and mental health. 

There may be different levels to ghosting someone or being ghosted.

At the end of the day, many people may agree that ghosting isn’t the best way to handle a situation. However, there may be different levels to ghosting someone or being ghosted. Because of this, ghosting may not seem like the worst idea sometimes. And because of this, being ghosted may not feel as painful sometimes. Or perhaps because in the age of dating apps it’s is so common, the younger generation is just unfortunately too familiar with the concept of ghosting and being ghosted. These are varying levels of ghosting for frame of reference:

  • Exchanging numbers with someone at a coffee shop and never getting a response to the first “hello” sent
  • Matching on a dating app and not responding after messaging for a couple of days
  • Messaging on a dating app for weeks and then someone deletes their account
  • Having a long term friendship and texts and calls start being ignored
  • Setting up a meeting with a work client and never getting a confirmation or a follow up 
  • Dating someone for months and they end all communication 

Ghosting can increase a desire for someone.

The psychology of ghosting understands that ghosting is a form of rejection. If you have ever been rejected, you may understand how confusing the feeling really is. Now consider being rejected but being given zero explanation and zero communication about the decision. That is ghosting. Talk about confusing!

Some who was ghosted may feel mad. They may feel disrespected. They may feel that they did something terribly wrong. They may feel that they were not good enough. The questions and thoughts in their head may be endless. And unfortunately for most of people, the heart wants what it cannot have. This may lead to feeling an increased desire for the person who ghosted them.

Alternatively, the person who was ghosted may feel the need to prove the person wrong. “No, I am who you want,” we may tell ourselves. Or “no, you will miss having me in your life.” It’s pretty safe to say that ghosting is very intricately tied to psychology! 

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