Ghosting is the point when someone with whom you have a relationship cuts off all communication without any explanation. This is the silent treatment of the digital age and can occur on a first date or in the throes of a committed relationship spanning many years. While this can happen in platonic relationships, it is particularly painful in romantic relationships where emotions and connections run deep. The number of people who have been ghosted (or have ghosted someone else) varies depending on where you look. Around 33% of people report having been ghosted, and about 25% of people have admitted they ghosted someone else.
Disappearing without any contact, not even a call or a text, isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination. The psychology of being abandoned without so much as an explanation is often credited to people who care little for others. However, in the current dating climate, it has become all too common; and the emotional effects can linger, regardless of gender. Digital solutions have resulted in a dating landscape where meeting and moving on from people is done with a click or a swipe; as such, the emotional attachment or decorum that might have held up in years past have little effect on ghosting someone.
The reasons why people ghost are generally rooted in personal discomfort and inability to empathize with the person with whom they are cutting off contact. The lack of consequences is also attractive from a psychological perspective, and the more often someone ghosts a partner or friend, the more desensitized to it they become.
Diane had been dating Bruce for about three months. They had met through a dating site and gone out on a couple of dates a week. They often communicated online through the app every day. While they did not agree to be exclusive, she felt like they had at least established an ongoing dialogue. Suddenly, Bruce wouldn’t return her texts or chat messages. After a few days of hearing nothing back and seeing that he was still active on the app, Diane realized that she had been ghosted. Bruce wasn’t interested anymore, and instead of letting her know, he just stopped talking to her.