Ghosting is a relatively new relationship phenomenon, as it seems to directly relate to online dating and cell phone interactions. One minute, you’re texting back and forth with a great guy or girl, and the next – poof – ghosted. It could be argued that ghosting is our modern version of “getting stood up” but the art of the ghost is much more subtle than simply not showing up to a date. It’s not making the date at all, or talking about making a date – and then simply never following up.
It can be said that ghosting is easier than being honest about why you don’t want to see the person again. It’s definitely less awkward or less confrontational. But for the person on the receiving end of the ghost, it always leaves a lot of unanswered questions. “Did I do something wrong? Was it something I said?” We end up looking for a definable moment, something we can point to and say, “This is why he ghosted.” But often, we can’t find one of those moments.
In an effort to understand the ghosting trend a little better, we spoke with a handful of men – and women – about why they’ve ghosted on past potential partners. Here’s what they had to say*.
1. He wanted to prioritize the girl of his dreams.
“I decided that I was going to go down the route of online dating. Before I knew it, I was talking and dating more people than I could handle. I had to keep notes in my phone about each girl. Then I met a girl that changed everything. We hit if off immediately. I really liked her and started seeing more and more of her. The only problem was the other women I was seeing. I no longer had any interest in them. When they would text or call, I would simply ignore it. I was so focused on this great thing I had going, that I didn’t want to put any effort or time in getting rid of these other women. I didn’t like doing it, I felt terrible, but it was easier to just ignore them. I ghosted them. P.S. I have now been with the beautiful, smart, funny and educated girl for close to 2 years now.” –Aaron, 30
2. She ghosts on her friends too.
“I do it so often – not just to significant others, but to friends as well. I don’t have a lot of place-holder people in my life. I ghost in and out of everyone’s life. I blame my bio mom but it seems a lot like just me. It’s not usually a conscious thing when it happens with friends. It’s more like ‘oh we used to hang out all the time and now we don’t.’ But with significant others or people I’m dating, it’s usually like we were better off as friends or I’m just not interested.” –Chloe, 25
3. Her past relationships made her ghost on her future partners.
“I straight up ghosted about three relationships – including my husband before we started officially dating. I was awkward with dating because I dated one person throughout high school. I was younger and didn’t understand how a functional relationship worked. I didn’t understand HOW to communicate because communication was always shut off for me. Later on, I met this guy. He picked me up for our first date and was immediately into me and wanted to get serious. I immediately ghosted and refused to answer even though our date went well. I wanted an excuse to get out of it. From there I jumped from relationship to relationship and avoided all talks of feelings and moving forward because I never truly knew how to get my point across.” –Natalie, 25
4. And she ghosted someone just last week.
“I ghosted a guy I was seeing last week. I was in tech rehearsals for my play and was super overwhelmed at work. I was feeling very iffy about where this relationship was going and he felt too clingy. I wanted to end it in person or at least on the phone. He wanted to see my play, but I didn’t really want him to. So I just stopped texting him and he finally sent me a message saying that he didn’t know if I was being distant because I was busy at work or if I wasn’t interested. So I told him both, and we broke it off over text. I was definitely being a coward but in the end it ended easily.” –Olivia, 27
5. This…is pretty sad.
“One time I most definitely said that I was waiting to get a work schedule and never responded. He, on the other hand, checks in every few weeks.” –Rachael, 26
6. He wants you to know that guys ghost on guys too.
“I do this ALL. THE. TIME. I talk to so many guys that I can’t keep track sometimes and it’s just easier to stop replying than to say to each and every one of them, ‘Nah I’m not interested.’ Idk why everyone thinks ghosting is a thing that guys do to girls – guys do it to other guys JUST as much. I’m guilty. But I’ve also been ghosted on, and it’s not fun. Not sure why we keep up this habit.” –Christopher, 23
7. He got weirded out about “the future.”
“I was seeing this girl for a couple of months and things were great. But about two months in, she started dropping hints about engagement rings. She would show me her Pinterest board that had rings on it and would always point out her friends who had just got engaged on Facebook. I can’t explain the feeling I got, but something told me to run. I don’t feel good about this but I just started pulling away. I stopped replying to her texts and stopped making plans. It was the longest relationship that I’d ever ghosted on without having an official breakup. To this day I feel guilty.” –Nick, 27
8. She’s living in the “three-day” rule.
“I get really weirded out when guys initiate too much. Maybe I’ve just come to expect that they won’t write back to texts for days, or that I’ll have to work at it. But when a guy texts too frequently or initiates dates all the time, I get uncomfortable. And it becomes easier to say that I’m busy or just straight-up not respond. But then I’ll complain when guys don’t text back. Maybe I just like to be unhappy?” –Eliza, 19
*Some names have been changed.