Ghosting is a common side effect of modern communication that won’t soon go away. If you don’t know the term, “ghosting” refers to severing ties with someone without offering any explanation. While ignoring people you don’t want to talk to is by no means a new phenomenon, dating apps and social media make ending a relationship as easy as pushing “unmatch,” “delete,” “block,” “mute,” or simply not responding. As a result, most people from the instant messaging era have been ghosted, and each ghostee knows the painful reason why: the person does not want to continue the relationship.
Although this reason is all-encompassing, there are other contributing factors for ghosting that aren’t so defeatist. Allow me to present six.
They’re Worried for Their Safety
This has to be the most valid reason why people ghost. If a person is in conversation with someone who is saying or doing things that make them fear for their safety, they might decide that ghosting is the best option. They should be reasonably sure that the person poses a threat before ghosting them, however, and they should also consider whether or not ghosting that person will make them more of a threat to the next person they meet. However, since stalkers and serial killers make up a tiny percent of the population, this person might just be weird – and weird people deserve an explanation just like anyone else.
If someone feels that a prospective friend or partner really is a threat and that ghosting is the only way out of the relationship, they would contact the police as well.
They’re in a Bad Mental State
Emotional trouble has been linked to ghosting. A survey conducted by Buzzfeed found that 45 percent of people who admitted to ghosting had done so because they were in a “bad emotional state” unrelated to the person they had ghosted. This was the third most common reason for ghosting cited in the survey. (“I was afraid of them” was in fourth place, having been cited by 28 percent of those surveyed.) While people who were ghosted might take solace in the fact that the reason might not have been personal, they might draw a parallel to the equally disingenuous relationship-ending staple, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
A person who is inundated with conversations and connections, as many social media users are, or a person who is far too careless about relationships, may forget to text, call back, or respond to a direct message. This happens more often than many ghostees realize. And when such a person finally sees that unread message or remembers that unanswered hangout request, they may feel that it’s too late to salvage the relationship. They thus cede communication to the void.
They Don’t Want to Hurt Others
While this form of ghosting comes from a good place, anyone who has ever been ghosted knows that the lack of closure from an unexplained severance is usually more painful than an outright rejection. This doesn’t stop ghosters from believing that they are doing these people a favor by not explaining their actions. True: some relationship-ending reasons might be so brutal that a person would rather be ghosted than hear them. However, the least this type of ghoster could do is ask the ghostee what he or she prefers.
They’re Afraid of Confrontation
Confrontation avoidance drives every human being. Unsurprisingly, it also drives ghosting. It’s safe to say that nothing motivates ghosters more than the fear of confrontation.
Breaking up with a person can be a horrible ordeal. The person might scream, cry, curse, or worse. The simple act of ghosting will prevent the ghoster from being impaled by this emotional shrapnel. However, the fear of the shrapnel is more real than the shrapnel itself. Most people will not throw a fit if they are politely rejected. In fact, owing to how much of an annoyance ghosting has become, the rejected party might sincerely appreciate the honesty.
They Believe in Soulmates
Researchers who studied ghosting and published their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships separated people into two romantic camps: those who believe in growth and those who believe in destiny. The people who fall into the “growth” camp believe that relationships are made not born, meaning that through effort and communication a relationship of value can be forged. The people in the “destiny” camp believe that either people are meant for each other or they are not – that there are predetermined soulmates that need to be discovered.
These attitudes were found by the researchers to be amazing predictors of ghosting behavior. The soulmate-oriented people were 25 percent more inclined than the growth-oriented people to believe that ghosting was an acceptable way to end a relationship that had lasted less than two dates. They were also 22 percent more inclined to believe that ghosting is an acceptable method to end a short term relationship, and 63.4 percent more likely to think that ghosting is a proper way to end a long term relationship.
As an interesting aside, the soulmate believers were found to be 35.7 percent more likely to have been ghosted before, which means that people who have experienced ghosting are more willing to ghost others.