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What is “Ghosting” and How Does It Affect You?

If someone suddenly goes AWOL, it could be that they’re ghosting you. No, it’s nothing to do with Halloween, but what is ghosting and why do people do it?


Social media has made it much easier to meet a huge range of people. It’s literally turned the dating world on its head. You can meet someone with just a few messages and before you know it, you’re on a date. But, what happens if you suddenly decide you don’t like them anymore? You could ghost them. What is ghosting? Literally disappearing like a ghost!

Ghosting is a term that was recently coined because of its increased prevalence. It is true that ghosting has always existed, but today, it’s what everybody’s talking about. You’ve probably experienced this before, but back then, there wasn’t really a name for it. Now that it’s becoming a common *albeit inconvenient* dating move, it has now gained traction in the world of relationships. [Read: How to ghost someone when you’ve never ghosted anyone before]

What is ghosting exactly?

Ghosting is when you inexplicably fade away from someone you’re dating. It can also be a spouse, a friend, or a colleague. It can happen to people who just met or to people who have been together for decades. You can tell if someone is ghosting you when they’re pretending that you don’t exist. It can manifest in many forms, the main one being through communication.

You can ghost a person by not replying to them through any means of communication. It can also be as severe as ignoring someone in broad daylight. Technically, it’s a social act, but some think that it can go deeper than a simple deletion of a text. Some people have even said that the person who ghosted them pretended that they’ve never met, even when they’re inches away from each other.

Yes, it’s a pretty low move. We mean, what is ghosting someone other than basically deleting them from your life? We’ve become so used to technology that we’re pressing metaphorical buttons in real life now! [Read: Ghosting someone – 12 ways to disappear quickly and get away clean]

Why do people choose to ghost?

Ghosting exists because people have a tendency to run away from their problems. In this case, they run away from people. The only reason why a person would choose to ghost someone else is that they think that they are left with no other option.

There is no single cause as to why people do it, but there are clues that can explain why it’s happening more frequently these days.

1. Personal safety

When someone feels harassed, bullied, or antagonized, they may feel that ghosting is the only option that won’t involve other people in their problems. [Read: 16 signs of an abusive relationship]

2. Force of habit

It may have happened once and worked for some people, which leads them to repeat this offense because they were never held accountable for it.

3. Not wanting awkward conversations

One of the most torturous activities for any human being is to engage in an awkward conversation. When it comes to dating, breakups or dumping can be the worst type of conversation. This is exactly why people try to avoid it as much as they can. [Read: 10 awkward conversations you need to have with your partner]

4. A revenge tactic

More than a few ghosters admit to doing it out of a need to get back at their lovers. It usually happens when they get cheated on or experience other sorts of betrayal. It might seem satisfying at first, but the lack of closure can be damaging for both parties in the long run.

5. It’s the easy way out

Ghosting is probably the easiest way to escape any sort of relationship. You don’t need to do anything except block that person from your life and pretend they never existed.

6. Miscommunication

A popular example of this is waiting for the other person to reach out to you. When it turns out that the other person is doing the exact same thing, what do you end up with? Nothing. [Read: A guide on effective communication in a relationship]

7. Wrong assumptions

Rumors, predilections, and foreshadowing can ruin any good relationship. Some people are programmed to act first before asking questions, which leads to situations like ghosting.

8. Convenience

It’s easier to just delete someone out of your life than it is to explain yourself. This is especially true when the explanations you come up with aren’t that believable. [Read: The psychology of ignoring someone – Why we do it and ways to fix it]

9. Unforeseen circumstances

Death, road accidents, stolen phones, too many people with the same name on Facebook, and herpes. There are oh-so-many reasons why that person inadvertently ghosted you.

10. Shame or insecurity

We can put herpes on this list, but there are many other reasons why a person decides to ghost you, none of which have anything to do with you at all. Some have personal problems that they have to deal with that they’re too scared to show you, hence, the ghosting. [Read: 6 inconvenient truths about love and relationships]

How does ghosting affect people?

It’s scary to think that people think ghosting is an acceptable social flaw. The worst-case scenario would be for these disorders to develop into mental illnesses. That’s why ghosting is a very serious issue nowadays. The question now is, do people know that?

Apart from that, ghosting doesn’t just affect the victim. It can also affect the person doing the ghosting. You might think that you came out on top, when in fact, you just pushed yourself to the bottom of the social barrel. [Read: If you’re regularly asking yourself, am I a bad person – read this]

Here are some examples.

1. The very act of ghosting can cause serious problems like depression, anxiety, obsession, and other behavioral disorders.

2. Ghosting is similar to abandonment. Both have serious repercussions that can affect how a person sees themselves.

3. When you leave someone hanging like that, they can assume the worst about themselves, especially if they’re already insecure. [Read: 20 signs of insecurity people can’t hide when they feel insecure]

4. If you are the one doing the ghosting, the relief you feel when you get away from a person you like is only temporary. You didn’t learn anything, which means it can happen again and again.

5. The fact that you can ghost someone unnecessarily shows what kind of person you are – someone who is irresponsible, unprincipled, and untrustworthy.

6. The person you ghosted can’t process what happened immediately because there’s no explanation from you. They won’t know what they did wrong and might do it again with the next person they get involved with. [Read: Emotional baggage – How to help someone put it down & find freedom]

7. It affects society as a whole. Once people hear that it’s an effective way to get rid of someone, they are more likely to use it for convenience without considering the consequences.

8. It does not feel good to make someone feel bad. You may have escaped an awkward relationship, but you will forever be haunted by the fact that you were being a little bitch. [Read: How to find closure with yourself after a relationship]

When it is okay to ghost?

It’s certainly acceptable when it’s the only option that can provide a sense of security and safety. It’s usually in the context of being involved with stalkers, domestic abusers, and other people who are capable of harming you. Still, if circumstances should permit, you’re better off asking for help instead of running away. That’s because sometimes, the people you ghosted can follow you where you don’t want them to.

But before you decide to ghost someone, take a step back and put yourself in their position. Some of you may be self-assured and have no qualms about being ignored. A lot of people, however, take this slight as an affront to their whole being. It can be painful. It can be degrading. Most of all, it can change a person – sometimes, in a bad way. [Read: How to end a relationship on good terms – 20 ways to end it gracefully]

So, what is the other option?

Have a conversation! Be brave enough to be honest. If your safety isn’t at risk and you really just don’t want to see this person again for whatever reason, tell them. You owe them that much.

By ghosting someone you’re just causing them a world of anxiety and ‘what if’. They’ll wonder what they did wrong and they may carry that baggage into a future relationship. [Read: 12 grim signs it’s finally time to end your relationship]

It’s a far better option just to sit down and explain. If you’re going to break their heart, at least have the guts to answer any questions they have. At least then they can get closure. Even if it’s not going to cause them heartbreak, you want to be known as a decent person, don’t you? That means actually having the guts to say what you mean and explain why you’re doing something.

After all, if someone ghosted you, you’d hate it, wouldn’t you?

[Read: How to break up with someone without hurting them]

Whether you’re the recipient or instigator of ghosting, you know that it’s just a temporary fix to a problem that may come back to haunt you.

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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