Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It

Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
© James Barrett

By James Barrett, Redbook

After a fun date, imagine never receiving a response to any of your text messages again. Maybe something got mixed up. But then you catch them looking at your social media posts -- you’ve been ghosted and the feeling is awful. If you ghosted at your job, you would be how did ghosting become such common behavior in the dating world?

Dr. Joanna Petrides, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, who specializes in anxiety and human behavior says, "From a psychological lens, ghosting speaks to the character of the ghoster. Someone who is not willing to confront the situation maturely and have difficult conversations may be demonstrating insecurity, fear, and/or anxiety. Ghosting provides an escape from facing our own discomforts, however, we are stunting our own growth by not facing challenging situations."

As we're quarantined in our homes, ghosting is more likely to happen now more than ever. Dr. Petrides and I discussed why people ghost, and what you can do about it…

Avoiding hard conversations or topics.

We’re all adults here; it’s better to hear the truth even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. Usually when we need to have a hard conversation (whether it's in a relationship or at work), putting it off will only make the situation worse. By avoiding these hard conversations, the ghoster is being selfish and not thinking of the other person's feelings. This leaves them with so many questions and no way to get them answered.

Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
© Enes Evren / Getty Images

Dr. Petrides says, "Delivering unfavorable information is uncomfortable for the messenger. No one wants to be the 'bad guy,' especially when you don’t know how the other person is going to react to you wanting to end a friendship/relationship. Ghosting provides an escape from accepting responsibility for how our decision affects the other person. By not confronting the other person we also escape from being the focus of their reaction which is also uncomfortable."

They’re not on the same page as you.

"Telling someone you don’t like them 'in that way' has an inherent predictability that the other person will be disappointed. Disappointing others is not something that comes naturally to most and because of our own discomfort with disappointing others, we will choose to avoid such encounters as a way to protect our own feelings. We might still feel bad about ghosting someone but this is a relatively fleeting feeling compared to how long we will feel bad disappointing someone to their face." Dr. Petrides explains.

Expectations of connections are not defined, especially nowadays with the presence of dating apps. What might be assumed as a hookup to one partner might be considered a relationship to the other. You could be their rebound and not even know it. While this lends fault to both people, it comes down to lack of communication. To avoid any miscommunication, set expectations and intentions early on; letting each other know what you’re thinking.

Emotional ignorance isn’t sexy.

It’s not you, it’s them. And if it is you, they’re too shy to say it. Maybe its never happened to them before, but the effects of leaving a person hanging is far from warm and fuzzy. Ghosters may do this often since they don’t know what it feels like to be ghosted -- they’ve never felt the repercussions of it themselves.

Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
© Adolescent Content / Erin Davis / Getty Images

Dr. Petrides says, "There are just some people who don’t know what it feels like to be ghosted or they don’t care because they found a way to brush it off when it happens to them. Either way, this demonstrates an absence of empathy for the feelings of others and the effects of our behaviors on someone. Before we ghost, we should definitely consider how our behaviors affect others and how ghosting only furthers our avoidance of our own challenges.“

Take the power back.

So you’ve been ghosted, and it stings for a bit. But after you let a good cry out, it’s time to take the power back. In any relationship -- romantic or professional, you should never let someone make you feel badly about yourself. These judgments are coming from someone who is insecure and cowardly. Recognize your worth and live in it.

"Living your life based on what will grab someone's attention or acting in a way that is focused on bringing someone back into your life after being ghosted is a guaranteed way to feel unhappy and dissatisfied. Living a life where you're being true to yourself and engaging in self-love are things that increase your self-worth and value; and make you more attractive to someone who deserves to have you in their life." Dr. Petrides adds.

The art of developing thicker skin...

While you’re not begging them to go on another date, reach out for answers that you deserve instead of letting your mind wander. Dr. Petrides says, "If you really have a hard time letting go of how this other person made you feel by ghosting you, it’s completely acceptable to confront them on this; be sure to do this the right way.

Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
© Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

You want to take ownership of your feelings and acknowledge how you feel and call them out for their poor treatment. This action is totally aimed at helping you process the situation so don’t exactly expect to get a response back. You can say something like 'When you stopped responding to my calls/texts, it made me feel very hurt and disappointed, and I don’t think it’s right for you to treat someone like that. I felt the need to let you know your actions were hurtful.'"

Stop blaming yourself.

Whatever the immature reason is that you’ve been ghosted, say goodbye to it and take aim for what you deserve. Dr. Petrides explains, "When relationships go sideways, we sometimes go internally. What I mean by this is we start to blame ourselves for being ghosted. We begin thinking we did something or said something which brought this on. By blaming ourselves we have this false sense of being able to repair the relationship because we are taking responsibility for breaking it. As stated earlier, the reason for being ghosted isn’t solely resting with you, so pull yourself out of self-blame and trust yourself a little more. Not all bad things that happen are bad for you in the long run. Return to accepting your self-worth and living your life in ways that make you happy."

Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
© Simon Maage

Dr. Petrides leaves me with this: "Being ghosted will never feel ok, however, in the current gratification-seeking society, ghosting is likely to continue and might not be a rare occurrence. There are still lessons to learn from a hurtful situation and if you're able to identify lessons for next time, you’re already in a good place to recognize red flags sooner when you make a new connection with someone else."

See more at Redbook

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Love Magazine: Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
Why People Ghost and What You Can Do About It
Don't let the ghosts get to you.
Love Magazine
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