Ghosting may ring as new, but it’s far from a millennial problem. People were ghosted before smartphones and wifi. Perhaps it didn’t hurt as badly in the past because it didn’t feel as intentional as it does today. A person holding back their usual likes on Instagram posts and leaving text messages on read feels like a real effort to avoid you. It’s easier to reconcile someone not showing up back in the day as something has happened to them and you just never found out, but nowadays you see your ghost on dates, find them on Hinge, and realize when they’ve purposefully blocked you (ouch).
The person on the receiving end of ghosting is left feeling confused, with no closure—and we’re not talking the mythical kind that we long for after a vocalized breakup. It would simply be nice to know that you’re being left. That it’s the end. What’s a sentence without a period, ya know? The ghosted are overwhelmed by guilt, left to wonder if they had any fault in their partner’s disappearance.
Why do people disappear? It’s a question that weighs heavy on anyone who’s been ghosted before, so we started searching for answers for our Menders. Psychology Today breaks it down into four major categories: to avoid confrontation, their fear of emotional intimacy, a narcissistic personality, and a fear that their partner will have a violent reaction to the breakup. Sounds about accurate.
In an effort to genuinely understand ghosting and its unkind (but sometimes necessary) nature, we figured maybe there was logic buried in the excuses of the ghosters. And maybe those answers would offer you closure if you were once ghosted. We asked people to share their reasons for ghosting to see if they fell under any of the four categories cited in Psychology Today. Without further ado, here are some reasons why people went Casper on someone.
“He had different intentions for seeing me, so I just stopped talking to him.” —Eunice, 28
“I forgot to respond (the underlying reason is I didn’t care enough).” —Elle, 32
“Because he was a jerk and lied to me about still seeing his ex.” —Rachel, 31
“He had ghosted me before, so when he messaged me again, I ghosted him back.” —Annie, 28
“I’d gone over to a date’s home, and it was filled with trash so I made up an excuse to leave and just stopped talking to her.” —Jared, 34
“I know it’s cliche, but I was really busy and wasn’t that interested.” —Candice, 33
"I don't do it much but a girl got really awkward with me and made me feel uncomfortable when around them so I was too afraid to tell her so I just ghosted." —Madelyn, 20
“They were super intense when we had never met and I was scared of what they would say.”—Jacqueline, 23
"Their need of constant communication felt too clingy for me." —Kimiko, 23
“Asked me to move in with him. He was 29, I was 18. He was rich and powerful, I was wild and free.” —Laura, 32
"Because I tried to cut it off and they didn’t let me." —Maria, 23
"I tried to let them down and they still persisted!" —Natasha, 22
"Not ready to be in another relationship." —Taylor, 24
"I used to ghost Bumble matches before I met them—but usually, I had a reason. If they get creepy with me (tell me I have a nice body, etc.) in a text message before they even meet me, it's a huge turn-off. So I end up doing a "slow ghost"—respond to messages with less frequency and wait long hours to respond and sometimes they get the hint and we mutually ghost each other. HOWEVER. I try not to ghost anymore because I was ghosted by my ex-boyfriend, who I dated for a year. So to do the right thing I usually try to give a short explanation why I don't want to date someone instead of ghosting because I was super hurt by it by my ex-boyfriend, so even if I barely know someone I try to at least give people the closure they deserve." —Nicole, 27
Elle recently joined Vanessa Grimaldi, Jared Haibon, and Dean Unglert on the "Help! I Suck At Dating" podcast to discuss ghosting. Listen to the episode below.