Ghosting. We all know it’s hurtful. Yet it’s become so common that we have started to use the term as a vernacular. It’s one of the number one dating issues most dating app users face today. Let’s dive into why ghosting happens, and what you can do to protect your heart.
How Common is Ghosting?
40 to 80% of people say potential suitors have ghosted them in a romantic relationship. That’s a considerable number either way. However, there are two reasons for the discrepancy between 40 and 80%. 1) How do you define what ghosting is? 2), If you’ve had several relationships, the likelihood of you getting ghosted goes up.
It also depends on how you ask the question. We use the word ghosting liberally these days. People say “my boyfriend ghosted me when he didn’t return a text.” Or, “that employer ghosted me when they didn’t follow up on my resume.” But ghosting wasn’t intended for not responding immediately. Or about relationship experiences with strangers.
Ghosting first originated in the early 2000s. It describes the practice of ceasing all communication and contact with the partner. They take off without any clear warning or justification. Poof! Like Casper the ghost. And even if you reach out to this person, they ignore your texts or calls. And ghosting is on the rise, attributed to the increased use of social media and online dating apps.
The Types of People Who Ghost
Regardless of the stats, we all know ghosting hurts. We wait by the phone for a text that never comes. And it’s hard not to take it to heart. You feel duped, stupid, and angry. Is there a certain type of person more likely to ghost? Absolutely.
The people most likely to ghost are those who fear conflict and have poor communication skills. These are the people I call low expressive types. On my love style quiz, they say that they have trouble speaking up and being vulnerable. And according to my data from over 40,000 people, approximately 46% of them are the low expressive types. This type of person can lack courage especially.
But WHY Did They Ghost Me?!
This is one of the most common questions I get asked. Unfortunately, the best answer is because they could. And beneath that, they decided that your relationship was not for them. They didn’t see a future with you.
Let me give you an example. Say you’ve been hanging out for quite a while with the person and you’re excited about them. You’re attracted to them. You think things are going great. You both talk about the things you want in life. And on your last date, you go a little deeper.
You say, “Someday I want to have kids.” It’s your truth, right? You do want to have kids someday. They also asked you about previous relationships. So you tell them about your ex who is unavailable because they work too much. And at the end of your date, they say “Hey, I had fun. We ought to do this again sometime.”
But then after you leave, they start to process. “Hmm, maybe I’m kind of like that ex of hers. I’ve worked a lot too. And did she say she wanted kids? Oh my god, I’m not ready for that.”
Sure enough, poof. They forget that they even said that you want to hang out again. Now they’ve determined that you’re not right for each other. Then they ghost you because they don’t dare to tell you directly. And with this new information, they suddenly decided you’re not a fit. And there’s nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.
What Happens When Someone Ghosts
Now if you ask people who have experienced ghosting, 80 to 90% say they would rather know the truth. Only 10 to 20% would rather not know the details. And if you ask people themselves if they’ve ever ghosted anybody else, only 25% say that they have.
But there’s a way people justify ghosting to themselves. Take, for example, I have a favorite Italian restaurant and I go there all the time. But then a shiny new Vietnamese restaurant opens up across the street. Do I need to go tell the Italian restaurant and say “Hey, just FYI, I won’t be coming here as frequently.”? You don’t think to tell the Italian restaurant, nor do you tell the person that it’s over.
People convince themselves it’s better to say nothing. They don’t want to see you cry or feel upset. They simply move on. If you’ve done the ghosting, you convince yourself that it’s better to say nothing.
How to Change Your Perspective
I know, it’s frustrating to be on the receiving end, even when you understand why it happened. But there’s a way to help shift your perspective. There are two pieces to the problem: Them, and you.
You can’t control their lack of communication. However, you can control your initial reaction to it. For example, take the person you were dating. They did mean well at first. Later they did change their mind. And, there’s a possibility that their environment growing up caused them to be low expressive. Their family may have told them to push their feelings under the rug, and they never learned how to have difficult conversations.
They fear conflict, and they don’t know how much you care about them. So they might say “Huh. She wasn’t into me either.” It doesn’t cross their mind to talk to you about it. To talk about the fact that you’re in different places in life. And like the Italian restaurant, they move on. They might even worry that you will disagree and try to talk them into it.
Even if they told you that they thought you needed more and you said that you didn’t, that wouldn’t be your authentic truth either. You might try to hide it due to underlying shame, or worry that you’re too needy. But you would be lying and pretending to be a cool girl. And if you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that I don’t advocate for that. Not being authentic at the start is sure to backfire in the end.
But what about your peace? Can you see ghosting as a good thing? No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t into them. And, you do DESERVE BETTER. Not only someone who can communicate better but someone who cares for you in the same way you care for them.
What people hate about ghosting is the lack of closure. If you think about it, what is closure? It’s not feedback. After a significant relationship, you want to know what happened between you was real. That you didn’t make it up in your head. Closure is knowing that the person misses you and that they’re hurting. They feel like they’ve lost you, and that they’re losing sleep over it like you are.
Your Next Steps
Not getting closure can feel like never knowing. So, you have to create your closure. Because otherwise, you start looking for clues. You stalk their social media. At least if they look sad, it’ll feel like validation that you mattered, right? But this type of closure is you waiting on them again. While it’s hard, (I get it!) it’s time to take your power back. And in cognitive therapy, it’s called reframing.
Reframing is when you take your old negative thought and replace it with a more neutral thought. Take, for example, you’ve dated someone for months and they ghost you. Your thought is “I deserve better.” That thought I don’t want to argue you out because that is true. But underneath that thought, there’s another negative thought. “I’m too much” or “I’m not good enough.” These are the faults that tap into your bigger fears.
“What if this happens again? What if I invest in the next person and they’re going to disappear again on me?” You start to take these thoughts to heart. They could even stem from past childhood trauma. But, you’re able to reframe your thoughts when you see the error in your current thoughts. You acknowledge that you’re taking the situation personally and you are catastrophizing it.
You have to get rational with yourself. Ask yourself, what is the evidence? What’s too much? Is asking for a boyfriend that listens to you too much? The process of reframing is about moving into more rational thoughts. Do you have any evidence that you’re not good enough? You’ve been good enough for other partners. Remember your last boyfriend who thought you were the bomb?
In dating, you’re not going to be a fit for everyone and they won’t be a fit for you either. When they said they weren’t ready, believe them because they’re still exploring themselves. They don’t know their purpose or their vision. And they’re searching. It’s not about you. And remember, the low expressive person doesn’t become a better communicator with the next partner either.
Reframe ghosting this way. They’re not a good communicator, and they simply knew earlier than you that it wasn’t going to work. In summary, ghosting can happen, but it’s not always going to happen. Pay attention to the person your dating too. Do they have good communication skills? How do they handle conflict? Try to trust the process, that if it’s going to work, it’s going to need to be right for both of you. Focus on you and what you can control. You do deserve someone who’s a better fit for you. Keep looking until you find them.