Why People Ghost…From People Who Have Ghosted Why People Ghost…From People Who Have Ghosted

Why People Ghost…From People Who Have Ghosted

by Maggie Boyle

As a 21-year-old girl, I am all too familiar with the term “ghosting.” For those who aren’t, the term refers to when a person who you’ve been seeing romantically suddenly stops talking to you. As in, stops answering your calls, stops messaging you back, and basically cuts you off entirely, leaving you in a state of confusion that keeps you wondering, “What did I do wrong?”

Dating in the 21st century can be a free-for-all. In my experience, people my age don’t necessarily “date” to date anymore, but rather, seem more likely to be drawn to casual, “no-strings-attached” situations. Ghosting has become so prevalent than many people I talk to, including myself, often have no, or very low, expectations when it comes to meeting a new person. If relationships are supposedly built on communication, then why do people ghost?

Rachel Russo, a New York City matchmaker and dating/relationship coach, thinks that it has to do with the ghoster’s unwillingness to deal with tough situations. “People ghost because it’s easier to fade away than to deal with the inconvenient truth of their lack of interest and/or emotional unavailability. They want to avoid an uncomfortable situation, and sometimes (mistakenly) think it’s less hurtful to ghost than to share their truth.”  As for how to handle being ghosted, Russo says the key is to keep your cool. “If you really feel the need for closure, you can reach out to the person afterward and ask for an explanation in a calm and collected way. I would suggest calling over texting, as it is easier to ignore a text. Don’t send a long email or seem as though your sanity depends on their validating you. Otherwise, you can gracefully accept that you’ve been ghosted. It happens to the best of us.”

Russo thinks that the new boom in dating apps and meeting through the internet may be the reason why ghosting has become such a frustrating (and popular) dating phenomenon. “Ghosting is still relatively new. It has increased with the popularity of online dating and more so with dating apps.” Dating apps are extremely popular right now, with as many as 27% of people ages 18-24 swiping on the reg. They’re fun and easy to use, but are they the best way to meet people? Are they good for finding serious relationships, or are they some form of a hook-up game? “Dating in these mediums can be a bit dehumanizing,” Russo says. “Singles might treat others as if they are disposable and many think it is fine to ghost someone who is pretty much a stranger.”

With Russo’s wisdom in hand, I decided to head to the front lines of the dating world to talk to both ghosters and ghostees and find out more. While ignoring someone entirely may, in fact, be easier than giving the person an actual explanation of your disinterest, is it really the best route to take? Christian, a 24-year-old living in Chicago, thinks it can be in certain cases.

Milk Makeup: Have you ever ghosted anyone?
Christian: Yes, I have.

MMU: How long were you seeing the person before you decided to ghost her?
C: I actually met her on Tinder, and we hung out a few times. I’d say I knew her for about two months before I decided to ghost her.

MMU: Did you ever see her again? Did she call you out?
C: I did run into her at a bar that we both went to frequently. I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d run into her there. She did confront me, but by saying, “I tried texting you but didn’t get a response. Did you change your number?” Obviously, I hadn’t, so I basically lied and told her that I had been really busy recently.

MMU: What was it about her that made you want to ghost?
C: She started to get really clingy and talk about our future, after only knowing each other for a month or two. She was about to move into a new apartment and mentioned living together. I didn’t want to lead her on by making her believe that there was a future for us. To be honest, I was just looking for an easy hook-up.

MMU: So, you say you were just looking for an easy hook-up. Did you ever tell her that you weren’t interested in anything serious?
C: No, I didn’t. I definitely led her on more than I should have, and I feel really bad about that now. We talked about personal stuff, you know? I did like her and felt comfortable with her, but her constant texting, Snapchatting, and her bringing up the topic of marriage was just too much for me.

MMU: Do you regret ghosting her? Or do you stand by your decision to do so?
C: In a lot of cases, I think I’d regret it. But in this particular situation, I happen to know that she has a boyfriend now and has moved away. So, maybe ghosting her was for the best if it led her to a happy relationship.

MMU: Why did ghosting them seem like the best option in the scheme of things? Was it the easiest way to go about ending things?
C: Basically, I knew that there wasn’t a good conversational way to end it. There was nothing I could say to her that she would want to hear. It definitely felt as though it was my best, and definitely my easiest, option.

Danielle, a 26-year-old living in Manhattan, says it’s okay to ghost…in extreme situations.

Milk Makeup: Have you ever ghosted someone?
Danielle: Yes… I’ll admit, I’ve ghosted.

MMU: How long did you know the person before you decided to ghost them?
D: I’d say I knew him for about a month before I decided to ghost him. I met him through a mutual friend and we talked for a few weeks before I decided I wasn’t feeling it.

MMU: What was it about them that made you decide to ghost?
D: Honestly, I just didn’t like him very much. I was kind of dating around, playing the field, and not wanting to be associated with any one individual. This was something that I was honest with him about from the start. He would ask if I wanted to hang and I would outright tell him that I was going out with someone else that night. Every time we went out together, he was very overprotective, wouldn’t let me speak to other men, would introduce himself to other people as my boyfriend, and hated seeing me on my phone.

MMU: Did you ever see the person again? Did they call you out?
D: Well… as soon as the ghosting was underway, he only got worse. He would text me calling me a b*tch  for not responding to him, which only added onto my urge to not speak to him. I ended up deleting his number. I haven’t seen him since. Ghosting is honestly hard nowadays when the person you’re ghosting can see when you’re on the internet with the help of apps like Snapchat and Instagram. But in my case, I didn’t care if he knew that I was ghosting him. I wasn’t going to make up excuses and tell him that I’ve been “busy” or some lame excuse that I know guys use all the time. I kept living my life and didn’t care if he saw.

MMU: Do you regret ghosting them? Or do you stand by your decision to do so?
D: If he was a genuinely nice guy, I would have sat him down and told him I was done with him. But instead he called me names and thought it would work. I didn’t think he deserved an explanation and I still don’t. He knew from the start I wasn’t looking for anything serious and he was never able to accept that.

MMU: Why did ghosting them seem like the best option in the scheme of things? Was it the easiest way to go about ending things?
D: I do not recommend ghosting someone. It all leads back to your maturity. And like many other girls, I’ve been on the other end of ghosting and it sucks. It’s definitely not a good way to deal with things, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If I could take it back, I probably wouldn’t. He eventually got the message and left me alone, which is all I wanted in the first place. But as far as ghosting goes, I would never recommend doing it unless it was an extreme case like mine was.

Daniel, a 23-year-old living in Philadelphia, thinks that ghosting can often be due to a situational occurrence, rather than a blatant disinterest in the ghostee.

Milk Makeup: Have you ever ghosted someone?
Daniel: Yes. My name is Daniel, and I’m a ghoster.

MMU: How long were you seeing them before you decided to ghost them?
D: The first, and only time that I ghosted someone was about four years ago. I was just finishing my freshman year of college and was 19 and immature. I met a girl at school who I actually was super into. We texted non-stop, and I had actually purchased a bus ticket to visit her since we were from different states. We began talking in March, and I ghosted her around mid-May.

MMU: Did you ever see her again? Did she call you out?
D: Unfortunately, we went to the same school and were a part of the same friend circle, so when we got back to school in August I saw her very frequently. I didn’t expect her to have taken it so negatively, especially considering that I’m quite well known for not being big on texting and/or social media. She never called me out on it, but then again, she literally never spoke to me again. When she walked past me on campus, she would deliberately look away from me, or raise her chin and accelerate her pace.

MMU: Why did you decide to ghost her?
D: It’s complicated. And honestly, this is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” instances. My best friend and I were going on a Euro-trip all summer, and to say the least, I wasn’t doing a lot of texting while over there. Stateside, I was an underage male, but in Europe, I was a bachelor spending all of my money on booze. It really had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with Czech Pilzners.

MMU: Do you regret ghosting her? Or do you stand by your decision to do so?
D: I guess I have two answers to this question. On one hand, she was a great girl who, if I hadn’t gone and partied in Europe for two months, I definitely would have kept seeing. I ruined any chance I had with her, ruined our friendship, and made it very awkward between us. On the other hand, I had a great time in Europe and the experience wouldn’t have been anywhere near as fun if I had to be constantly worried about responding to a text message. I even ghosted my parents while on this trip, going to a music festival in Belgium and turning my phone off for eight days, causing my parents to be worried sick. My point is, I was dumb and immature during that entire chapter of my life, and am smarter now because of that chapter.

MMU: Why did ghosting seem like the best option in the grand scheme of things? Was it the easiest way to go about ending it?
D: The ghosting was kind of unintentional. I went to Europe with every intention of starting things up with her again once I got back to school. She didn’t care that I wasn’t in contact with her while in Europe, but I think she was hoping that I would think of her when I came home. Instead, I met someone else. I ghosted her before “ghosting” was even a word in my vocabulary, but I think that many ghosting stories are the same in this respect: the ghoster found someone that they liked more than the ghosted.

James, a 24-year-old gay man living in Washington, DC, thinks that ghosting may actually be more popular among same-sex couples.

Milk Makeup: Have you ever been ghosted?
James: Yes, I have been ghosted many times. Sometimes it’s just by a random person I met on a dating app. But sometimes it’s by people who I have hung out with a lot, which hurts my feelings much more.

MMU: What did it feel like to be ghosted?
J: Getting ghosted by someone you really like totally sucks. You don’t know what went wrong, and there’s no closure. You’re just left to sit around and think about all the things you could have done to ruin it when in reality, it’s usually the other person’s fault, not yours.

MMU: Do you think ghosting is just as common in same-sex relationships?
J: I think it’s actually probably more common within same-sex relationships because of the generally looser hook-up culture, but at the same time, I really don’t know. I think online dating has made it really easy to throw away the person you’re talking to and allows you to meet someone new very quickly. As far as ghosting within same-sex couples goes, I think it’s harder to ghost that person if you don’t live in an area where there’s a high population of gay people. For me, I live in a big city so it’s not really the end of the world, it’s fairly easy to meet new people.

Claire, a 21-year-old living in Washington, DC, is still getting over being recently ghosted.

Milk Makeup: Have you ever been ghosted?
Claire: Yes, I actually have been ghosted recently and I found it really confusing.

MMU: What did it feel like to be ghosted?
C: It didn’t take me long after we had hung out for me to realize that I was being ghosted and I kept wondering if it was something about me, or if he was just interested in someone else. Either way, I felt like he should have at least acted like an adult and just been honest with me about what the situation was.

MMU: Did you ever see him again? Did you call him out?
C: I saw him a few weeks ago and totally called him out and he was surprised that I felt the way I did and claimed he had just “gotten busy” and that “I should have reached out more.” So whether it was a misunderstanding or not, being honest with each other would have helped with the confusion and awkward conversation that happened after

MM: Why do you think he chose to ghost you?
C: I hope this isn’t the actual reason, but after a few dates I still hadn’t slept with him. He was definitely pushing it but I told him I wanted to take things slow, and I think that could very well be the reason. These days, so many people are only looking for sex instead of relationships and when I wasn’t super willing to sleep with him he became uninterested.

While we may never arrive at a precise scientific understanding of why people ghost, we can try our best to deal with the pain and frustration of being ghosted so that moving on with life is a little easier. Russo advises that the most critical part of moving forward is dealing with being ghosted in whichever way works best for you. “Like in many dating/relationship situations, there is no clear-cut answer. If it is best for you to say something to the person ghosting, then that is the best reaction. Don’t worry about their feelings, because they didn’t worry about yours. Do what you need to do to help yourself move forward.”