- Ghosting is when someone who you’ve gone on a date with suddenly stops responding to you.
- People may ghost if they want to avoid the breakup talk or you’ve offended them in some way.
- If you’ve gotten ghosted and your feelings are hurt you can reach out to loved ones for support.
Maybe it’s happened to you before — you go on a few dates with someone, but then they suddenly stop answering your calls and texts. This is called ghosting — a way to end a relationship or acquaintance by just going silent, without any explanation.
A date might do this to avoid the breakup talk or they think that they’re sparing your feelings, when in reality it’s anything but. Ghosting can leave people feeling upset, confused, and overwhelmed with self-doubt.
Here are a few reasons why people ghost and how you can deal with the experience.
1. They want to avoid the “breakup talk”
When you lose interest or attraction in a relationship, ghosting may feel like an easy way out so you don’t have to address the anger, sadness, or other strong negative emotions the other person may express.
“Ghosting can be a form of avoidance, an attempt to not think about or have to face something that is difficult and painful,” says Kelifern Pomeranz, PsyD, a psychologist and sex therapist.
2. You offended them
In some cases, a date might ghost you because you did something that upset them.
In a small 2020 study, people reported why they had ghosted dates. The people who did the ghosting said that they did so because their date:
- Was pushy
- Acted disrespectfully
- Was racist
- Withheld important information
- Sent unsolicited sexual content
If the person has a negative impression of you, “the thought of an in-person exchange might be so unpleasant they avoid it,” says Theresa DiDonato, PhD, a relationship specialist and psychology professor at Loyola University.
3. They don’t want to hurt your feelings
“Some ghosters cut off ties and stop responding due to a misguided attempt to spare the other person’s feelings,” Pomeranz says.
In other words, ghosters may hope that ghosting will send their message without them having to actually spell it out. For example, if you aren’t attracted to your date, you may opt to ghost rather than tell the truth or make up a lie.
4. They don’t feel safe
In a small 2019 survey, people said they might feel unsafe breaking up with someone who acts inappropriate or strange.
So “for their own well-being, they cease all communication,” DiDonato says.
How to deal with being ghosted
When someone ghosts you, it can be painful and leave you with plenty of unanswered questions. Here are a few tips to help you move on from the rejection.
1. Let yourself feel the loss
Ghosting can be deeply painful, even if you only went on a couple of dates. It can be especially disappointing if you were really into the person and you thought things were going well, Pomeranz says.
It’s okay to let yourself feel sad for a bit. “Getting ghosted is a type of loss and similar to all losses, allowing space and time for grief is important,” Pomeranz says.
2. Recognize it might not be your fault
“It’s easy to blame yourself when someone ghosts you,” DiDonato says. It’s tempting to overthink everything you said or did on dates, but the reasons for ghosting are often out of your control.
Your date may not be ready for commitment, might get back with an ex, or might just not feel a “spark” with you. Ultimately, you have to accept that you might never know why someone ghosted.
3. Focus on other parts of your life
An important part of healing from a rejection is to cultivate a positive sense of self and not rely on others to make you feel good about yourself, says Pomeranz. Focusing on hobbies like art or sports can be a good way to keep your spirits up.
“A healthy self-esteem and fulfilling life can make the pain of being ghosted slightly less devastating,” Pomeranz says.
4. Reach out to loved ones
After you get ghosted, calling or meeting up with people you love can be comforting and remind you that you’re not alone.
“Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family who affirm your value and worth can be helpful,” Pomeranz says.
You can talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling, or they can distract you for a bit and remind you of more positive things.
People may ghost for many reasons, including feeling offended or trying to spare your feelings.
If you’re the one being ghosted, it can be a painful experience but reaching out to loved ones and letting yourself grieve for a bit can help.
“If someone ghosts you, let the relationship go. If they wanted in, they wouldn’t end it,” DiDonato says.
If you’re thinking about ghosting someone else, “it is important to keep in mind how difficult it can be for someone to go radio silent without a sense of closure,” Pomeranz says.