If you’ve ever been ghosted, you know the feelings of uncertainty, and low self-esteem it can generate. With ghosting comes no closure and no open communication. It doesn’t allow anyone to learn or grow.
So why do so many people, including those who hate being ghosted, do it? Most likely, we don’t mean any harm — ghosting can easily be something we partake in unconsciously, the same way we ignore texts from our friends when we’re busy.
As someone who’s guilty of ghosting, I’ve started making it a priority to tell someone why I don’t want to see them anymore and to ask why when someone chooses to stop talking to me. More often than not, I’ve realized that my reasons for not wanting to continue seeing someone don’t have anything to do with them personally — hence my theory that ghosting usually has more to do with the ghoster’s issues than those of the ghostee. Sure, sometimes people ghost because of something you did — these just happen to be situations when that’s not the case.
1. They’re dated out.
After my last breakup, I set a goal to go on two first dates per week. I know it sounds like a lot, but I never really dated much before meeting my ex, and I wanted to learn more about what I do and don’t like. I actually exceeded my goal, averaging about three first dates per week for a solid two months. However, that experience was super exhausting and left me tired of dating. Unfortunately, this feeling led me to ghost a few people, because it seemed easier to stop communicating than to explain that I needed to go on these dates for personal experience and growth.
According to relationship columnist and Renew Breakup Bootcamp founder Amy Chan, taking breaks is a common way to deal with dating burnout. “The overwhelmingness and disappointments can cause someone to get out of the game completely — and without warning,” she says. “That means, everyone gets the axe. It’s not you. It’s everyone.”
2. They reconnected with an ex.
When someone decides to get back with their ex or is at least entertaining the idea of it, they ghost. It’s tough to tell someone that you want to try again with an ex when you’ve probably shit-talked that ex or relationship to the new person. Getting back with an ex opens a person up to a lot of judgement, and having an uncomfortable conversation causes dread and anxiety, making people likely to freeze, Chan explains. Their desire to avoid that probably has little to nothing to do with you.
3. They’re going through some shit.
I went on three dates with a guy who seemed perfect for me — we always had a great time, the physical attraction was there, and he lived reasonably nearby. However, when it was time to meet up for the fourth time, I started going through some family issues and as a result, I did not want to date anyone. While things were off to a great start, he was still pretty new in my life, and I didn’t feel like unloading all of my personal issues on him nor did I want to prioritize a new relationship over my own affairs. As a result, I slowly stopped texting him.
Your match might feel ashamed or embarrassed for being unsure of themselves, which is a completely normal feeling but sometimes a tricky one to address.
Whether it’s changing jobs, losing a loved one, or moving across town, it can be difficult to balance a new relationship and personal affairs. According to Chan, when people experience a hard time, their number-one priority is dealing with their own issues. Their attention and energy shift into their survival, and communicating effectively with someone you don‘t have a strong connection with or may not know all that well can fall off the priority list.
4. You’re out of their league.
This type of ghosting usually happens after the first date. You’re exchanging information about yourself: what you studied, where you work, how you picture yourself in five years, yada, yada, yada. Maybe while you’re displaying all of your accomplishments and put-togetherness, your date is becoming a little intimidated. That’s on them — you shouldn’t dumb yourself down for anyone — but it’s also understandable to be skeptical of a large gap between two people. It doesn’t mean this person isn’t attracted to you or that they don’t think you’re great, but rather that they might have realized you’re too far ahead of them in life. Basically, you’re not a great fit, but it isn’t because of anything anyone did wrong. Communicating that can be confusing or sound disingenuous, so avoiding the person altogether becomes the most convenient option.
5. They’re keeping up with too many people.
With dating apps and social media come a plethora of options. That’s exciting, especially after a breakup or when reentering the dating scene, but it can also feel overwhelming. It’s likely that you aren’t the only person your match is chatting with, and if that is the case, there’s a strong chance they’ll decide to reduce the number of conversations they’re having. Maybe they’ve already started forming something more interesting or serious with someone else, or maybe they got ahead of themselves during their initial pursuit. Whatever the details, they may proceed to disappear.
6. They’re exploring their sexuality.
Tons of people in their 20s are doing this, and many use dating apps as a tool in their process. Maybe you just matched with a woman who has decided that, after some exploration, she isn’t actually interested in women, or perhaps your nonbinary match has decided against dating men. While it sucks to be left on read without any explanation, exploring your sexuality can be difficult and uncomfortable depending on the circumstances, and sometimes the conversation doesn’t feel worth diving into with someone you hardly know. Your match might feel ashamed or embarrassed for being unsure of themselves, which is a completely normal feeling but sometimes a tricky one to address. If you suspect this is the case, don’t make it about yourself — you can hate being ghosted and still have some empathy.
7. They’re an asshole.
You and this person really hit it off, you think you are having a great time together, and then they just disappear. But you know where you can find them? On the list of people who watched your Instagram Story. They’re still keeping tabs on you, but they never reply to your texts. Maybe you’ve seen them around, and they chat with you like nothing has changed but still haven’t said anything regarding where you stand. Even worse, perhaps they’ve posted a photo with a new love interest after never really breaking things off with you. This kind of behavior indicates that you are dealing with a certifiable asshole. No one, possibly including they themselves, knows their reason for ghosting you. But rest assured that even if they don’t offer you the closure you want, at least you’ll know you dodged a bullet.