In an age where the Internet has brought people closer together more than ever, some are doing everything they can to fight back against the trend of shared humanity. It’s one thing for a person to delete their Facebook or live off the grid whenever possible, but some are taking it a step too far by essentially disappearing from their social circle without saying a word. The practice is so commonplace that social scientists have given it a word, naming the idea of suddenly cutting off all communication with a formerly close relation as “ghosting.”
Typically, ghosting refers to intimate, sexual, or romantic relationships, like a boyfriend ghosting his girlfriend or vice versa. However, it’s also entirely possible for a person to ghost a close platonic friend or even a family member, slowly fading more and more out of their lives until it’s like they were never there. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what type of relationship the ghostee had with their ghoster; the sting hurts just as hard in almost any circumstance. That said, the longer the relationship lasted, the more painful the ghosting can be, no matter what exactly their connection may have been.
Obviously, no one wants to be ghosted by a friend or loved one, and believe it or not, we doubt people actually like doing the ghosting, either. Popular though it may be, people only ghost when pushed to do so in one way or another. If you want to know what could drive a person to make them disappear, keep reading to learn 8 reasons why people ghost and 7 things you can do to avoid it happening to you.
15. Why People Ghost: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
While legendary boy band 2gether once sang, “the hardest part of breaking up is getting back your stuff,” the truth is the hardest part of breaking up is, well, breaking up. The idea of two friends or lovers deciding they don’t want to be in a relationship anymore without at least a minimal amount of fighting, shouting, and crying on at least one side is almost unheard of. In some cases, when someone is about to go through a breakup, they can predict the conversation. If they know for a fact talking it out will just make things worse, why bother? When the options are to waltz into a high-tension scenario that will almost certainly ruin your day, which you know because you’ve already had a bunch of days ruined by similar situations, or to simply walk away from it all and click your phone two or three times to block a number, the choice should be pretty simple.
14. How To Avoid It: Be Proactive If You See Warning Signs
Technically speaking, the whole idea of ghosting is that the person doing it is disappearing without any warning signs. Here’s the thing, though, in terms of human relationships, that’s almost impossible. There are always warning signs when a person ghosts, small, though, they may be. Did they seem a little inattentive during your last conversation? Have they been questioning your choices about where and how to spend your time, if not recently, ever? Have you had any arguments, again, ever? These are all potential signs a person might decide to up and disappear on you, insignificant as they might seem on paper. If any of these things happen to you, try and talk it out immediately rather than letting it stew inside them for so long, they feel the only logical course of action is to cut you out of their life.
13. Why People Ghost: It’s Really, Really Easy
For every way in which social media has managed to bring humanity closer together, it’s also done twice as much to drive us further apart. The power to block or unfriend a person on Facebook, apparently, makes people feel like some sort of god, only needing a few keystrokes to make it feel like a long-term relationship never happened. Throw in what we already mentioned about how easy it is to block a number on your cell phone, and ghosting someone is legitimately the easiest form of rejection possible. Even walking up to someone saying “it’s over” and running away before conflict can brew takes more effort. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if in the near future, there was an app solely for deleting all your social media accounts and changing your number all at once. They could call it Ghoster, and we hope to get a cut of the millions it makes for having the idea.
12. How To Avoid It: Plan Ahead
Truth be told, this next piece of advice might not be a winner 100 per cent of the time. However, it’s a lot harder for someone to disappear from your life if they had plans to do something with you later. Slowly fading away is easy to pull off without repercussion, because no specific plans are being broken, so it doesn’t feel like the ghoster is doing anything wrong. On the other hand, if they have something specific to do the next week, they might feel bad about not doing it. Therefore, whenever you feel like someone might be ghosting them, try and make future plans at the end of every meeting. Even if your last date wasn’t the best you’ve ever had, if you want to have another one with the same person, try and prepare for it right away. And make sure to do it in person, so they actually have to answer.
11. Why People Ghost: It Saves Time, Money, and Effort
At the absolute very least, breaking up with a person requires a phone call, email, or if you’re really detached from humanity, even a text. On the other hand, ghosting literally requires no action whatsoever. Sure, deleting social media and blocking numbers makes the practice easier, but one can just as well do nothing at all and achieve the same results. In many cases, when a person realizes they’re about to be broken up with, they might ask for a meeting in person or a goodbye dinner, increasing the amount of time and effort it requires to get rid of them, and possibly even putting a price tag on the situation. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that not everyone thinks another human being’s piece of mind is worth these things.
10. How To Avoid It: Ask Questions And Stay Interested
When a person ghosts another, there are generally dozens of factors going into the decision. That said, one of them is probably that they don’t believe the other person necessarily cares about them, based on their past interactions. It’s really easy to disappear from someone’s life if you don’t think they’d mind all that much. On the other hand, if this person is constantly asking you questions about your feelings, maybe you’ll think twice before cutting them loose. Many people who ghost feel like ghosts already — their thoughts, feelings, and emotions invisible to the person they’re spending time with. Even if the person they’re ghosting actually does care about these things, if they don’t ask questions and act interested when they hear answers, there’s no way for the potential ghost to know. It’s entirely possible that people getting ghosted were killing the soul of their ghoster through sheer apathy.
9. Why People Ghost: Anxiety And Mental Turmoil
This article has already touched upon the fact that breaking up is usually hard, but we haven’t really explained why that is. There aren’t any studies on the subject yet, but it’s our hypothesis that ghosting is often directly related to anxiety. Social media has made it much easier for people with social anxiety to interact, as they don’t actually need to talk in person until they’ve already gotten to know someone. This makes it hard to tell when someone suffers from social anxiety, as they seemed entirely personable online. Once a relationship that started online blossoms into a real one, the dynamics change considerably, and even so much as talking to another person becomes too difficult to bear. Granted, this can’t be the case with a relationship that likewise started in person, however, that anxiety can still pop up when it’s time to end things, making it too hard for a person to do so in a way that offers closure and finality.
8. How To Avoid It: Make Mutual Friends
It’s easy enough to cut a single person out of one’s life, but the difficulty greatly increases with each subsequent person one tries to ghost. If two people meet entirely by chance, go on all their dates alone, and never bring a third party into the situation, things might feel more intimate, but it’s also making it way easier for one of them to ghost the other. However, if the two people share some mutual friends who are at least marginally invested in their lives and relationships, there will be a place to go for answers if either of them suddenly disappears. It’s not enough to simply know the friends of the person you’re dating, either, as friends have been known to lie for one another to help them escape what they describe as a toxic relationship. Only when all friendships are equal will a third party actually be willing to help you track down a ghost.
7. Why People Ghost: They’re Too Busy To Play Nice
Social media is hardly the only facet of modern life exploding in popularity and reach these days. By and large, people are also working harder in every field imaginable, pulling longer hours and doing more work than ever before, all to make less money than they used to. The high-pace nature of modern life is so severe, some people eschew relationships all together, too busy focused on work to make time for friends or lovers. Even those who somehow found the time to form a relationship might eventually realize the writing is on the wall, so they stop caring about it and return to whatever work they used to focus their energy on. Then, before long, because they didn’t much care for the relationship, it slowly drops out of their mind. The other party might feel burned, hurt, and confused about what happened, but the ghost doesn’t even notice, buried in paperwork, or whatever it is they do for a living.
6. How To Avoid It: Don’t Give Up
As soon as a person realizes they’ve been ghosted, or even just thinks it’s about to happen, the reaction is usually to throw up their arms in defeat and accept the fact they’ve been burned. On paper, it looks like there isn’t much they can do — their former friend or lover has deleted their Facebook and won’t return calls, so where else could they turn for answers? Well, if the person being ghosted had a real relationship with the significant other in question, they should have a few other options. Ask family, ask friends, ask people at work, and actually try and track these ghosts down. Sometimes, the mere fact you’re trying at all might make them change their minds about the whole thing. Of course, in this scenario, one has to be careful the actions don’t veer too close toward stalking, otherwise, they’ll just be justifying why the ghost decided to cut crazy out of their lives.
5. Why People Ghost: They Don’t Realize How Much Others Care
It’s impossible to give the actual statistic, but if one were to wager a guess, we’d imagine something like 75 per cent of the people who’ve ghosted others did so at least in part because they didn’t think it was that big a deal. Sure, it sounds pretty awful to disappear from a 20-year marriage without any warning whatsoever, but most ghosting happens after a single date, or maybe a month’s worth of them, at most. In this little time, it’s hardly a guarantee that deep feelings of affection will develop. Further, if they aren’t developing in one direction, it’s very easy to assume there’s no way the other partner is forming a strong connection, either. Before the Internet, if someone didn’t call back after a date or two, it wasn’t “ghosting,” it was a sign those dates weren’t meaningful. On that note, let’s talk about how to ensure that misunderstanding won’t happen.
4. How To Avoid It: Let Them Know How You Feel
All right, so if the main cause of ghosting is simply that people don’t realize it’s that big a deal, it should be pretty obvious how people can prevent it from happening. Granted, if someone started a first date by saying, “please don’t disappear from my life,” chances are said date would immediately do just that. On the other hand, all it takes is a simple, genuine, “I had a really good time tonight” when things are all said and done for the other party to realize, well, you had a really good time together. Maybe throw in a word or two about how the date’s personality, sense of humor, or general demeanor had some sort of a positive impact so they know it wasn’t just the nearby atmosphere making you smile. This will give them the impression it would hurt if you stopped providing them that joy, and although it won’t promise a relationship that lasts forever, they’ll probably think twice before giving up on you without a trace.
3. Why People Ghost: They Forgot About You (Or At Least Want To)
Difficult as it is to be ghosted, what some people don’t realize is that the process isn’t all roses for the ghoster, either. On top of all the anxiety and turmoil of breaking up with people the old-fashioned way, ghosting throws in an additional fear of getting caught or found making it even harder to stop thinking about whatever relationship it is they’re trying to eternal sunshine. Because of this, the ghost will occupy their time and life with whatever they can to entirely erase any and all thoughts related to the person they, well, want to forget about. At first, ghosting might not even be ghosting, but rather a gradual process of no longer obsessing over a relationship gone wrong. In due time, the idea might actually succeed, and merely postponing a breakup turns into a full-on ghosting without them even noticing. If enough time past, it makes perfect sense they’d rather move on than return to the unpleasantness they pushed out of their mind.
2. How To Avoid It: Don’t Be A Jerk
Not to accuse people who’ve been ghosted of unruly behavior, but again, people don’t up and disappear from your life for absolutely no reason. Even if it was entirely unconscious, almost every case of ghosting involved the ghost being somehow wronged by their former acquaintance. In fact, most impetuses for ghosting are probably extremely minor, from slight personality tics to the way you answer the phone when they call. People always say it’s “the little things” that cause them to break up, and the same is true of indirectly breaking up with a person by way of disappearance. Even if the two of you seem like a happy, loving couple the majority of the time, chances are you were doing something wrong if a person decided to ghost you. While it would be nice if they stuck around and told you what that foible was, all you can know for sure is that you made a mistake, and maybe being a nicer, warmer person in general would stop that from happening again.
1. Why People Ghost: People Are Imperfect
In the immortal words of comedian Bill Hicks, humanity is really no more than “a virus with shoes.” When it comes to ghosting, the fact people tend to suck now and then is truly a double-edged sword. The person doing the ghosting obviously is kind of a jerk for cutting another out of their lives without warning or explanation. On the other hand, the person getting ghosted probably did something, no matter how minor, to deserve it. Chances are, they actually did something pretty darn awful to earn such a powerful reaction, whether they recognize what it was or not. Funny as he may have been, Mr. Hicks was also a bit of a misanthrope on the subject, so we won’t go so far as to say all people suck and leave it at that. However, mankind as a whole is certainly imperfect, and in the simplest terms possible, that’s why they ghost—it’s only human to want to end things with as little drama as possible.
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