Ghosting Takes Relationships Everywhere by Storm

Ghosting is the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication. With technology playing a larger role in relationships, cutting off contact with people has become a much easier task.

Gili Freedman, a postdoc at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, conducted two surveys asking about a person’s relationships. In one survey looking into love lives, results showed about 25 percent of participants had been ghosted by a previous partner, and about 20 percent had ghosted someone else. Another survey looked at ghosting in friendships and found about 30 percent had ghosted a friend, and about 35 percent had been ghosted by a friend. Even though ghosting is common, it can still leave a lasting negative impression.

Ghosting can leave people feeling confused, hurt, enraged, etc. with about a million questions and doubts. Someone’s confidence can take a huge hit, and it can be maddening trying to find the reason for being left, especially if the goal is to “fix” the problem. The ghoster may also feel regret and guilt, knowing they have done something terrible and very unhealthy, though most of the time they consider it acceptable.

Ghosting is about avoidance and usually comes from a fear of conflict. In an attempt to avoid the argument and strong emotions from the other person (or themselves), the ghoster will ignore the issue. This can have the opposite effect. The other partner might confront them in person, sometimes in uncomfortable situations such as in front of family, and it ends up being more destructive than communicating a possible break-up in the first place.

It is important to note the difference between ghosting and fleeing an abusive relationship. Cutting off all contact with an abusive partner is okay. However, if someone is ghosting simply because they do not want to have an argument, then they should try to work on finding a different way to go about conflict.

It has been found that people who ghost tend to believe more strongly in destiny than in growth. They feel if a relationship is meant to be, it will work out on its own. In contrast, people with growth beliefs believe relationships take patience and work, and the more time and effort put into one, the better it will be. Those with strong destiny beliefs tend to think less poorly of those who have ghosted and consider ghosting a viable way to break up with someone.

Maturity level also plays a role in choosing whether to ghost or not. When someone has a low emotional maturity level, they have a tendency to lean more towards ghosting. Some might think they are being more mature by ghosting because they think the partner will be less hurt.

Ghosting can hurt both parties involved more than if physical confrontation had been involved. Researchers are unsure if ghosting has increased due to the surge in online relationships, but it has definitely made it easier.