The word “ghosting” is everywhere lately.
But what is it?
Essentially, ghosting is a hurtful behavior that involves cutting off communication with someone without providing any warning or explanation as to why.
It generally refers to the dating world but goes deeper than that.
If you’ve ever stopped responding in a romantic or platonic relationship, left a restaurant or drive-thru line after ordering but before getting your food, or stopped showing up for a job or client, then you, dear friend, are a ghoster.
What Type of Person is a Ghoster?
It must first be said that while ghosting is cruel, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person, even if it isn’t the best way to cut ties. There’s nothing saying you can’t learn from your mistakes and make better choices moving forward.
There’s no one specific type of person that engages in ghosting. It doesn’t apply to one gender more than the other.
Anyone can have it in them to ghost someone. But there are some general personality traits attached to it. These may not all describe you specifically, but one or a few likely apply.
- Commitment issues. For whatever reason, committing to one person just isn’t your thing. You like to keep your options open and others at bay. You prefer casual, low-investment relationships.
- Self-centered. Relationships are a two-way street. It’s okay to be clear on your wants and needs. But being overly focused on yourself and not recognizing your impact on others is a red flag.
- Secretive. A little mystery in a relationship isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be sexy. But you hide behind a mask and reveal very little about yourself, even if the other person offers plenty of details about themselves.
- Passive. It’s not uncommon to avoid uncomfortable situations or hurting others, but wanting to avoid them at all costs means you’re more likely to engage in ghosting. It’s convenient and takes less time and energy.
- Fickle. People change their minds all the time. It’s human nature. But telling someone you’re not interested in them anymore takes effort. You’re more prone to ghosting if you suddenly change your opinion or feelings without good reason.
Is Ghosting Abusive?
Perhaps the one reason that makes ghosting more acceptable is experiencing toxic or abusive relationships.
Being disrespected in any way is not fun. However, unless you fear for your safety, it’s best to address the issues and tell the other person you don’t want further contact with them.
In short, unless you’re using it to escape an abusive partner, yes, ghosting is abusive.
Ghosting someone you love is:
- Painful. When you vanish without a trace, you leave the ghostee feeling unimportant, disrespected, and disposable. The hurt caused can be as sharp as physical pain since the same areas of the brain are activated. It’s probably more painful than breaking up face to face.
- Many ghostees don’t know how to handle being left behind without an explanation. They feel insecure and like they’re not good enough. It can impact confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of self-worth.
- Lacking closure. Not providing reasons for your departure from the relationship creates confusion. It makes them wonder what went wrong and what’s wrong with them. It also prevents them from learning from their mistakes to avoid making the same ones in the future.
- Traumatic. Suddenly being cut off without explanation can create new wounds or open old ones. Being ghosted can heighten their struggles with anxiety, depression, and other areas of mental health, especially if the ghostee has existing abandonment, attachment, or mental health issues.
- Mean spirited. Whether ghosting in casual relationships, long-term ones, or friendships, your silence kills the ghostee’s spirit to enter new relationships, platonic or otherwise. It creates mistrust and traps them in the past, leaving them to wonder what they did to deserve such unkind treatment.
What Ghosting Says About You: 11 Not-So-Great Things
So you’ve ghosted someone, and you own it. Hopefully, you want to learn from your mistakes and break that pattern.
These may be difficult to hear, but understanding WHY you do it can help you learn better ways to leave a relationship respectfully that no longer serves you.
Or maybe you’ve been ghosted and are trying to make sense of it.
Either way, here are some common things that describe ghosters.
1. You have a fear of confrontation.
Feelings can be messy and complicated. It might seem easier to disappear than to have an uncomfortable conversation about why you’re ending it, especially one that could lead to tears and hurt feelings.
By ghosting, you don’t have to deal with the repercussions, soothing bruised egos or comforting them.
But certainly, you know that pretending their feelings aren’t hurt or avoiding facing them isn’t the best way to go about it.
2. You think it’s normal.
With the rise of online dating and social media, ghosting has become somewhat of a norm. It’s familiar and popular.
It seems that the sea of potential partners is an endless one. If it doesn’t work out with one person, there are plenty more to choose from, so you stop responding to calls and texts, maybe even block them.
While it has become increasingly common, that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.
3. You lack emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions and recognize, understand, and positively influence others’ emotions.
If you lack emotional intelligence, you lack empathy and have difficulty resolving conflict, communicating effectively, and taking responsibility for your actions.
What you say and do matters – for both yourself and those around you. Just because you don’t witness their hurt reaction doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
4. Your communication skills are lacking.
Perhaps you were never taught how to talk about your feelings, needs, wants, and desires. Or maybe, given the increasing trend toward online communication, your reliance on it led you to lack the skills to engage in effective communication.
Communicating through a screen makes it harder to form bonds and generally means you can say whatever you want without facing the consequences of their heartbreak.
You might feel disconnected from the person you’re hurting, but that doesn’t make it okay.
5. You have immature relationship patterns.
Frankly, ghosting is immature. Maybe you unintentionally learned to ghost people growing up, or perhaps it’s a defense mechanism to protect yourself.
Whatever your reasons for doing so, it’s irresponsible not to consider how the other person will feel based on your actions.
This toxic pattern hurts the other person and denies you the chance at a close, meaningful connection with others.
If it’s not something you feel you can overcome on your own, consider enlisting the help of a professional.
6. You’re trying to avoid negative feelings.
It’s no secret that breaking up is hard to do whether you’re the one ending it or it’s being ended with you. It often involves pain and discomfort.
Nobody likes to feel sad, and most people don’t like to make others sad. But if you think ghosting allows you to avoid that kind of negative feeling, think again. If you ghost once, you’re likely to do it again. This creates a cycle that’s hard to break.
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7. You’re cowardly.
If you’re ghosting someone, you don’t have the guts to tell them face-to-face. Not being willing to face the music is spineless and indicates insecurities on your part.
Harsh? Maybe. True? Definitely.
Rather than ghost someone you’re no longer interested in having a relationship with, honor your connection with them, as superficial as it may be, and provide them with closure. Find the courage to reject the other person properly.
8. You’re disrespectful.
Ghosting someone you claim to care about is insensitive and plain rude. You’re actively inflicting pain on another person.
Maybe you were only in it to get something out of it, and when you do, you split without so much as a goodbye. Think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed. Wouldn’t you prefer the other person to respect you enough to tell you why they didn’t want you in their life anymore?
9. You have an avoidant attachment style.
Your attachment style is quite telling when it comes to relationships. If you tend to shy away from emotional closeness, yours might be the avoidant type.
Maybe you have commitment issues and aren’t ready or willing to settle down. That’s completely okay. But ghosting is not.
Intimacy can be scary, but that’s not an excuse to ghost someone. At least, it’s not a good excuse.
10. You have a fixed mindset.
People either have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. When it comes to relationships, those with a growth mindset believe that good, lasting relationships require effort to work through inevitable differences.
They don’t blame their partner’s personality for problems, nor do they expect the relationship to feel magical all the time.
If you have a fixed mindset, on the other hand, you likely believe it’s meant to be, or it’s not. You probably don’t believe that relationships take work or that you and your partner can learn how to love each other with good communication and work.
You believe in destiny, and this isn’t yours, so you wish to escape rather than try to make it better.
11. It’s a power play.
Ghosting someone can feel like you have the upper hand, maybe even instill a sense of pride in you. You’re afraid of being rejected yourself, so you do the rejecting before they can do it to you.
This is a sign of insecurity. Ghosting may create a false sense of security and may provide temporary feelings of superiority, but this shameful act doesn’t make you better than others. Instead, it’s a vicious cycle that hurts everyone involved.
Next time you consider ghosting someone, pause and take a moment to put yourself in their shoes. Consider their feelings and the lingering effects of having someone vanish from your life.
Do some self-discovery work to figure out why you want to ghost them. Then, find a more mature way to sever the relationship.