Why Do People Ghost In A Relationship? Here’s What Experts Say

Most of these don’t warrant a second chance.

Headshot of Alexis Jones

According to a 2018 study from Journal of Social and Personal Relationships , out of 1,300 people surveyed, a quarter of them had been ghosted by a partner. And a fifth reported ghosting someone themselves.

While the term ghosting sounds like a harmless prank you play on Halloween, the act itself can be super hurtful. “You've established communication, you've established rapport, regular lines of contact, and all of a sudden that person just leaves and you have no way to contact them,” explains Natalie Jones, PsyD . “Basically that person holds all the cards in terms of line of communication,” she adds. And that can leave you feeling disregarded, undervalued and just plain crappy.

So why do people ghost? After all, how complicated can it be to text, “I think you’re a great person, but TBH, I don’t think we’re compatible because [insert truthful or bullsh*t reason here]?" That’s all you have to do to end things without completely disappearing. And yet, so many people will choose to leave you hanging instead.

According to Jones, someone’s reason for ghosting you likely has little do with you at all. Instead, she explains that it's often a sign of their own emotional immaturity, attachment issues, and more. Read on to see why your last S.O. might have pulled a disappearing act.

1. They're with someone else.

It's a hard pill to swallow, but the person who ghosted you might have been seeing other people at the same time they were seeing you. And when things started getting serious—they sensed that you wanted commitment or there was a reoccurring fight about meeting each other's friends—they fell back and moved onto the next person, Jones explains. Harsh, but also unfortunately true.

2. They're emotionally immature.

A.k.a. they're a bad communicator. "This person definitely made promises that they couldn't keep," Jones explains. Maybe they said they'd love to go on a trip with you and then flaked. Being emotionally immature is all about these inconsistencies between what they say and what they do, the expert adds. It's this inconsistency that usually takes charge when they're ghosting you after they already said they were ready to settle down. *shakes head*

3. They're not interested in committing to you .

Sometimes, it takes a date or two or a few to get a read on somebody, and when a guy or girl decides early-ish on that they're just not that into you, they might disappear. His line of thinking might be that he doesn’t owe you an explanation since you hadn’t been messing with each other’s feelings for long enough to really warrant one. Or it could be that she doesn't think she can give you what you're looking for in particular (read: a long-term relationship.). "It's the role that they're afraid of. They're feeling like they can't live up to the expectation of fulfilling that relationship with you," Jones says. And in that case, you don't want them anyway.

4. They're going through something personal.

This one is an occasionally justifiable reason for ghosting someone (IMO!)—and one that I think you can bounce back from. Let's say you just started talking to someone and their close friend dies, and they don't know how to unload all of this on someone new. That situation could warrant a second chance .

There just needs to be, "solid proof that they've done the work, or that they put in the time to actually change and work through whatever the issue was," Jones says. And you (the person who was ghosted!) would need to actually forgive them. Otherwise, you'll end up getting back together, and every time you're in a fight, the ghosting will come up again. And nobody will like that.

5. They're dealing with anxiety.

Generalized anxiety often stems from fears, including abandonment or not being perfect, which can easily trickle down into one's relationship. And so because the person is anxious in love, it can be very difficult for them to settle into or get comfortable in a relationship, Jones says. They may actually do things to self sabotage (think: ghosting).

6. There's a safety concern in the relationship.

Let's face it: Sometimes someone might ghost because they feel they have no other option. (Btw, it's not just women who feel unsafe in relationships: 49 percent of men have experienced at least one psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner and four out of 10 men have experienced at least one form of coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. ) "Sometimes the only way to walk away from a toxic relationship is to just disappear," Jones says.

7. They don't want to get too attached.

Maybe the person you're seeing moved around a lot as a kid or grew up in a chaotic family environment where people were always moving in and out of their life. Jones often sees these early adolescent experiences play out in current relationships. "They learned very early on that people, places, and things weren't stable," Jones explains. And as a safety mechanism, they try not to get too emotionally attached to any one person, place, or thing (see, not your fault!).

8. They got what they wanted from you.

This is, I fear, very common. "People use people," Jones says. That could mean financially, sexually or in the workplace. Once they feel like they've accomplished what they wanted to accomplish, they'll disappear. And the truth is: "They weren't really ever interested in a relationship with you. You were kind of approached under the guise that they were," Jones explains.

The bottom line: If someone ghosts you, there could be a good reason for it. But it might also be a sign they're not ready for a relationship, in which case, you shouldn't waste your time on them either.

Headshot of Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones is an assistant editor at Women's Health where she writes across several verticals on WomensHealthmag.com , including life, health, sex and love, relationships and fitness, while also contributing to the print magazine. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University, lives in Brooklyn, and proudly detests avocados.


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Why Did He Ghost Me? (5 Ways To Stop Men From Ghosting You)

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By Brad Browning

Breakup & Divorce Expert


“Why did he ghost me?”

If you’ve ever asked this question, you’re in the right place. I’m going to tell you what ghosting is, why men do it, and how to stop it from happening to you.

The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Why Did He Ghost Me?

I’ll be talking about ghosting in romantic relationships, and more specifically the men who do it to women.

Here’s the typical scenario. You meet a nice guy. You go on a few dates. Everything seems to be going well. Then one day, you text him and he never responds.

It’s like he disappeared into thin air!

You’ve just been ghosted.

Don’t be alarmed. According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships , more than 25% of people have reported being ghosted at least once by a romantic partner.

Most often ghosting comes in the form of not responding to messages but it can extend to unprompted blocking on social media, failing to follow up on plans or even disappearing without a trace. First of all, I want to say that I don’t condone ghosting. It’s hurtful, confusing, and inconsiderate. But there is a silver lining…

man ghost me

This isn’t in defence of guys who ghost. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

The truth is that any guy who ghosts is immature, rude and not worthy of your time. If you can keep this in mind, it will make moving on much easier. Plus, closure is overrated. Ghosting tells you all you need to know about the breakup: whatever his reasoning, he simply doesn’t want to be with you.

Even if a guy seems to be up front about ending things, there’s no guarantee that he’s telling the truth. Men will often lie to spare your feelings.

Why Men Ghost You

Now let’s talk about why ghosting happens. I’ve identified four reasons why men ghost women in the modern dating world.

1. There’s just no connection

In this scenario, he’s realized that there’s no spark between the two of you. You’d see this too if you weren’t so wrapped up in the idea of trying to win over this exciting new person… Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and miss important indicators of incompatibility.

2. He wants to leave it open ended

Many guys think that if they simply don’t break up with you, then they can pick up right where things left off, no matter how much time has passed. And the scary thing is, they’re often right. Think about it. You go on three dates with someone, you sleep together once… He calls you and says “I don’t want to see you anymore. I don’t think we have enough in common.”

You’re upset but you appreciate his honesty and this allows you to move on.

But what if he never called you? At first you’re hurt and confused but since you didn’t have that potentially difficult conversation, you eventually simply stop thinking about him.

You never really deal with the breakup and your last memory of him was having a pretty decent date and waiting for his call… The truth is, it’s easier to come back from ghosting someone than it is to come back after having an actual “breakup”.

So watch out! He’ll come back to haunt you in a few months when he’s lonely or wants to hook up.

3. He has a different view of relationships

People see relationships in many different ways. This is affected by how they grow up, how their parents interacted and how they’ve been treated in relationships in the past.

Also those who date more often and more casually may think that not responding to a couple texts isn’t the end of the world while those who are inexperienced or more strictly monogamous see it in a much more negative light. It’s a matter of perception.

Don’t you wish you knew more about how others view dating? Hit that subscribe button and you’ll be updated every time I release a new video. Stay on the cutting age of dating with Love Learnings TV.

4. He doesn’t want to have the conversation

Many men lack the emotional intelligence and guts to be up front about ending a relationship. In this case, he’s hoping that you won’t confront him and he can simply forget about the whole thing without ever having to actually take any responsibility for his actions.

In the end, whatever reason he had for ghosting you, it comes down to one simple fact: This guy just isn’t that into you.

I’m sorry. I know it’s hard to hear but it’s the truth.

So if you’re sitting next to the phone all day, thinking about this guy, remember that he has already moved on and you should too.

Stop Being Ghosted

So that’s what men are thinking when they ghost you. But how can you stop it from happening? Here are the top five ways to stop men from ghosting you and keep them coming back for more.

1. Have high standards when it comes to how men treat you.

Letting men get away with whatever they want won’t make them like you more. In fact, many men will lose respect for you if you don’t stand up for yourself and assert your desire to be treated properly. This is because men subconsciously want a woman who holds them to a high standard.

He wants to be that knight in shining armour but first you need to be his princess. So how can you establish your high standards. Don’t let him ignore you. Don’t be his booty call. Don’t let him cancel plans at the last minute or flake out on you.

2. Use the Text Chemistry program

Don’t you wish you could send him a text he couldn’t ignore? Your wish is granted. Click here  for a free video presentation on the brand new Text Chemistry Program. Years of research have gone into creating texts that will make any man obsessed with you. All you need to do is copy and paste!

3. Change your perception of Ghosting

We talked about the definition of ghosting earlier: “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

This leaves a lot of room for ambiguity. How far into a relationship do you have to be before it’s considered ghosting? I find that many of my clients are hurt by ghosting after only one date.

Some even think they’ve been ghosted when a guy simply doesn’t respond to their tinder message… This is where a change of mindset comes into play.

If you’ve only been on two dates and you two haven’t been in regular contact, I wouldn’t consider this ghosting.

On the flip side, if you’ve been together for months and he skips town, that’s not ghosting either….It’s something much worse. I don’t want you to think that this is normal. This person is especially inconsiderate, and bordering on abusive.

4. Only date men who can communicate honestly and directly

Men who are truly secure in themselves won’t ghost you. But how can you know for sure?

Finding out if he fits the bill takes openness and honesty on your part. You can’t compromise on things that are important to you.

RELATED: 7 Signs He’s Losing Interest in You And What To Do About It

You’ll know he lacks these qualities when you bring up something real and revealing and he makes a joke or changes the subject.

Let silences hang rather than trying to fill them and you’ll see what he’s really all about.

5. Make him chase you

No one in a position of power in the relationship ever got ghosted. This is because they’re not the ones reaching out. He can’t ghost you if you don’t text him.

Let him be the one to pursue you.

He’ll send the first text, he’ll ask you out and plan dates, and he’ll be trying to get closer to you rather than pulling away.

Don’t be cold, simply be cool. An added benefit here is that the relationship will develop much more slowly.

That way you build a solid foundation rather than jumping straight into a relationship. This will lead to a stronger, more intimate relationship in the long run.

It’s the best and only way to go from ghosted to girlfriend.

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Brad Browning

Brad Browning is widely regarded as the world's most trusted breakup experts, boasting over 12 years of experience working with clients from around the world. Brad's #1 best-selling breakup reversal guide, The Ex Factor , has helped more than 130,000 people from 131 countries to re-unite with an ex. Brad is also the author of Mend The Marriage , a comprehensive self-help guide that teaches married couples how to save their dying marriage and prevent divorce. Brad’s YouTube channel has over 400,000 subscribers and 50 million views, and he has been featured in a number of well-known media outlets and industry journals.

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Tracy S. Hutchinson, Ph.D.

8 Ways to Recover From Being Ghosted

Getting ghosted may be more about the other person than it is about you..

Posted January 10, 2023 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

  • What Is Ghosting?
  • Find a therapist near me
  • Ghosting is becoming more and more common as way to terminate a relationship, romantic or otherwise.
  • Victims of ghosting are often left feeling hurt and confused, and may blame themselves.
  • Often, however, ghosting is more about the ghoster's traits, such as an avoidant attachment style, than it is about the ghostee's.
  • Setting boundaries and treating yourself with compassion can help you move on from being ghosted.

It’s not Halloween, yet you were just ghosted.

Simply stated, ghosting is when someone suddenly stops communicating with you without telling you why. Researchers characterize it as a one-sided dissolution strategy where all communication is cut off with no explanation, either temporarily or likely permanently (LeFebvre et al., 2021). Evidence suggests it has become an increasingly common way to terminate a relationship.

Although the term is most commonly used in reference to romantic relationships , many of which are now initiated online, ghosting can occur in almost any relationship. Since the “ghoster” ends the relationship suddenly by stopping communication, it can leave the “ghostee” with unfinished business, confusion, and worsened mental health.

Although there is not yet extensive research on the phenomenon of ghosting, many of my clients deal with it, particularly in the realm of online dating . I argue that ghosting can, in certain situations, be considered emotionally abusive because it is a passive yet aggressive relational pattern that leaves those who are “ghosted” with feelings of low self-esteem , anxiety , betrayal, hurt, and confusion.

Why Do People Ghost?

Ghosting leaves people with questions. Many of my more self-aware clients often want to know why they got ghosted; often, they ask, "Is it them or me?"

If you have a history of being ghosted or of people removing themselves from your life, it may be beneficial to explore that further with a therapist. However, research has suggested that those who are more prone to ghosting may have personality characteristics that lead them to this easy exit strategy.

Someone who frequently ghosts others, for example, may suffer from emotional immaturity, have avoidant attachment styles, or perhaps have an undiagnosed personality disorder (i.e., narcissistic personality disorder ). Those high in the Dark Triad traits of narcissism, psychopathy , or Machiavellianism may engage in ghosting more often due to their lack of empathy, selfishly motivated perspective, and lack of maturity, which makes terminating a relationship difficult.

In one study, for example, researchers recruited participants (N = 341) and measured their attitudes toward ghosting in romantic relationships. Those who rated ghosting as an acceptable form of romantic termination tended to be higher in the Dark Triad traits of Machiavellianism and psychopathy. What's more, they found that those higher in Dark Triad traits believed that ghosting was more acceptable to terminate short-term relationships (vs. long-term ones).

8 Tips For Ghosting Recovery

Once you've been ghosted, how can you manage your confusion, anger , and hurt? Start with these strategies:

1. Realize that no response is, in fact, a response.

Sometimes, my clients are confused by the abrupt ending and continue to reach out to the ghoster for an explanation. It is important to realize that not responding actually speaks volumes and is a form of communication, even if it's one that you do not use or like. Remember: You deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect in any relationship; this includes effective communication, not avoidance.

2. Reframe the ghosting, and try not to take it personally.

An abrupt and unexplained ending likely has more to do with the ghoster than it has to do with you. For example, the other person may have commitment issues (i.e., avoidant attachment styles) that have been present long before your interactions with them. It can be beneficial to reframe your thoughts around your experience to minimize self-blame, using psychoeducation and research if you find it helpful.

3. Avoid the temptation to generalize future relationship outcomes.

It is important to recognize what I call "ghosting trauma ," which can lead you to catastrophize about future relationships or engage in all-or-nothing thinking (for example: "What's the point in dating again? All women/men act this way these days."). Such mindsets simply give more power to the ghoster and can negatively affect your approach to future relationships. Address this bad experience head-on, with the help of a therapist if necessary, to avoid falling into this trap.

man ghost me

4. Use mindfulness and self-compassion to heal.

Self-compassion techniques can help you acknowledge the hurt and grieve. What this looks like may differ depending on the length of the relationship and the frequency of your interactions with the ghoster.

When negative feelings arise, try noticing where you are feeling them in your body. Then, instead of pushing them away or trying to distract yourself, mentally say, “This is a moment of suffering” and sit with the feelings until they pass.

It can be helpful, too, to remind yourself that you are not alone in your suffering. "Everybody hurts," as they say; indeed, our ability to feel emotional pain is a part of our common humanity (Neff, 2016).

5. Spend time with people that love and accept you for who you are.

Process your feelings with your loved ones, or perhaps a therapist. Having your feelings and experiences validated, heard, and understood is the key to healing.

6 . Set boundaries .

Do not engage with the ghoster again, if possible. It's likely that this is a pattern of behavior for the ghoster (due, for example, to an avoidant attachment style). Rest assured that you are probably not the first person that this person has ghosted, nor will you be the last. Setting healthy boundaries for yourself is essential to avoid getting sucked back into their orbit.

7. Understand emotional immaturity .

Remember: Mentally healthy people have empathy and the ability to take others' perspectives. By contrast, many self-centered and emotionally immature individuals may engage in chronic ghosting.

The ability to have hard conversations is a cornerstone of emotional maturity. Most of us do not like conflict and endings can indeed be hard—but ghosting is usually just the easiest option, not the most honorable one.

8. Recognize patterns.

If you find yourself continuing to interact with people that suddenly disappear, it may be time to look within. Those who had adverse childhood experiences or who have been brought up in dysfunctional family environments may make excuses for others' behavior, minimize their own pain, and engage in co-dependent relationship dynamics. Identifying these patterns is the first step to breaking free from their grip.

Copyright 2022: Dr. Tracy Hutchinson

A version of this article also appears on www.drtracyhutchinson.com

Jonason, P. et al (2021). Leaving Without a Word: Ghosting and the Dark Triad Traits. Acta Psychologica , 220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2021.103425

L.Febvre, L. E., Allen, M., Rasner, R. D., Garstad, S., Wilms, A., & Parrish, C. (2019). Ghosting in Emerging Adults’ Romantic Relationships: The Digital Dissolution Disappearance Strategy. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 39(2), 125–150. https://doi.org/10.1177/0276236618820519

Navarro, R., Larrañaga, E., Yubero, S., & Víllora, B. (2020). Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health , 17 (3), 1116. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031116

Powell, D. N., Freedman, G., Williams, K. D., Le, B., & Green, H. (2021). A multi-study examination of attachment and implicit theories of relationships in ghosting experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(7), 2225–2248. https://doi.org/10.1177/02654075211009308

Tracy S. Hutchinson, Ph.D.

Tracy S. Hutchinson, Ph.D. , serves on the faculty at The College of William & Mary. She is also a consultant, psychotherapist, and clinical supervisor in private practice.

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