One of the biggest banes of modern dating is “ghosting”. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to many women and men that I know, and it happens on a disturbingly regular basis.
The seemingly agreed upon definition of ghosting is:
“the complete absence of contact after multiple interactions/dates have occurred, some form of intimacy, physical or emotional, had taken place, and a reasonable expectation of regular contact and interaction had been established.”
So, to be clear, I’m not talking about one or two alright dates, then poof, no contact. To feel the true impact of a ghosting, some sort of emotional and physical connection must have been made. And that impact can be emotional and spiritual.
To be ghosted on leaves the ghosted wondering a great many things, and asking a great many questions. Did I do or say something wrong? Did I come on too strong? Did he/she just meet someone else? Why would someone just disappear after what we shared together? It’s a terrible feeling, to be put in a position to have all these questions and more go through your mind. And more often than not, these questions never get answered. Until today.
After conducting some more qualitative research (ie, conducting a Facebook poll), I’m now able to share some insight as to why guys ghost on the girls they date. Disclaimer: my experiences come from my place as a cisgender heterosexual woman dating heterosexual cisgender men, that’s the perspective that I’m sharing, as that’s what was shared with me.
It’s just easier
Multiple men reached out to me with this reason. It’s not an easy thing to reach out to someone to let her know that you no longer care to spend time with her. What is easy is just disappearing all together. And pulling that disappearing act is also made quite easy by our digital lifestyle. Ignoring a text or two, or not sending a text at all, is far easier than taking the time to text or text back. To quote one of the braver men who answered my poll:
“It’s easier to just stop and disappear, than to explain yourself to someone, to tell them to their face that you are no longer interested in spending time with them, that they don’t meet your standards for a relationship/hook up/whatever – or to go even deeper and explain that you used them for your own selfish motives and that you may not have even been all that conscious or care about them at all. Ghosting helps avoid any possibility of addressing personal feelings.”
Quantity Over Quality
In an age of dating apps and hook up culture, many daters out there value quantity over quality, and ghosting just helps streamline those activities. When dating is just a numbers game to you, you stop seeing the people you date as human beings with feelings, but as fun companions for a brief period that don’t necessarily merit any further consideration. And so, ghosting becomes the default way to end those brief periods of fun.
No, just, no
It’s inevitable; not everyone you date will be a good fit. But sometimes, rather than point out the fundamental differences that are blocking a meaningful connection, it’s easier to…you guessed it, ghost! To quote another brave poll responder:
“Either there was something about the person, physically or personality-wise, that just didn’t vibe [and it felt like] a waste of time to even continue the connection.”
In the early stages of dating, it’s easy for one incident, or an offhand statement, to stick in the mind of one side of the budding relationship. And in our disposable dating culture, when things don’t feel exactly right, right away, we are far more inclined to jump ship than stick around to see if those little issues were one-offs or major character flaws.
Girls just FEEL too much
According to one guy in the poll, sometimes girls are just too intense, or just feel too hard, and therefore merit a good ghosting. According to him:
“[Some girls are] too needy. We don’t need to message each other everyday if we just met.”
An overindulgence in communication, or an indication that you’ve OD’d on the feels; these reasons and more are reasons why some guys will just walk away without warning.
Sometimes guys feel too, though
As in life as well as dating, women aren’t the only ones that are guilty of feeling the feels. More than one of the men polled confessed to ghosting because of their feelings, rather than a lack thereof. A feelings related factor can be the guy’s relationship history. One guy confessed that being fresh out of a very long term relationship lead to him ghosting on his newest companion. Between his latent feelings for his ex and his surprising burgeoning feelings for his new fling, he found himself overwhelmed, and ghosting was the easy way out.
Feelings don’t always necessarily have to be the romantic kind. Feelings for a fellow human can develop in a casual dating situation, but not necessarily ones that would lead to a relationship. But when one side of the equation starts to tip in the direction of romance, when the other is just enjoying a casual connection, that’s when things get dicey. In cases such as these, men confessed to ghosting as a way to spare feelings, be it the ghostee’s or their own. To quote one gentleman:
“I think ghosting happens when you like the person and don’t want to hurt them. It’s easy to tell someone you don’t like why you don’t want to see them anymore. It’s more difficult if you like them or have some sort of connection with them.”
While that may not make sense to all of us, it seems to make sense to a lot of guys.
One thing multiple guys mentioned to me was that they were able to more easily dismiss a burgeoning relationship when they’d classified the lady in question as not being girlfriend material. Essentially, upon going into the situation, a guy will have already determined that the situation doesn’t have long term potential. So they’re more easily able to just drop contact when, in their minds, the relationship had run its course.
There’s someone else
This one is pretty straightforward. In this day and age of countless ways of meeting someone new, it’s not surprising that distractions can occur. People also tend to multitask when dating, with multiple people in the running for the role of “partner” until someone differentiates him or herself from the pack. When that happens, inevitably the rest of the contestants get dropped, usually by way of ghosting.
Breaking up is hard to do
Let’s face it, unless you’re a sociopath, no one enjoys a break up, no matter what side of the equation you’re on. If you’re on the receiving end, you’re likely to end up hurt or angry, or some combination of the two. If you’re on the giving end, then you’ve just made someone you care about feel hurt or angry or a combination of the two. Neither situation is pleasant, so it’s not surprising that some men just avoid it altogether by, you guessed it, ghosting.
Doing it in the Dark
Lack of communication about the status of a relationship seems to be the root of a lot of ghosting situations. When you’re spending a fair amount of time together, enjoying physical intimacy and going on awesome dates, assumptions can be made as to the state of affairs at hand; ie at least one person in the operation will assume that they are dating.
With people dating far more casually, communication, while still key, is often avoided. To quote one guy:
“I think that ghosting also comes out of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” dating culture that is so obviously about non-exclusive relationships of the partners involved, but non-disclosure of what’s going on outside that relationship. That unknown zone is where problems occur, assumptions are made, anxieties happen.”
People could be more clear with each other about what they’re hoping for in a dating situation, be it openness or exclusivity, being serious or casual, or just saying what one truly wants. So when it comes to ghosting, one person may think they’re in a chill, casual situation where it’s a viable option to end things. The other person however may feel like a more direct and respectful ending is warranted. When such a misunderstanding happens, hurt feelings, confusion and upsets come with it.
I will say that that the exercise of researching this article, I actually regained some faith in humanity, specifically men. There were a few men who reached out to me who had never ghosted, and were just as appalled by the practice as those who have experienced it. On the other hand, the guys that were brave enough to share their personal ghosting stories with me showed remorse regarding their actions. When asked if they would apologize to their ghostees, they said yes.
And isn’t that what anyone who’s been ghosted on really wants?
Have you ever ghosted/been ghosted on? Share your experiences with us on social media at @weraddicted!