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7 Unspoken Reasons Why People Ghost

Convenience, lack of communication skills, and more.

Key points

  • Ghosting is a frustrating experience that can leave the other person feeling confused, hurt, and rejected.
  • Some reasons for ghosting are convenience, lack of communication skills, and a desire to protect other person's feelings.
  • No matter the reason, ghosting can be a hurtful, and it is important to be open and honest with dating partners whenever possible.

Online dating has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. With the rise of technology, it’s no surprise that online dating has become an attractive option for many. While it can be a great way to connect with new people, it also has its downsides—one of which is ghosting.

Ghosting can happen in any interpersonal relationship—but in the realm of dating, the term is typically used when someone you have been talking to or dating suddenly stops responding to messages or calls without any explanation. It’s a frustrating experience that can leave the other person feeling confused, hurt, and rejected. It’s especially common in online dating in particular, where people can easily move on to the next potential match without any explanation.

Why Do People Ghost?

Why not engage in a more direct and honest conversation about not wanting to pursue the relationship further? Findings from scientific research offer several answers to this question, suggesting that one or more of the below factors are often at play.

1. Convenience. One of the main reasons why people decide to ghost someone instead of engaging in direct conversation is pure convenience. Ghosting is practical and less confrontational than other strategies.

2. Perceived lack of skills. In a recent study, Thomas and Dubar (2021) revealed that one motivation to avoid confrontation is that ghosters may believe they don’t have the communication skills needed to engage in open and honest conversations about the relationship.

3. No alternative solution. In some cases, people have tried other strategies to end the relationship before deciding to ghost someone. For example, in a study by Timmermans et al. (2021), ghosters revealed that they had ghosted someone because this other person refused to accept their reasons for rejection, and they felt they had no alternative solution.

4. Undesirable behavior by the other person. Timmermans et al. (2021) also found that the question of why people choose to ghost can often be explained by the undesirable behavior of the person being ghosted—including, but not limited to, pushy, racist, or disrespectful actions. They also found that some ghosters became afraid for their own safety, fearing verbal abuse or even stalking if they continued the relationship or tried to end it in a more direct way.

5. Justified by the length and intensity of the relationship. Some ghosters believe that ghosting is justified when they have invested very little time and effort in the relationship, thinking that, in this case, no explanation is needed for breaking off contact (LeFebvre et al., 2019).

6. Protect the feelings of the person being ghosted. While most motivations for ghosting concern the ghoster’s feelings and wishes, some people decide to ghost someone because they want to spare the other person’s feelings and don’t want them to feel hurt and rejected (Thomas & Dubar, 2021).

7. It’s the "new normal." In their study, Timmermans et al. (2021) also found that some people ghost because they believe it has become a default way to end a relationship in online dating. This belief is strengthened by the fact that some key features of dating apps, such as the option to simply delete a match, facilitate ghosting.

These research findings offer some insight into the reasons why people ghost others. But no matter the reason, being ghosted can be a hurtful and confusing experience and may even lead to a lack of trust in future romantic relationships. Except in cases where you fear for your own safety, it's generally best to be open and honest with your dating partners about your feelings and intentions to avoid hurt and confusion. This way, online dating can become a more positive and enjoyable experience for all.

Facebook image: Eak.Temwanich/Shutterstock


LeFebvre, 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.

Thomas, J. O., & Dubar, R. T. (2021). Disappearing in the age of hypervisibility: Definition, context, and perceived psychological consequences of social media ghosting. Psychology of Popular Media.

Timmermans, E., Hermans, A. M., & Opree, S. J. (2021). Gone with the wind: Exploring mobile daters’ ghosting experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(2), 783-801.

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