Why Do People Ghost?
Ghosting. It’s a word that’s now synonymous with modern dating, used to describe when someone you’ve been interacting with suddenly disappears without a trace. No text, no call, no letter, no smoke signal… Nothing. It’s so rife within our culture, it has its very own Wikipedia page.
I’ve been ghosted more times than I can count and it hurts. It’s a form of rejection, pure and simple, and when we experience rejection, our natural reaction is to blame ourselves. I would overthink what went wrong, specifically what I did wrong, why I wasn’t good enough, what I could have done differently, you name it. Pair this with crippling anxiety and low self-esteem and being ghosted would leave me feeling utterly worthless.
But then, something changed. I started to understand the reasons why people do it because I was doing it, too.
Now, I don’t condone ghosting. It’s still a horrible thing to put another person through, but there are varying degrees. Cutting off contact with someone you’ve never even met compared to someone you’ve been dating for a while is a different ball game. But, the thing about being ghosted several times is it desensitises you to doing it to others. That’s why it’s such an epidemic in the online dating world; it has become the norm.
So, why do people ghost? I wanted to share some of the reasons I’ve discovered from being on both sides. If you’ve ever been ghosted and still long for closure, I hope this helps you accept that it wasn’t your fault. If you’ve ever ghosted someone else, I hope this helps you understand why you did it and maybe reconsider doing it again in future.
It’s a cliché, but I’ve learned that it can be true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that if someone likes you, they will make the time to talk to you. Those that don’t aren’t worth your time. But, life can (and should) take priority sometimes.
When using Bumble this year, I often let matches expire and conversations die because I didn’t have the time to respond to them. If you’re not familiar with Bumble, you only have 24 hours to message your match and they only have 24 hours to respond, otherwise, they disappear. This isn’t a massive window if you’ve had a busy day and haven’t had a chance to think of that killer opening message.
Beyond dating apps, I often read messages and intend to reply later, only to completely forget. Thanks to smartphones, a few hours can feel like days when you’re waiting for a response. But, you can usually gauge how quickly someone normally replies when you first start chatting to them. If this is getting longer and longer, or you’re the one who always has to send the first message, you’re being ghosted, I’m afraid.
They’re talking to too many people
Another one I’ll hold my hands up and say I was guilty of this year, I spread myself way too thin. The joy and curse of dating apps is there’s always more people. We’re completely spoiled for choice and always have the lingering thought that someone better is out there, so keep swiping. It can also be genuinely addictive and we get an ego boost every time we get a match – it’s proof someone finds us attractive, after all.
I approached online dating with both barrels this year and (tried to) message every single person I matched with. Even with an app like Bumble that tries to encourage interaction through time limits, you get a lot of people not replying. So, I expected this when I messaged lots of people.
What I didn’t expect was the amount that actually did respond and carried a decent conversation. I was soon spinning way too many plates and would often forget what I’d discussed with whom. How did I weed some out? Yup, I ghosted them.
They don’t take dating seriously
It’s fair to say dating apps have been normalised and the stigma that once surrounded swiping to find love is (almost) a thing of the past. Great! That means there are loads of people on them, so the odds of finding someone are higher. But, once you’ve been around the block a few times, you realise the majority of them don’t take dating apps seriously.
Tinder is undoubtedly still the most popular dating app there is, but that has become its problem. While it has tried hard to shake off its reputation for hook-ups, it’s rare to find someone on it that’s looking for something long-term. A lot of people are on it for something to do when they’re bored and don’t even intend to chat with anyone, let alone meet them. I’ve officially given up on Tinder, which is why I put my energy into Bumble this year.
But, you still get people who are not invested in any app they use. It’s easy to view people as disposable in a world where we’ve reduced each other to pictures and bios. We don’t owe these strangers anything, so why bother to respond if you don’t want to? It’s sad, but it’s true.
They’re not interested anymore
As the saying goes, they’re just not that into you – anymore. You never know how things are going to turn out when you first start chatting to someone. You also have no idea how you’re going to feel when you actually meet them. You might get on like a house on fire or the spark might quickly extinguish.
We’re all within our rights to change our minds. You might meet up with someone after talking for a while, but don’t feel any chemistry. Maybe you start talking to someone new who has more in common with you. Whatever the reason may be, rather than having a potentially awkward conversation with your current fling, you may just choose to never message them again.
Personally, I think this is okay to do if you’ve only been on one date. Chances are, the other person will have felt it wasn’t going very well either. But, if you’ve been on more than one date and you thought it was going well, only for them to disappear…
If you don’t have the decency to let someone down gently you’ve most probably seen naked, you’re a coward. Well, you’re a lot of other things too, but coward is the politest way to put it.
This is when the nastier side of ghosting comes into play, the one that leaves you feeling insignificant. It’s just too easy to cut contact with someone you no longer wish to see by ignoring them until they go away. It’s childish and pathetic, but reflects entirely on them and not you.
What makes ghosting especially painful, though, is they rarely disappear entirely thanks to social media. All it takes is a quick search and there they are again, living their life without you. That’s why it’s so important to stop yourself from doing this, as it will only make you feel bad. Block them if you have to, but avoid social media stalking for your own sake.
They got what they wanted
Speaking of the nasty side of ghosting, this one stings. While it may be possible to judge who only wants one thing on dating apps, it isn’t always obvious. Sometimes that’s because people genuinely don’t know what they want. Usually, it’s because they’re lying.
One of my worst experiences on Tinder was dating a guy who didn’t tell me he was in an open relationship. When I challenged him about why he didn’t make that explicit, he said he used to tell people, but he “wasn’t having any luck” so stopped. Arsehole.
Sadly, there are people out there who will just use you for own benefit, then ditch you. I’ve made my fair share of poor judgements and had to deal with the aftermath of being used many times. It’s one of the worst feelings imaginable. So, if you’re one of those people, be more upfront about your intentions and try harder to find others who want the same as you.
They deleted the app
Another one I’m guilty of, but unashamedly this time. Sometimes people ghost because they’ve deleted the app or their account entirely. Fun fact, if you think deleting a dating app from your phone removes your profile, it doesn’t. So, if you want to leave the scene for good, you have to manually delete your account.
Dating apps can be hard work. It takes time to look for matches, start conversations, keep them going, and arrange dates. It can also be tedious to have the same chats over and over again with different people, not to mention mentally draining when it feels like you’re getting nowhere.
We all need a break sometimes, so it’s common to delete the apps for a while, then download them again when you feel like giving it another go. I do this all the time without thinking about any conversations I’m in the middle of.
They’ve found someone
…who isn’t you.
This is the one we’re all aiming for, the endgame to all this effort. If you’ve finally found someone, whether that be through online dating or real life (apparently that’s still possible), you’re unlikely to bother letting anyone else you were talking to know. Sure, it might be polite, but it could also make you look like a giant twat.
Of course, it’s always a bit disappointing to see someone you were dating with someone else. But don’t worry, you’ll get the last laugh when you see them back on Tinder in a few weeks…
Until next time,