why do people ghost

The Psychology Behind Ghosting on Dating Apps

Getting rejected by a potential romantic partner always hurts, but if you were rejected by the act of “ghosting,” the rejection might hurt even more. With more people turning to dating apps to find their significant other, ghosting is on the rise. 

A 2019 study found that 29% of participants have ghosted someone, and 25% were ghosted by someone themselves. So, if you have been talking with someone on a dating app for weeks, or maybe even went on a date with them and then they disappeared know that you’re not alone!

Being ghosted can be a very unpleasant and hurtful experience, and with the lack of closure, some people find it difficult to move on. So, if you have been recently ghosted and want to find an explanation for why, let’s look at the reasons why people chose to ghost. 

The science behind ghosting on dating apps

What is ghosting? 

Ghosting is an act of abruptly cutting off all contact with a person. That includes ignoring their phone calls, texts, emails, social media DMs, and all other means of communication. While people mostly talk about ghosting in a romantic relationship world, it also applies to friendships and even work relationships (for example: quitting your job without letting your boss know counts as ghosting). 

Why do people ghost?

It might be a surprise to you, but there are actually a few reasons why people choose to ghost potential romantic partners, and it’s not because they are a-holes. Here’s what researchers have found about why some people love to ghost: 

They are just not that into you

A 2019 BuzzFeed survey on ghosting revealed that even 81% of participants have ghosted someone on a dating app because they weren’t into them. In that same survey when participants were asked when they believe someone owed them closure, the majority of the participants (70%+) said that only if you went on more than one date, had sex, and met each other’s friends does someone owe them an explanation to ending a relationship.

So, if you have been ghosted after texting with someone for weeks, it might be that they just aren’t into you, and don’t consider telling you a priority that early in a relationship. 

Life got in the way

While it’s not a valid reason to cease all communication with someone and leave them confused, one reason why people might ghost is that life got in the way and they chose to pause on dating. 

Major life events like family issues, sickness, or work troubles can all act as major stressors in a person’s life, and that might be a reason why they choose to cut off communication to ease the tension they are experiencing. 

Depression

One of the things that people with depression struggle with is isolation and pushing people away. During a depressive episode, someone might feel low and lack the energy to maintain contact with friends and even romantic partners. So, it might be that the person you were talking to is experiencing a depressive episode, and that is why they disappeared without an explanation. 

Boredom 

One study found that many people use dating apps as a way to cure boredom, and researchers believe that it might be a reason for ghosting. Some people join dating apps to distract themselves from boredom, and they might message back and forth a bit, but because they are not truly interested in making genuine connections, they often stop responding. 

It might be hard to know for sure whether a person you’re messaging on a dating app is genuinely interested in finding a romantic partner, or they’re simply there to pass the time. But a good indication might be whether or not their messages are engaged from the start. 

Short, one or few-word answers and lack of interest in asking you questions might be good indications that they are not serious, and might just be swiping left and right because they are bored. Keeping this in mind might be useful when trying to protect yourself from being ghosted. 

Avoiding confrontation 

A small study found that some people might ghost to avoid conflict. 16% of respondents said that the reason why they ghosted someone on a dating app was because they didn’t want to hurt their feelings with a rejection, and thought that simply cutting off all communication was a better option. 

It’s all about their attachment style

Every one of us has an attachment style that forms early on in our lives and affects the way we show up in relationships. There are four different attachment styles:

  • Secure attachment
  • Avoidant attachment
  • Anxious attachment
  • Disorganized attachment

People with avoidant and anxious attachment styles might be more prone to ghosting because they have trouble processing and communicating feelings. 

You were not their soulmate

A small study led by psychologist Gili Freedman, Ph.D. found a very interesting connection between beliefs in destiny and ghosting. Even 60% of people who had strong beliefs in destiny (meaning they believe in soulmates and “the one” when it comes to romantic relationships) believed that ghosting is an acceptable way to end a romantic relationship. 

So, it might be that if a person you’ve been talking to doesn’t think you two are meant to be, they might choose to ghost you instead of having a conversation about ending a relationship. 

It has nothing to do with you

Sadly, some people tend to blame themselves for being ghosted. In a 2021 study researchers found that 37% of respondents who were ghosted believed it was their fault. The respondents were convinced that they were ghosted because they were not good enough, not attractive enough, or not interesting enough, amongst other things. 

A portion of the participants thought that they did something wrong, which caused the person they were talking to to ghost them, and some believed that refusing to have sex during a date or even their job had influence. 

One important thing to know about being ghosted is that it is never about you, but about the other person who did the ghosting. Most often, it shows the other person’s inability to communicate and express their feelings, lack of respect for other people’s time, and their immaturity. 

It is natural to seek closure and explanation if you have been ghosted. But try to avoid shifting the blame onto yourself, and thinking that it’s your fault you were ghosted. 

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