Dating guides and tips

Ghosting? What Does it Really Mean?

The term “ghosting” first appeared in the early 2000s. It has nothing to do with Halloween, but it can certainly get you pretty frightened when it happens to you. What exactly is ghosting? Why do people do it? How should you handle it when it happens to you? All of these questions and more we will be answering in today’s blog.

What is Ghosting?

As we said, the term ‘ghosting’ is nothing about actual ghosts or the occult, but it’s certainly enough to get you feeling the fear factor. Have you ever met someone, either online on a dating site or in person, you connect on WhatsApp and things start of great? You’re texting them and everything seems fine, but then suddenly…boom…they’re gone!

You sent a message, maybe asking them how their day is going, but there’s no reply. You follow up a while later with a simple ‘?’ or a smiley face emoji, but still nothing. The night passes and you reach 24 hours with no response. The fear should have kicked in by now. Do you keep following up? Will it seem pushy? Even with one more push you get nothing back this person, zip, nada, diddly squat.

What does it mean? It means you just got ghosted.

The fact is that ghosting can happen at almost any point during your relationship with someone. You might have just met them online and have been chatting for a day or two. You might have been out on a few dates with them. You might even have slept together several times and even dated steadily for several weeks or even months. Ghosting is not particular to any exact moment. It seems to just happen out of nowhere.

Why Might Someone Ghost You?

The fact is, however, that ghosting won’t just happen completely out of nowhere. There are often reasons for ghosting, some of which might sound reasonable, but others are just frustrating and even heart-breaking.

Here are some of the reasons someone might ghost you:

1. They’ve Lost Interest

Let’s start with the most brutal and often hardest-to-accept reason that someone is ghosting you — they just aren’t into your any more. It’s horrible to think and say out loud, but it is one of the biggest reason that someone would ghost you. BuzzFeed did a survey back in 2019 that discovered an astonishing 81 percent of participants claimed to have ghosted someone for this very reason. That’s a pretty strong sampling.

2. They’ve Met Someone Else

Online dating made the process a lot more efficient, but in the smartphone age it has frankly entered hyperspace. Between all the various social networking apps that are designed to connect nearby people for dates (and more), you could be having several whirlwind online romances in a single day.

You’ll spend the whole morning talking to one new person, maybe even get together for lunch with a second, go back to your place for some afternoon fun with another? It would sound ridiculous to some, but modern technology has made this fantastical day a potential reality for anyone with a smartphone and lots of energy.

That could be how you got ghosted so quickly? The moment passed and they moved on to someone else. In fact, this could happen with any length of connection. Someone you’ve been out with on several dates might just crave that spark of a new connection and will ghost you to chase the latest exciting thing they discovered.

3. They Think You Don’t Like Them

This one is a bit of a thinker, but it’s possible. If you’ve been texting with someone, or been out on a few dates with someone before suddenly being ghosted, it doesn’t hurt to self-reflect a little. Did you say something online, perhaps in just, that could have been misconstrued by the Internet’s lack of ability to show irony? Were you acting too aloof on your date?

These kinds of behaviour could come across as cold or even hostile to the other person. They might wonder why they should bother continuing this connection with someone who doesn’t feel much for them.

4. They Are Busy

This is the one that we all want to believe when we are ghosted. We’ll tell it to ourselves over and over, “they’re just busy.” It’s what keeps us going through the ghosting period, hoping to high heaven that the busy period will pass and we’ll finally get that call or message, “So sorry I haven’t been in touch! It’s been crazy busy here!”

Some call it wishful thinking, and most of the time it is. On select occasions, however, it’s absolutely on the money. Work can really take over one’s mind and daily schedule to the point where they truly don’t even think to send social messages to anyone.

5. There Was a Gap in Communication

Sometimes what starts as a gap in the communication between the two of you can result in your being ghosted. If it’s online, there could be a flurry of messaging and texting through the morning or afternoon. It feels great as you chat, and you start to picture that this person might be a real love connection.

After that, there’s a lull. It’s usually preceded by a perfunctory message like “haha” or “lol” or a simple emoji. The conversation dies and it never truly rekindles. The same can happen with dating. You might have been out with them three times in a week. Then, one of you goes on business for the weekend, or someone’s relatives come to visit. The gap created by the interruption can be a real romance killer.

6. It’s Just Who They Are

Finally, some people ghost because it’s hard-wired into their romantic DNA. Further above we talked about how some people might be dating you or chatting with you online, but they quickly just move on to another new thing. This kind of person actually loves being single, and they just crave the spark and warm feeling of new connections. They really have no intent on taking them any further than those first few dates or conversations.

In other words, it might just be them, and not you.

What Should You Do If You Get Ghosted?

No one can deny, getting ghosted is a horrible feeling. Emotions, connections and relationships in the modern world of social media move quickly. The result of that is that we often greatly invest our emotions into people within quite a short time, be it via our online communication or face-to-face communication.

All of this means that even if it happens after a very short time; a time that our parents might advise us is “a mere blink of an eye” and that we shouldn’t worry about, we still feel bad after being ghosted.

Here are some tips on how to react:

1. Keep Calm and Carry On

If you suspect you’re being ghosted, take a deep breath, put down your phone, keep breathing, have a cup of tea and remain calm. There’s no need and no use in getting agitated or worried about it. After it’s happened, or you think it’s happened, just close the chat/text window, leave your phone on one side and carry on with your day as best you can.

2. Don’t Send Endless Question Marks

After being ghosted, there’s nothing quite so undignified as an endless one-sided stream of question marks coming from you every few hours. If they are too busy, then they won’t see any of the messages and the constant beeping/vibrating of the phone might just be irritating them or putting them in a hard position at work.

3. Try to Be Philosophical

A philosophical approach to ghosting is the healthiest way to deal with it. Think of being ghosted as a lucky escape; as dodging a bullet. Since ghosting mostly happens very early in a connection or relationship with someone, you can be thankful that you weren’t dragged through a long relationship before they finally dumped you in a blaze of glory.

If they have ghosted you, then it wasn’t meant to be. Genuine spark and connection bring genuine feelings, and that person will want to talk to you and be with you. If they are deliberately ghosting, then they don’t. Better you know now and deal with it directly. This is where being philosophical helps. Que sera, sera!

4. Don’t Get Angry

In an above point, we said that there’s nothing so undignified as an endless stream of one-way question marks. In fact, there is one more thing that is less dignified, and that’s a stream of angry and/or abusive messages telling the person how much you hate them for ghosting you.

Anger, frustration, vitriol, cursing…all of them are paving stones on the path to the relationship dark side. Once you tread this path, you are entering into the realm of unhealthy behaviour like social media stalking, actual physical stalking, getting drunk and then sending long and pleasing voice mails. It’s a truly dark place and should be avoided.

Ghosting: An Unfortunate Phenomenon – Deal with It

In the end, you have little to no control over who ghosts you and who doesn’t. If you have an active social and dating life, you are bound to run into ghosting, meaning you will have to deal with it sooner or later.

Follow our advice on remaining calm, avoiding angry feelings, channelling your energies toward productive activities, and trying to remain patient and philosophical throughout. There’s a definite “pain period” where it feels impossible to get through, but it passes faster than you think when you approach it right.