Getting ghosted hurts. It’s painful and disorienting and makes it difficult to build trust in future relationships because you’re always wondering if the next person will disappear, too.
We know that ghosting says a lot more about the ghoster than the ghostee, but do ghosters ever feel guilty about what they’ve done?
Should you care?
Let’s dive in.
Do ghosters feel guilty about ghosting?
Sometimes. A recent study of primarily female college students showed that 65% of respondents who ghosted felt some level of anxiety and guilt over what they had done. Interestingly enough, much of that anxiety centered around running into that person again or crossing paths on social media.
Guilt over ghosting doesn’t, however, always translate to regretting the behavior.
In their minds, ghosting someone instead of more directly rejecting them is kinder. However, anyone on the receiving end of ghosting knows that isn’t true.
What is particularly interesting is how that guilt manifests among chronic ghosters. Read an article or think piece on ghosting, and you’ll notice a trend:
Many ghosters, especially repeat offenders, not only think ghosting is a kinder way to stop seeing someone, but they don’t believe they did anything wrong.
If they experience any feelings of guilt, they will address it by engaging in even more avoidant behavior, like blocking their ghostee on social media.
They will do anything to avoid being called out or confronted about their ghosting behavior, a trait common in narcissistic ghosters especially. Their guilt is not rooted in empathy for the person they’ve hurt.
Ghosting is usually about immaturity and fear.
Usually, people ghost because they are afraid of confrontation.
Respondents in the aforementioned study claimed they ghosted because they didn’t want to hurt the ghostee’s feelings. What they’re really trying to say is they don’t want to bear witness to hurting the other person’s feelings.
The ghostee will get hurt and be left to wonder what happened without closure, which is particularly damaging for young adults still learning to cultivate healthy relationships.
That behavior shows both a lack of maturity and respect for the other person.
It will eventually filter into other aspects of a ghoster’s life.
By dodging opportunities to build emotional intimacy and trust through healthy conflict, the ghoster fails to sharpen critical life skills to help them succeed in their personal and professional endeavors.
It means being unable to have difficult conversations or address conflicts, both of which are unavoidable as an adult.
Other Reasons People Ghost:
Besides immaturity, there are many other reasons people ghost, including:
- Fear of confrontation: Humans are wired to avoid uncomfortable conversations because they find it cognitively costly and draining. Ghosting is the ultimate manifestation of that fear.
- Lack of interest: Sometimes people ghost because they aren’t interested and don’t believe they owe you an explanation. They disappear and expect you’ll get the point, which is honestly another facet of fearing confrontation.
- They’re already in a relationship: Sometimes, people ghost because they are already in a relationship but wanted to explore other options. This is common among monkey branchers who like to swing from one relationship to the next. It could be they decided to stay with their current partner.
- They’re emotionally unavoidable: Some people struggle with intimacy. They have what is called an avoidant attachment style and struggle with abandonment issues. This is common among people who experienced trauma or neglect as a child and those who struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder. If they sense someone is getting too close, they may ghost to protect themselves from future pain.
What if the ghoster comes back?
Just because a ghoster comes back does not mean they have good intentions or feel guilty about ghosting you.
Ghosters come back for all kinds of reasons.
- They’re bored.
- They’re looking for a hookup.
- They want to know you’re still single (but not because they want to date you)
- They’ve changed (unlikely, but possible)
If a ghoster returns because they feel guilty, you will know because they will apologize and own their bad behavior. But these are rare exceptions. In most cases, ghosters belong in the rearview mirror.
How To Cope With Being Ghosted:
Whether your ghoster feels bad or not, you still have to deal with the emotional fallout, which makes this behavior all the more infuriating.
As much as I wish I could provide a magic eraser to delete the entire experience from memory, the reality is, we have to deal with ghosting head-on.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
Ultimately, whether a ghoster feels guilty is unimportant.
What matters is that you take care of yourself and take their ghosting as a blessing in disguise.
You do not need an emotionally immature person paralyzed by the thought of confrontation in your life.
Good-hearted adults out there will at least give you the courtesy of closure. And if our ghosters feel guilty about what they’ve done, they did it to themselves. May they get the therapy they need to be better humans.