Getting ghosted hurts. It’s painful, disorienting, and makes it difficult to build trust in future relationships because you’re always wondering if the next person is going to 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. 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 with no sense of closure, something that is particularly damaging for young adults who are still learning to cultivate healthy relationships.
That behavior shows a lack of maturity and a complete lack of 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.
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.
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.