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This Is What Happens When You Ghost Someone

Imagine you’ve gone on a few dates with someone. The first couple of dates were cool, but it’s already fizzling. 

They still seem into you, but you’re not feeling it anymore. 

It’s probably time to cut things off, but a confrontation is the last thing you want to do right now. 

I mean, you guys met online. You’ve only hung out a few times. It’s not that serious. 

You can stop replying to messages, and they’ll get the hint eventually, right? 

Maybe. 

But you’re not considering what happens when you ghost someone like this, what it does to the other person, and how it can negatively affect you. 

So let’s talk about that!

What does it mean when you ghost a person?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘ghosting,’ here’s a quick breakdown. (If you already know, feel free to skip this part.)

Ghosting someone means you stop communicating with them, usually abruptly and without warning. 

Although ghosting is frequently used to talk about people disappearing in dating situations, it doesn’t have to be.

People also ghost in friendships and professional relationships. 

The acceptability of ghosting is increasing, becoming a common phenomenon among Millennials and Gen Z. According to a recent survey from The Huffington Post, more than half of Americans say they’ve been ghosted at some point.

The number of people who report being on both sides of the equation is even more interesting. 

A 2019 study in the journal Imagination, Cognition, and Personality found that 44.2% of participants aged 18-29 had been ghosted and ghosted someone else.

As ghosting becomes more common, it’s important to talk about what it does to people.

A woman holds her hair back from her face and looks down, sad. Beside her is a graphic of a cell phone with a heart on the screen. It is x'ed out by a circle slash. The title reads What happens when you ghost someone?
What happens when you ghost someone?

What does ghosting someone do to them?

Ghosting can do a lot of damage to the ghostee.

It might seem like a harmless way to end a short-term relationship, but there are real consequences.

When you ghost someone, you put them through unnecessary emotional distress. People who have been ghosted report the following:

  • Internalized feelings of self-criticism and self-doubt
  • An inability to trust future partners
  • Fear that someone will ghost them again
  • Frustration over a lack of closure
  • Feeling “not good enough” 
  • Decreased self-esteem and self-worth
  • Feeling disposable

When you ghost someone, you leave them with many unanswered questions that negatively impact their ability to trust future partners and form healthy relationships. 

Why Ghosting Is Toxic

There are several reasons why ghosting someone isn’t just rude — it’s toxic.

First, it hurts people. When you ghost someone, you’re not only hurting them, you’re hurting yourself as well. (More on that in a minute)

Second, ghosting is disrespectful. It shows no regard for the other person’s time and energy. If you don’t want to spend time with someone, that’s fine, but give them the courtesy of saying so.

Third, ghosting is inconsiderate. It’s rude to ignore someone’s attempts to reach out to you. This includes phone calls, texts, and social media. 

Finally, ghosting is selfish. It’s one thing to break up with someone because you’re done with the relationship (we’ve all been there). It’s another thing entirely to ghost someone without giving them any kind of explanation. 

If you want more information on ghosting, especially if you got ghosted, here’s a great video for you:

Is it ever OK to ghost someone?

The biggest exception to the “don’t ghost people” rule is when you ghost someone out of concern for your own safety and well-being. 

Let’s say you go out with someone you met through a dating app. When you meet in person, the vibe is strange. They come on strong, and you don’t feel comfortable.

Maybe they say something that is an immediate red flag. 

If you meet someone who weirds you out or makes you feel intimidated, it’s okay to block their number and move on without saying something. 

This is not to be confused with going on a couple of dates with someone who isn’t a good match.

If they’re harmless but not for you, give them the courtesy of a “This isn’t working for me, but good luck to you” text. You don’t have to engage in a conversation about it, but at least they know. 

Does ghosting hurt the ghoster?

It does! But maybe not in the way you think. In the short term, the ghoster may feel relief for dodging a difficult conversation and being rid of someone they didn’t want to see anymore. 

In the long term, however, ghosting can negatively impact the ghoster’s personal and professional life. 

Ghosting is a warning sign of emotional immaturity.

People with a history of ghosting struggle to form meaningful emotional connections, which impacts their ability to find healthy relationships when they’re ready to settle down. 

A sad ghost with a broken heart wonders "why?". The title reads Does ghosting hurt the ghoster?
Does ghosting hurt the ghoster?

It’s also a sign that you fear confrontation and commitment.

Having difficult conversations with other people is a critical life skill. You won’t be able to advance personally or professionally without it. 

By dodging difficult conversations through ghosting, you remain emotionally stunted, which will come back to bite you later in life. 

People do not become successful entrepreneurs or managers by avoiding difficult conversations. If you want to achieve things in life, you must be tougher. 

For more on this, visit “What Ghosting Says About You.” 

What To Do Instead of Ghosting Someone

Instead of ghosting someone, be direct. Tell them you no longer want to see them. 

It’s up to you to decide how you want to do this, but here are a few guidelines:

  • For long-term relationships, have a face-to-face conversation. 
  • For short-term relationships, a face-to-face conversation may be warranted if you were starting to get serious. On the other hand, if it was mostly casual, a text, email, or message is fine. 
  • If it’s someone you barely know or met via online dating apps, a text is sufficient.

What To Say Instead Of Ghosting Someone

What do you say now that you’ve opted to do the right thing? These conversations should be straightforward. 

Does that mean they will be easy? 

No. 

These conversations are hard. We’re afraid of the other person’s response. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. 

Ghosting is the easy option because it removes all that discomfort from the ghoster and shifts the emotional weight onto the ghostee. 

Before you have the conversation or send the text, be prepared for an emotional response from the other person.

Now, it’s possible they will surprise you.

Maybe they feel the same way as you. But it’s just as likely they’ll be hurt. 

That’s okay. 

The emotional pain will still be less than if you ghosted them. 

Here are a few healthier responses you can say or message them:

  • For short-term relationships: Hey, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t see this turning into a long-term relationship. I want to be respectful of your time and let you know so we can both pursue other people.
  • For people you went on 1 or 2 dates with: Hey, thanks for hanging out with me the other night. I didn’t leave our date feeling like we’re a good match, but I genuinely wish you luck and hope you find someone who is a better fit for you.
  • For hookups: Hey, I know we had a good time the other night, but I want to be honest with you upfront. I’m not looking to date right now. 

What happens next?

You don’t have to engage in a lengthy back and forth with them about your decision.

Of course, if you are talking to a dating partner you’ve seen more than a handful of times, they probably deserve a conversation. 

But for most casual situations, your message can be the end of it.

You certainly don’t need to continue communicating with them once you make it clear you aren’t interested. 

After you’ve told them, you are both free to pursue better-suited romantic partners with your integrity intact.

Related Posts on Ghosting:

FAQs on What Happens When You Ghost Someone

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What happens when you ghost someone? PIN

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