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What mental illness causes ghosting?

Ghosting (behavior)

Ghosting, simmering and icing are colloquial terms which describe the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification and ignoring any subsequent attempts to communicate. [1] [2] [3] The term originated in the early 2000s, typically referring to dating and romantic relationships. In the following decade, media reported a rise in ghosting, which has been attributed to the increasing use of social media and online dating apps. The term has also expanded to refer to similar practices among friends, family members, employers and businesses. [4] [5] [6]

The most common cause of ghosting in a personal relationship is to avoid emotional discomfort in a relationship. A person ghosting typically has little acknowledgment of how it will make the other person feel. Ghosting is associated with negative mental health effects on the person on the receiving end and has been described by some mental health professionals as a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse or cruelty. [7]

Origin of term [ edit ]

The term is used in the context of online exchanges, [8] and became popular by 2015 through many articles on high-profile celebrity relationship dissolutions, [9] [10] and went on to be widely used. It has been the subject of many articles [11] and discussions [12] on dating and relationships in various media. It was included in the Collins English Dictionary in 2015. [13]

In popular culture [ edit ]

Ghosting appears to be becoming more common. [14] [15] Various explanations have been suggested, but social media is often blamed, [16] as are dating apps, polarizing politics and the relative anonymity and isolation in modern-day dating and hookup culture, which make it easier to sever contact with few social repercussions. [17] In addition, the more commonplace the behaviour becomes, the more individuals can become desensitised to it. [7]

In personal relationships [ edit ]

People primarily ghost in relationships as a way of avoiding emotional discomfort they are having in a relationship, and are generally not thinking of how it will make the person they are ghosting feel. A survey from BuzzFeed indicated that 81% of people who ghosted did so because they «weren’t into» the person they ghosted, 64% said the person they ghosted did something they disliked, and 25% stated they were angry with the person. [18] When a relationship is online and there are few mutual social connections in the relationship, people are more inclined to ghost due to the lack of social consequences. With ghosting becoming more common many people have become desensitized to it, making them more likely to participate in ghosting. Additionally, according to psychologist Kelsey M. Latimer, people who ghost in relationships are more likely to have personality traits and behaviors that are self-centered, avoidant, and manipulative. [19] However, ghosting could also be a sign of self-isolation seen in people with depression, suicidal tendencies, or are relapsing with an addiction. [20] There is limited research directly on the effect of ghosting on the person on the receiving end. However, studies have indicated that ghosting is considered the most hurtful way to end a relationship in comparison to other methods such as direct confrontation. [21] It has been shown to cause feelings of ostracism, exclusion, and rejection. Additionally, the lack of social cues along with the ambiguity in ghosting can cause a form of emotional dysregulation in which a person feels out of control. [22] Some mental health professionals consider ghosting to be a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse, a type of silent treatment or stonewalling behaviour, and emotional cruelty. [7]

In his article, «In Defense of Ghosting», Alexander Abad-Santos states: «the thing that undermines these diatribes against ghosting is that. [we] know what happened with their ghost. It just didn’t work out and sometimes we just can’t accept it.» [23] He continues: «[a]t the heart of it, ghosting is as clear as any other form of rejection. The reason we complain about it is that we wanted a different outcome . which is totally understandable.» [23]

However, this argument does not account for the inherent ambiguity in ghosting—the person being ghosted does not know whether they are being rejected for something they or somebody else did, whether the person doing it is ashamed or does not know how to break up (or is scared of hurting the other’s feelings). Also, the ghost may simply not want to date the victim anymore, or may have started dating someone else while keeping the ghostee as a reserve option in case a relationship does not work out with said other date, as well as they can be facing serious problems in their lives. It may become impossible to tell which it is, making it stressful and painful. [24]

A 2018 survey determined women, regardless of generation, were much more likely to ghost than men. [25]

In employment [ edit ]

Ghosting in employment often refers to a person who interviews for a job and is led to believe there is a chance of getting the job, then no acknowledgement of the position being filled is ever conveyed to the interviewee. [26] [27]

The term has also been used in reference to people accepting job offers and cutting off contact with the potential employer, as well as employees leaving their jobs without any notice. [28] [29]

Related terms and behaviors, ambiguity [ edit ]

While «ghosting» refers to «disappearing from a special someone’s life mysteriously and without explanation», [30] numerous similar behaviors have been identified, that include various degrees of continued connection with a target. [31] [32] [33] For example, «Caspering» is a «friendly alternative to ghosting. Instead of ignoring someone, you’re honest about how you feel, and let them down gently before disappearing from their lives.» [34] Then there is the sentimental and positive, but also ghost-related in origin, Marleying, which is «when an ex gets in touch with you at Christmas out of nowhere». «Cloaking» is another related behavior [35] that occurs when an online match blocks you on all apps while standing you up for a date. The term was coined by Mashable journalist Rachel Thompson after she was stood up for a date by a Hinge match and blocked on all apps. [36] Also worth noting is that not only is it true that ghosting, caspering, marleying, cloaking, etc may be seen as belonging to a family of related behavior, but also that the exact same behavior may be explained by different causes, potentially differing significantly, especially in severity. Contrast, for example, «not being into» someone, as citation [18] in this article references, with the much more serious cause that would be provided by escaping from a traumatic condition such as emotional or physical abuse occurring in the relationship with the person being ghosted.

Research [ edit ]

In 2014, a YouGov survey was taken to see if Americans have ever ghosted their partner to end a relationship. In a 2014 survey, 1,000 US adults were interviewed about ghosting with results yielding that just over 10% of Americans have ghosted someone to break up with them. [37]

See also [ edit ]

  • Psychology portal
  • Cold shoulder – Phrase used to disregard someone
  • Coping (psychology) – Strategies used to reduce unpleasant emotions Pages displaying short descriptions of redirect targets
  • Social rejection – Deliberate exclusion of an individual from social relationship or social interaction
  • Ostracism – Democratic procedure for expelling citizens
  • Shadow banning – Blocking a user from an online community without their awareness

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ Safronova, Valeriya (2015-06-26). «Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment». The New York Times. ISSN0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-02-10 .
  2. ^
  3. «Where Did the Term «Ghosted» Come From? Origin of the Web’s Favorite Term for Abandonment». Mic . Retrieved 2020-02-10 .
  4. ^
  5. «Why Ghosting Is Leading the World’s Mental Health Crisis | Psychology Today». . Retrieved 1 July 2021 .
  6. ^
  7. «Friendship Ghosting Is Real». Time . Retrieved 2021-06-13 .
  8. ^
  9. » ‘I’ve been ghosted by my insurer’ «. BBC News. 2021-05-26 . Retrieved 2021-06-13 .
  10. ^
  11. «I Was Ghosted by One of My Closest Friends». Cosmopolitan. 2015-08-27 . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  12. ^ abc
  13. «Why Ghosting Hurts So Much». Psychology Today . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  14. ^
  15. Bartz, Andrea; Ehrlich, Brenna (April 14, 2011). «Don’t be offended by online-dating rejection». Netiquette. CNN.
  16. ^
  17. Edwards, Stassa (20 June 2015). «Charlize Theron Broke Up With Sean Penn By Ghosting Him». Jezebel . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  18. ^
  19. «Charlize Theron Gets a Black Belt in Ghosting». The Cut . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  20. ^
  21. «The Common 21st-Century Dating Problem No One Knows How To Deal With». The Huffington Post. 30 October 2014 . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  22. ^
  23. Safronova, Valeriya (2015-06-26). «Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment». The New York Times. ISSN0362-4331 . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  24. ^
  25. » ‘Ghosting’ is now in the dictionary — so is dating etiquette dead?». The Independent . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  26. ^
  27. Perel, Esther (2015). Stable Ambiguity and the Rise of Ghosting, Icing and Simmering.
  28. ^
  29. «I Asked Men Why They Ghosted Me». VICE. United States . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  30. ^
  31. «PsycNET — DOI Landing page». doi:10.1037/1089-2699.8.4.291. > : Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  32. ^
  33. «And Then I Never Heard From Him Again: The Awful Rise of Ghosting». The Date Report. Archived from the original on 2014-08-20 . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  34. ^ ab
  35. «8 Reasons People Ghost (Beyond «They’re Just A Jerk»), From Experts». mindbodygreen. 24 June 2020 . Retrieved 2 July 2021 .
  36. ^
  37. «Here’s How To Search Through Instagram Comments». Bustle . Retrieved 1 July 2021 .
  38. ^
  39. «When ghosting is a sign of suicide or relapse |». 12 March 2020 . Retrieved 1 July 2021 .
  40. ^
  41. February 2019, Bahar Gholipour-Staff Writer 02 (2 February 2019). «Why Do People Ghost?». . Retrieved 1 July 2021 .
  42. ^
  43. «Why Ghosting Hurts So Much | Psychology Today». . Retrieved 1 July 2021 .
  44. ^ ab
  45. Abad-Santos, Alexander (24 March 2014). «In Defense of Ghosting». The Atlantic . Retrieved 9 June 2018 .
  46. ^
  47. «Why Ghosting Hurts So Much». Psychology Today . Retrieved 2016-02-03 .
  48. ^
  49. «Women Are More Likely To Ghost Someone They’re Dating Than Men — And There’s A Very Good Reason For That». Bustle . Retrieved 2021-03-25 .
  50. ^
  51. «Employer ‘ghosting’ a reality after a job interview: Ethically Speaking». Toronto Star. 25 September 2015 . Retrieved 6 June 2016 .
  52. ^
  53. Maloney, Devon (6 June 2016). «Just Checking In Again». . Retrieved 6 June 2016 .
  54. ^
  55. Gilchrist, Karen (2019-04-24). «Employees keep ‘ghosting’ their job offers — and Gen Zs are leading the charge». CNBC . Retrieved 2021-06-09 .
  56. ^
  57. «Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates». Washington Post. ISSN0190-8286 . Retrieved 2021-06-09 .
  58. ^
  59. Peters, Mark. «How Tinder and OKCupid spawned a new genre of slang». Boston Globe.
  60. ^
  61. Lanquist, Lindsey (September 29, 2017). «Breadcrumbing, Stashing, and Other Internet Dating Slang I Wish You Didn’t Need to Know». Self.
  62. ^
  63. Swantek, Samantha. «Breadcrumbing Is the New Ghosting and It’s Savage AF». Cosmopolitan.
  64. ^
  65. Alves, Glynda (May 15, 2018). «Breadcrumbing, orbiting and more: Update your dating dictionary with these new-age terms». Economic Times. India.
  66. ^
  67. Benwell, Max (1 March 2018). «Ghosting, Caspering and six new dating terms you’ve never heard of». The Guardian . Retrieved 9 June 2018 .
  68. ^
  69. Dermentzi, Maria (3 April 2019). » ‘I was cloaked.’ What it’s like to be blocked and stood up by your Hinge date». Mashable . Retrieved 2019-05-11 .
  70. ^
  71. Thompson, Rachel (24 August 2018). «My Hinge match invited me to dinner and blocked me as I waited for our table». Mashable . Retrieved 2019-05-11 .
  72. ^
  73. «Poll Results: Ghosting | YouGov». . Retrieved 2020-02-10 .

Retrieved from «»

  • Bullying
  • Group processes
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Psychological abuse
  • Relationship breakup
  • Shunning
  • Social rejection
  • Online dating
  • CS1 errors: missing periodical
  • Articles with short description
  • Short description is different from Wikidata
  • Pages using div col with small parameter
  • Pages displaying short descriptions of redirect targets via Module:Annotated link

Ghosting – How it affects your mental health

Ghosting is a term which has become increasingly popular in recent times and the practice of ghosting has become common, especially with the popularity of online dating and the widespread use of technology for communicating. But what is ghosting, why do people do it and what can you do if someone ghosts you?

What is ghosting?

Ghosting is when a person ceases all contact and communication with another person without any explanation, warning or apparent reason. They stop replying to messages and phone calls, cease contact on social media and avoid any attempts by the other person to reach out or reconnect. Essentially, they vanish into thin air, like a ghost. While ghosting is commonly thought of in terms of dating relationships, it can also occur in other types of relationships, such as friendships or even family relationships.

woman looking at phoneWhy do people ghost?

Essentially, ghosting is a way of avoiding a difficult or awkward conversation. By ghosting, the person does not have to explain why they no longer want to have contact with or be in a relationship with the other person. They don’t have to face the other person’s feelings about the ending of the relationship, acknowledge or listen to the other person’s point of view and don’t have to deal with an uncomfortable situation. In short, it’s an easy way out.

Ghosting demonstrates a lack of respect for the other person’s feelings and a lack of empathy for how the ghosting may impact them. They assume that the other person will “get the hint” and can use this to justify their actions. This could be driven by a lack of interest in the relationship, where they don’t really care about how the other person feels or about the loss of the relationship, or could be due to a lack of appropriate communication skills, as they don’t know how to explain or tell the other person how they are feeling. Either way, ghosting is a way of showing someone through action how they feel and what they want instead of communicating this verbally.

What impact does ghosting have?

Being on the receiving end of ghosting can have a significant impact on someone, emotionally and mentally. It is likely to lead to a lot of difficult emotions, including confusion, frustration, self-doubt, anger and sadness. While the ending of any relationship can cause these emotions, the thing that is most difficult with ghosting is not knowing or understanding why it ended. When someone is ghosted, they don’t get any explanation and are left questioning what happened, why it happened, if they did something wrong and they have no way of getting answers to these questions. Because of this, it can be hard to find closure and to move on as there are so many questions left unanswered. The person who has been ghosted can find themselves ruminating and going over the situation in their head repeatedly in order to try and understand what happened. Not knowing can also cause someone to start guessing or imagining the reasons and they often end up blaming themselves. Ghosting can have a negative impact on someone’s self-esteem, as not only do they assume that it is their fault but they can also feel that they were not even worthy of an explanation.

What to do if someone ghosts you

man looking at phone

Without clarity around what happened, it can be hard to know what to do and how to manage the situation. However, there are a few things that you can do to look after yourself and to move on after being ghosted.

  1. Don’t keep texting/calling: The other person has given a clear message by not responding to your attempts at communication. Sending more messages is unlikely to illicit a response and will cause you more hurt and frustration as your messages continue to go unanswered.
  2. Don’t blame yourself: It can be easy to engage in negative self-talk and start blaming yourself, thinking that you did something wrong. Personalization occurs when someone blames themselves for something that isn’t their fault. Remember that when someone ghosts you, it says more about them and their shortcomings than it does about you. There are lots of reasons why someone may have stopped contact so there is no value in jumping to conclusions and assuming that it was because of something that you did or did not do.
  3. Value your self-worth: Know that you deserve to be treated better. Self-worth is about knowing that you are enough and that you are worthy of love and respect. Focus on your own self-respect and self-value and remember that you deserve to have people in your life that treat you with respect.
  4. Focus on healthy relationships: Get support from the positive relationships in your life. By speaking to and spending time with friends and family members that support, encourage and respect you, it can offer a contrast to the relationship where you were ghosted and a reminder of what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
  5. Enjoy yourself: Spend time doing the things that bring you joy and happiness, whatever that might be. Although it may be hard to find the motivation for this when you are feeling upset, it is important to distract yourself and focus your energy on something positive.

Written by Ciara Heaslip, MIACP Psychotherapist.

If you would like to avail of counselling for ghosting, anxiety or social anxiety you can book an appointment with us by calling 01 611 1719 or by emailing [email protected]

Got Ghosted? See How This Seemingly Harmless Activity Can Affect Your Mental Health

Got Ghosted? See How This Seemingly Harmless Activity Can Affect Your Mental Health

The phenomenon is similar to social rejection and has been observed to activate the same pain pathways in the brain as it happens in physical pain

Written by Kashish Sharma | Published : October 6, 2022 4:47 PM IST

Suddenly ending a conversation without any explanation is an emerging form of social rejection. The behaviour has gained some trajectory in the online dating world and is not restricted to romantic relationships alone. It has extended to other areas including one’s professional life. Seemingly harmless phenomenon has been observed to cause psychological distress among people who experience it and psychologists across the globe are interested in knowing the root cause of it.

As per a report, a psychology professor recruited 76 college students through social media for a study ( most of them females). The research aimed at understanding the causes of ghosting and its psychological impact on the people being ghosted. During the research, students were divided into focus groups and long extended sessions were held on understanding their experiences of they ghosting others or being ghosted. The study showed that the subjects ghosted others when they were lacking the necessary communication skills to have an honest conversation.

Ghosting can cause pain

Studies have shown that ghosting can cause emotional stress in people ghosted on these virtual platforms. People are wired to regulate their emotions with the social cues they receive from others. The phenomenon is similar to social rejection and has been observed to activate the same pain pathways in the brain as in physical pain. Many studies have examined the overlapping neural network between physical and psychological pain. Studies have also shown that both sensory and affective stimuli can activate physical pain.


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Ghosting creates ambiguity

Ghosting creates mental ambiguity or uncertainty as the cause of it is unknown to the one ghosted. It gives a person no social cue for how to react. It might put the one ghosted into a spiral of thoughts where the person might try to make some logical sense of it. If the person’s self-esteem is already poor, then such a state might facilitate more negative attribution of oneself. The act of ghosting is also comparable to silent treatment that leaves you powerless to seek any explanation and prevents you from having a healthy closure in a conversation or a not working relationship. It can also trigger deeply-rooted fear of abandonment.

It is different from bread crumbing

A study Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Bread crumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults shows that participants who experienced ghosting along with a phenomenon called bread crumbing reported less satisfaction with life, helplessness and self-perceived loneliness. Unlike ghosting which means the abrupt disappearance of conversation, bread crumbing is the act of sending non-commital messages and trying to create a false sense of rapport, which at times might appear real for the ones affected by it. This further can confuse individuals looking for a genuine connection and might keep them in a painful psychological loop.

How to help yourself if you were ghosted

Ghosting is far more common these days than we can imagine. As users of these virtual chatting apps are connected to multiple people online simultaneously, one or more than one becomes a victim of this phenomenon. Here are a few things you can do to protect your mental well-being if you have been ghosted-

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