What is ghosting and why does it hurt so badly?
Ghosting is the act of disappearing from someone’s life with no forewarning or follow up. Typically, two people are dating for a period of time, and then suddenly one ends all communication with the other person. Even going as far as blocking them on social media, or other community apps. People have always ghosted.
Firstly, ghosting is not new.
Fortunately with social media, we are able to track the whereabouts of many people without them being aware of it. In the highly connected world that we live in, ghosting as a term relates to the remnants of the person that is still haunting the internet but have disappeared from your life. While the person you were dating might not answer your texts, if they are sending read receipts, then you know that they saw it. This is maddening.
Before technology, a person could disappear from your life without a trace. There was no Linkedin to verify where they worked, and no Facebook or Foursquare to confirm where they might have checked in. Luckily, you can confirm that the person you were dating is still alive, even after they have left your life.
So why do people ghost?
There are deep psychological reason that men and women ghost the people that they are dating. One that is rarely explained in the dating world, but will be explained in this article.
People Ghost Because They Are Not Bonded To You
Bonds in dating are created on a chemical, physical, and social level. Typically ghosting is seen as a cowardly act, and the blame of ghosting lies squarely on the person who’s done it. It’s easy to label someone who ghosts you as a ‘bad person’ with ‘poor communication skills’ but that is not always the case.
People ghost because they are not bonded to the person that they are dating, and they don’t see the need to explain why they are no longer interested. It’s like staying in a hotel where you opt not to stop by the front desk before checking out. You’ve entered into a contract that assures you’ll be gone by a certain time and there is no reason to check in with the front desk to return the keys.
A person who isn’t bonded to you, doesn’t feel like they owe you an explanation. And you have to ask yourself? Do they? Is it kind or courteous to respond? Or are you being demanding? When a telemarketing company sends you a text, should you respond out of courtesy? If someone has not bonded with you, they see you as a stranger, no matter how you see them.
They don’t think responding is necessary, in fact, they see your communication as a demand or a request that it is within their right to deny. Imagine the degree of emotional attachment you might have with someone you are connected to on Linkedin. In dating, although you perceived the interaction as very personal, creating a bond with them, they have not created a bond with you. So no matter how long you have known them, or how much they have meant to you, the failure to bond, (establish a physiological connection), made it easy for them to walk away without guilt or regret.
People Ghost Because You Don’t Know Them
It is impossible for anyone to act out of accordance with how they feel they are perceived. When people ghost you, it’s because they don’t feel like you know them. If you view ghosting, as cowardly and disrespectful, which most people do, then ghosting would make a person a coward and disrespectful. It would be impossible to ghost someone who you felt saw you as a good person. It would impossible to ghost someone who’s version of you was contrary to that of someone who ghosts. If the person you are dating doesn’t feel that you know them, their identity isn’t threatened.
They are able to ghost you because they can still identify as a good person in doing so. They don’t feel guilty because they have rationalized that what they did was aligned with the situation. For example, let’s say you were giving a tip and the service was poor. It would be within your discretion to tip according to the service. If you were alone, you might do so, if you are in a group, regardless of the circumstance you might feel obligated to act in accordance to how you want to be perceived. People must act in accordance to how they want to be perceived.
When someone you are dating ghosts you, it’s because they don’t feel that they are acting out of accordance with the circumstances. They can still maintain their identity, because you are not someone who knows them well enough to jeopardize how they see themselves.
People Ghost Because You Make It Easy
The concept of collateral applies aptly to dating. Someone can’t walk away from you if they’ve given some collateral to support their character and trustworthiness. If you don’t want your date to leave you without a trace, then don’t be someone who is easy to walk away from.
The concept of relationship collateral coincides with the psychology behind free samples. This is the law of reciprocity. When something is given, it creates an expectation that something should be given in return or exchange. For this reason, there are some people who would never take a free sample if they don’t feel they would purchase the product.
If you are someone who gives freely without the expectation that you require anything in return then you are at risk of being ghosted. Requiring relationship collateral is to require an investment of some kind from the person that you are dating. People ghost because they haven’t given any investment of emotional collateral.
Although these mindsets apply, it doesn’t make ghosting kind or forgivable. It does however explain one basic truth. If someone ghosts you, they don’t know you and you don’t know them, at least not on the level required for allegiance. If you want to avoid being ghosted make sure you are getting to know the person that you’re dating in-depth. It’s harder to ghost a friend than a stranger.