In dating, often there is less accountability, depending upon various factors: The way you met (a chat room or hook-up app), the individual’s maturity and values, length of the relationship, and frequency of face-to-face contact.
Technology promotes less emotional involvement. If instead, you met through mutual friends, there’s more incentive to be on good behaviour or other friends will hear about it.
Ghosting might start with an unanswered text or call, or long silences between replies until there are none. Here are eight reasons why a person might ghost instead of communicating:
- They’re chicken: People who don’t handle conflict well fear confrontation. They expect drama and criticism and want to avoid a breakup conversation. They may rationalize to themselves that they’re sparing your feelings by not admitting that they no longer want to continue the relationship. However, leaving without a word, let alone closure, is more cruel and painful.
- They’re avoidant: Ghosts are more likely to have intimacy problems which explain why they leave a relationship that’s getting close. They’re emotionally unavailable and may have an avoidant attachment style.
- They’re ashamed: People with low self-esteem want to avoid criticism and the shame they’ll experience if you get to know them better — one reason for avoiding intimacy. They also expect to feel shame for hurting you. Their lack of boundaries makes them feel responsible for your feelings, though the reverse is true. They’re responsible for how they communicate, but not for your reaction. If they want to end a relationship, you’re entitled to an honest explanation. Thus, in trying to avoid false responsibility, they err by not taking responsibility for their own behaviour, causing you the unnecessary pain they were trying to avoid.
- They’re busy: When you’re not exclusive and acknowledge that dating someone else is okay, your partner may assume the relationship is casual. While dating other people, you and/or your messages might have been overlooked or forgotten. Your date may have already moved on or just not made time to respond. When later realizing this, he or she is too embarrassed to reply and rationalizes that your “thing” wasn’t serious in the first place.
- They’re game-players: To some daters, particularly narcissists, relationships are solely a means to satisfy their egos and sexual needs. They’re not interested in a commitment or concerned with your feelings, though they may feign that when they’re seducing you. They’re players, and to them, relationships are a game. They’re not emotionally involved and can act callously once they’re no longer interested, especially if you express needs or expectations.
- They’re depressed or overwhelmed: Some people can hide depression for a while. The ghost might be too depressed to continue and not want to reveal what’s really going on in his or her life. There may be other life events you don’t know about that take precedence, like a job loss or personal or family illness or emergency.
- They’re seeking safety: If you’ve raged in the past or are violent or verbally abusive, the ghost may avoid you in self-protection.
- They’re setting a boundary: If you’re annoyed and smothered your friend with frequent texts or calls, especially if they’ve asked you not to, then their silence is sending a message because you’ve ignored their boundaries. You likely have an anxious attachment style and are attracted to people with avoidant styles.