A Beginner's Guide To Understanding 'Ghosting' And Why People Do It

by Candice Jalili

You may be three dates, three months or three years into seeing someone, but the bottom line is... you're over it.

So, how are you supposed to end things with this person? Well, you have a few options:

  1. Ask the person to meet up so you can end things in person = the simultaneously most difficult and respectful option.
  2. Call them to end things over the phone = slightly less difficult and respectful.
  3. Text them that it's over = significantly less difficult and respectful.
  4. "Ghost "them by abruptly and definitively ending all contact with them = by far the easiest and most disrespectful.

So what does option 4 entail? Let me break it down for you...

What Is "Ghosting"?

Ghosting is a move you make when you're way too big of a GINORMOUS wuss to end things with the person you've been dating with actual words.

Instead, you completely stop all forms of communication — no texts, phone calls or meet-ups — totally and utterly out of the blue.

Of course, on your end, falling off the face of the Earth is not out of the blue. You've been annoyed with the person you've been seeing or are no longer interested in them, so naturally, you no longer feel like talking to them.

Or, maybe you've been dealing with your own drama and this person has to take a backseat to that. Whether valid or not, you have your own reasons for Irish exiting out of his or her life.

You completely stop all forms of communication — no texts, phone calls or meet-ups — out of the blue.

But as far as the person you're dating is concerned, you just DISAPPEARED WITH ZERO EXPLANATION.

And it KILLS them.

How do I know that? Well, for the past 6 months, I've been collecting and sharing real-life tales from people who've been ghosted in my column, Boom Ghosted.

For instance, there was the girl who was ghosted by the guy she was hooking up with after she wished him a happy birthday.

Or, the girl who was ghosted by her guy after he told her he'd call her in 15 minutes. Or, the chick who was ghosted by the guy she was exclusively hooking up with after she made one dumb joke.

No matter how much sense going radio silent makes on your end, as far as the other person is concerned, you were having a perfectly normal convo/relationship, then suddenly, you were gone forever.

What Is NOT Considered Ghosting?

Here are the three elements an actual case of ghosting must contain:




So, if you reach out to the person after you're pretty sure they've ghosted you and they give you an explanation of why they haven't responded to your texts or calls, that's not technically ghosting.

And if you had the last word? Yeah, that's not it, either.

This needs to be a swift and final departure of the other person, as if they legit lost their phone, moved across the world and stopped speaking English. Or straight-up died.

(Now do you get the significance of the term "ghosting"?)

Who Can Ghost You?

I used to think that ghosting really only could take place between two people who've only been on a couple of mediocre dates, like this woman who was ghosted by a guy after date number 4.

It still wasn't the nicest thing in the world, but it made sense to me: You don't really know the person well enough to owe them a full-on breakup visit, call or text, so you just sort of casually disappear from their life until they get the hint.

No real harm done. Right?

Wrong. If there's anything I've learned from "Boom, Ghosted," it's that you can literally be ghosted by ANYONE after any length of time or effort invested and it can hurt like hell.

There was this one woman who was ghosted by her longtime hook-up buddy after she brought him to a wedding as her date.

The long-distance boyfriend who vanished after suggesting his GF move to be with him, and the boyfriend who moved to another country and just didn't tell his GF of over a year.

Ghosting isn't only reserved for that douchey guy you went on a couple of dates with.

Oh! And ghosting can even happen in friendships, too — like this girl who was ghosted by her best friend of SEVEN years.

I've got about a million and one more stories I could tell you off the top of my head, but you get the picture.

Ghosting isn't only reserved for that douchey guy you went on a couple of dates with (in fact, more often than not, he'll be the one who harps on the fact that he's not that guy). No, Anyone from your long-term boyfriend to your best friend in the whole wide world can do it.

Why Do People Ghost?

On the one hand, they've successfully avoided the painful awkwardness that comes along with a formal breakup.

On the other hand, they've left someone they once cared about (to some capacity, at least) totally heartbroken and confused with no closure.

I get it. I hate confrontation. I understand how hard and awful it can be to bring yourself to break up with someone.

But leaving someone without closure is pretty much the most sadistic and evil thing you can do. If you really want to avoid confrontation, send a short text saying you're done. Make up a lie if you have to!

Just don't leave them hanging. That's a cruel and unusual form of torture nobody deserves.

Furthermore, wouldn't you rather tell them you're over it and avoid the endless string of texts asking them what they did wrong as they inevitably start spiraling trying to figure out WTF changed?!

Spare their feelings and spare your phone data and just TELL the person you're seeing you're done when you're done.