A Counselor’s Review On “Ghosting” – – It isn’t just for Halloween.

I‘ve had thoughts of writing a book on relationships.  At one point, I thought I would write about all the different ways that relationships I personally had went wrong.  I never thought I’d be writing a blog on how people are being stood up.

Being stood up started, from my knowledge, with it being called, “cowardly”. Then you were being, “stood up”.  Next, the word, “flaking” came about.  Now it apparently has advanced to being, “ghosted”.

Being ghosted feels like you’re left standing there, wondering what happened, with no chance of even a sense of closure.  The person who decided they no longer wanted contact with you chose to not give you the courtesy to tell you how they felt.  You’re left to figure it out yourself.  It can be pretty painful when you have romantic feelings involved, or at least very disappointing if you had developing feelings. If you need some words to validate how the end of a relationship sucks, click here.

This isn’t a topic on depression, anxiety, self-esteem, or stress, but it sure can cause all of those. I was surprised to find the title of an article on this, “ghosting“ on the front cover of my monthly subscription to Psychology Today. It seems to be another epidemic, mostly for those 30 and under. To learn about the loneliness epidemic, click here.

It’s not your fault.  Communication is key in an adult, healthy relationship.  I personally thought being stood up was something that had stopped in my teens or early 20’s. But, adults are doing this.

With the advent of social media and cell phones impersonalizing things, we can simply be blocked, or told by text we are no longer wanted by another—not exactly an adult way to handle things.  It can really sting.  It just isn’t a respectful way to treat or be treated. Ghosting is an even more extreme type of indirect breakup, allowing the “ghoster” to avoid any kind of confrontation at all. 

Online “relationshopping” has been researched.  Researchers found that profiles are compared to resumes, and these resumes aren’t always necessarily true.  It can be easier to lie about different aspects of yourself when you’re not face-to-face with somebody. 

This article stated, “A nearly endless supply of profiles—Tinder counted more than 50 million users in 2014—tempts users to use a hassle-free way to cut their losses, and keep ahead of the market.” Over half of people asked used the metaphor of “marketplace”.

When a team at Dartmouth asked volunteers, average age 33, about their theories of relationships, and their views on “ghosting”, they found that: “Believers in destiny were 63 percent more likely to deem ghosting an acceptable way to end a relationship—even a long term one.”

Remember, although you’ve been disrespected, it doesn’t mean you have to lose respect for yourself.   Is there a way to make it less probable that you encounter this, “ghosting”? 

Get out there.  Since there are so many dating apps where you simply shop by swiping right or left, the stage is seemingly set for consumer and product.  This shifts the way we view and treat potential partners—tossing them away much easier when our expectations aren’t met. Why not go back to the way it used to be, and take that “cowardly” factor out?  Try getting out, doing things you enjoy, and see if you might meet like-minded people, get to know them, and let a relationship naturally develop.  I believe there is much more value in this, that what seems to have grown starting from a swipe. 

Really take the time to get to know someone.  If a person has unresolved traumas, unresolved ongoing issues, or just got out of a relationship, they probably aren’t the best choice. If you’ve worked through your own traumas and issues, and are ready for a reciprocal relationship, you deserve that reciprocation.  We can rationalize things that allow us to overlook that someone may not be as ready as we are for a relationship, but unfortunately it won’t make it so.  Research suggests this impersonal strategy of ghosting is favored by those who fear commitment and shun intimacy. 

What does a ghost look like?  Researchers at The University of Kansas found that this indirect breakup strategy may look good to people who seem to have a so-called avoidant attachment style.  This lack of desire for attachment might appear as someone having a tendency to suppress their feelings, or struggles to be vulnerable.  This indirect breakup method allows someone avoiding the discomfort of confrontation to, “maintain emotional distance from close others, especially when under stress.”

Others who have an anxious attachment style tend to worry about the availability of their partner.  These people are easily distressed by conflict.  This makes them especially likely candidates for, “digital dumping”, according to a study from California State University.  Since these avoiders are more apt to ghost, if you find yourself to be high-maintenance or anxious, you are at the most at risk of being, “ghosted”.  Sometimes finding someone just like you is not always a good match.

Don’t fear vulnerability.  Putting yourself out there does indeed involve making yourself vulnerable.  If we don’t put ourselves out there, for the greater good of meeting a partner we’d like to find, we may have less of a chance of finding it.  As many times as we wish someone would just knock on our door and say that they’re the one we’ve been waiting for, it most likely won’t be that easy.  We will learn lessons.  Will will go through hurt.  But, we can have pride that we put ourselves out there, and have not decided to not treat others the way we’ve been treated. If you’re struggling with being vulnerable, please click here.

Dating at any age can be rough, whether you haven’t met your healthy match, or are starting over. If you feel you could use some coaching in this area, please don’t hesitate to reach out here.  Always feel free to share this with someone else that you feel could benefit.


 1.  Get out there.

2.   Really take the time to get to know someone.

3.   What does a ghost look like

4.   Don’t fear vulnerability.