After the first date, you fall into bed with a smile on your face. Everything was perfect: the food, the weather, the conversations. The world is alight with the glimmer of possibilities. Suddenly you love watching romantic comedies and listening to Taylor Swift love songs.
Then, they don’t respond to your texts. Or your calls. Yet they are active on their Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. You wonder if it is worth checking to see if their Myspace was revived.
A new trend is on the rise in the modern dating scene: ghosting.
Ghosting is not new. People have pulled disappearing acts for decades. However, with the increase in social media and casual romantic flings–the prime scapegoats being Tinder and Hinge–ghosting is becoming much more common practice.
Its definitions and justifications vary.
In its rawest form, ghosting is cutting all communication and ties with a potential partner. According to two studies performed by Gili Freedman and colleagues in 2018, an average of 20 percent of American adults have ghosted, and 25 percent have been ghosted.
Ultimately, ghosting is an emotional crime because of its ambiguity. It leaves the victimized party with a multitude of unanswered questions. It leaves the person with an empty space. Furthermore, ghosting tends to encourage doubt and insecurity in any future relationships.
In her academic essay titled “Phantom Lovers,” Leah LeFebvre said that the absence leaves the victims to “manage the uncertainty of ghosting alone without the ability to obtain closure.” Ghosting is worsened by the close proximity induced by social media and close social circles.
When asking “why,” there is no true answer. Each situation carries its own set of circumstances; although, there is a deeper reasoning serving as a baseline. Ghosting is rooted in avoiding emotional discomfort and confrontation.
Polled college students seem to believe ghosting stems from avoiding open communication.
“I think people get bored or realize their relationships aren’t fun and exciting all the time,” junior psychology major Harlee Allen said. “They find it easier to not confront their feelings about someone and dip instead.”
“People ghost because they have decided not to pursue the person any further and don’t what to end it,” senior psychology major Delaney Weaver said.
Junior European history major Win Gustin said people have anxiety about commitment. “Rather than talk it through in person, it’s much, much easier to just avoid them wherever possible.”
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, ghosting is a convenient way to nip something in the bud, whether out of disinterest, guilt or something else entirely.
“Sometimes it’s easier than telling a person that it won’t work out,” junior history major Matthew Lombard said.
Weaver said she once canceled a Tinder date last minute. She “never talked to him again” because she “felt guilty.”
Freshman psychology major Alexia Vest said she has ghosted “creepy guys.”
“They would always insist on being more than friends,” Vest said. “I would explain I didn’t want that, and eventually, I just stopped responding.”
Overall, ghosting is a defense mechanism for the offending party, regardless of how it hurts the victim.