Ghosting: when they disappear without telling you it’s over

Have you ever been ghosted? I know I have! More than once. Just in case you didn’t hear about this new (and pretty precise) term – “ghosting” is that thing people do when you date them and you think everything is going so great – but then they suddenly disappear. With no apparent reason.

The next thing you know you’re spending weeks in agony while they diligently ignore and avoid you, desperately trying to reach them, coming up with lame excuses for their behaviour (“he must be busy”, “her grandma is ill”), until you finally face the truth – they don’t want to have anything to do with you any more. They just didn’t bother to tell you that directly.

Ghosting is not a new practice, it’s been there for a while, but in a time of all-around online availability, it has grown to a massive scale, and turned significantly more rude too. We can now not only contact and follow people in zillion different ways, but many of those ways also have this, khm, quite (in)convenient feature which shows someone we’ve actually seen their message but refused to respond to it.

[quote align=”left”]It’s indeed a pretty nasty way to treat anyone, let alone your former romantic interest. So why do so many resort to it?[/quote]

If you’ve been an unfortunate victim of ghosting, you are not the bad guy (or girl). You haven’t done anything wrong. The “ghoster” is the one who is behaving badly.

I know you can’t help to question yourself and wonder what is it that you said or did to provoke the silent treatment, but trust me – ghosting says much more about the person who’s doing it than the one receiving it.

People who “ghost” are not the ones you should be dating in the first place. If you are still in love with an ex who didn’t bother saying goodbye to your face, it’s time to ask yourself: why would I want to be with someone who treated me like my feelings don’t matter?

And if it’s happened to you more than a few times, the most important thing you should wonder about is why you keep dating people who don’t deserve your love. Don’t go on obsessing about what you said or did and what would be if you did something else instead. If you did something really bad – you’d know it.

Whatever the reason, even if you knew it – it wouldn’t make you feel much better. It wasn’t working out for them, and they made it very clear they don’t want to be with you.

The more important thing here is understanding there is no reason to miss them or want them back, which will help you mend your broken heart and regain lost dignity.

They didn’t just leave you in a cruel and disrespectful way, which would hurt even if you weren’t in love. The bigger problem is they would do similar things and hurt you again and again if you stayed together.

Their actions tell you they don’t know how to communicate, relate and love in a grown up way. [quote align=”left”]Which means whenever an issue would come up in your relationship – they’d probably ghost that too: ignore it, run, hide, avoid, lie, pretend like everything is fine, push it under the carpet.[/quote]

People who disappear without goodbye do it because they are scared of dealing with difficult emotions. They can’t face your tears and pain, can’t deal with the discomfort it would make them feel to see you fall apart.

If you ever broke up with someone, you know it’s not easy even when you’re the one leaving. You can’t feel great doing it. If you ever loved or at least liked the person you’re breaking up with, it makes you feel horrible to see them hurt. It’s hard to endure the questions, the sadness, the outburst of emotion.

[quote align=”left”]It’s never easy to break someone’s heart. But being a good partner means treating the other with love even when you don’t love them anymore. [/quote]

You do that by showing them you still care about how they feel, and you don’t want them to hurt more than it’s necessary. Explain why you have to leave as precisely as you can is the least you can do for another human. A human who will most likely go through enough hell anyway.

So when people ghost – it just shows you that what they are made of. They don’t know any better, and you are better off without them. In fact, you are the lucky one who got away.

I know that when you are still in love and heartbroken it’s hard to see things this way. You want them back, you want closure, you want something. You feel robbed. And rightfully so. But remember: it’s not you – it’s them who are the robber. No matter what you did or said, it was unfair to leave you this way.

You want to be treated nicely, right? Well, you won’t be happy with someone who can’t even breakup properly.

And that works both ways, so – think about this too: don’t be a ghoster. When you’re doing something to others you don’t want to experience yourself – you’re essentially saying you’re OK with that type of behaviour. And inviting more of that into your life.

The way we relate to the world is ultimately the way the world relates back to us. So if you keep breaking your own standards, you will get hurt by someone else, maybe not the same way – but with the same “flavour”: you’ll be neglected or abandoned by someone you care deeply about.

So be nice! It pays off. And pays forward. The more consistent you are about how you treat others, the more of the same you’ll get back.


How do you feel when someone “ghosts” you?
Did you ever do it yourself? Why?

Thank you for sharing and caring!

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34 Responses

  1. Meelee says:

    I’ve done it before.
    I thought the relationship was going better, but at a moment in time, I realized I couldn’t be with a person like that,
    Usually because either of lack of attraction physically or emotionally.
    Best you can do is just leave, and not bring it up.
    It sometimes makes things worse to tell the truth, especially if you are dealing with someone who is insecure.

    • Petra says:

      Well, it might seem like the best thing to you, but it’s the worst you can do – for the person you’re doing it to. It hurts like hell. I guess it’s a matter of perspective, you will only understand how horrible it is when someone does it to you.

      • Meelee says:

        It doesn’t matter. the worst is when someone tries to explain why he doesn’t want to stay. Breakups hurt, period.
        The disappearings act makes it easier for the person who’s already dealing with the uncomfortable feelings, and on top of that needs to tell her?
        Sometimes it’s better to just leave.
        Or would you rather have them tell you that you’re too fat, not attractive enough, a bunchload of problems and headaches, messed up character, …?
        Just because I can’t find to love the person, doesn’t mean someone else can’t. So I don’t think telling why would be appropriate.
        I have stopped dating women simply because they had too much hair on their arms and legs, even more than me.
        I’m not going to tell that to anyone.

        • Petra says:

          As I said, until you love someone, and they leave you without an explanation or goodbye – you won’t understand why this is the worst way to leave. You can always say “this isn’t going to work”, “we are not compatible”, “I don’t think it’s going somewhere” or something polite and general like that if you want to avoid saying hurtful things (it’s the truth any way, only nicer said). But you don’t know what will hurt more. Nobody knows what will hurt them more either, even though we swear we always want the whole truth, sometimes we regret hearing it. However, ghosting is plain rude and it only shows you have no respect nor love for people you do it to. You will understand one day.

          • MeeLee says:

            It happened all too often in my life.
            Most of the time it’s ok for short term relationships.
            It’s not ok, when you’re in a marriage or LTR.
            I believe then you do owe an explanation, if it’s not obvious from both sides.
            I agree with Daniel, after about 6 months of being together, simply disappearing is not an option, unless it hasn’t been running well during that time.

            my point of view is more of disappearing while dating (usually short term).
            It’s generally understood as too little interest from both sides.

            You can’t really love someone well enough when you’re just dating them, as love grows over time and with experiences and history (building up your stories).

          • Petra says:

            I can agree with you it depends on the situation… but it’s pretty obvious when it makes sense and when it’s just hurtful and bad manners. You can always tell the difference if you reverse roles and ask yourself how you’d feel if someone did it to you.

  2. Ms Jones says:

    He disappeared like a ghost in a way. No in person conversation. Just a rambling email from overseas filled with strange accusations (false) and a promise never to speak to me again – one he has kept to this day. Why? Ask him. I do not know.

    But I agree with you Petra. If I share love and trust with a person and this is what I get in return, then what have I really lost but a lot of time. If the person can vanish without a trace and feel no compunction to at least extend a hand of friendship for all the goodness I have shown them, it says a lot about them. And is also a cautionary tale about what to be on the lookout for next time around.
    These ghosts abound, and in the new media age it is, unfortunately, a more widely practiced form if behavior. Some people accept this as okay. I do not, unless
    the person has threatened violence, has serious drug issues, betrayal or something of that nature.

  3. Graeme says:

    Hi this is so interesting year ago i had the same thing ,everything was great then a silly email out of the blue then she was gone i up until now had no idea that ghosting existed as it has never happened to me before in a word UNBELIEVABLE i have alway’s tried to be face to face with anyone whom i split with but this sucks but now i know about it it’s time to move on thankyou for telling me about it ….

  4. Aurelia says:

    I call them ‘houdinis’.. disappearing to their remote island where they feel ‘secure’. Unless they felt threatened physically or verbally, then indeed ghosting could be the solution. Otherwise, it is not acceptable to me and you are better off without them. I also think it’s imperative that you don’t blame yourself for their behaviour. Move on, keep your head up, look out for better persons in your life, take a break to recharge your self confidence.

  5. Daniel says:

    This is a subject i know all too well, but although i’ve not heard of the term ‘ghosting’ i kind of knew what it meant. This has happened to me in the 10 years of online dating before i settled down. I’ve been down that road so many times with so many girls it’s unreal, if i was still doing the online dating thing today, i would take it in my stride now because it’s just one of those things that come with online dating.

    When it first happened to me, after 15 phone calls over 2 weeks & endless text messages without any response from the girl, i finally got the message that this was her way of telling me she wasn’t interested anymore. Basically, it’s cutting-off all communication with the other person in the hope that they will get the message & give-up all hope of their being any chance of a relationship & that you will cease making contact with them. You always get the signs they don’t wish to maintain contact like not responding to calls or texts, don’t wish to meet for dates anymore, feeble excuses for cancelling appointments like; ‘i can’t find a babysitter, my dog is sick, i’m so busy with work etc etc.This is an impolite way of finishing a relationship & i believe the reason people do it this way is either they don’t wish to hurt your feelings or they don’t have the courage to tell you directly, so by blocking you out, it’s their way of letting you down gently. Whether this is the right way or wrong way of ending a relationship, i’m not sure, it’s definitely impolite, but i guess in a funny way, they are telling you the relationship is over without telling you verbally or in writing by giving you the silent treatment.

    The most annoying issue is that this can happen after 6 months of dating & you think after 6 months, you would think that you are both compatible with each other after this time, then all of a sudden, for some reason unknown, they cut-off the communication. I much prefer it when someone hits you with the truth, at least you can move on with your life. I guess when something keeps happening to you in life, you get used to it & it makes you stronger & what i did when i got the silent treatment, i would drop them a text message saying ‘if i don’t hear from you by next week, i wish you luck in your search’. This would either prompt them into replying or you did not hear from them again, either way, you knew where you stood.

    My advice to anybody is; don’t put your life on hold pursuing someone who shows no interest in you & doesn’t have the courtesy to reply. If they wanted to be with you, they would make efforts to make the relationship work, so although it may be unpleasant to be dumped in this fashion, surely it’s better to move on & find someone else who like yourself are genuinely seeking a relationship than to waste your life pursuing a ghost.

  6. KD says:

    This is what confuses me the most…. Ok you meet someone and start dating them, then 2 months down the line you suddenly realized that ” oh this person is fat and has hairy legs” Really?? It took you 2 months to come that conclusion?? (just an example by the way). I dont buy that at all… not at all. The fact is that most ghosters had no intention of staying around in the first place and rather than making it clear from the start (maybe because their game is weak), they tell a bunch of lies and make false promises. They feel the other person is really into them anyway( which is usually the case) and they think its ok to feed him/ her with false hopes, and leave once they’ve had enough and satisfied their short term needs. Sometimes though, its like the child that cried wolf because some ghosters really have genuine issues, and they feel its unfair to let this person they’ve grown to like down; so they dissapear. Whatever the situation is, there is no reason at all to ghost someone you’ve spent weeks/ months being initimate with, shared secrets, met their families and the list goes on. The dellusion that ” oh i dont want to hurt them” is even more baffling. Here is one thing…Telling someone you are no longer interested is like a punch in the face; it is very painful but guess what!! they’ll recover from the pain in no time because afterall why should they worry, you have made it clear you do not wish to continue being a part of their life. Ghosting someone is like stabbing them in the back with a hot knife…. what they’ll experience for however long the injury lasts is hurt, dissapointment, self-blame for not seeing it coming, anger ( because they could have avoided it) and so on. What you do doesnt determine your character, it’s how you do it that does. We all have the right to change our minds and you shouldn’t even bother dating if you believe otherwise. Therefore if you do come to that point and cant have the conversation in person; send a text, email the person, leave a voicemail depending on how long you’ve dated. The only time I would say that ghosting is ok is if its an abusive relationship…. Ghost away or tell the person in a public place where he/ she cant retaliate with voilence. We are humans with emotions and feelings, lets treat each other as such.

    • MeeLee says:

      Rather than looking at someone so negative and judgemental,,
      I’d rather say, that the person perhaps saw your size, and “hairy legs”, didn’t like them, but chose to love you despite it all, thinking things will go better over time (which usually it does, if the relationship is going in a good direction, with effort); but then over the course of time, things got a bit more complex and southbound, and more and more issues start popping up, and he finally cut ties?
      That would make more sense than to disappear for no reason, and to be labeled a ‘liar’ (which is not very attractive, to say the least).

      It seems in your case, you’ve grown fond of someone, who hasn’t grown fond of you?
      Is that considered love?
      Would you want to spend your life with someone you like, but who doesn’t love, or perhaps even like you back?

    • Petra says:

      Agree! Thank you for commenting.

    • TS says:

      I so agree. Just be a decent person and tell them either in person or a phone call.

  7. Hurting says:

    I’m currently going through a ghosting period as I write this.

    I’m a 26(f) who had met a 28(m) online, and things were going fantastically well till one day texts slowed down and calls stopped. There were no arguments, no serious disagreements and things were going at a regular pace. He was open, always talking about his family, his job, dreams and aspirations. I felt that we were on a great track.

    I miss him dearly and the pain sometimes is so great that I tear up and have to fight the urge to break down. It feels close to a relative dying. No explanations, no rationale.

    I know for the ‘ghoster’ this probably feel disproportionate but to the ‘ghostee’, it’s the sudden removal of your presence with no reason that can drive a person crazy, as there is always some residual hope that exists that perhaps they will come back.

    To people considering ghosting… a text would suffice. Give them a reason. Give the person a chance to move on faster than this. The agonizing is the worst feeling in the world.

  8. Vivling17 says:

    Hurting- I;m going through the same thing right now. I was dating a guy I met online for about a month and we went on some dates and everything seemed fine. Then last week after asking me what I was upto and when I’m free and me replying I received no further replies from him. He’s still on my facebook and has seen the few msgs I wrote. I wonder why he hasn’t deleted me on facebook? Its all so confusing.

    He spoke about his family and we even made a few plans and I too thought we were on the right track. He was a really good guy but I did notice he struggled to want to talk about anything too deep and was distrustful of people in particular.

    I am now spending every day wondering if maybe I said or did anything wrong and I miss him a lot and hope he writes back or gets back in touch. A lot of people tell you to move on but it’s really the pain of not knowing why that stops you from being able to do so especially straightaway. Alot of times the ghoster ends up coming back but in some cases doesn’t. I would never ghost on anyone after this experience. Hope you’re doing okay.

    • Meelee says:

      I would write him on a private message in fb, what you wrote here.
      That you still miss him a lot, and would like him to write back.
      If he’s struggling to know if you love him, it might be a help to the relationship. But if he doesn’t care, then he won’t respond, and you’ll know you will have to move on.

    • Petra says:

      You did nothing wrong except misjudge his interest in you. Don’t blame yourself, but do think about why you put so much importance on someone who you haven’t met in real life and really didn’t get to know that well. It’s all about managing your expectations, and you expected way too much from this situation – that’s why you’re so disappointed and hurt now.

  9. Krystal says:

    I’ve had this happen to me… and two years later, it still hurts like hell. I am in my mid twenties and have been in love several times… but this time was different. He was the one I wanted to spend my life with. He was everything I’d been looking for. I knew he loved me (at least for the time being)… and we dated for a year. He talked about marrying me and a future together. I was so in love, and then out of nowhere, he stopped responding to me. I told him that I couldn’t handle being treated like that and he said we would talk more over the weekend, but it never happened. I tried contacting him several times but got nothing in return… finally, I gave up. Several months later, I saw he had found someone new. It tore my heart apart. I was left confused, rejected, and cheated. It’s just not right, yet somehow I still wish I was with him. I know it will never happen and I have to move on… but nobody else so far has made me feel anywhere close. :/

  10. Jo says:

    I’m glad I read this article, I’m still reeling over getting ghosted almost a year ago. We were in a relationship for over three months, even went on a trip together…he ends the relationship by ghosting me. Ignores my e-mail and text messages, at first I was worried thinking something happened which made me feel like an even bigger idiot once I realized what was happening. I think what makes it even worse is the ease of communication in today’s world, you can still be considered an ass if you end a relationship via text or e-mail but to do nothing…just hope they go away? You don’t even necessarily have to talk to the person, text sent..done. The fact that they don’t even have the respect to do that is what makes it even harder to understand. I can speak from experience it is very hard to move on from this not getting any closure when you think you’re with someone who really cares about you. I sympathize with Krystal for sure, I have never felt the way I felt about him and to have it end like this is crushing.

  11. Who says:

    Currently dealing with this. Met a guy offline about 7 weeks ago, our communication was good, on up until last Thursday when he suddenly started ignoring me. I would not have even known he was ignoring me if he wouldn’t have responded back with “?” After I was asking him was he ok because I thought something was wrong or had happened to him. So I responded to his “?” And he read the messages but completely ignored them. He called me and we talked over the phone on Tuesday and I told him to just be honest with me. If you’re losing interest in me just tell me, it’s no big deal, it’s life. But he said “Do you think I would still be calling you if I lost interest?” Which makes perfect sense, why are you still calling me if you lost interest? So we talked that Tuesday and he called me the next day and we talked. But our conversation ended abruptly. So that’s when I was getting concerned because I thought something happened. I waited for him to call back, he didn’t. So 2 hrs later I sent a casual “wyd?” Text. He didn’t respond. So then I sent another text about 3 hours later hoping to have a reply back the next day, the message basically said “Our conversation ended abruptly, I hope you’re ok, just text me or call me tomorrow, good night.” Next day, nothing. So I was really kinda worried now. So I tried calling him around the middle of the day, no answer and he didn’t call me back. So late that night I sent another text saying I was really concerned about him I think something happened and to please contact me asap to let me know he’s alright. Next day, still nothing! So I was wondering even if he was fine why ignore these types of messages from me? You see I’m worried about you, wtf. So I installed an app he told me about and sent him a message through there, just for the hell of it. That’s when I got the “?” Response and nothing else to this day lol. So I am just so confused about why he suddenly started treating me like this when our communication was fine. So I sent him some more texts just trying to get him to open up and be honest with me about stuff. If you lost interest, fine, but don’t just ignore me completely, it hurts and leaves the person feeling very confused, he didn’t even do a slow fade, it was a sudden fade. Because we were talking over the phone the day before lol smh. I just sent him messages saying “let’s just end things on good terms with each other, be honest with me, I just want some closure. Still nothing from him at all, but he reads these messages. I told him losing interest in a person is no big deal, but just be honest about it because it is the best thing to do. Still nothing from him. I even apologized to him for sending him constant messages about worrying about him because I felt like I got a bit carried away with all that, still nothing. So there is nothing left to do or say now. If he’s ok with treating me this way, then I’ll just move on and forget about this current situation I’m in, it’ll get better with time I know. I just don’t understand why he cannot send me a simple text a simple answer would be so much better than silence. It was so easy to talk to him before, now he cannot even acknowledge my existence lol smh. :(. Any advice or outlook on this?

    • TS says:

      It’s called narcissism. They are only in the relationship until it’s no longer fun for them. All the texts, messages, etc. are just more food for their huge, fake egos. You deserve so much better.

    • Petra says:

      A guy who wants to keep you in his life will not only respond, he will do a lot lot more. Don’t over-analyse, you gave him more than enough opportunity to explain himself. If he wanted to, he would. Unfortunately people are like that because they don’t even realise how rude and disrespectful it is. This is not a guy you want to invest time or energy in. Let it go. He showed you very clearly what he’s all about.

  12. mark hogg says:

    Meelee cant belve u think ghostin is the way to do that to some one thats so bull shit . I have had it happing to me and its not nice at alll . Cuts u up in to meany places . And hurts deep specaly when both loved each other . Well so the other one said eny ways . Ghostin is a terbel way to do things and shoud never be done yes . Maby telling some one ite over its still gonna be hard to get over but i dont thinl it will linger as long . I no getin ghosted fucked me up and i have lost very close famly members in my life and can tell u this ghostin is close to them on the lpst and hurt factor point is its not nice at alll

  13. Mel says:

    I’ve been ghosted a couple of times, and it never gets easier. The first time I had a 2 month thing with a guy (that knew my whole family), and ended up falling pregnant, even though I was on the pill. I ended up having a termination, as I wan’t at that stage in my life, and it was way too soon. He took me to the hospital, dropped me off at home (the doctor said I needed to have someone with me for 24hrs afterwards, and he agreed), then left me alone and I never saw him again. It was the most hurtful thing I have ever experienced. I get if you’re just not into me, but for gods sake, if you’ve had to go through something like that (or not), then the least you can do is have a little respect to wish someone well and just be honest with them. The second time was with a guy that I’d only known for a couple of weeks (so not long at all!). He went from texting me constantly throughout the day/night, telling me he’d deleted tinder, invited me to meet his friends, say he couldn’t wait to see me again, and then nothing. Reading the article I definitely agree that their actions say a lot more about them, than me. But it still hurts. I guess I just have to be thankful that it didn’t last any longer, if this is how they can treat someone so early on.

    • Petra says:

      You are definitely attracting men that reject you (and in a very very hurtful way) for a reason. I can help with that – to discover those reasons (underlying issues, fears, insecurities), and find ways to heal them. If you’d like that, contact me for a consultation (via my ‘Coaching’ page) and we’ll take it from there. Take care.

  14. CRYSTAL says:

    I to have been ghosted and it just happen a few days back.I was with this guy for over a year..Things got crazy due to him losing his job and getting kicked out of his parents house.He was for awhile unable to text me or call me because he had no phone.Well he got his old job back and his parents let him back in.He got ahold of me saying he missed me and thought of me everyday.We were suppose to met up that night and he poofed for a night. Then the next night i get one txt saying i have to work late.Next day I get one message saying dont come by im out of town.I then call him hes number has been changed and wont see any of my facebook messsages.We are both in our 30s.I just shocked because we are not very young and have dated for awhile..I cant wrap my head around it.I want amswers:(

    • Petra says:

      He is not worth your time, energy or attention. But if you want to understand why that happened to you – there are certainly deeper reasons. If you’d like to explore, get in touch (via email or contact page).

  15. Klaudia says:

    The things you are talking about have happened to me on many occasions. I would rather call it cowardice rather than a euphemistically ,,ghosting”. I fell like giving up on finding someone. I haven’t been able to form friendships either. The life I am living is not normal for a person of my age. My desire to be in contact with people is declining drastically due to my previous experiences with them. I often feel as if I didn’t exist. I really don’t know what to do 🙁

    • Petra says:

      Would you like to have a chat about that? Please contact me via my Coaching or Contact pages and we’ll take it from there.

      • Klaudia says:

        Thank you for responding to my comment. I would like to talk and work with you, but unfortunately cannot afford the coaching at this point. I will come back to you in future if nothing changes. I suppose I will need to come back, as I am not anticipating that things will change for the better for me.

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