Ghosting In Relationships: Everything You Need To Know

The term “ghosting” has become a well-known dating and social term in recent years. It refers to the practice of suddenly and abruptly cutting off all communication with someone, typically in the context of a romantic or interpersonal relationship.

“Ghosting” was first mentioned on Urban Dictionary in 2006, and it has since become a recognized term in popular culture.

In a 2014 survey of 1,o00 U.S adults by the Huffington Post on ghosting, around 13% of respondents reported being ghosted by someone they were dating. Another 2018 survey found that 72% of respondents had experienced ghosting.

Considering the prevalence of this behavior, discussing the effects of ghosting, understanding why people engage in this behavior, and knowing how to cope when you’ve been ghosted is important for anyone navigating the world of dating and relationships.

Ghosted on mobile phone on table with glass of wine and tissue, Ghosting to cut all communication without explanation, ending a relationship. Social media dating.

What Does It Mean to Ghost Someone?

To “ghost” someone means to abruptly cut off all communication with them, effectively disappearing from their life without explanation.

While this term is commonly used in the context of dating , ghosting can also occur between friends, family members, or colleagues.

Being ghosted can lead to significant emotional distress, including feelings of rejection, confusion, and self-doubt as it leaves the other person feeling rejected and misguided without any closure or explanation.

Signs That You Have Been Ghosted

Being ghosted can be a confusing and emotionally challenging experience.

The most obvious sign of being ghosted is when the person you were communicating with suddenly stops responding to your calls, texts, messages, or emails. They go from being responsive to completely silent with no explanation or reason for their sudden disappearance.

Even if you initiate contact multiple times, they don’t engage in conversation or make any effort to continue the relationship. Or, if you had plans to meet up or do something together, they will cancel without a valid reason.

Other early warning signs that hint at impending ghosting include:

  • They are still active on social media but are not responding to your messages.
  • They may unfollow you or remove you from their friends or contacts on social media.
  • When they do respond, their messages are often brief and vague.
  • You may get a gut feeling that something is wrong because of the sudden change in behavior.

Ghosting Example

Here is an example of a ghosting story from a 2020 Washington Post article:

“I had been dating a guy for almost two months. Everything seemed like it was going well — we had made plans to go out the following weekend. Then he texted me that he was in the emergency room and would need to cancel our date. Of course I was worried, so I texted and called him numerous times to see how he was doing, but he didn’t respond. Eleven days went by and I constantly went back-and-forth between worry, confusion and anger that he might be ghosting me.”

How Long With No Contact Is Considered Ghosting?

The duration of no contact that is considered ghosting can vary depending on the nature of the relationship and the prior communication patterns.

There’s no specific time frame that universally defines ghosting, as it can occur after just a few days of no contact or after longer periods.

It’s essential to remember that each relationship is unique, and what constitutes ghosting can differ from one situation to another. Ultimately, you should pay attention to any noted changes in behavior or communication patterns.

For example, if they typically respond immediately, a few days of no contact could indicate ghosting. However, if they usually take a several days to respond, a few days without a response might not mean you are being ghosted.

The key aspect of ghosting is the sudden and unexplained disappearance, leaving the other person in a state of confusion and uncertainty. If someone has stopped responding to your attempts at communication without providing any reason or closure, regardless of the specific duration of no contact, it may be considered ghosting.

What Does Ghosting Say About a Person?

When you have been ghosted, it is common to question yourself and wonder whether you did something to make them disappear. But, in most circumstances, ghosting primarily reflects the actions and choices of the person doing the ghosting rather than the person who is ghosted.

Ghosting may suggest that the person has difficulty with open and honest communication. They may be uncomfortable with confrontation, conflict, or vulnerable conversations, so they choose to avoid them altogether. This is particularly prevalent in individuals who have an avoidant attachment style.

Some people ghost simply because they lack empathy. They may not fully understand or care about the emotional impact of their actions on others.

In dating contexts, ghosting can indicate a fear of commitment or an unwillingness to invest in a relationship. Some may be hesitant to take the next step or they may be exploring other options.

While it can be hurtful and frustrating to be on the receiving end of ghosting, it’s also important to recognize that people may ghost for a variety of reasons, and one instance of ghosting may not provide a comprehensive picture of someone’s character.

How Does It Feel to Be Ghosted?

Being ghosted is often an emotionally challenging and distressing experience.

Ghosting often leaves individuals feeling hurt, rejected, and confused as they may struggle to understand why the other person suddenly stopped communicating without any explanation.

They may begin to question their self-worth and desirability, as they may interpret the ghosting as a rejection of who they are.

Being ghosted can also lead to frustration and anger. The lack of closure and unanswered questions can make people feel disrespected, mistreated, or taken for granted.

Additionally, the loss of a relationship, even if it was not deeply meaningful, can lead to feelings of sadness or grief. People may mourn the potential or the connection they thought they had.

If the person who ghosted was a close friend or partner, the sense of loss can be feel overwhelming and can cause intense emotional pain.

Emotional Stages of Ghosting: Surprise, Responsibility, and Anguish

The emotional stages of ghosting can be complex and challenging to navigate. While there is no one-size-fits-all experience, there are some common emotional stages that many people may go through when they realize they have been ghosted.

The initial reaction to being ghosted is often surprise or confusion as one suddenly realizes that the person they were communicating with has stopped responding or has disappeared from their life without explanation.

One participant commented, “The not knowing the reason was the thing that hurt me the most.”

Another noted, “When such an event happens, one feels confused. You begin to ask many questions to which no or multiple answers are plausible.”

After the initial surprise, some individuals may start to internalize the situation and question whether they did something wrong. Victims spend a lot of time speculating on whether they said or did something to cause the ghosting, leading to feelings of self-blame or responsibility.

One participants said, “I’ve never been able to find an explanation for what happened, I thought about what faults I could have had.”

Another stated, “Several times, I thought I had done something wrong without realizing it.”

As you come to terms with the fact that you’ve been ghosted, the emotional impact often intensifies, leading to feelings of anguish or emotional pain.

Participants commented:

“I felt very angry because I found his behavior absurd, unfair, and irrational.”

“I felt very alone, devalued, desolated, and very sad, as if any hope for a better future was impossible.”

Personal Experiences: Emotional Impact and Reflections

Holmes (2022) conducted an analysis of young adults’ stories of being ghosted. These real-life experiences illustrate how different people may respond when they have been ghosted.

“At first I was pretty upset,” Emily said, “just because I didn’t know what I did wrong.”

Heather noted that being ghosted “made me second guess myself and doubt a lot of how I communicated with [the ghoster] and, you know, what I did wrong.”

“I see myself as very naive, first of all. I look back at it, and I’m like, you idiot.” She even recalled being angry with herself “for not figuring it out sooner and for actually believing what [the ghoster] had said.”

“I’ve never lost sleep over a guy before,” she said, “but this time, I was staying up late. When I was lying in bed, my mind was just like a hamster running in a wheel. I just could not stop thinking about it.”

Here are a couple more real-life accounts documented in a 2020 Washington Post article:

“[…]I was ghosted by a woman I had thought of as my best friend for six years, and that was more hurtful by far. When someone who has called you every day, professed undying friendship and sisterhood, supported you, advised you, defended you and included you in everything they did for years, suddenly locks you out of their orbit with no warning and no explanation, it’s easy to feel really misused.”

“We met through an online dating app in July 2017. Instant connection, lots of emails and texts. First date was at his house. Talked for hours, first kiss. Then he left to travel, which he did frequently. After a few perfunctory texts, he disappeared. I was a wreck for weeks, having never been ghosted before. I got over it, just by the passage of time.”

Long-Term Effects of Ghosting

Experiencing ghosting can have various long-term effects on an individual’s emotional and psychological well-being.

Some research has compared the effects of ghosting to those of social exclusion as both experiences involve the feeling of being rejected or excluded from a social connection. Humans are inherently social beings, and our brains are wired to seek social connection and belonging.

When we experience rejection or exclusion, whether through ghosting or other forms of social rejection, we often respond in similar ways.

Both ghosting and social exclusion can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and even depression. This sense of being unwanted or unimportant can be deeply distressing.

Research has also found that being ghosted can negatively affect one’s self-esteem and self-worth. Many people report lower life satisfaction, feelings of helplessness, and loneliness. Some may begin to question their attractiveness, likability, or value in relationships.

Ghosting can also erode a person’s trust in others, particularly in future romantic relationships.

Participants in the analysis by Holmes (2022) reported: “Because of being ghosted, [they keep] their distance from potential partners and [are] more afraid that someone will leave ‘just like that.'”

Others said they “try not to get serious too fast with anyone” and are “definitely less trusting and more suspicious.”

Interestingly, another study by Navarro et al. (2021) found that those who had previously been ghosted were more likely to ghost others in the future.

How to Respond to Ghosting

Responding to ghosting can be challenging, as it often involves dealing with a situation where communication has abruptly and unexpectedly ended.

Feeling like you are being ignored can be extremely frustrating and hurtful. Many people respond to this frustration by persistently attempting to reach out to the other person in the hope they will eventually respond.  

However, this is not the best way to respond to being ghosted as it will only exacerbate your sense of helplessness and shame.

Here are some steps and strategies you can consider when responding to ghosting:

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Allow yourself some time to process your emotions and reactions before taking any action. It’s natural to feel hurt, confused, or angry when you’ve been ghosted, and taking a step back can help you gain perspective.

Reflect on your feelings and the impact of the ghosting on your well-being. How has it affected you emotionally? Understanding your own emotions can guide your healing process.

You can also consider talking to friends, family, or a therapist about your experiences.

Once you have allowed yourself to grieve and voice your feelings, you should begin to move forward and let them go.

Let Them Go

Not responding is a form of response – they have chosen to respond with silence to let you know they are no longer interested or prefer not to communicate with you.

Being rejected in this way is a hard pill to swallow as it hurts your pride and self-worth.

But trying to force someone to respond when they clearly do not want to talk will not make you feel better – it will only make you feel more desperate and distressed.

Therefore, you must accept that the person who ghosted you may not ever provide the closure you seek.

If you feel like you have something left to say, you can consider sending a single, polite, and non-confrontational message to them. However, if they do not reply, you should not keep chasing them.

You should aim to move forward and focus on building healthy relationships with others who value and respect you.

Challenge Negative Thoughts

Try to avoid blaming yourself for the ghosting. Remind yourself that ghosting is primarily a reflection of the other person’s behavior and choices, not yours.

When you’ve been ghosted, it’s natural to want answers and to question what you might have done wrong. You may never know the reason for their behavior, but most of those reasons likely have nothing to do with you.

They could be dealing with their own issues, fears, or relationship challenges that led them to this decision.

Remind yourself that you are a valuable and worthy individual regardless of how someone else chose to end the relationship.

Instead of placing blame, focus on learning from the experience. Reflect on what you want in future relationships and how you can communicate your needs and expectations more effectively.

Avoid Over-Analyzing

When something happens that we cannot explain, it is normal for our minds to spiral and over-analyze every interaction and behavior in an attempt to reach some sort of clarity.

While seeking closure from the person who ghosted you is understandable, recognize that true closure often comes from within.

It can be challenging not to have clear answers or closure about why the person chose to disappear, but you must learn to accept the situation and embrace the uncertainty.

Not everything in life can be neatly explained or controlled. Instead, acknowledge that you may not get all the answers you seek and find a way to be okay with that lack of clarity.

Prioritize Healing and Self-Care

Prioritize self-care during this time. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and take care of your physical and emotional well-being.

If you are feeling low and devalued, remind yourself of your strengths and positive traits. You could ask your friends and family what they love about you, or make a list yourself.

Reconnect with hobbies, interests, and activities that you enjoy. This can help you regain a sense of purpose and self-worth.

Should I Ask Them Why They Ghosted Me? Should I Ask the Ghoster for Closure?

Whether or not you should ask the person who ghosted you for an explanation or closure is a personal decision.

While asking for closure may provide you with some insight into the reasons behind the ghosting, there is no guarantee that the person who ghosted you will respond or provide the closure you seek. If the response is unsatisfactory or if they continue ignoring you, this can lead to further disappointment and emotional distress.

Additionally, seeking closure may extend the emotional process and delay your ability to heal and move forward.

If you decide to reach out, make sure to set realistic expectations and understand that you may not receive a response or the response you were hoping for.

Regardless of the response, be prepared to move on with or without closure. Closure often comes from within and through the process of accepting and processing the situation.

Should I Give the Ghoster a Chance?

Deciding whether to give the person who ghosted you a chance depends on various factors, including your own feelings, the nature of the relationship, and the circumstances surrounding the ghosting.

Before deciding to give the ghoster a chance, it’s essential to understand the reasons behind the ghosting. Was it a one-time occurrence related to personal issues or circumstances, or is it a pattern of behavior?

Evaluate whether the ghoster has taken steps to communicate with you, provide an explanation, or express remorse for their actions as open and honest communication is crucial for rebuilding trust.

Additionally, if ghosting is part of a pattern of unreliable or hurtful behavior, it’s important to consider whether this is a person you want in your life. Try reflecting on your past experiences with this person.

Have they consistently demonstrated care, respect, and consideration in the relationship, or have there been other issues? Do you believe that open communication and transparency can be reestablished in the relationship?

To illustrate, here is a personal experience:

“[…]After a few perfunctory texts, he disappeared. I was a wreck for weeks, having never been ghosted before. I got over it, just by the passage of time.

Spring 2019, our paths cross again. I’m cynical, but he makes all the effort. He asks me out to dinner. He comes over to my house for wine a few days later. He suggests we have coffee Saturday mornings at my house, after his bicycle riding group is finished.

He comes over to my house to cook me dinner. On a Friday night, about three months after we are reacquainted, he texts me a picture of himself presenting that week at a conference, from the plane, as he was coming home for the week. No text from him Saturday morning about our standing coffee date. I text him at noon. I text him later that day.

By Sunday late morning, I’m in a panic, thinking that he’s been hit by a car on his Saturday morning bike ride. No response from him.

By Monday, I sent my final text, saying that I had no idea where he was, if he was even still alive, but that I didn’t want to move forward until I was important enough to him for him to respond to me.

Turns out, he was still alive, very much so. I later learned that his “roommate,” whom he described as his ex-girlfriend in the process of finding a new place to live, was NOT his ex.”

Rules for Texting Someone When They Ghosted You

Navigating communication with someone who has ghosted you can be tricky and emotionally charged.

Generally speaking, if someone has ghosted you, they likely do not want to hear from you or engage in further communication. 

Thus, it is often best to avoid reaching out and instead, seek closure within yourself.

However, if you think seeking clarity can help you make sense of the situation and move on more effectively, here are some guidelines to consider.

When you are sending them a message make sure you:

  • Allow some time to pass before reaching out
  • Keep your initial message calm, polite, and non-confrontational
  • Share your feelings honestly but without overwhelming the other person
  • Encourage open and honest communication by asking open-ended questions
  • Be mentally prepared that the person may choose not to respond

If they do not reply, you must respect this decision.

Avoid doing the following things when you send them a message:

  • Accusing, blaming, or using aggressive language
  • Issuing ultimatums or making demands
  • Rushing into things
  • Begging
  • Calling or texting incessantly

Some examples of texts you could send include:

  • “I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind. I felt a bit confused and hurt when our communication suddenly stopped. Can you share your perspective on why that happened?”
  • “I understand that life can get busy, and sometimes we lose touch. I just wanted you to know that I hold no hard feelings, and I’m open to catching up if you’d like.”
  • “I hope you’re okay. I’ve been trying to understand what happened between us, and I would appreciate it if you could give me some closure. It would mean a lot to me.”

What Should You Not Do When Responding to a Ghoster?

When responding to someone who has ghosted you, it’s important to avoid certain behaviors and actions that can be counterproductive.

Although the ghoster’s behavior was unkind and unfair, it’s important not to respond with anger, blame, or confrontation. Accusing the person of wrongdoing or being hostile can escalate the situation and reduce the likelihood of a constructive conversation.

Do not:

  • Let out your anger
  • Beg for a response
  • Send a barrage of messages
  • Issue threats or ultimatums
  • Publicly shame or humiliate them
  • Engage in guilt-tripping

Instead, responding to a ghoster with understanding, respect, and emotional maturity will help you foster a constructive dialogue and navigate the situation more effectively.

How to Respond When the Ghoster Comes Back

Responding to a ghoster who comes back into your life is a decision that should be made carefully, considering your own feelings and what you want from the situation.

Take some time to reflect on how you feel about the person’s return. Are you open to reconnecting, or do you still have reservations and concerns about the past ghosting experience?

Also, pay attention to how the person responds to your communication. Are they apologetic, sincere, and willing to address the issues that led to the ghosting? Evaluate whether their response aligns with your expectations.

If you decide to respond, initiate an open and honest conversation. Express your feelings and concerns about the previous ghosting incident using “I” statements to convey your emotions without accusing or blaming.

Try to encourage the person to share their perspective and reasons for ghosting if they are willing to do so as understanding their viewpoint can provide valuable insight into the situation.

Ultimately, if it seems that both parties are on the same page regarding the nature of the relationship, communication, and boundaries, and you decide to give the person another chance, take things slow. Rebuilding trust and a healthy connection may require time and patience, and rushing into things may lead to future problems.

Most importantly, trust your instincts and prioritize your own happiness and well-being. If you feel that the reconnection is unhealthy or causing distress, it’s okay to disengage and move forward.

Julia Simkus edited this article.


Is Ghosting Ever Acceptable?

Ghosting is generally considered to be a behavior that lacks empathy and communication, and it can have negative emotional impacts on the person being ghosted. However, there are a few exceptions where ghosting could be understood or justified.

If someone genuinely feels that communicating with a person could lead to harm, then limiting or cutting off contact can be a valid choice. But in the majority of cases where safety isn’t a concern, open and honest communication is usually the best approach.

Do Ghosters Ever Come Back?

People who have ghosted someone in the past may decide to come back for a variety of reasons, depending on their individual circumstances and motivations.

Some of the reasons a ghoster might return include:
– Having regrets or second thoughts
– External motivations, such as advice, a favor, or information
– Loneliness and a yearning for connection
– Genuine desire to reconnect

Is Ghosting a Form of Manipulation?

Ghosting is often considered a form of passive or indirect communication, rather than outright manipulation. However, some aspects of ghosting can be perceived as manipulative depending on the circumstances and the motivations behind it

For example, if someone uses ghosting as a means of keeping the other person guessing or insecure, it can be seen as a form of emotional manipulation.

Additionally, ghosting can have a significant emotional impact on the person being ghosted, leading to feelings of rejection, confusion, and self-doubt. In this sense, it can be seen as manipulative because it can cause emotional distress.

Is Ghosting Always Narcissistic?

Ghosting is not always narcissistic. While ghosting can be a hurtful and inconsiderate way to end a relationship or communication, it does not necessarily indicate narcissistic behavior.

Nevertheless, research has found that those with Dark Triad traits (e.g., callousness, selfishness, manipulativeness) are more approving of ghosting as a strategy to end a relationship. Those who have high scores of narcissism and psychopathy are likely to use ghosting as a way to discard people and avoid commitment.  

That means, while not everyone who uses ghosting is narcissistic, people high in narcissism are more likely to ghost.

How Do You Respond to Being Ghosted by Your Employer?

Being ghosted by an employer can be a confusing and frustrating experience, especially if you were expecting communication regarding job-related matters.

In the initial stages, try to stay calm and patient. It’s possible that there are legitimate reasons for the lack of communication, such as internal processes or delays.

If you still do not hear, send a polite and professional follow-up message to your employer or the relevant contact within the organization. Express your understanding of their busy schedule and inquire about the status of the matter in question.

If your direct supervisor or manager is the one who has ghosted you, consider reaching out to the HR department or a higher-ranking supervisor to seek assistance or clarification.

While addressing the situation with your current employer, it may also be prudent to explore alternative employment opportunities or maintain connections with a professional network to ensure your career progression.

What is Soft Ghosting?

Soft ghosting refers to a behavior where one person gradually reduces their level of communication or interaction with another person without fully cutting off contact. Unlike traditional ghosting where all contact abruptly stops, soft ghosting involves a more gradual and subtle reduction in communication.


Bonos, L. (2020). We asked for your ghosting stories. Here they are — including one guy who can’t stop ghosting women. Retrieved from 

Holmes, K. (2022). “Something Would’ve Been Better Than Nothing”: An Analysis of Young Adults’ Stories of Being Ghosted.

Koessler, R.B., Kohut,T., & Campbell,L. (2019). Data and Analyses. Retrieved from

Navarro, R., Larrañaga, E., Yubero, S., & Villora, B. (2020). Psychological correlates of ghosting and breadcrumbing experiences: A preliminary study among adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(3). 

Navarro, R., Larrañaga, E., Yubero, S., & Villora, B. (2021). Individual, interpersonal and relationship factors associated with ghosting intention and behaviors in adult relationships: Examining the associations over and above being a recipient of ghosting. Telematics and Informatics, 57.

Pancani, L. & Mazzoni, D. & Aureli, N. & Riva, P. (2021). Ghosting and orbiting: An analysis of victims’ experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Educator, Researcher

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Anna Drescher

Mental Health Writer

BSc (Hons), Psychology, Goldsmiths University, MSc in Psychotherapy, University of Queensland

Anna Drescher is a freelance writer and solution-focused hypnotherapist, specializing in CBT and meditation. Using insights from her experience working as an NHS Assistant Clinical Psychologist and Recovery Officer, along with her Master's degree in Psychotherapy, she lends deep empathy and profound understanding to her mental health and relationships writing.