The accepted social norm of ‘ghosting’ doesn’t make it okay

Illustration by Lilly Cook.

Brianna ScottOpinions Editor

“Hey!” *silence*

“Want to grab a bite at Elephant Thai?” *silence*

“Are you free tonight?” *silence*

“Read 2 p.m.” *silence*


We have all been on the receiving or giving end of these messages. It isn’t a new phenomenon, but the advancement of technology, the creation of smartphones and social media have made it so easy to do. Ghosting.

Leaving any sort of relationship without an explanation and disappearing classifies as ghosting. It happens in romantic, platonic and familial relationships.

Ghosting doesn’t just happen after an awkward date or two, it can happen after you have known someone for years.

I’ll go ahead and put myself on blast, I’ve been ghosted more than a dozen times. It doesn’t get easier to comprehend. I’ve come to accept it with a bitter laugh and curling up to watch “Gilmore Girls” while ordering McDonald’s on Uber Eats.

After being in the dating game since starting college, I expect most people are capable of ghosting without any remorse. Most people seem to ghost because of how effortless it is.

But there’s psychology behind ghosting.

Psychologist Dianne Grande cites avoidance of confrontation, fear of emotional intimacy, a narcissistic personality or fear of a violent reaction as potential reasons people ghost.

Ghosting someone is acceptable when dealing with physically or emotionally abusive individuals or people who bring no good to your life. Sometimes, there is no other safe way out.

On the other hand, some people ghost because they do not want to deal with “drama,” as one guy I was talking to explained. The truth is, people don’t want to deal with confrontation and would rather avoid communication than be honest with someone. It costs nothing to tell someone how you truly feel.

If you avoid communication because you are nervous about conflict, it can lead to bad cycle of avoiding all types of communication, including at work or school.

Being ghosted can lead you to become untrusting, doubtful in relationships, obsessive and self-blaming. Ghosting isn’t fun for any of the parties involved.

A recent study showed that perceptions about relationships can influence ghosting. These beliefs were destiny — that we all have a soulmate — and growth, that people change over time and broken relationships can be prevented from “hitting the rocks.”

Strong believers in destiny were nearly 40 percent likely to consider ghosting someone. Strong believers in growth were around 38 percent more likely to think it’s acceptable to ghost a long-term partner.

But people who ghost lack courage and don’t think about their impact on other people. These aren’t people we should waste our time on in hopes that they come crawling back to us — which they will.

My close friend ghosted me after he told me he was dying from cancer. The toxicity of our destructive and unhealthy friendship and romantic feelings for each other could fill pages. I knew he was a ghoster; our entire friendship revolved around him popping in and out of my life for years. When he told me, I thought the ghosting might cease and we could talk without him leaving. But he left with no explanation as to why he couldn’t just stay this one time. Again.

That pain left me breathless and feeling as though I didn’t matter. I felt like I would never matter to anyone if my friend who was dying could leave me like that.

Now, I can only hope his proxy never texts me the dreadful news that he’s gone, forever.

There is a pain that comes with being ghosted. The pain of rejection can surge through the human body at the same intensity of physical pain, reports a study from the National Academy of Sciences.

You can pop an ibuprofen to ease the suffering.

Being ghosted leaves you feeling powerless, vulnerable and questioning yourself when most of the time, you did nothing to warrant it.

I get it, feelings and emotions suck. But as humans, we have modes of communication that we should use.

I leave you all with a lyric from one of my favorite songs, “Lose One Friend” by Hotel Books, that could change your perspective on this heartbreaking phenomenon.

“It’s not about being there for me, it’s about respecting me enough to tell me why you’re not.”

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