If you're currently elbows-deep in a pint of ice cream wondering why the person you've been dating for the past month suddenly stopped calling or texting you back, you're totally not alone. Being ghosted sucks, and unfortunately, it happens all too often. A 2o2o study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health actually found that 13 to 23% of US adults have been ghosted. Hell, even the Duchess of freaking Sussex was reportedly ghosted by a dude who seemed to like her in the beginning.
Unfortunately, getting ghosted (and even ghosting a few people yourself!) is just part of the dating game. And while it may be tempting to try to comb through every single text, DM, and phone call to try to figure out why they went all Casper on you, everyone's reasons for wanting to end things are different. But why do dudes who seem to like you suddenly freak out and bail without any explanation?
The answer has a little bit to do with human nature, explains Niloo Dardashti, PhD, a psychologist and relationship expert in New York City. “You feel something very strongly, and then after you actually get to know the person, you see their real self, and things change,” she adds. It’s hard not to take it personally when you get ghosted, but remember: Being ghosted doesn’t necessarily mean the person didn’t like you at one point.
“I think it’s very likely that you could have feelings for someone and just be so overloaded with choice and people around you, you aren’t in tune with what’s really right for you,” says Dardashti.
Other than that, ghosting can happen for other reasons beyond your control, as Kamil Lewis, AMFT, a sex and relationships expert, says. It’s possible that maybe the person just wasn’t ready for a relationship at the time, or someone else came into the picture.
Other common ghosting reasons? They might fear conflict, and thus, by ghosting, says Lewis, think they’re sparing themselves of having to go through an official “breakup.” They could also be fearful that if they try to break up with you properly, they’ll be persuaded to stay in a relationship that they really don’t want to be in. (Remember: None of these are good excuses. You deserve way better than having to convince someone to keep dating you. Like, way better.)
And sure, while it’d be a bit more polite to end a relationship with a real conversation, not everyone has the courage to reject someone properly, or the communication skills to express their feelings. For some real talk on the matter, we spoke to dudes who ghosted girls they admittedly liked at the beginning (and sometimes also at the end!) to get to the bottom of why people ghost. Here’s what they had to say.
Ryan*, 27, ghosted someone who might've come on a bit too strong.
"We went on two dates, with a decent connection, but one based on physical attraction more than anything else," he said. "We hooked up and I stayed the night at her place after the second date." It wasn't until the next morning when things started to go south.
"She was out when I woke up, but in my phone was a text from her detailing all the places she needed a ride to, our whole weekend mapped out, which friends I'd need to pick up, and more. I was a bit freaked out and let her know I was busy. Within a couple of hours, I had five missed calls and more texts insisting that we needed to do these things to make it a good weekend, with an increasingly salty tone. I let her know that night that I didn't want to continue seeing her—we fought, and she demanded I go see her in person to give her closure. When I explained it was too much for me, and she still wasn't listening, I bowed out and stopped responding."
Anthony*, 28, ghosted a co-worker when he realized it was getting serious.
"She was super sweet and clearly liked me, which kind of freaked me out since I knew that meant this would be heading toward a relationship rather than just a hookup," he said. "I really think it came down to me being a selfish person who thought that because my intent was never to hurt anyone, that made it okay to just drop off the face of the Earth. I just really didn't know what it meant to be actually vulnerable with people or articulate what I want versus just going with the flow and people-pleasing, and I took out my anxiety/frustration on others. And I was good at convincing myself I was doing her a favor by ghosting her."
John B.*, 28, ghosted a girl after a month when he couldn’t tell whether she was interested.
“I met this woman through a dating app and we went out to drinks, talked, kissed, and planned to see each other again. We ended up going out a handful of times, hooked up a few times, and she stayed over too. I cooked her a birthday dinner, did all the cute things, and thought it was going well for about a month. I liked her a good bit.
“She rarely ever texted me or called. I couldn’t tell if she was just not interested or if she needed me to make all the effort.
“I tried talking to her IRL about it but got nothing from her, so I just stopped texting her, and she never reached out. I felt like if she wasn’t going to make the effort, then it wasn’t worth continuing to try—especially after I tried to have a convo in person about it.
“I’m a big communicator. I’m not afraid of those tough convos and prefer to be upfront. But when someone just gives me nothing, even if our in-person hangs are stellar, things just feel off.”
William, 28, ghosted a girl after he realized her emotional outbursts were taking a toll on his own health and a sign of a toxic relationship.
“I met this girl in the summer of 2014, just before transferring universities. I thought she was stunning. We exchanged numbers and dated throughout spring and summer of 2014. We enjoyed hot dates, great sex—it was awesome.
“All along she had emotional tantrums, and they worsened over time. They were frustrating and difficult to deal with. One time, it resulted in her speeding at 101 mph around 2:00 a.m. and another was her throwing a fit in front of my mother—among other examples.
“It was frustrating and emotionally draining. I felt like I was walking on eggshells around her and could no longer stand her. Adults shouldn’t be throwing tantrums, and I thought it was a sign of emotional immaturity, and definitely a red flag for a toxic relationship.
“I wound up ghosting her when I transferred schools. She would send me lots of messages, saying she really missed me and long emotional messages for months afterward and they started giving me the creeps after a while. I never replied to any of her messages.”
Mark*, 22, ghosted a girl he was seeing for a couple of months until he decided she was “a little annoying.”
“I met this girl my senior year of college. We had a ton of mutual friends throughout school, but I never really made any effort to get to know her,” he says. “We had some people over toward the end of the year after the bars and we just kind of hit it off.”
They started seeing each other regularly for a month or two, and all was going well...until they went golfing with his friends one day.
“At first, everything was fine and we were all having fun. But by the time we made it through the front nine, she was already complaining about how bored she was and how much more fun she would’ve had doing anything else,” he recalled.
“It was a little annoying, and I wasn’t looking for anything serious at the time, so I felt fine just going separate ways after graduation.” He stopped responding to her texts and Snaps altogether.
Dan*, 19, decided he was in too deep when the woman he was seeing let her know how much she liked him—which spooked him.
“I met this girl who was a friend of a friend’s and she seemed chill and normal, so we ended up exchanging Snaps. Then a week later, we made plans to hang out,” he says. “We went on a super-lowkey date where we just went up to the top of some hill and ate while we watched the sunset.”
“We kissed for a bit, and while we were kissing, she started giggling. I was like, ‘Uhhhhh what’s up?’ and she said, ‘This is gonna sound dumb, but when I first met you, I had a really good feeling about you and me.’” Dan admits he thought what she said was a little weird but said he felt the same way too.
“Then she got super wide-eyed and said, ‘I swear to god, sparks flew! I knew you felt that connection too. I knew it.’” Let’s just say, that freaked Dan out even more. “I was pretty rattled about that, and I was like, ‘Yeah, maybe things might be moving a bit too fast.’ So after that, I just stopped texting or Snapping her even though I did still kind of like her.”
Daveed M., 27, had a pretty legit reason for ghosting.
“I hooked up with a married woman (she also had two kids). At the time, she told me she was divorced. Sadly, that was a lie, which I found out via social media. She ended up texting, Snapchatting, and Instagramming me. I had to go ghost mode because I felt guilty.”
Axle*, 26, ghosted a woman he originally really liked because she was rude to his friends.
He met her out, and the two immediately hit it off. “I ended up hooking up with her that night and got breakfast the next day. I thought she was super cool,” he says.
“We went out a couple of times, and then the first time I brought her to introduce her to friends, she got kind of drunk and super weird. She wasn’t friendly at all and made fun of one of my friends. I kind of ditched her that night, and she texted me the next morning apologizing. I was like, ‘Oh, no, I get it. It happens.’ But then, afterward, never spoke to her again.”
Colby W., 26, ghosted his girlfriend of a year and a half after he found out she was cheating on him.
“She had been acting distant and different, straying from our normal routine of calling and FaceTiming (because this was a long-distance relationship),” he says. “Her friend felt so bad for me, she ended up telling me. I didn’t feel like she deserved my energy anymore, which is why I ghosted. A formal breakup would’ve only led to a heated argument where she tried to explain why she did it and that she’ll never do it again, but the trust was broken.”
Anand B., 43, ghosted a woman because she was super ambitious and destined for greatness—he just didn’t have those same aspirations for himself.
Anand met her through a mutual friend eight years ago. They hit it off instantly and wound up dating on and off for years. To this day, Anand says she’s “amazing beyond description.” So why ghost someone so obviously awesome?
“It wasn’t an instant ghosting decision, but I just knew I’d hold her back somehow,” he says. “It was becoming clear that no matter how it played out, she’d most likely end up compromising for me. I just can’t let a woman like that compromise herself, especially not to that drastic of an extent. I couldn’t even take the risk of giving her that choice nor the chance to salvage the relationship via traditional breakup talk.”
Axle, 26 (yes, same dude as above) ghosted again, because he wasn’t ready for anything serious.
“I was originally set up with this woman by my friend. We went on a bunch of double dates, and I liked her as someone to date but not to turn into a girlfriend. It was summer, and I wanted to be single and have fun. Then she tagged me in a picture of us with my friend and his girlfriend together, so I untagged myself to make it clear I didn’t want to be in a relationship. She got the hint, but then I met another girl, fell in love, and just completely ghosted the other girl.”
Moral of the story? A ghoster’s reasons for ghosting are often all about them—they’re not ready for a real relationship, real feelings, real conversations—and have nothing to do with you. So if and you ever do get ghosted, walk away from that situation knowing you dodged a bullet, and you’re better off moving on.
*Name has been changed.