The impact ghosting in relationships has on mental health and ways to deal with it

Experts discuss why people do it, its types, and the emotional affects.

14 January, 2024
The impact ghosting in relationships has on mental health and ways to deal with it

A wide smile appears across your face when the person you’ve matched with on a dating app initiates conversation. You promised yourself, after uninstalling the app for the 100th time, that this would be the last time you put yourself out there. And those initial conversations that send butterflies in your stomach only validate your decision to find what you’re looking for. Sometimes, unfortunately, the happy, flirty conversations last only but a few days until your expectations come crashing down. All you have are single ticks on Whatsapp, or worse, being left on read. Yes, you have been ghosted. The bubble has burst. 

What is ghosting and why do people do it?

Ghosting is a form of neglect and emotional abuse. It takes place when one person straight up neglects another person. It’s a person's way of saying that they don’t want to take things further. One of the main reasons someone may ghost you is because of their inability to handle the situation; it could also be a learnt behaviour for them. This makes it easy for them to avoid conflict or an uncomfortable conversation. Another reason could be that they lack the basic communication skills causing them to face certain issues when expressing their feelings. There is also the fear of confrontation as the person doing the ghosting doesn’t want to hurt the other person's feelings. For them, avoidance will always be an easier option than communication. Lastly, people change and so do their feelings. One could just stop feeling a certain way about someone or caring enough to believe they owe them any sort of explanation. For them, ghosting is the safest way to deal with the situation and saves them a lot of time and energy. It’s them sending a clear message that they don’t want to get to know the other person anymore. 

The different types of ghosting

Soft-ghosting or slow fading

People stop replying to the messages gradually and start avoiding the person. They don’t want to directly ghost, but do whatever they can to avoid the person.

Bread crumbing

The person ghosting gives the other person a lot of hope only to suddenly disappear one day. They lead the other person on to keep them interested, even though they have no intention of being romantically involved with them. This is a manipulative tactic and causes the other person to be anxious all the time and developing a constant need for their attention. 

In some cases, the person ghosts the other person, disappears, and blocks them without any explanation. The person who gets ghosted is left confused. The entire episode not only affects their mental health but creates long-term anxiety and trust issues. This causes them to become guarded where they no longer put themselves in a position to be vulnerable. 


Ghosting can take place between people in a relationship as well. Often, some couples resort to ghosting after arguments because they don’t know any other way. They don’t talk for a long time, don’t sleep together (if they live in the same house) or do the usual things they do in their relationship. This is called stonewalling and in this situation, one person refuses to speak to the other person and does their best to avoid conversation that creates distance in the relationship. They communicate through someone else, but the problem doesn’t disappear. 

What happens after ghosting?

Ghosting is a choice that a person makes. It's either because the individual has their own issues or is a reaction to the other person's their personality and behaviour, who may be coming on too strong, be aggressive in their approach, or be too clingy.     

The repercussions take place at both ends as the problem never gets solved. The person who is neglected goes through a lot of emotional abuse where they start to lose their self-esteem and begin to doubt and question themselves, along with developing negative thoughts and social anxiety. With their need for attention and validation increasing, they tend to over-commit, become clingy, and crave for more which leads to them ending up in toxic relationships because they’re doing much more than they have to and way more than the other person. 

How to cope with ghosting? 

First and foremost, prioritise your self-respect. Take small steps to work on your self-esteem and self-confidence. If you are good enough and keep telling yourself that, what the other person does won’t affect you as much. It’s easier to move on when you believe in yourself. Additionally, validate your feelings and accept them instead of running away or bottling up your emotions. 

Inputs by Priyanka Kapoor, Psychotherapist and Psychologist, Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai and Anuradha Gupta, Founder & CEO, Vows For Eternity