If you haven’t seen or heard from the person you’re dating for a little longer than usual, it might be time to stop holding your breath: They could be ghosting you.
“Ghosting” is a term used for ending a relationship by cutting off all forms of interaction and disappearing without warning – like a ghost. According to a survey conducted by Elle magazine, around 16.7 percent of men and 24.2 percent of women have ghosted one of their partners.
Assistant Psychology Professor I-Shan Yang said ghosting is nothing new, but relationship dynamics are changing how we start and stop relationships.
“It’s an old phenomenon,” Yang said. “It’s just because our way of communication has changed, it’s become more obvious.”
Yang said in the past people didn’t have nearly as many platforms for communication as we have now, so it’s easier to see when someone isn’t making the effort to communicate. She said she would consider ghosting an “indirect breakup strategy.”
Cache Kielbasa, a freshman communication major from Duchesne, admitted he was guilty of ghosting, but said it wasn’t in a real relationship.
“It just sort of happened,” Kielbasa said. “You just sort of start to not feel the same I guess.”
He said if he had ghosted someone he was in a “real relationship” with the outcome probably would have been worse, but ghosting was the easiest way for it to end.
“You don’t have to look them in the eyes; you don’t have to see the pain,” Kielbasa said.
In Kielbasa’s case, ghosting seemed like an easy way to let the relationship end on its own and avoid any awkward face-to-face interaction or confrontation.
Yang said most people try to avoid any type of confrontation because it can be difficult to handle, and initiating a breakup may make that person seem like the “bad guy.” Although these things can be intimidating, Yang said someone has to have the guts to do it the right way.
“[Ghosting] actually creates way more damage to most people,” Yang said. ”You left the other party wondering what is going on.”
Yang said this uncertainty can create a lot of stress in the other person and may even lead to stalking type behaviors, such as constant calling or posting on social media to try and get a response and some answers.
For those that have been ghosted, Yang said social support is one of the best ways to relieve the stress of the breakup. She suggested going outside, doing something with friends or just doing things different in your life.
Her advice to the people doing the ghosting: “Karma is going to catch up. Just prepare for that.”
Respect and common courtesy in breaking up ultimately define ghosting as a strategy to be avoided. You never know how your ghosting is going to haunt the other person.