Ghosting (behavior)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ghosting, simmering and icing are colloquial terms that describe the practice of suddenly ending all communication and avoiding contact with another person without any apparent warning or explanation and ignoring any subsequent attempts to communicate.[1][2][3]

The term originated in the early 2000s, typically referring to dating and romantic relationships. In the following decade, the media reported a rise in ghosting behaviors, which has been attributed to the increasing use of social media and online dating apps. The term has also expanded to refer to similar practices among friends, family members, employers and businesses.[4][5][6]

The most common cause of ghosting in a personal relationship is to avoid emotional discomfort in a relationship. A person ghosting typically has little acknowledgment of how it will make the other person feel. Ghosting is associated with negative mental health effects on the person on the receiving end and has been described by some mental health professionals as a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse or cruelty.[7]

Ghosting has become more prevalent.[8][9] Various explanations have been suggested, but social media is often blamed, as are dating apps, polarizing politics and the relative anonymity and isolation in modern-day dating and hookup culture, which make it easier to sever contact with few social repercussions.[10] In addition, the more commonplace the behavior becomes, the more individuals can become desensitized to it.[7]

In 2014, a YouGov survey was taken to see if Americans have ever ghosted their partner to end a relationship. In a 2014 survey, 1,000 US adults were interviewed about ghosting, yielding the result that just over 10% of Americans have ghosted someone to break up with them.[11]

Origin of term[edit]

The term is used in the context of online exchanges,[12] and became popular by 2015 through many articles on high-profile celebrity relationship dissolutions,[13][14] and went on to be widely used. It has been the subject of many articles[15] and discussions[16] on dating and relationships in various media. It was included in the Collins English Dictionary in 2015.[17]

In personal relationships[edit]

People primarily ghost in relationships as a way of avoiding emotional discomfort they are having in a relationship, and are generally not thinking of how it will make the person they are ghosting feel. A survey from BuzzFeed indicated that 81% of people who ghosted did so because they "weren't into" the person they ghosted, 64% said the person they ghosted did something they disliked, and 25% stated they were angry with the person.[18] When a relationship is online and there are few mutual social connections in the relationship, people are more inclined to ghost due to the lack of social consequences. With ghosting becoming more common many people have become desensitized to it, making them more likely to participate in ghosting. Additionally, according to psychologist Kelsey M. Latimer, people who ghost in relationships are more likely to have personality traits and behaviors that are self-centered, avoidant, and manipulative.[19] However, ghosting could also be a sign of self-isolation seen in people with depression, suicidal tendencies, or are relapsing with an addiction.[20]

There is limited research directly on the effect of ghosting on the person on the receiving end. However, studies have indicated that ghosting is considered the most hurtful way to end a relationship in comparison to other methods such as direct confrontation.[21] It has been shown to cause feelings of ostracism, exclusion, and rejection. Additionally, the lack of social cues along with the ambiguity in ghosting can cause a form of emotional dysregulation in which a person feels out of control.[22] Some mental health professionals consider ghosting to be a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse, a type of silent treatment or stonewalling behaviour, and emotional cruelty.[7]

A 2018 survey determined women, regardless of generation, were much more likely to ghost than men.[23]

Related to employment[edit]

Ghosting in employment often refers to a person who interviews for a job and is led to believe there is a chance of getting the job, then no acknowledgement of the position being filled is ever conveyed to the interviewee.[24][25]

The term has also been used in reference to people accepting job offers and cutting off contact with the potential employer, as well as employees leaving their jobs without any notice.[26][27]

Related terms and behaviors[edit]

While "ghosting" refers to "disappearing from a special someone's life mysteriously and without explanation",[28] numerous similar behaviors have been identified, that include various degrees of continued connection with a target.[29][30][31] For example, "Caspering" is a "friendly alternative to ghosting. Instead of ignoring someone, you're honest about how you feel, and let them down gently before disappearing from their lives."[32] Then there is the sentimental and positive, but also ghost-related in origin, Marleying, which is "when an ex gets in touch with you at Christmas out of nowhere". "Cloaking" is another related behavior[33] that occurs when an online match blocks someone on all apps while standing them up for a date. The term was coined by Mashable journalist Rachel Thompson after she was stood up for a date by a Hinge match and blocked on all apps.[34] Ghosting, caspering, marleying and cloaking may be seen as belonging to a family of related behavior, but the exact same behavior may be explained by different causes, potentially differing significantly, especially in severity.[citation needed]

"Orbiting" is an English term used colloquially and its meaning is closely related to ghosting. It occurs in love and friendship relationships, in which one wants to stop having an intimate relationship. However, contact is not completely lost, since the one who "abandons" continue to show signs to the other, especially through social media. They may even interact with the abandoned one, but in a very superficial way, such as liking their posts or viewing their stories, but not replying to any direct message or taking their calls.[35] Anna Lovine, who coined the expression, explained the trend as the following: the orbiter keeps you "close enough to see each other; far enough never to talk". The word appeared for the first time as a pre-selection for the Word of the Year 2018 in Oxford, in which orbiting is defined as "the action of abruptly withdrawing from direct communication with someone while still monitoring, and sometimes responding to, their activity on social media".[36]

See also[edit]

  • Cold shoulder – Phrase used to disregard someone
  • Coping (psychology) – Strategies used to reduce unpleasant emotions
  • Ostracism – Democratic procedure for expelling citizens
  • Shadow banning – Blocking a user from an online community without their awareness
  • Social rejection – Deliberate exclusion of an individual from social relationship or social interaction
  • Breadcrumbing – Form of manipulation
  • Cowardice – Excess of fear


  1. ^ Safronova, Valeriya (June 26, 2015). "Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  2. ^ "Where Did the Term "Ghosted" Come From? Origin of the Web's Favorite Term for Abandonment". Mic. February 5, 2016. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  3. ^ "Why Ghosting Is Leading the World's Mental Health Crisis | Psychology Today". Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  4. ^ "Friendship Ghosting Is Real". Time. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  5. ^ "'I've been ghosted by my insurer'". BBC News. May 26, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  6. ^ "I Was Ghosted by One of My Closest Friends". Cosmopolitan. August 27, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c "Why Ghosting Hurts So Much". Psychology Today. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Perel, Esther (2015). Stable Ambiguity and the Rise of Ghosting, Icing and Simmering.
  9. ^ "I Asked Men Why They Ghosted Me". VICE. United States. November 10, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "And Then I Never Heard From Him Again: The Awful Rise of Ghosting". The Date Report. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  11. ^ "Poll Results: Ghosting | YouGov". Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  12. ^ Bartz, Andrea; Ehrlich, Brenna (April 14, 2011). "Don't be offended by online-dating rejection". Netiquette. CNN.
  13. ^ Edwards, Stassa (June 20, 2015). "Charlize Theron Broke Up With Sean Penn By Ghosting Him". Jezebel. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  14. ^ "Charlize Theron Gets a Black Belt in Ghosting". The Cut. June 19, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  15. ^ "The Common 21st-Century Dating Problem No One Knows How To Deal With". The Huffington Post. October 30, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  16. ^ Safronova, Valeriya (June 26, 2015). "Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "'Ghosting' is now in the dictionary - so is dating etiquette dead?". The Independent. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  18. ^ "8 Reasons People Ghost (Beyond "They're Just A Jerk"), From Experts". mindbodygreen. June 24, 2020. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  19. ^ "Here's How To Search Through Instagram Comments". Bustle. July 2021. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  20. ^ "When ghosting is a sign of suicide or relapse |". March 12, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  21. ^ Gholipour, Bahar (February 2, 2019). "Why Do People Ghost?". Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  22. ^ "Why Ghosting Hurts So Much". Psychology Today. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  23. ^ "Women Are More Likely To Ghost Someone They're Dating Than Men — And There's A Very Good Reason For That". Bustle. May 3, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  24. ^ "Employer 'ghosting' a reality after a job interview: Ethically Speaking". Toronto Star. September 25, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  25. ^ Maloney, Devon (June 6, 2016). "Just Checking In Again". Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  26. ^ Gilchrist, Karen (April 24, 2019). "Employees keep 'ghosting' their job offers — and Gen Zs are leading the charge". CNBC. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  27. ^ "Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  28. ^ Peters, Mark. "How Tinder and OKCupid spawned a new genre of slang". Boston Globe.
  29. ^ Lanquist, Lindsey (September 29, 2017). "Breadcrumbing, Stashing, and Other Internet Dating Slang I Wish You Didn't Need to Know". Self.
  30. ^ Swantek, Samantha. "Breadcrumbing Is the New Ghosting and It's Savage AF". Cosmopolitan.
  31. ^ Alves, Glynda (May 15, 2018). "Breadcrumbing, orbiting and more: Update your dating dictionary with these new-age terms". Economic Times. India.
  32. ^ Benwell, Max (March 1, 2018). "Ghosting, Caspering and six new dating terms you've never heard of". The Guardian. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  33. ^ Dermentzi, Maria (April 3, 2019). "'I was cloaked.' What it's like to be blocked and stood up by your Hinge date". Mashable. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  34. ^ Thompson, Rachel (August 24, 2018). "My Hinge match invited me to dinner and blocked me as I waited for our table". Mashable. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  35. ^ "Orbiting: qué es y cómo afecta a las relaciones tras una ruptura". (in Spanish). February 10, 2022. Retrieved July 21, 2023.
  36. ^ "Word of the Year 2018 - Shortlist | Oxford Languages". Retrieved July 21, 2023.