Have you ever gone on a couple of “dates” with someone—believing that everything was going really smoothly—only to have them suddenly disappear from your life as if they never existed?
We hate to break it to you, but you’ve probably been ghosted. Oof.
A recent 2020 study revealed that at least 13%–23% of adults have experienced ghosting by a romantic partner.
In a world where love can be found over digital screens, it’s unfortunately also much easier for people to drop in and out of each other’s lives, sans consequences.
What is ghosting and why is it so rampant in dating culture?
According to Cambridge Dictionary, ghosting is a way of ending a relationship with someone suddenly by stopping all means of communication with them.
It happens most frequently online, which explains why it is notoriously rampant on dating apps.
Often, these “ghosters” tend to be avoidant, and are afraid of having to deal with confrontation and conflict.
For these people, ghosting is simply the path of least resistance.
Can’t tell if you’ve been ghosted? Read on to find out.
1. They give one-word replies.
Nobody likes receiving these dreaded one-word replies, and if your date is consistently replying to your texts with a single “Lol” or random emoji, it’s clear that they aren’t interested in continuing the conversation.
Sure, emergencies happen, and maybe they really are busy with work or family matters.
But even if they aren’t able to give a proper reply at the moment, pay attention to their day-to-day responses.
2. They take longer than usual to respond.
You’ve gone from texting every other hour to waiting days for an actual response.
If your date doesn’t seem to be trying to engage and interact with you as often as you are, they’ve probably already started ghosting you.
Your time is the most precious thing you can give to someone, so if they aren’t willing to do the same, it shows that they’re not interested enough to make themselves available to you.
3. Their replies are ambiguous and lack consistency.
Are you never able to hang out with them IRL?
The when, where and why is always left out in your conversations, and it’s always you sharing about your life and interests.
If they’re planning on ghosting you, they’ll probably avoid making solid plans or having “the talk”, if ever.
You might realize that they are selective in what they reply to, and this can sometimes escalate to you being left on read.
4. Plans are frequently being cancelled.
If your date is always cancelling on you and coming up with a bunch of excuses every time you question them, it might be time to bail on them.
They may only choose to interact through texts or phone calls to keep you at an arm’s length (and no, it’s not because of social distancing).
You deserve better than someone who doesn’t even bother to reschedule.
5. They have ghosted before.
If your date has openly admitted to being a serial ghoster, don’t ignore the fact that it might happen to you too.
If they don’t seem to feel bad about ghosting others or are always trying to defend or justify their behavior, this should be a major red flag.
6. You’ve been ghosted before.
If you’ve been ghosted more than once, you could be going after the wrong people (a.k.a. fleabagging).
Try being more open about your options rather than having a dating “checklist” in your head.
Being ghosted more than once might also cause you to doubt your own worth.
To avoid falling into an unhealthy cycle of low self-esteem, continue working on yourself in the areas that you find yourself lacking in.
7. They are always on social media but don’t respond to your texts.
We may all be guilty of this every once in a while, but if your date is constantly active on social media and can’t spare a few minutes to reply to you, something’s up.
If reaching out to them on their social media platforms doesn’t seem to work as well, it could be another way of saying that they’re just not that into you.
8. They feel distant.
Everyone has different texting styles, and it’s perfectly okay to count on your gut for this one.
If you feel like something’s just “off” with your date–like how they used to be all sweet and chummy over text and now they just seem bored and disinterested—they could be attempting to distance themselves from you.
9. The relationship is one-sided.
You seem to be doing all the work just to keep this relationship going.
If you’re always there for them but they never seem to be there when you need them, take the time to reassess your priorities and relationship with them.
Remember: it takes two hands to clap.
How to deal with ghosting
At the foundation of every healthy relationship is communication, and if someone doesn’t have the emotional maturity to tell you that they are no longer interested or are looking someplace else, it’s not you—it’s them.
Stop prioritizing them and start prioritizing yourself instead.
Instead of feeling bitter about not getting the answers or closure that you want, think of your experiences as challenges that have helped you become a stronger person.
When you are finally ready to put yourself back out there, know that there are plenty of emotionally available people who will go out of their way to show you that you do, in fact, matter.