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8 Ways to Recover From Being Ghosted

Getting ghosted may be more about the other person than it is about you.

Key points

  • Ghosting is becoming more and more common as way to terminate a relationship, romantic or otherwise.
  • Victims of ghosting are often left feeling hurt and confused, and may blame themselves.
  • Often, however, ghosting is more about the ghoster's traits, such as an avoidant attachment style, than it is about the ghostee's.
  • Setting boundaries and treating yourself with compassion can help you move on from being ghosted.

It’s not Halloween, yet you were just ghosted.

Simply stated, ghosting is when someone suddenly stops communicating with you without telling you why. Researchers characterize it as a one-sided dissolution strategy where all communication is cut off with no explanation, either temporarily or likely permanently (LeFebvre et al., 2021). Evidence suggests it has become an increasingly common way to terminate a relationship.

Although the term is most commonly used in reference to romantic relationships, many of which are now initiated online, ghosting can occur in almost any relationship. Since the “ghoster” ends the relationship suddenly by stopping communication, it can leave the “ghostee” with unfinished business, confusion, and worsened mental health.

Although there is not yet extensive research on the phenomenon of ghosting, many of my clients deal with it, particularly in the realm of online dating. I argue that ghosting can, in certain situations, be considered emotionally abusive because it is a passive yet aggressive relational pattern that leaves those who are “ghosted” with feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, betrayal, hurt, and confusion.

Why Do People Ghost?

Ghosting leaves people with questions. Many of my more self-aware clients often want to know why they got ghosted; often, they ask, "Is it them or me?"

If you have a history of being ghosted or of people removing themselves from your life, it may be beneficial to explore that further with a therapist. However, research has suggested that those who are more prone to ghosting may have personality characteristics that lead them to this easy exit strategy.

Someone who frequently ghosts others, for example, may suffer from emotional immaturity, have avoidant attachment styles, or perhaps have an undiagnosed personality disorder (i.e., narcissistic personality disorder). Those high in the Dark Triad traits of narcissism, psychopathy, or Machiavellianism may engage in ghosting more often due to their lack of empathy, selfishly motivated perspective, and lack of maturity, which makes terminating a relationship difficult.

In one study, for example, researchers recruited participants (N = 341) and measured their attitudes toward ghosting in romantic relationships. Those who rated ghosting as an acceptable form of romantic termination tended to be higher in the Dark Triad traits of Machiavellianism and psychopathy. What's more, they found that those higher in Dark Triad traits believed that ghosting was more acceptable to terminate short-term relationships (vs. long-term ones).

8 Tips For Ghosting Recovery

Once you've been ghosted, how can you manage your confusion, anger, and hurt? Start with these strategies:

1. Realize that no response is, in fact, a response.

Sometimes, my clients are confused by the abrupt ending and continue to reach out to the ghoster for an explanation. It is important to realize that not responding actually speaks volumes and is a form of communication, even if it's one that you do not use or like. Remember: You deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect in any relationship; this includes effective communication, not avoidance.

2. Reframe the ghosting, and try not to take it personally.

An abrupt and unexplained ending likely has more to do with the ghoster than it has to do with you. For example, the other person may have commitment issues (i.e., avoidant attachment styles) that have been present long before your interactions with them. It can be beneficial to reframe your thoughts around your experience to minimize self-blame, using psychoeducation and research if you find it helpful.

3. Avoid the temptation to generalize future relationship outcomes.

It is important to recognize what I call "ghosting trauma," which can lead you to catastrophize about future relationships or engage in all-or-nothing thinking (for example: "What's the point in dating again? All women/men act this way these days."). Such mindsets simply give more power to the ghoster and can negatively affect your approach to future relationships. Address this bad experience head-on, with the help of a therapist if necessary, to avoid falling into this trap.

4. Use mindfulness and self-compassion to heal.

Self-compassion techniques can help you acknowledge the hurt and grieve. What this looks like may differ depending on the length of the relationship and the frequency of your interactions with the ghoster.

When negative feelings arise, try noticing where you are feeling them in your body. Then, instead of pushing them away or trying to distract yourself, mentally say, “This is a moment of suffering” and sit with the feelings until they pass.

It can be helpful, too, to remind yourself that you are not alone in your suffering. "Everybody hurts," as they say; indeed, our ability to feel emotional pain is a part of our common humanity (Neff, 2016).

5. Spend time with people that love and accept you for who you are.

Process your feelings with your loved ones, or perhaps a therapist. Having your feelings and experiences validated, heard, and understood is the key to healing.

6. Set boundaries.

Do not engage with the ghoster again, if possible. It's likely that this is a pattern of behavior for the ghoster (due, for example, to an avoidant attachment style). Rest assured that you are probably not the first person that this person has ghosted, nor will you be the last. Setting healthy boundaries for yourself is essential to avoid getting sucked back into their orbit.

7. Understand emotional immaturity.

Remember: Mentally healthy people have empathy and the ability to take others' perspectives. By contrast, many self-centered and emotionally immature individuals may engage in chronic ghosting.

The ability to have hard conversations is a cornerstone of emotional maturity. Most of us do not like conflict and endings can indeed be hard—but ghosting is usually just the easiest option, not the most honorable one.

8. Recognize patterns.

If you find yourself continuing to interact with people that suddenly disappear, it may be time to look within. Those who had adverse childhood experiences or who have been brought up in dysfunctional family environments may make excuses for others' behavior, minimize their own pain, and engage in co-dependent relationship dynamics. Identifying these patterns is the first step to breaking free from their grip.

Copyright 2022: Dr. Tracy Hutchinson

A version of this article also appears on


Jonason, P. et al (2021). Leaving Without a Word: Ghosting and the Dark Triad Traits. Acta Psychologica, 220.

L.Febvre, L. E., Allen, M., Rasner, R. D., Garstad, S., Wilms, A., & Parrish, C. (2019). Ghosting in Emerging Adults’ Romantic Relationships: The Digital Dissolution Disappearance Strategy. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 39(2), 125–150.

Navarro, R., Larrañaga, E., Yubero, S., & Víllora, B. (2020). Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(3), 1116. MDPI AG. Retrieved from

Powell, D. N., Freedman, G., Williams, K. D., Le, B., & Green, H. (2021). A multi-study examination of attachment and implicit theories of relationships in ghosting experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(7), 2225–2248.

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