Ghosting is abruptly ending communication with someone without explanation. The concept most often refers to romantic relationships but can also describe disappearances from friendships and the workplace.
People respond to being ghosted in many ways, from feeling indifferent to deeply betrayed. Some believe that ghosting is inseparably intertwined with modern electronic communication, and the practice is a way to cope with the decision fatigue that can accompany dating. Others believe that ghosting is emotionally troubling given that it offers no sense of closure.
The phenomenon of abruptly disappearing from people’s lives isn’t new–but it seems to be common today. Technology has made ghosting an easy way to dissolve relationships. According to a 2018 study, approximately 25 percent of men and women reported having been ghosted in a romantic relationship, and 22 percent admitted to having ghosted someone else. The Federal Reserve even recognized the phenomenon in a 2018 report, in which employers reported being ghosted by employees in a tight labor market.
Offshoots of ghosting, “orbiting” and “breadcrumbing,” refer to leading someone on through interactions on social media—leaving a like or comment—without speaking to them in real life. These confusing situations can instill a sense of false hope that a new relationship will begin—or frustration that an old relationship can never really end.