The Message Ghosting Sends About You

Jun 1, 2023

Ghosting is so common nowadays that it’s pretty impossible to navigate life in today’s dating sphere without encountering or hearing about it in some way. 

In case you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t heard of ghosting, here’s the definition: 

“Ghosting: the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.”

To understand why ghosting is so common yet so hurtful, two concepts are essential to understand. 

First, we live in a time of technology and convenience, and it influences every aspect of our lives. 

Second, all human beings have a deep need for connection – not just to stay happy but to survive.

The Curse of Technology

We live in a time of convenience – want dinner? Order it from the comfort of your living room couch. Forget something at the grocery store? Have it sent to your house in 24 hours or less. We post, scroll, like, save, order, consume, monitor, swipe, listen, buy, create, watch, and tap to accomplish, in mere milliseconds, things that took generations before us hours or even days.

This includes the convenience of communication – what used to take weeks to communicate via letter can now be communicated in seconds via message. With this new ease of communication comes an ease of avoiding communication.

Where avoiding someone took a little more effort back in the day, you can now simply not respond to a message or ignore a phone call and avoid all confrontation. Suddenly, you can pretend that hard conversations just don’t exist anymore. 

We ghost because it’s convenient. Ghosting takes zero time, zero effort, and comes with little guilt because we’ve convinced ourselves that we do it to save them from getting their feelings hurt. 

I get it. Telling someone that you’re not interested in them is hard. It’s awkward, and you risk hurting someone’s feelings. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. But in convincing ourselves that no communication is better than telling someone a hard truth, we’ve done a disservice to ourselves and those around us.

Human Connection

Although technology has changed tremendously, the human psyche and the need for attachment and connection have stayed the same. 

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after your physiological needs (air, water, food, shelter, etc.) and your safety needs (security, health, resources, etc.), love and belonging are the most important needs that need to be met. This need for love and belonging includes friendship, family, intimacy, and a sense of connection. 

Another psychological idea called attachment theory, first introduced by John Bowlby, describes the nature of emotional attachment among humans. When we’re infants, we form emotional attachment to our parents or caregivers. The nature of this attachment then influences our romantic relationships later in life.

Learning about attachment theory and your specific attachment style can help you identify and stop harmful cycles in your relationship. (Learn more about attachment theory here.) For now, though, just know that as human beings, from the time that we are infants, we are wired to seek deep connection and form attachments to the people around us.

When we get ghosted, especially if it happens often, it speaks to that inner need for attachment. We are left to try and interpret what the lack of communication means – did I do something wrong? Is there something wrong with me?

Being left hanging, not knowing where you stand, and holding onto a sliver of hope is so much more painful than being told a hard truth. If someone tells you something that hurts your feelings, it sucks in the moment, but you’ll eventually get over it and move on. Trying to figure out the reasoning behind someone ghosting you can take much longer to heal from because there’s no real closure to start the healing process.

What Ghosting Says About You

Sending no message still sends a message, and it says more about you than it does about the person you’re ghosting.

This does not apply to abusive or unhealthy situations or relationships. If communicating with someone puts your safety or well-being at risk, please cut communication with them. You do not owe them an explanation or a response, and it does not reflect negatively on you.

For regular relationships and situations, when you ghost someone, even though you’re not saying anything, you’re sending the message that you care more about avoiding uncomfortable situations than confronting hard truths. It shows a lack of empathy and a lack of emotional maturity. 

You might read that and be offended. You may think that you don’t owe anything to someone you’ve never met or that ghosting is better for your mental health because confrontation gives you anxiety. While I will always advocate for doing what is best for your mental health, I challenge you to ask yourself if you are truly doing what is best for yourself or simply doing what is easiest. More often than not, doing what is best involves doing something hard. There’s no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone.

So how do you break the ghosting pattern? The first step is to do the hard thing – don’t back down when a difficult conversation comes your way. Kindly speak your truth and take accountability for your feelings and emotions. Not sure how to break it to them? Here are some ways you can kindly let someone know you’re not interested anymore:

  • “I appreciate getting to know you, but I don’t think we’re a good match. I wanted to let you know instead of leaving you hanging.”
  • “I’ve been thinking about what we discussed, and I don’t think our goals/values align. I would rather be honest with you than lead you on.”
  • “I’ve realized that I’m not ready for a commitment/relationship at the moment. I didn’t want to leave you in the dark, so I wanted to let you know.”
  • “I’ve decided that I need some time and space for myself right now. It wouldn’t be fair to keep you waiting or guessing, so I wanted to be upfront about it.”

It’s normal for a conversation to lull occasionally. When that happens, it’s a good idea to have conversational “buckets” prepared of topics that you like to talk about and questions you can ask the other person – hobbies you enjoy, memories from their childhood, things you’re looking forward to in the future, etc. 

There are going to be times when you are too busy to respond, and that’s okay! No one is expected to be at their phone’s beck and call at all times. To avoid leaving the other person confused about where they stand with you, communicate where you’re at and let them know what to expect from you.

  • “I’d love to talk right now, but I need to focus on _____. Can I message you when I’m done?”
  • “Sorry, I’m with a friend right now, but I’d love to talk about _____ later!”
  • “Things have gotten really hectic for me this week, so I’m not able to message as often, but I didn’t want you to think I’m ignoring you. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, and I’d love to talk more about ____ then!”
  • “Just a heads up, I am not going to be as available to message over the next few days/weeks because _____ is coming up. Just wanted to let you know so you don’t think I forgot about you! I’d love to go out on a date with you on (this date) when everything has settled down!”

If you’re the forgetful type (it’s okay, I am, too), you might want to leave their message marked as unread until you’re ready to respond. That way, you won’t lose the notification badge, and it will remind you that you have someone waiting for your response! You can also set a reminder on your phone to message someone back so it doesn’t slip your mind.

The next step is to strengthen your communication skills. Relationships are built on connection and communication, so it’s vital that you put an effort forward into having good conversations. Here are some tips to improve your communication:

  1. Be respectful, be kind. Remember that there is another human being on the other side of the conversation. Picturing them as you chat with them and thinking about how you would want to be treated can help fight the anonymity and dehumanization that can sometimes come with chatting online or in-app.
  2. Ask questions. People often ghost because they feel that the conversation has died and they don’t know how to revive it. If you’re not sure how to get the conversation going again, think of something you can ask to get to know that person better. 
  3. Give genuine answers. When they ask you a question, give thoughtful responses. Thoughtless, one-word answers show that you don’t care enough to put effort into getting to know someone.
  4. If you want to seem interesting, be interested. Remember how all of us have a deep desire to connect and belong? Showing genuine interest in someone and what is important to them will speak to that intrinsic need. Making them feel important and valued will do more to make them like you than anything you could say or do to try and impress them.

While it isn’t always easy or convenient, learning to face confrontation and communicate clearly and kindly are skills that will benefit you in life long after you’ve found your happily ever after.

Kaleigh Adamson
Marketing Coordinator at Mutual | + posts

Kaleigh is a Marketing Coordinator for Mutual. She has worked with couples, relationships, dating, and love in a creative role for over a decade. She's a hopeless romantic who loves that her career allows her to help people find their soulmates. She downloaded Mutual when it first launched in 2016, coincidentally the same year she met her husband! They now live happily ever after in the Midwest with their two kids and dog.


I think it’s useful to note that ghosting could possibly be appropriate within the first couple dates or couple weeks of meeting someone. I’ve been ghosted a bit in this stage and have done a bit of ghosting myself here as well, and within these stages it’s generally understood that both parties are still figuring out who the other person is and it’s still low commitment. Sometimes it’s easier in these stages for them to just “fade away” rather than to receive an outright statement of something that may already be apparent. It could also make it easier to come back later on to try more dates to know that things didn’t end so formally.


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