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This Is Why Most People Ghost While Dating, New Study Says

Try not to take their sudden disappearance personally.

There are countless frustrating behaviors that people employ when dating: forgetting to text back, not minding their manners, and showing up late for scheduled outings, to name a few. But perhaps the most irritating bad habit is ghosting. You know, when that person you've gone on several dates with disappears into thin air, never to answer a call or text again. If you've been ghosted recently, you might be wondering: why would someone do that? Well, we have your answer. Ahead, we've outlined the findings of one study on ghosting; plus, we polled therapists on the most common reasons people ghost. Read on to get the scoop.

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This is the most common reason people ghost.

A young woman looks at her smartphone with a concerned look on her face.

Ghosting happens for all sorts of reasons. However, one recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that a common one is safety concerns.

For the study, the researchers presented participants with a variety of dating scenarios and motives to break up with a person. They then asked them how they would end the relationship. For example, the participants would be told: "You've been on three dates with John/Jane and learn that he/she has been texting with his/her ex" and given a motive to break up with them such as: "You want to end your relationship and want to find a way to do it as easily as possible."

The researchers found that the participants were more likely to say they'd end the relationship by ghosting after being told that there might be safety concerns if they ended the relationship more explicitly.

However, it's worth noting that there are many other reasons people ghost. Here's what therapists see most in their practices.

People ghost because they're not feeling the relationship.

young asian man bored at dinner
Shutterstock/Rommel Canlas

This one might seem obvious, but it's true. If someone ghosts you, it could simply be because they weren't feeling it and don't want to tell you. "Talking to someone about why you don't want to be in their life anymore is hard," says Heather M. Cain, LPC, LCPC, a licensed professional counselor at Shrink Me Not. "Most people don't want to talk about it so they prefer to ghost."

This goes hand in hand with not being a clear communicator. "Most people don't learn how to effectively communicate their feelings, and some people have difficulty with listening to how their behaviors make others feel," Cain adds. All these things come together to make a person believe that leaving someone cold is more painless than shooting them a "sorry, but I'm not interested" text.

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Or because they're not single.

husband surfs ashley madison to cheat on wife.

Another reason someone might ghost is that they're not actually single. "They are getting a quick hit of self-esteem by chatting with people via the apps but then either it goes too far or their partner finds out. The same goes for a couple of meetings," says Caroline Madden, MFT, a therapist at Counseling With Caroline. "You might hear from them again with some excuse of why they haven't called—but walk away and save yourself." Ghosters very rarely change their tune.

They're experiencing mental health issues.

Depressed mature woman sitting on the floor at home

People don't always ghost because they're inconsiderate. Sometimes, they're going through something and can't help it. "Depression and trauma can cause someone to ghost you," says Holly Schiff, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Greenwich, Connecticut. "Someone who is suffering from clinical depression will withdraw from everybody in their lives. They cannot act on anything or nurture any of their interpersonal relationships and kind of just freeze and engage in avoidance."

A person experiencing this might not feel emotionally available enough to date and also may not have the mental capacity to be vulnerable or truthful about what's going on. There could also be fear involved. "Those with anxiety can also get easily overwhelmed and may have a heightened sensitivity to actions or words from others," Schiff adds.

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They're a player.

man holding smartphone texting message or play mobile game

The last reason someone might ghost is that they don't want a long-term relationship, even if that's not what they let on. "Commonly, this persona tends to be male, who saw the relationship as purely sexual, without wanting a romantic deeper connection," says Ronnie Adamowitz, a psychotherapist in Melbourne. "When noticing his partner wouldn't partake in such activities, he'd disengage, and ghost." To that, we say: see you never.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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