The Toxicity of Ghosting in Today’s Age

Ghosting can be a complicated issue to discuss. Nobody necessarily has to give anyone an explanation if they do not want to. Not if you did not feel a connection to someone, not if you realized you don’t have that much in common with someone, not if you feel you are not emotionally available to commit to someone. Yet this idea of being able to act on your own accord, of disappearing when you want to in the age of planning dates via texting or conversation through Snapchat, does more harm than we realize.

Ghosting — the trend of virtually “disappearing” from someone’s life when you no longer want to pursue them romantically—is on the rise. It’s becoming the norm in place of closure. It’s the move you tell your friend to take when he realizes he doesn’t want to date someone anymore. It’s what the girl down the hall is doing to her matches on Tinder. At some point in the college dating game, you probably committed the act too....without even realizing it.

The plan to silently retract from one’s life and notifications seems foolproof. That way, you don’t have to keep up with texts you don’t feel like responding to, or confront a conversation you’re not emotionally ready to have. And it’s a time–saver, too. Cutting people out frees up your schedule to work on that project, or meet someone new. So why is it problematic?

Several reasons: When you ghost someone, you deny the entire existence of your connection with them. Out of sight, out of mind. You give yourself the closure you ideally want, and force them to grapple over your decision in private. It perpetuates the idea that communication is no longer a necessity in the digital age; it’s a suggestion. By not communicating properly, both parties are harmed. You practice the game of suppressing any need to confront your emotions or issues with one another. You don’t better yourself. Whatever problems you face will continue to resurface throughout your dating career, given that you never learned how to address them — you just stopped texting the person and pretended like the problems went away.

Because we live in a world riddled with social media and a constant stream of content, you can never truly escape one another. There will always be profiles to stalk and stories to watch. Continuing to keep tabs on each other through your phone screen and watching them live a life you are no longer a part of brings no benefits. It gives the ghoster a satisfaction that they withdrew, and the ghostee a frustrating reminder that they were not worthy of an explanation.

It can be easy to focus on yourself, and push yourself to a state of betterment that perhaps a relationship would not assist with. But we forget that, above all else, we need to be kind to each other. We need to talk to each other, and bring light to issues that will only affect us in the future if left unaddressed. Maybe you don’t want to reject each guy you’ve gone on a date with that month, or break things off with the girl you’ve been hooking up with throughout the semester. Yet little by little, if we curb the act of ignorance and encourage the path of communication, we might be able to help each other reach our best futures. And that does more good than we might imagine.