A recent survey has found more than half of Australian daters have ended a relationship by “ghosting” the other person.
Online dating website eHarmony found 64 per cent of daters had been “ghosted”, a term describing the end of a relationship by cutting off all contact with a former partner to avoid an awkward break-up. The survey also found 51 per cent of respondents had been the victim of the modern-day practice.
Psychologist Belinda Trajkovska told The Newsroom “ghosting” had unfortunately become common place in the online dating world.
“Individuals must be mindful that the cowardly act of ‘ghosting’ exists and they need to manage their expectations,” Ms Trajkovska said.
“It is a disrespectful, cowardly response to terminating a relationship, regardless of which stage it was at – after the first date, after five dates, after 20 dates. Individuals who ‘ghost’ are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort, disregarding core values of honesty and respect people deserve when ‘wrapping things up’ for whatever reason.”
Bella, 22, of Sydney, said the trauma associated with ghosting depended on how long the relationship had been going.
“If a relationship is in its early days, or has been established as causal, then I think ghosting is less traumatic,” she told The Newsroom.
“However if a partner had assumed it was a serious relationship and had expectations then I believe ghosting is more traumatic because you never get closure or an understanding of why it didn’t work out.
“For what its worth, I think ghosting is pretty pathetic and I’m not proud that I resort to it but I hate confrontation.”
Joel, 29, of Palm Beach, said before he met his wife he was the “king of ghosting”.
“When you’re juggling multiple girlfriends it’s easier to deny the relationship ever existed with a good ghosting,” he said.
“It’s not that I was intentionally trying to be a prick. I just had better things to do.
“The only person that really even notices it is the person getting ghosted. The other person literally couldn’t give a shit. If you get ghosted you were a blip on the radar. Move on.”
Joel said his worst “ghosting moment” was when he was introducing a new girl to his family at a public function and a girl he had ghosted came up and started yelling at him, claiming to be his girlfriend from Europe.
“Wasn’t good,” he said. “And to make it worse that ‘new girl’ who was there ended up becoming my wife. Trooper! Haha.”
Mark, 20, from Sydney’s Hills District, said ghosting within the gay community was a common occurrence. “From a queer point of view, ghosting is normalised,” he told The Newsroom.
“With apps like Grindr, Hornet and Scruff, where dating and sex are casualised and people can just block and stop communicating at will, ghosting is given to you on a silver platter.”
Mark also highlighted the effect his ghosting experience had on subsequent relationships.
“I find it really hard to go out on dates, keep or make friendships, even just go out clubbing.
“I have such a problem with trust and what people think of me.”
Ms Trajkovska said people who “ghosted” displayed no empathy or remorse for the potential effects or impact on the recipients’ emotional well-being and self-esteem. She advised people on the receiving end to debrief with a trusted friend, family member, health professional or someone from mental health services.
“Should someone become a recipient of ‘ghosting’ and had found the experience had an adverse effect on their self-esteem and self-worth, it would be encouraged they talk to someone about how the incident left them feeling … practice self-care and keep moving forward,” she said.
“If someone you met online after one date, two dates, disappears, it is not a reflection on you. Recipients should ask themselves, ‘What did I really miss out on here? It appears this person does not share the same values as me … as they did not have the common courtesy to phone me to end things on civil terms.”
Story by Amy Larkin, interviews by Montana Duncan and Tayla O’Brien.
Images by Tom Hudson and Genevieve Smith.
Video by Tom Livingstone, Max Gay and Isobel Williams.