Culture 

Ghosting: Why People Do It, and How You Can Avoid It in Online Dating

Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science explains the modern dating phenomenon.

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Ghosting, the act of cutting off communication with someone you were romantically involved with, is common in online dating. If you’ve ever been a victim of the phenomenon, here, Hinge‘s Director of Relationship Science Logan Ury gives us the lowdown on ghosting and how you can potentially avoid it in the future.

“Before the Internet, people would say they would call and then they wouldn’t,” Ury tells HYPEBAE. Now, as we communicate on smartphone apps, it is just as easy to ghost someone you’re no longer interested in because you get to hide behind a screen. In a survey conducted by Hinge, some find it less hurtful to disappear than to reject someone directly, while others simply find it uncomfortable to explain why they don’t want to see that person again. However, the irony of it all is that 85 percent of the users said that they would rather be rejected immediately than be left in the dark.

On the bright side, the dating app has seen a 27 percent decrease in ghosting since the beginning of the pandemic. According to its 2021 New Year Dating Predictions and Resolutions Study, more than half of the Hinge community is ready to settle down and has started to implement new sustainable dating behaviors, including being more honest with their feelings and taking time to focus on themselves before diving into a relationship.

Of course, not every online dater has abandoned the habit of ghosting. Below, Ury explains how you can deal with that sort of situation and shares why some may prefer to ghost than face the truth. Read on for her dating advice.

When and how did the term “ghosting” emerge on the Internet?

There’s no clear origin story for the term “ghosting,” but the concept has been around for a long time. Before the Internet, people would say they would call and then they wouldn’t. In the age of the apps, ghosting can mean anything from a match who doesn’t respond to your message, to someone who you see for several weeks and then stops texting you back. Hinge users tell us that ghosting is one of the most painful parts of modern dating. But here’s the good news: over the course of the pandemic, we saw a 27 percent decrease in ghosting during the pandemic. We attribute that to users being more selective about who they match with, and more empathetic in how they communicate.

What does ghosting mean exactly?

Ghosting occurs when someone cuts off communication with someone without warning or explanation. According to our research, some users define ghosting as not hearing back from a match on Hinge. Others only consider ghosting if they’ve gone on a date and don’t hear back from a person after that.

Can it be avoided?

Ghosting can and should be avoided. I recommend saving a go-to message template in the notes folder on your phone and sending that message as soon as you know you’re not interested in someone. It can be as simple as: “Hey [name], I enjoyed meeting you, but I don’t think we’re a romantic match.”

“Having clarity allows you to move on and find someone who is truly interested in you, and not just treating you as an option.”

Why do some people choose to ghost?

40 percent of Hinge users say they ghost because they don’t know how to explain why they don’t want to see someone again. Almost a third said they felt uncomfortable rejecting the other person, and 17 percent said, “It’s less hurtful to disappear than to straight-out reject someone.” However, when asked how they would prefer to be treated when someone isn’t interested, a whopping 85 percent of users said, “Tell me! Rejection hurts, but I’d rather know.” It may hurt more in the moment, but that clarity helps the person move on.

What about the other 15 percent? Why do you think they prefer being ghosted instead of being rejected directly?

While most people would rather receive the outright message that someone is not interested in them, some people would rather save themselves the explicit rejection. My perspective is that it’s much better to experience the short, intense pain of rejection than swim in the ambiguity of not knowing if someone is interested in you or not. Having clarity allows you to move on and find someone who is truly interested in you, and not just treating you as an option.

Being ghosted can bring one’s confidence down. How can victims of ghosting deal with this sort of situation?

If you think you’re being ghosted, I recommend sending a light-hearted text to check in and see what’s going on. For example, you could write, “If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was being ghosted.” There’s a chance that they didn’t mean to ghost you and will reply with an explanation, which you can choose to accept or not. If they don’t reply, move on and save your energy for someone who will match your effort and interest.

In what ways have dating apps affected the way people perceive relationships?

As with almost every aspect of our lives, technology has changed the way people date and connect. One of the biggest benefits of dating apps is that they’ve allowed us to meet people beyond our immediate social circles. We’re no longer limited to Bobby or Belinda on our block. In fact, meeting online is now the number one way that successful couples meet.

“One of the biggest benefits of dating apps is that they’ve allowed us to meet people beyond our immediate social circles.”

With so many other online dating platforms out there, what makes Hinge stand out from the rest?

Hinge is all about getting people off the app and onto great dates. Our features are all designed to help our users do that. We encourage our users to show they’re serious about dating through in-depth profiles that allow them to represent their true personalities. Users match by liking and commenting on specific photos or Prompts — initiating a personal conversation from the start. Hinge was the first dating app to introduce Prompts to profiles.

Additionally, Hinge is the only dating app that assesses how successful users’ dates are. We follow up with users a few days after connecting with each other via our in-app We Met survey, and ask each person if they’re the type of person they’d like to see again.

Through Hinge Labs — the in-house research team I help lead — we’re constantly conducting in-depth research to inform ongoing product innovations across the app to help our users efficiently and meaningfully connect, such as launching in-app video chat and Video Prompts to allow singles to continue their dating lives during the pandemic.

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