Some people decided to delete the dating app they were using or the ghoster’s phone number in case they had it (n = 10), others approached friends for comfort (n = 6)
Ghostees report several ways to cope with ghosting. To interpret the absence of communication, some respondents (n = 15) mentioned they checked social media or even reached out to the ghoster’s social network to figure out what was going on to then realize they had been ghosted. First, I checked his social media, because I was afraid something bad had happened to him. You never know…but he still posted a lot, so it dawned on me that he would never get back to me. I sent him one more message to tell him he could just tell me what was wrong and it would be over with. But nothing.”
In addition to Sandra, quite a large group of respondents (n = 46) specifically mentioned they needed closure in order to move on from this ghosting experience. They wanted to know why the other person ghosted them before they could actually move on. Therefore, it is not surprising that a total of 33 respondents reported a re-attempt to establish contact with the person who ghosted them. For some of these people this tactic was successful, and they received an answer from the ghoster who would explain to them what happened. Yet, others never heard back or for some of them it even made matters worse, as Alicia explains (22, heterosexual): “He was very angry and clearly not happy that I called him. I apologized and promised I would not contact him again until he would reach out to me.”
The coping mechanism that was most often mentioned was rationalizing the ghosting experience (n = 52). Respondents consoled themselves by arguing that the ghosting experience had nothing to do with them but rather was part of the mobile dating experience or dating life in general as Roxanne (37, heterosexual) explains: “It was ‘just’ a rejection; this can happen in real life as well; the feeling was exactly the same online as offline.” Others stressed the need to move on in their answers to open questions related to their ghosting experience (n = 17), with expressions such as “life goes on” (42, heterosexual), or took more extreme actions such as Miranda (58, heterosexual) who left her job for a music internship right after she had experienced ghosting. Finally, a group of respondents (n = 18) mentioned they would adjust their future behavior and expectations on mobile dating apps, suggesting that after a while people might desensitize themselves for future ghosting experiences, which potentially might lead them to ghost others themselves more often as well.
Sandra (37, heterosexual) explains as follows: “Right before our second date, when we were discussing where we would meet again, he disappeared from the globe
To add to the qualitative analyses describing the different outcomes and emotions ghostees experience, we conducted a linear regression analysis to examine which factors contributed to experiencing ghosting as painful (see Table 2). The total explained variance of the model was 48.6%; F(12, 177) = ; p < .001. The more often one had experienced ghosting on a mobile dating app (? = .28, p < .001), the less often one had ghosted others (? = ?.17, p < .05), whether one had had face-to-face contact with the ghoster (? = .16, p < .05), the duration of the contact (? = .22, p < .01), and the unexpectedness of the ghosting (? = .35, p < .001) significantly contributed to perceiving ghosting as painful.