Imagine you've been on a few dates with someone.
It went well, you think, and you're excited for the next one.
But suddenly, there's no news from your love interest.
None of your texts are returned.
Your calls go to voicemail.
It seems like they've vanished into thin air.
You start worrying, did something happen to them?
You check their social media pages and realize they've just vanished from your life.
They're ghosting you.
Why, instead of simply calling it quits, do people give the silent treatment to someone they so recently liked?
This is a Field Guide to Bad Behaviour.
Come along to explore the spooky corners of human nature.
Ghosting is the act of simply disappearing from a romantic partner's life by ignoring their calls, texts, and social media messages.
You can identify ghosting when you find nothing to explain the sudden disappearance of an acquaintance.
Ending relationships is nothing new.
But cutting off contact has only recently become a prominent strategy, as texting and social media started to play a larger role in modern relationships.
Without having a mutual social network tying people together, it's easy to just drop everything and vanish with no consequences.
Ghosting is common and can happen to anyone.
A survey of 1300 people found about a quarter had been ghosted by a partner and one-fifth had ghosted someone else themselves.
Ghosting in friendships may be even more common.
More than a third of study participants reported that a friend had ghosted them or they'd ghosted a friend themselves.
And the ghosts really haunt the victims.
Research has shown that people prefer to be dumped by a direct confrontation and consider ghosting the most hurtful way to end a relationship.
Although there's not a lot of research on ghosting, psychologists have long examined a similar issue, ostracism, which is social rejection through silent treatment.
It's been associated with negative consequences for the rejected person - rejection triggers the same pathways in the brain as physical pain.
Ghosting particularly hurts people who don't like uncertainty and ambiguity.
It creates a million questions with no answers.
Was it something you said?
Something you did?
Should you be worried?
So, if ghosting is so bad, why do people do it?
First, a person's attachment style can influence their tendency to ghost.
A 2012 study found people who are attachment avoidant are more likely to use less direct breakup strategies.
Having a fixed mindset or a growth mindset can also influence a person's tendency for ghosting.
Some people tend to believe their date is either the one or not.
They have a fixed mindset and believe in soulmates and destiny.
Others see relationships as malleable and believe they can be improved.
They have a growth mindset.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that people with stronger destiny beliefs would cut off contact more often.
Now, are you ready to go ghostbusting?
First, relationship experts suggest if you're tempted to get in touch with your ghost, don't.
Think about it: Someone who has ghosted you has already shown an inability to handle conflict in a healthy way.
Resist the temptation to stalk them online.
That's just wasting your own time.
You may confront your ghost to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable, immature and discompassionate.
Then move on.
Remember, busting ghosts starts with you.
Do not ghost others.
Practice open and direct communication.
At least give friendly explanation before taking off.
Some relationships can feel like a winding road.
It's okay to slow down every once in a while, just don't let those ghosts steer you off track from healthy and communicative relationships.