Yes, Getting Ghosted Sucks. Science Explains Why - Men's Health Magazine Australia

Yes, Getting Ghosted Sucks. Science Explains Why

Digital Disappearances Are Becoming Ever More Common And For Those Who Need Closure They Can Be Particularly Haunting

Hey . . .

Hey, it’s me . . .

Hey, we still cool? . . .

Hey, if you don’t want to see me anymore, just tell me . . .

Please don’t do this . . .

If you’ve spent any time in the digital dating pool or even its IRL counterpart of late, you’ve probably been ghosted or you’ve ghosted someone.

Technology has made decoupling from romantic entanglements terrifyingly easy, transforming what was once an extremely awkward conversation: “Erhh, I don’t think we should see each other anymore”, into a passive push-off in which you, literally, don’t have to lift a finger.

But while ghosting might be less awkward and stressful than a confrontation with someone you’ve hitherto been happily hooking up with, it’s no less painful or psychologically damaging to the recipient, according to a new study from the University of Georgia.

“Ghosting is becoming a common strategy and it creates an ambiguous situation where one party doesn’t really know what’s going on,” says lead researcher Christina Leckfor.

Nearly two-thirds of participants in the study admitted they’d ghosted someone and been ghosted themselves. Naturally, being on the receiving end of a paranormal puff of smoke was regarded as a negative experience for almost all participants. But for people who yearn for that most elusive, abstract and often nebulous of couples’ therapy staples – yes, we’re talking about ‘closure’ – the negative effects of getting crickets from someone you had feelings for, are even more profound.

“For recipients, desire for closure has this magnifying effect,” says Leckfor. “When someone with a high need for closure recalled a time where they were ghosted or directly rejected, it hurt more than if they had a low need for closure. But they also felt more positive after recalling times when they were acknowledged by their partner.”

In contrast, when someone considered (passively) initiating a break-up, the connection between closure and ghosting varied.

“We actually found that people who had a higher need for closure were slightly more likely to intend to use ghosting to end a relationship,” Leckfor says. Hypocrites? Not exactly. The ‘ghoster’ regards their disappearance as being decisive, Leckfor says. “Even though things may be ambiguous on the recipient side, the person who is ghosting sees it as a distinct end to the relationship.”

That’s right, silence is deafening, or, at least, it’s intended to be.

And ghosting’s not just something that happens on the apps with Bridget or Brendan “Randomf*cks” anymore. More than half of the study participants recalled a time when they were ghosted by a friend.

“The individuals who were ghosted by a friend reported feeling just as bad about the relationship as those who wrote about a time when they were ghosted by a romantic partner,” Leckfor says. “Now, almost everybody uses these technologies to communicate and maintain these different types of relationships. Knowing when these technologies can be helpful to build social connections or maintain your personal wellbeing, versus knowing when they might be harmful, is the end goal.”

It’s certainly a worthy one.

Wait. Are you still reading?

Damn, that’s cold.

By Ben Jhoty

Ben Jhoty, Men’s Health’s Head of Content, attempts to honour the brand’s health-conscious, aspirational ethos on weekdays while living marginally larger on weekends. A new father, when he’s not rocking an infant to sleep, he tries to get to the gym, shoot hoops and binge on streaming shows.

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