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This is probably why you have been ghosted, according to experts

While ghosting is generally frowned upon, experts believe they are closer to discovering why people choose this option when ending relationships.

In case you’re not familiar with the term, ghosting is when a person ends a relationship by completely cutting contact with their partner with no explanation — to sum it up, they just disappear.

The phrase has become popular with Millennials and Gen Z, but why do people do it?

According to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, safety concerns may motivate people to engage in ghosting.

The findings from the study suggest that people choose to ghost their partners in order to avoid a potentially violent response from outright rejection.

Lead researcher Dr Gili Freedman, an assistant professor of psychology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said her team had been researching the topic of ghosting for years, and their interest in safety concerns “came from multiple places”.

“The interest in the topic actually began because we were curious about some patterns that we saw in anecdotes from the ‘real world.’ We saw a pattern in online forums where men would write about how they were frustrated that they were being ghosted, and women responded by saying that when they engaged in explicit rejection, men would respond in aggressive ways, so ghosting felt like the safer option,” she told PsyPost.

“We then noticed that when we asked participants to write about their experiences with engaging in ghosting, some of them expressed concerns about their safety.”

Freedman and her collaborators conducted two studies to test the theory. Participants were presented with a variety of dating scenarios and randomly assigned a motive for ending the relationship in each scenario.

The study found that participants were more likely to choose ghosting when the motive for ending the relationship mentioned safety concerns.

Freedman noted in her interview with PsyPost that their findings differed in the two studies.

“In the first study, we found that participants were more likely to ghost in response to safety concerns when the target of the rejection was a man. But in this study, most participants identified as heterosexual, so the gender of the target was confounded with the gender of the participant (e.g., if most of the women in the sample identified as heterosexual, they would only see vignettes about targets who were men).”

The second study recruited a sample of bisexual participants. “In this second study, we found that gender of the target did not matter: participants were more likely to ghost when they were concerned about their safety regardless of the gender of the target,” Freedman explained.

“So taken together, it seems like safety concerns are an important motivator of ghosting, but the role of gender is less clear.”

Because of the mixed results in findings where gender is concerned, Freedman stated that they “cannot be sure what the specific roles of sexual orientation are in decisions to ghost.”

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