(WSYR-TV) — There’s nothing scarier during “spooky season” than getting ghosted.

Ghosting, or the decision to cut a person off and stop talking to them without an explanation, can be haunting. That’s why this Halloween, the Thriving Center of Psychology created a study to find why Millennials and Gen Z use ghosting in their romantic and platonic relationships.

The definition of ghosting comes from the idea of a ghost, a person that’s dead and living in an unseen world, and if a person decides to ghost someone, they want them out of their life, so they disappear like a ghost.

According to the dictionary, ghosting is “the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) usually without explanation by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant message, etc.”

The reason why it’s become a popular method people like to use is because of online dating, as two in three people believe online dating has contributed to ghosting’s popularity, and because of it, 30% say they are fed up with dating.

Why do people use ghosting in relationships?

Thriving Center of Psychology’s study found that one in three people admit they don’t think ghosting is bad, and 75% even think it’s appropriate in certain situations.

Those numbers are surprising when 84% of the respondents admitted they’ve been ghosted, while 65% also admitted to ghosting someone themselves.

While it may be kinder to tell a person you are dating or becoming friends with that your feelings have changed and you no longer want to pursue the relationship, it’s often more difficult for most who don’t like that kind of uncomfortable confrontation.

Instead, those people who want to avoid it altogether use ghosting to get out of the situation, with 86% of people admitting they feel actual “relief” after doing so.

According to the study, the main reasons why people ghost are:

  • They weren’t interested in continuing the relationship (64% admit this is true).
  • They want to avoid confrontation (56% admit this is true).
  • They are stressed or overwhelmed by expectations (44% admit this is true).
  • They don’t feel a strong enough connection (41% admit this is true).
  • They were offended by something you did or said (39% admit this is true).
  • They are struggling with their own mental health (29% admit this is true).

Side effects of ghosting

Ghosting can be a really harsh, and oftentimes easy, way out for people, but the feelings that come after ghosting someone can sometimes make you feel even worse.

In the study, almost 70% of people — 74% women and 67% men — admitted they feel guilty after ghosting.

Furthermore, almost 50% revealed that they regretted their decision after ghosting a person for too long. This issue has become more prevalent in Gen Z young adults as 77% admit to ghosting compared to only 61% of Millennials, with more women doing it than men. 

When can you expect ghosting to happen?

Ghosting typically starts in a romantic relationship very early on, as 34% said it can happen before the first date, 26% said after the first date, 22% said after a couple of dates and only 10% said after a couple of months.

Not only did people admit to when ghosting can happen in romantic relationships but at work.

In the study, 42% admitted that they had been ghosted by a prospective employer when they were waiting to hear back.

It’s also not just prospective employers but employees, as one in four admitted they ghosted a workplace by quitting without notice or explanation.

Unfortunately for New Yorkers, the most likely city to ghost is New York City.

“It’s safe to say ghosting is here to stay and that it’s creeping its way into every type of relationship. If you’re not sure how to approach the situation or where to start, reach out to a therapist to talk it through! In our opinion, it’s always better to talk through something than to avoid it out of fear,” stated Thriving Center of Psychology.


Thriving Center of Psychology surveyed 1,014 Gen Z and Millennials in August 2023 about the act of ghosting and how it’s impacted their lives. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 42, with an average age of 32. 49% were male, 49% were female, and 2% were non-binary. 75% of respondents identified as heterosexual, 17% as bisexual, 3% as gay, 2% as lesbian, and 3% as other. 

They also analyzed Google search volume of 418 terms related to ghosting such as, “Why do men ghost you,” “What does ghosting people mean,” and “Am I being ghosted” over the period from July 2020 to July 2023. By analyzing the 50 most populous cities in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they found the cities most likely to ghost people were the ones searching the least for these terms, and the cities most likely to get ghosted were the ones searching for these terms the most.