This Is the #1 Reason Guys Ghost

Jillian Knox Finley

Stephanie DeAngelis

As someone who communicates for a living, I am at a loss when it comes to the "ghosting" phenomenon (wherein dates allegedly fail to respond to the text). I have never failed to reply to a message, even if it takes me two weeks (I'm busy, okay?.) I have never been on a date with someone who faded into the ether without so much as a death rattle. I don't see the appeal.

Perception is reality. Why would one willingly leave it to blind chance? Language is the lone gift that allows us to control the narrative. Far and away my favorite idiom about the human psyche is All human behavior is useful. Maybe not noble, maybe not cool, but if it's happening, there's a payoff somewhere for somebody. If ghosting, aka the absence of behavior, has value, what is it?

In behavioral psychology, doling out random rewards without pattern or warning is an effective technique to get an animal to repeat a behavior at will. Is the sporadic lack of response a power play to keep you on the hook? Or in our overly documented, social media–consumed lives, does silence speak louder than words?

I turned to the most time-honored of research traditions to find out: the focus group. Plied with promises of anonymity and free beer, I texted my band of brothers. My selection process was strategic: choosing a range of single friends across the full spectrum of male stereotypes, from well-meaning playboy to overly articulate nice guy. These were real-life men I could trust to shoot me straight. 

I was expecting a causal response. What I got was a string of woeful diatribes lamenting the emotional land mines of casual relationships. Not a single guy failed to reply. Participants contributed everything from lengthy, self-reflective prose evaluating their life decisions to bulleted lists of real-life dating scenarios gone awry. Not only have I ranked the top 10 responses from males here for you, but in the interest of fair play, I also showed the responses to a separate group of single ladies and let them sound off. Pull up a chair; we're going to take this "he said, she said" ghosting thing apart for you brick by brick.

Have you ever ghosted? Enlighten us. What's the appeal? Get your communication skills on with some next-level reads below.

Explore: texting, Ghosting

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