Ghosting: A New Norm in Gen Z

TEO HUI YING talks about “Ghosting”, a behaviour experienced in texting that can be unhealthy and finds out why people, especially Gen Zs, adopt this behaviour in this digital age.



Teo Hui Ying

Hype Issue #58

Published on
May 8, 2024

Has someone ever suddenly cut off all contact with you without any explanation, or “ghosted” you aka leaving you on read, delivered with no replies, or even blocking you? Ghosting is a term used to describe this behaviour of abruptly ending a relationship with someone without any explanation or closure, and ignoring any efforts of communication from the other party. 

It’s sad to say that in this digital age, ghosting may have unfortunately become a new norm that’s common among Gen Zs especially. This term is generally more popularly used in reference to the online dating world, but it’s not just restricted to romantic relationships and can be used for friendships and family relationships as well.

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People are often shocked by this behaviour, and it leads them to double-text or even reach out to the other party on multiple platforms. Photo by Teo Hui Ying.

The term “ghosting” comes from the action of disappearing. Despite trying to communicate or send multiple texts to the other party, you are met with silence and their ignorance to all your efforts. They’ve simply vanished and disappeared out of the blue, just like a ghost. 

Signs of Ghosting

The action of ghosting is usually obvious as it happens abruptly. However, it can also be a gradual process that comes with some tell-tale signs. Signs of a person ghosting you can include but not be limited to the following: 

  • struggling to make plans and/or commitments with you, 
  • taking a long time to reply to your texts or calls, 
  • being dry in their replies or 
  • making no attempt in having meaningful conversations with you

In a nutshell, they’re basically showing signs of their disinterest towards you.

Pet Sitter

They distance themselves from you and ignore your efforts to keep in contact. Photo taken from NPR Organisation on Pinterest.

These signs show that the ghosting party does not want to have any contact with you and does not want you to be part of their life. You can sense or tell if you’re being ghosted easily through the lack of reciprocation and ignorance from the other party. 

Why do people ghost

There’s a variety of reasons as to why people choose to ghost, and it varies from situation to situation. Generally, the main reason why people ghost is due to avoidance, wanting to avoid situations when they get uncomfortable. 

Ghosting might seem like the easiest and most ideal way of resolving an issue, because it’s an easy way out, but it might also be indicative of something deeper…

Sometimes, people are afraid of expressing themselves directly, and tend to avoid conversations that are hard, awkward, and uncomfortable to them. The act of communicating might just be difficult for them, or they simply don’t feel the need to communicate with you at all. 

Ghosting then becomes the most ideal way of treating situations because it’s easy – nothing needs to be done. They just move on with their life and ignore your presence.


Lion Dancing

Their act of ghosting ceases communication and your relationship with them is at an end, without your consent. Photo taken from Lolla Design on Pinterest.

People also ghost to avoid dealing with others’ emotions. They are afraid of bearing the responsibility of someone’s emotions which might make them feel uncomfortable or guilty. Some examples include confrontations and rejections. They run away from situations like this, so that they can feel “better” about themselves, ignoring the fact that their actions might hurt the other party more. 

Ghosting can be an immature way of handling situations and relationships. It’s not taking responsibility for the emotional welfare of the other party, and shows disrespect by not giving any closure. It is more convenient to ghost rather than communicate. 

Effects of Ghosting

Ghosting can have psychological impacts on the receiver who has been ghosted, such as feeling dehumanised and devalued due to not gaining any form of closure or explanation from the other party. This leads to the receiver wondering what they have done wrong and potentially spiralling into a state of self-doubt. One may be left confused, and even question their sense of worth.

Lion Dancing

Being ghosted is like “losing someone” and such treatment can lead to the receiver feeling depressed, embarrassed, and angry. Photo taken from Shobu Tsuchiya Tokyo Illustrators Society on Pinterest.

How to deal with it

Some might suggest reaching out to the party that has ghosted you for closure or an explanation, but that is going to depend on the situation that both parties were in. The person being ghosted will have to gauge whether it’s right for them to reach out again despite receiving no response previously. This depends on factors like the duration of the relationship, and the level of intimacy with the other party. 

If a person has shown tell-tale signs of ghosting beforehand, or if they are someone you’ve only met recently, then the best way of dealing with the ghosting is by doing nothing. 

However, keep in mind that, most of the time, closure can only make you feel better about the situation, it does not have any physical impact on the situation and the person will not come back. 

At the end of the day, if you decide that sending a closure message will help you heal from the situation, do what’s best for you. It’s important to keep in mind that no reply is a reply in itself and also a form of closure. 

Alternatives to Ghosting

Instead of handling situations through ghosting, communicating is definitely a better and healthier way to move on, which is less hurtful to the other party too. Communicating shows that you respect the time and effort the other party has put into the relationship, even if it was just for a short period of time.

It can just be a short and simple message to end a relationship with someone, at least it shows that you respect their presence and the receiver will surely appreciate it. It is normal to go through uncomfortable conversations, and that shouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to ghost. 


When is it okay to ghost

With much being said, ghosting can make sense in cases if:

  • you barely know that person
  • is someone who possesses toxic traits or affects you negatively

Lion Dancing

There’s no need to feel “bad” or guilty for ghosting someone that’s generally unhealthy for you. Photo by Pinterest.

Keeping in mind that ghosting is becoming more popular in today’s age, it’s alarming to see that people are choosing avoidance over communication. Ghosting can be an unhealthy behaviour and it often affects the receivers wellbeing.

It doesn’t hurt to talk things out with the other party. Uncomfortable conversations are needed sometimes and the thought of having to have one shouldn’t be the excuse to ghost someone.