This Is the #1 Reason Guys Ghost

Jillian Knox Finley
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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, ok?), and 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, so why would you willingly leave yours up to blind chance? Language is the lone gift that allows us to control the narrative, and I, for one, take advantage of it any chance I can. Far and away my favourite idiom about the human psyche is All human behaviour is useful. Maybe not noble, maybe not cool, but if it's happening, there's a payoff somewhere for somebody. So if ghosting, aka the absence of behaviour, has value, what is it?

In behavioural psychology, an effective technique to get an animal to repeat a behaviour at will is by issuing random rewards without pattern or warning. 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-honoured of research traditions to find out: the focus group. Plying them 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 tell it to me straight. 

Realistically, I was expecting a causal response. What I got was a string of diatribes lamenting the emotional land mines of casual relationships. In fact, not a single guy failed to reply. Participants in my focus group 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 break the "he said, she said" of ghosting down 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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