Ask Agatha: The Rationale Behind “Ghosting” On A Relationship, Explained » VSB

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Ask Agatha: The Rationale Behind “Ghosting” On A Relationship, Explained



Raven from Brooklyn, NY asks:

We met a year ago at a house party in Bmore. I sat next to him on the couch because he had prime real estate by the lone fan (and because he was sexy as hell). He introduced himself. And we soon discovered we were both from Brooklyn.  We spent the night discussing music and books and even politics. At the time neither one of us believed Trump had a chance. Back in New York we managed to meet up a few times over the summer and then more so over the fall and then what with holiday familial obligations and traveling we didn’t see each other again until late January. Then he asked me out for Valentine’s Day and showed up with roses.

And without having a discussion about it, just like that he became a constant feature in my life. Our laissez-faire texts went from every now and again to a continuous ongoing ever-varied conversation about everything and nothing. I went from wondering if he’d call to assuming we’d spend our weekend together. I met his mom. Accidentally. And his sister on purpose.

Throughout his lazy chase of me, I had never pressed him, never hoped. And then one day I woke up and knew I loved him.  And I told him. And without hesitation he said, “love you too.” And everything was perfect.

So last month I threw him a surprise birthday party and I invited all his friends. His sister helped me with the planning and we (his sister and I) became closer because of it.  He was truly surprised and we all had a great time. He even gave a toast thanking me for being a great girlfriend. That was that first time he’d said that in public. What’s the word for better than perfect?

That night, when my surprise party for him was winding down, he left with his boys for the “turn up.” I joked with them to watch him. He kissed me, a little drunkenly, a little sloppily, goodbye, with a promise to be good. I called him at noon the next day to see if he was okay and he didn’t pick up. So then I texted him, “Are you okay?” And a couple hours later he replied, “jus woke up, talk to you later.”

He hasn’t texted me since.

It took me a while to realize, after calling and texting, that he’d ghosted on me.

I just don’t know why. So I thought I’d write out the chain of events in as unbiased way as possible so you can tell me where I went wrong. What signs did I miss? Why didn’t he at least say something? Everything was good. We were good. What happened?

Why would anyone think ghosting was acceptable??

As a serial equal opportunity ghoster I’ve never wanted to not answer a question more than this one.

You’re forcing me to answer “Why do shitty people do shitty things?” but only by acknowledging that I too am a shitty person.

And I’ll answer you. But just know that the answer isn’t pretty. Just know that the answer might bruise. I mean it’s deep and not deep.

Ghosters don’t care enough about you to talk it out.

Ghosters don’t care enough about you to talk.

Ghosters don’t care enough about you.

Ghosters don’t care about you.

Ghosters don’t care.

There I said it.

We know he’s just not that into you. Clearly. (I mean you did know that right?) But baby. That’s precisely why he ghosted as opposed to having an “I want to break up” convo. Those hard and awkward conversations are for the people you want to try to change your mind.

You ghost when your mind is already made up.

And you don’t care what the other person has to say. This isn’t rule by committee. This is pure self-interest.

Some old ass studies about the way people end relationships say that:

There are many psychological reasons why someone ghosts, but at its core, ghosting is avoidance and often stems from fear of conflict. Which means, at its heart, that ghosting is about wanting to avoid confrontation, avoid difficult conversations, avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

I know I got my PhD from the same school Dr. Phil got his but I can say with all certainty, that that’s a crock of shit. I mean you and homeboy had a robust discussion about politics, a definite first topic no-no, the first night you met. You said your conversations were often about everything and nothing.

Ghosters don’t suffer from selective mutism—as comforting as that notion can be.

Ghosters aren’t afraid to have hard conversations.

They’re not even afraid to hurt the feelings of someone they care about during the course of a discussion.

They just have to care enough to do it.

To have the discussion.

They don’t care enough.

That same study also said:

Surprisingly, avoidance also costs the ghost much more in the long run…the more you back down from your anxiety, the more likely you are to avoid anxiety-producing situations in the future. In fact, a frequent ghost is probably avoiding conflicts throughout their relationship. And many of the issues they avoid are likely problems that might have been sorted out through open communication.

This idea of a hand wringing, anxiety-ridden avoider is soothing. The idea of the act of avoidance leaving a possible emotional and spiritual tax on the ghoster is satisfying.

It’s also not true.

Ghosters for the most part feel nothing but relief.

And a faint sense of irritation when you interrupt their Twitter scrolling with a phone call that they have to wait out because lords knows everyone knows when they’ve been sent to voicemail. So now you have to gingerly set your phone down for fear of accidentally swiping the green button.

In fact, the last person I ghosted on never crosses my mind—except and until I get another text.  And after months of random texts I only felt an intense sense of relief when he “announced” he was going to stop texting me. (I also rolled my eyes.)


text 2

I told you I was a shitty person.

All those pleas and I felt nothing but annoyed.

His closing text would be a threat from someone I loved but from him it’s just nothing at all.

Because I don’t care. At all.

I never did.

Your ex didn’t care at all.

He didn’t love you.

And that might be the harshest thing I’ve ever said to someone else and I’m sorry for it. But I want you to understand that that’s what it is and what it always was.

Your love was unrequited.

But your next love won’t be.

Because I’m arming you to see the signs.

I want you to be able to tell when the person isn’t as into you as you’re into them. And the signs are always the same.

And I’m not telling you this because I want you to be continuously jumping ship or having up your guard. Because that’s no way to live or love.

I’m telling you this so that you give your heart wisely if not freely.

So stop filling in the gaps for the men you’re dating. You went from assuming nothing to assuming everything. You assumed commitment. You assumed his “love you too” was “I’m in love with you too.” You assumed getting close to his friends and family meant something. Next time, make yourself ask the hard questions.

And next time don’t be so fucking available. I’m cursing to shake you up. And I’m not saying to play games. I’m saying to actually get a life. There’s no way he should’ve been able to disappear for months and still be able to wrangle a Valentine’s Day date out of you.

Fuck Raven.

You say you didn’t allow yourself to hope initially but that’s not true because why else were you waiting? Because that’s what you were doing…all through the summer and the fall and the winter…you were waiting. What’s more hopeful than that?

A shitty person is going to take advantage of that.

Shitty people take advantage.

He’s a shitty person.

Fuck Raven.

You’re still romanticizing him and what you had.

But what did you have really?

A nice meet-cute and a dozen dates before you told him you loved him and accidentally met his mom and threw him a surprise birthday party.

A man you admit was lazily courting you.

Fuck Raven.

Stop texting him.

Stop calling him.

Stop telling yourself a story about what you had.

And most importantly stop letting this eat at you.

He’s done, so now you have to be done too.

Filed Under: ,
Agatha Guilluame

Agatha is a figment of the collective VSB imagination.

  • Wild Cougar

    Eh, better to feel the rush of love and pain and know I am living life to it’s fullest as the ghostee than the dead inside ghost.

  • Epsilonicus
    • ChokeOnThisTea

      ^^^^^^^ HERE HE IS, RAVEN!!!

      • tipartsy


      • PDL – Cape Girl Shero


    • Question

      But have you ghosted after I Love You’s and meeting-the-families?

      • Epsilonicus

        Nope. Im too gutter to ghost. I let you know all I want is the draws and then watch you take them off.

    • NonyaB

      Express yourself, Eps! Confess now: Was it you or your homeboy described in the letter?

      • Epsilonicus

        Never. My crew don’t get down like that.

  • There more to it, I cant believe he just stop replying and she never heard from him since then. She knows the family and he just disappear? She never ask his sister what happened?

    • Mika

      I probably wouldn’t ask the sister. Cause she would side with her brother in most instances. And well, I just don’t want everyone up in business that’s between you and me.

    • Mortal Man

      Dude probably just tells his family “We don’t talk no ‘mo.”

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Go to line number 24

    • Jennifer

      The meaning behind meeting the family has been highly oversold. It doesn’t mean anything unless Dude says it means something.

      • MsCee

        I’ve literally met upwards of 10 or more different women in the course of 1 month dealing with my middle brother…like dude, seriously?? It got so bad my mom had to speak on it…she told him don’t bring another female around us until he’s serious about her…smh.

        • MyAlterNegro

          I had a women I was dating refuse to let me see a picture of her parents when we were casually dating. That was a new one for me and should’ve been a good clue about her.

          • MsCee

            Yeah that’s strange… like bih are you really who you say you are lol

    • Asiyah

      Might not be more to it. It seriously might just be what it is.

  • HoobaStankyLeg

    I’ve only ever ghosted out of combativeness. They brought it on themselves.

    • miss t-lee

      You are me.

      • HoobaStankyLeg

        We are one.

    • Mika

      Word. Sometimes you have to do that for your own safety. Dude did a few things were I saw my life spiraling out of control if I kept on. Dropped him off one night and just never returned any phone calls or texts. Now he is someone else’s problem. The signs are always there.

      • HoobaStankyLeg

        Exactly. If I see that this situation could possibly get me killed, or get me to kill you. I’m done, I don’t want closure, I will not be keeping in touch. Let’s move on.

  • Mika

    Learned this lesson a couple of times in my early 20’s. Raven better charge it to the game and keep it moving.

    • It’s so hard though :-( Especially if she had all her little eggs in that basket.

      • Mika

        I get it. I feel her. I been there, but now that I am 30+ nah, you only have to act funny to me one time. I realize when people ghost you its really more about them than it is about you. I almost want to shoot them a thank you, like thank you for showing me that you really aren’t shiznyee early on so I don’t invest any more time.

      • Jennifer

        “Especially if she had all her little eggs in that basket.”

        Ugh. This comes up in convos with my friends . I urge them to keep diversifying their portfolios until they know for sure this thing is real. You’re over here putting your eggs in one basket while he is over there dropping off eggs like the Easter Bunny. It always leads to issues down the road.

        • PhlyyPhree

          Butttt here’s the thing:
          Now that I’m older? I don’t want a whole bunch of little baskets. I had the opportunity this weekend to go visit another basket and I did, but whole time, I was thinking about the one I wanted, not the one I was with.
          I don’t have the emotional energy or mental capacity to stretch myself that way. I get invested in people and I simply can not invest in more baskets just so that I’m not hurt if one bunny hops away.

          • Mizwest

            I’m definitely at this stage in life. Juggling used to keep things exciting now I don’t have energy or will to keep up the act.

            • Mika

              im just lazy lol. my attention span is that of a 5 year olds.

              • Mizwest

                Lol, I feel u.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            That’s a skill set to learn though. We are a generation of options and it gets hard to turn off the need for options. That’s the only way you really know what you want.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      Same, I learned it quickly…. Now that I think about it maybe a bit too quickly. I feel like the last few years have made me quite cold towards people and relationships but that’s another story for another day.

    • Psychoanalyzing relationships failures has always been a disaster as far as I’m concerned.

      • Mika

        Such a waste of time. Then you start to carry over those insecurities in new relationships.

  • Vanity in Peril

    Ghosting someone is admitting to the world that you are an “aint shitt” person. Flakiness.

    But as long as you realize you are not the hero of the story anymore. ..

    Good advice. Poor girl. Agatha, you aint shitt, though. Sorry for 2004.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      Shoutout to Ruben Studdard.

      • Cynthia Silverstein


    • ChokeOnThisTea

      I’ve been trying to tell y’all– Aggie is a dude born in a woman’s body. Just ruthless.

      • PhlyyPhree

        This ain’t nothing we didn’t already know.

        • ChokeOnThisTea


      • Val

        Does the Foxhole still come on?

        • Occasionally, but like it always was, it’s sporadic.

    • PinkRose

      Honestly, ain’t s hit people should just STAY single……..FOREVER!!!!!!

  • But why go through all the trouble of wasting all that time if you’re not that into someone? I’m also that person who will blow your phone up once I realize I’m being ignored. I always feel compelled to let people know why they f * c k e d up and it took me years to realize that this is a silly thing to do. I feel for her. Getting dumped like that is the worst because you have no idea how it even got to that point when you thought everything was going so well.

    • Mortal Man

      You’re only as good as your options. He probably either was stringing her along with the others he had in his stable or decided to bail once Raven made her true intentions know.

      • I get it from her perspective though. Pining away after someone, finally getting them to notice you, hoping that they’ll do those “potential bae” activities with you, having them tell you they “love you”. It’s easy to get lost in the sauce when you’re all in.

        I was never that great at reading men romantically. I love hard so I naively assume that men do too.

        • Mortal Man

          I can understand that. Nothing feels better than sweet nothings. Even being in a relationship doesn’t feel as good as the courting/romancing stage; our minds are more welcoming homes for our hopes than the world is.

          And real men- at least, men who behave alpha- are simple. They will state their intention. They will ask for your phone number and how to contact you. They won’t play games. Men who are beta will do everything to give themselves a way out by never making commitments; make that your red flag.

          • I’ve cut out all the guess work and voluntarily pulled myself from the dating pool. Too much mess to sift through. I don’t need it right now and that’s ok with me.

          • E_Deshon

            You know I never considered that. Ive always said its a trait of a coward……but this definitely fits also.

            • Mortal Man

              Cowards don’t commit because commitment carries risk.

    • MsCee

      I always admire women who muster up the courage to blow up a man’s phone with calls or texts…I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum…I’m the one who refuses to call or text…unless specifically requested to do so…then I usually still don’t.

      • You admire women like myself being that desperate?! Why? Nothing is worse than being “that girl” who leaves a dozen VM and 10 page long thesis style texts.

        • MsCee

          Yeah…no. What I was trying to say is that I can admire women who will at least make the effort…my fear of vulnerability often times paralyzes me from even making an attempt. Not the desperation piece.

          • Oh. Yeah, I have no qualms about speaking my peace concerning matters of the heart.

          • Deeds

            I envy that as well, cuz I can be the exact opposite of someone that wears their heart on their sleeve.

      • The way my petty is set up, you don’t get but two calls. The second is to make sure you ain’t dead.

    • Asiyah

      “But why go through all the trouble of wasting all that time if you’re not that into someone”

      Ego and boredom. Some people really are that bored. Some people are really that egotistical to play a game knowing they’re going to win by eventually pulling the plug.

      • AnswerMe

        And nothing more needs to be said.

      • Manipulative people are the absolute worst.

      • Deeds

        I think its just more selfishness than manipulative.

        • Asiyah

          I think it depends. I’ve met a few sociopaths. Very few, though. Most of the time ghosters are just selfish.

        • Mika

          I also find these types went through rough break ups and need something to do or want to make someone feel how they felt. Just a viscous cycle.

    • Mika

      Because it is “something to do.” My male friend told me. They just get bored and have a bunch of chicks they fake like and then ghost them. It’s so annoying.

    • PhlyyPhree

      I USED to be that girl, but I put myself on a strict 3-contact rule.
      I get three times to call and leave a 10 minute voicemail, text 30 fucking screens or even do a random 3 hour stakeout so I can happen to run into you when you leave to go to target.
      After that? I have to give it up because there’s only so much a fool I’ll allow you to make out of me, no matter how much I liked you and your peen

    • cakes_and_pies

      Men like having their egos stroked.

  • Mortal Man

    Raven wants closure. I bet she’s like a lioness, stalking dude through Facebook and the other fields of social media.

    Life is never 360 degrees. Sometimes you have to learn to live with things not having symmetry and moving on.

  • AnswerMe

    Humans desire closure for most things. Sometimes we don’t get it and our closure is no closure. That’s all I have.

    • I desperately desire closure, even in the worst of situations. I just need to know if it was me, another woman, etc. I’m a glutton for punishment in that regard

      • AnswerMe

        I used to be like this (maybe still am but I haven’t been tested on it lately). All I wanted was for dude I was in a relationship with to own up to what I knew was going on. Didn’t want him back, just acknowledgement. Never got it and that idiot left me a VM last week after we haven’t spoken in like 2 years. I think ghosting also leaves room for picking the relationship back up in the future when they feel bored or miss you.

        • That’s the worst. I have an ex who has my number memorized. I’ve thought about changing it a few times but I’m not willing to pass up hate-s e x so…….here I am :-

          • AnswerMe

            I know when I’m over someone/our situation when they can contact me and I don’t respond. I absolutely adore that feeling.

        • Asiyah

          ” I think ghosting also leaves room for picking the relationship back up in the future when they feel bored or miss you.”

          DING DING DING DING DING! And that’s the truth.

      • MsCee

        Girl, I used to be right there with you…now all (80%) of my chakras are aligned and I can peacefully wish people well without needing too much in the way of “closure.”

        • Teach me! I internalize SO much when it comes to interpersonal relationships, romantic and platonic.

      • miss t-lee

        Girl…bump that.

      • Annalise Keating

        It’s never you. It usually is just that he is not the right person for you.

    • Mortal Man

      Closure is overrated and destructive.

      People need to resist the urge to run into a burning house just to close the bedroom door.

      • Deeds

        This is true, but man-o-man is it hard to resist. I just wanna know why and what went wrong.

        • QueLoQue

          You think that’s it, but those answers will open up a whole new set of questions, which will open up another set of questions, and you’ll never get the answers you’re looking for. It all keeps you in limbo instead of moving on with your life.

      • I like this analogy

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        We always want to know why and don’t accept sometimes you don’t need the answer.

      • miss t-lee

        All this truth.

    • We tend to think that the people we love are weaker than they actually are, that we can always influence their decisions: kids, partners, parents etc. Everyone has their own mind, if it doesn’t mesh, it’s not a failure on our part. The fact that a lot of times we do, is what leads us to seek closure. We want to be told we didn’t fail.

      • AnswerMe

        There are a thousand different scenarios as to why a person has stopped speaking to us. But to have that narrowed down, eases the mind momentarily. Then some will obsess over whatever the reason is…it can be such a harmful cycle.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    When Agatha’s article popped up on my twitter feed:

    • AnswerMe

      I need to make it a pt to watch the show and this performance. For the life of me I can’t understand why he would need to look like this during his song.

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Me neither but this pic alone is worth it. This is gonna be the 2016 church meme mvp

        • AnswerMe

          I mean I couldn’t even tell WHO this was though I was seeing it everywhere. Not that I could pick him out of a lineup…

      • Jennifer

        LOL! I watched this performance live and have seen this image 50-11 times since Sunday. Still takes me out every time.

        • AnswerMe

          That open mouth does it. Smh

        • I hate the song bu that performance was the epitome of #blackpeoplesolit

        • HouseOfBonnets

          Same, my 7 year old had no idea why I was cackling so much.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      This was so necessary after that trash freestyle

      • Epsilonicus

        I liked it.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          You need to listen to the Jamaican parody…way better than his own.

      • Darkchloe144

        And a meme was born…

      • Jennifer

        I honestly don’t understand what just happened here.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          Don’t hurt yourself with this one love, it’s too much

    • Amen

      Man I felt dude with this. He may not be back there ever again. Go in sir.

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Probably because that spirit….lol

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