Everything was going well. There were some red flags. But, what new relationships have those?
Then... nothing. You wake up one morning to discover that you are not a friend on social media. They don't answer their phones. They don't read their texts. It slowly dawns on your. You have been ghosted.
You don't have to be a psychopath if your first reaction is to label them as such. Now you have science backing you up. You can also call them manipulative or narcissistic and you have a good chance of being correct.
This is known as the "dark trio" of personality traits. It's often referred to as an unholy trinity, or a "dark triad", and it's linked to a greater tendency to commit certain criminal acts, and generally being a social nuisance.
They are also more likely have a selfish or exploitive approach to relationships. However, little research has been done on how they prefer to end things with their partner.
These three traits may make it more common for people to end their relationships during the early-to mid stages of a relationship. This could reduce the pain and heartbreak that can accompany breakups. Enter ghosting.
341 volunteers from the US and Europe were invited to fill out an online questionnaire. The questionnaire assessed their personality and tolerance to ghosting.
To make responses relatively consistent, they were given a clear definition of ghosting, being "when a person abruptly socially disengages with someone they are romantically/sexually involved with little-to-no explanation."
The volunteers were also asked if ghosting had ever happened to them.
This question received a fairly evenly divided response, with only half of those surveyed admitting that they had done so. This is not a surprising result, as other surveys suggest that the practice isn't uncommon.
Participants who had higher scores in personality traits like manipulation, psychopathy and narcissism were more likely to consider ghosting acceptable. However, this only applies to short-term relationships.
Even for the most heartless, egotistical and Machiavellian, ghosting in long-term, more emotionally committed relationships remains a taboo.
It's not surprising that ghosters who have done it before saw it as a way to get away from their partner. They were also more likely than others to be manipulative or psychopathic, but not necessarily narcissistic.
This is not a surprise to anyone who has been dumped without any explanation other than the "it's NOT you, it's ME" text.
Ghosting is a method for low-empathy and high self-regard to get rid of a casual partner in order to pursue new opportunities or limit their chances of being caught up in a long-term relationship.
Ghosting, while it is a sign that someone is cold, doesn't necessarily mean they are sick. You don't have to be mentally ill to be a jerk.
Important to remember that these studies are usually WEIRD. They only include samples from the western, educated and industrialized population. More research is needed to determine how personality traits relate with casual dating behavior in other classes and cultures.
Non-monogamous relationships can be based on different values. They allow for multiple partners and leave room for further research on personality types and breakups.
This research helps us to understand how digital technology could encourage a phenomenon that is not new, but it is still a common one. A Tinder profile is all it takes to start a new romantic relationship.
An earlier study supported this view and suggested that the anonymity of technology's surveillance might play a part in it.
Ghosting is a horrible practice. It's a fact that is undisputed. It can be very difficult to accept rejection without closure, especially if there is an emotional investment.
You can at least take comfort knowing that you have probably avoided a bullet.
This research was published by Acta Psychologica.