We know ghosting is hurtful — so why do we keep doing it?

WATCH: Relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly explains what ghosting is and whether or not it’s okay to abruptly leave a relationship.

While “ghosting” is considered a common part of online dating, it remains frustrating and shocking for the person being ignored. 

Depending on the situation, it’s usually not the best way to end communication, said relationship and sex expert Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJessPodcast.


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Since so many of us communicate via text and date using apps, it can be easy to avoid people online, she said. 

“You leave them high and dry, and they wonder, ‘what did I do wrong’?” she told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show

A survey by dating site Plenty of Fish asked Canadians and Americans about dating habits in 2016, and found nearly 80 per cent of those aged 18-33 had been ghosted before. 

Many of us want to avoid having difficult conversations, O’Reilly explained, and it’s normal to not want to engage when you know someone might be disappointed. 

“You don’t necessarily owe anyone an explanation, but don’t you want to extend the courtesy of open, honest communication?” she said. 


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If you no longer want to see someone you’ve gone on a few dates with, you don’t need to meet them in person if it hasn’t become serious yet, she said.

“Texting might be an appropriate way to let them know… that this isn’t working out. Otherwise, we just leave them hanging,” she said. 

Ghosting doesn’t allow the other person to have any closure, and allows you to avoid having a proper conversation, said O’Reilly.

“It leaves people feeling insecure and anxious about themselves,” said Susan Wenzel, a Winnipeg-based relationship therapist in a previous Global News report. 

Cutting another person off without a proper explanation can also become a bad habit, and can prevent you from learning crucial skills for healthy relationships, said Wenzel. 

The only exception to this is if the person you want to ghost has been abusive or harmful, and ghosting may be the only way to get out of the situation, explained O’Reilly. 

Mistakes made when ending communications

Wanting to leave a relationship, or telling someone you no longer want to be involved with them after a few dates, isn’t a problem. But it is important you do so in a caring way, said Wenzel.


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“A good way you can do this is to provide a genuine compliment before ending a relationship,” she said. 

Straightforward approaches are important, rather than being passive-aggressive or promising to try again in the future when you don’t mean it, said O’Reilly.

“If that future doesn’t exist, don’t create an opening and create false hope for this person,” she said. “It’s being straightforward, without running away.” 

For more information about ghosting and ending relationships, watch Jessica O’Reilly in the video above.

—With files from Global News reporter Adriana Zhang.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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