The Psychological Impact of Ghosting on Self-Esteem and Emotional Health

Stats on ghosting, why people ghost, how and why it harms self-esteem and emotional health.

A 2023 Forbes Health poll of 5,000 US adults found that 76% had either ghosted or had been ghosted by someone in the last five years. 45% said they ghosted someone, while 60% admitted they were ghosted.

Men and women are almost equally to blame for ghosting. The survey found that 47% of women and 44% of men admitted to ghosting a potential or current partner.

Women are less likely to admit they’ve been ghosted. 57% do so, compared to 64% of men.

The survey also revealed the states in which ghosting occurs the most often. Rhode Island appears to be the worst state for ghosting. Wyoming and North Dakota tied for second place, and Ohio and Illinois tied for third. The survey covered both ghosters and victims of ghosting.

Findings in terms of ghosting and sexual interactions were interesting as well. Men were more likely to ghost someone after having sex with them than women, but not a lot more. 25% said they had ghosted someone they had slept with more than once, while 20% of women admitted the same.

The Most Common Reasons for Ghosting

Respondents in other surveys say they have ghosted another person because they didn’t have the communication skills needed for an open and honest conversation, including how to set boundaries in a relationship. Others attribute their behavior to social anxiety or lack of confidence to communicate directly.


Some people chose to ghost because they felt meeting with the person would stir up sexual and/or emotional feelings they were not ready to process. Almost 50% of participants in a study published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media ghosted someone for safety reasons – to remove themselves from a situation they defined as “toxic” or “unhealthy.”

The Effects of Ghosting

The short-term effects of ghosting are wounded self-esteem, confusion, and feeling rejected. Ghosting impacts people adversely because they don’t get closure and clarity. They are left oblivious as to why communication ceased, desperately trying to make sense of the situation. People aren’t able to talk and process when they’re ghosted, so they don’t have the opportunity to heal. They start to question their worth and wonder if the person ever liked them at all, and what they did to deserve being ghosted. This can lead to trauma, anxiety, or depression.

The long-term effects involve losing trust in others. In some cases, the feelings of mistrust affect future relationships. Ghosting can precipitate self-blame, internalized rejection, and low self-worth.


Ghosters aren’t spared the negative psychological impact. Around half of people who ghosted others felt remorseful or guilty. Studies also find people use ghosting to end relationships more and more often, essentially becoming “serial ghosters.” In other words, they make a habit of it. This potentially inhibits their emotional growth because they become less familiar with genuine intimacy and more comfortable avoiding it.


What are the most common emotions after being ghosted?

People report feeling angry, sad, confused, lonely, or a combination of these. They can alternate, coming one after the other in waves. The lack of a response is very painful emotionally, according to mental health professionals. People feel helpless without information to guide them. In extreme cases, victims of ghosting are so hurt that they exhibit symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.

How is Ghosting Toxic?

Ghosting is toxic because it shows a lack of consideration for well-being and emotions. It can be confusing and painful and make victims feel devalued and disregarded.

What Personality Types are Most Likely to Ghost?

A psychological study found that people with high scores in vulnerable narcissism were most likely to end a relationship by ghosting the other person. Vulnerable narcissists are also most likely to demonstrate inauthentic extraversion and confidence to find a prospective partner.

Why Does Ghosting Harm Self-Esteem?

Not knowing why a relationship ended can cause someone to start imagining or guessing the reasons, and they frequently end up thinking they were to blame. The victim assumes it was their fault and might also think they did not deserve an explanation.