What are the consequences of being ghosted and how do mobile daters cope with being ghosted? (RQ2)

A total of 41 respondents (29%) referred to the affordances of the app to explain why they ghosted others. Some referred to the ease of ghosting (n = 32). They described it as being easier than directly rejecting another person given the anonymity provided by the app and the fact that there was no shared social network. Others mentioned they deleted the app and thus deleted all their conversations and contacts (n = 9). Finally, some respondents also mentioned that the overload of potential partners afforded by the dating app’s access to a large dating pool led them to ghost others they were less interested in (n = 5).

No obligation to communicate (n = 31; 22%)

A larger group of respondents (n = 29) declared they did not owe the other person anything and that ghosting is part of mobile dating app use, which is related to the idea of mobile dating ideologies as earlier explained. As Melanie (27, heterosexual) explains: “I don’t owe the other person an explanation given that I did not meet this person face-to-face.” Additionally, two respondents struggled with the fact that their reasons for rejecting the other person were not clear. It thus seemed easier for them to ghost rather than to use a direct breakup strategy as this would require giving the other person a reason.

Concern for the other

Directly rejecting others is not easy and some ghosters (n = 23; 16%) did not want to hurt the other person by verbally rejecting them. In total, 21 respondents perceived it as being more painful to explain to the other person why they rejected them (e.g., not attractive/interesting enough) rather than to simply ghost the other person. Additionally, three respondents mentioned they ghosted because they did not want to deceive the other person by leading them on and faking interest.

To complement the qualitative findings on why respondents ghost, we conducted a logistic regression (see Table 1) to examine H1 and to explore which demographic and situational variables explain who ghosts. The overall model was significant, ? 2 (7) = , p < 0.001, Cox and Snell R 2 = .17, and Nagelkerke R 2 = .23 and the model fit was good, Hosmer and Lemeshow test, ? 2 (8) = 6.57, p = .584. As expected, dating app frequency in the past 31 days was a significant predictor of ghosting others (B = ?.26*). However, contrarily to our expectations for H1, the frequency of dating app use decreased the likelihood of ghosting others: For every step decrease in dating app use, the odds to ghost increased with 1.30. Interestingly, gender was not a significant predictor of having ghosted, which means that the odds for women to ghost other dating app users are not significantly higher than the odds for men. Contrarily, age was a significant predictor of having ghosted others on dating apps. For every year decrease in age, the odds to ghost increased with 1.08. Participants' perceptions of others' ghosting experiences (both in terms of ghosting others and being ghosted by others) were not significantly associated with the likelihood to ghost. Similarly, having been ghosted by other dating app users was not significantly associated with the likelihood to ghost others, yet this could be because only 18 respondents were in the category that never experienced ghosting compared to 153 respondents in the category that had been ghosted.

When analyzing the emotional responses respondents had to ghosting, the majority of respondents (n = 86) reported feeling sad or hurt after the ghosting experience. Other commonly mentioned emotions were feeling angry (n = 65) and feeling disappointed or disillusioned (n = 48). The latter can be illustrated by Lennert’s (25, homosexual) experience: “I wanted to believe in online dating so badly, but I soulsingles am starting to question it over and over again. I think people need more education about it, it ruins our human relationships and creates hidden agendas.” Given that not all respondents immediately realized they had been ghosted, some of them also mentioned they were worried as they assumed something bad had happened to the ghoster (n = 16). Seven respondents felt ashamed that they were ghosted, whereas four felt relieved that they were ghosted as this was a clear indication the other person was not a good fit. Finally, 28 respondents explicitly mentioned they had little to no emotional response to the ghosting experience.

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