Ghosting, Discard, and No Contact


What’s the difference?

A recent Valeriya Safronova article in the NY Times focused on the act of sudden, unexpected withdrawal and non-communication in romantic relationships. It shines a light on the cruel act that many victims in toxic relationships refer to as being discarded.

Safronova attempts to define the behavior by citing Charlize Theron’s decision to “ghost,” refrain from communication with, Sean Penn, with whom she’d been engaged and involved in a two year romantic relationship. Unfortunately, Safronova’s misuse of the term creates more confusion than understanding.

Cause and Effect, the dividing line

TheronIn the realm of toxic love, there are offenders and there are victims. And sometimes, it’s difficult to tell them apart. Sean Penn’s behavior has been called “controlling” in many tabloids. There are those who deliberately harm those around them, and those who will respond to the harm they are dealt. One of the behaviors that is especially harmful is abrupt cessation of contact, “ghosting” which takes the victim totally by surprise. It is a form of betrayal and abandonment.

Safronova provides the reader with explanations from ghosting offenders who give their self-absorbed reasoning for their actions. Their entirely “me-focused” intent leaves no room for them to consider the affect their behavior will have on the other person. And it is not unusual for emotional predators to “ghost” victims at-will, absenting themselves and then reappearing based on their selfish needs.

So how does “No Contact” differ?

A victim who is “ghosted” may find that responding with “no contact” is the only way to get their abuser’s harmful behavior out of their lives.

Some offenders will attempt to blur the lines of behavior by causing their victims shame about responding to or defending themselves against the harm they’re dealt. In this way, the wrongdoer will use their prey’s adaptive responses to “gaslight” them. Here’s how it works:

  • They’ll enrage and harm.
  • They’ll feign innocence as the person responds.
  • They’ll place the victim’s reaction under a microscope and use it to defame them to the world.

In the eyes of the predator, they, not their target, are the perpetual victim. In cases of ghosting and the resultant no contact, they’ll claim the victim is behaving inappropriately.

Turning your loss into a win

If you’re a person whose been “ghosted,” you may eventually consider yourself “lucky.” The offender has clearly shown you that they have a character flaw. They disappeared because they put their own selfish need, whatever it was, above your safety and trust. Yes, you’re greatly harmed by their immediate absence, but it’s a clear sign that they lack the elements of bonding in their brain that would enable you to find ongoing happiness together. You’re now free to find a more meaningful life without their inevitable harm.

“Ghosting” creates a lack of closure

Once you realize you’ve been “ghosted” you’ll likely begin to ruminate about what you did to engender such ill treatment. The end is not defined by a conversation in which you discuss your views and determine that it’s best to part…..  which is the hallmark of how other relationships end. Instead of a sit-down to talk out differences, the victim creates a one-way discussion that plays over and over again in their brain.

The only form of closure you’ll ever secure with a sociopath is your personal commitment to “no contact.” which will protect you from ever having to endure “ghosting,” being discarded, betrayed or abused by them, again.



38 thoughts on “Ghosting, Discard, and No Contact”

  1. Yeah, had to discuss. But… Maybe thought that he will read mind. Or was afraid to hurt him by saying the truth. As many have done it to me – later I’ve found that such people can have those issues. Some even revenge. Anyway they aren’t guilty for are blind either… Yeah, stupidity hurts… Though nobody is guilty for yet being stupid in something sometimes.

  2. I have been interested in so many online blogs about this very topic on “Ghosting” since I just experienced it first hand. I tried my hand in online dating after a 2 year hiatus as was busy raising my son. Met a girl on Tinder and we clicked instantly, texted for a week and a half and decided to go on a date. The date was a success; the best date i’ve ever had and we were the last ones to leave the restaurant. The staff actually left us alone and waited for us…(yes the chemistry was that obvious they decided to let us be). After the date, i dropped her off at home and shared a kiss….it felt natural and i immediately expressed my interest in seeing her again which she agreed to and suggested the following Sunday. Again we met up and it was fantastic, we went back to mine, watched moves and got intimate afterwards. Wow!! this is too good to be true…it was fantastic and we lay next to each other and talked about becoming exclusive…. Why not!!! we like each other’s company and things seem effortless. This carried on for about 5 weeks with numerous sleep overs, intimacy, her birthday of which i treated her to a spa day, presents etc.. She was even initiating future vacation plans as she worked in that industry. Long story short, by week 8 i noticed the texting slowed down a lot ( this was someone that texted me everything from gym pic, hanging with her friends etc). I checked her on it and she said I did nothing wrong, and that she’s just distant because she lost a friend. I comforted her and said if she needed space that she should just let me know. I left her alone for a day and she contacted me saying sorry for being the way she was. Then the following week, she said her stepdad was incarcerated and again i believed her and comforted her etc. The week after that, she said she was ill and had booked a doctors appointment to find out the cause…this was a Monday. So later that afternoon, i sent her a text to find out what the doctor said. No response….The following Tuesday I realized she had been active on watsapp but just did not reply to my text. So i waited till late that Tuesday night and sent another text…. she replied saying sorry ” I’ve been trying to shake off the illness blah blah…. and that the doctor took blood samples etc… The next day, she text me saying she was going to help her friend move her things, as she got a job in another city….( “hold on i thought you are ill”… i told myself). I texted back asking when she planned on going and I would love to see her before she goes….and then poof…nothing… response for the last 4 weeks…. I’m still confused as I’m typing this but I have already deleted her number and left the ball in her court. I unfriended her on Facebook but she is still following me on Instagram..even though i unfollowed her there too…..(which is even more strange). That showed me she does not give a damn or perhaps she is still interested in what im doing…talk about mixed signals. Why should anyone think ghosting someone you shared your life and self with for about 2 months is cool? Even if she changed her mind for whatever reason, cant she just tell me that? I dont want to know the reason; but I would have preferred a “thanks i had fun, but not emotionally available now” type of text at the very least. But no she chose the shittiest way possible….. My thing is this; what we do does not define our character, its how we do it that does. Even if she comes back tomorrow, I know one thing….. I OWE HER ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

    1. Kay Dee-

      How disappointing!

      Ghosting speaks volumes about her character. If she had an issue, the appropriate behavior would be to discuss it. Without doing so, the other person has no closure and is left bewildered and hurt.

      I hope you’re on your way to recovery from this ordeal. Thanks for sharing your story!


  3. P. S. Sorry for typos. Yeah, they happen. I meant “wrong” where wrote “wront” and “ghosts” in the sentence where said that every1 has own reasons why. “Why ghosts”, cuz “every1”.

  4. Joyce, seems you yet also don’t understand something of how I see things. Say to be careful? But you never know who and how can perceive. Anything can be perceived as insult. Same even what you find rude – other can see as scream for help. And say that even friends can ignore when didn’t understand or found something rude? Then I doubt that they are very good friends or have very good understanding of such situations. The thing is that in SILENCE you can’t even know if that CERTAIN PERSON got SOMETHING in your msg as too RUDE or NOT UNDERSTANDABLE and ignored DELIBERATELY, or they even DIDN’T RECEIVE and maybe they WOULDN’T IGNORE if they would! That’s why am responding to all. Espec. if something felt rude or I don’t agree or I don’t understand. It’s abt details. And clarifying those “yet dark points” helps to find even more closeness. I find “ending a relationship” being a shallow view. Same as “you have to move on”. In my view – relationships never end, they are in our consciousness, and with time they just CLARIFY, we see clearer what truly happened and why. And we always move on in 1 or another way. And people are hurt on each others, and it burdens until they finally clarify what truly happened between them. I have many hurts. And when I know how blind people can be – lately am hard in asking questions. When caregivers punish or ignore instead of explaining what feels wront to THEM and instead of trying to better UNDERSTAND the child too – the child can grow either thinking that it’s ok to treat that way, swallows own hurts and treats others same, or realizes that it hurts, it’s not shame to admit that it hurts, and isn’t doing it to others… I prefer a rude truth over a too confusing silence. Every1 has own reasons why ghost. Some thus even want attention! They think that will “fix” you, that you’ll find the job if the “best friend” will stop replying. No. I felt even worse. I felt like even less wanted to see any1. I felt even more wish to search through internet for those who could understand me. Internet is a stepping stone to me after what I’ve been through in my life. And many find it fake friendship, but not me. I just see it as 1 else way. And for a person who was physically abused it’s the best way to know people better and thus to approach to them.

  5. K., 1 of my best friends, once at August deleted my few comments just on my eyes without any explanation. And stoppen answering to my msgs and emails. I never sent her again. Just a last email that saw her deleting my comments, am shocked and don’t want to comment anymore, cuz Idk why she did it. She didn’t reply. Later added her into my post comment and asked if she is hurt. She said no and that can’t open her email and doesn’t know what with her FB ID. As earlier she said that sometimes her daughter shares posts, I thought that maybe she deleted. K. was convincing me that her daughter is obedient. But I find it too naive to think that you can control your child as she thinks! Until now I saw her sharing posts and even commenting on her language. I commented after long time. I wrote that am deleting myself from her list cuz tired of not understanding what happens, said let her ignore my msgs and delete my comments ahead. I unfriended her and never heard from her still. Idk what truly happens, but am really frustrated.

  6. Currently am confused abt many ppl. Idk if they are really “ghosting” me even. Once I asked 1 radio dj if can ask few questions abt his weekly show. He said “yes” with a smile. But when I wrote those questions – he didn’t answer even after a week. I was frustrated and wrote that let him put it into his a**. Later I wrote to radio, told that thought maybe he didn’t receive. Wrote few times abt it all and that am worried and Idk what truly happens. Nobody answered me still. I feel like unheard and discriminated, even though Idk if they really DO it to me, or what else.

    1. Just because you ask a question does not mean that a person must answer. If the tone of your question is insulting, or if you write in a fashion that makes it difficult to understand you, it creates aggravation for the other party.

      Communication on the internet should be direct, succinct, non-insulting, grammatically correct, and not repetitious if you want it to get results. If it’s not, a lot of people, even friends, will simply ignore what you wrote.

  7. I meant another kind of seeing. They don’t see how it can backfire, how much it can hurt and that they should explain anything. They just hope that you understand by your own, I think. At least B. was saying that is amazed that am repeating same again and again. I said that when he doesn’t reply – not clear if he RECEIVED! So I was sending same again. He was not replying half of month once, until finally said that was angry that I ask same again. I said that I didn’t know if he was receiving and that am glad that he at least now told, and I offered to clarify that question which he was avoiding, and we did that day, cuz he agreed. Also he was repeating that am not a child to ask so many questions. And that sometimes he doesn’t answer anything at all cuz finds it not worth it, that person just wants attention, he is afraid to say something wrong or to hurt or to make a mistake, that person should find the answer by them own, or that if he is not replying – it’s a clear hint that he got annoyed. And however I tried to explain – he never understood that for me silence isn’t saying if next time he gave that “HINT” or just DIDN’T RECEIVE! Silence meaning “f***” and silence meaning that person even didn’t receive the msg – is too different things! He never got it. He repeated that all is ok, but sometimes acted weird. His sis was blocking me without any explanations. Sometimes I wasn’t getting her clearly and was asking, but she was not replying and acted like didn’t even see. I didn’t know what happened. Once asked B. to ask her why she blocked me. He told that she said that I was insane and asking too many questions! I said that didn’t know it, cuz she was often not responding, so surely I was asking! Finally he started blocking me too. Between that he yelled that loves me. I think he is confused. And as he many times said that complaining is pointless – I think that’s why he denied that something wrong most of time, and last time blocked me without any word. To our mutual friend he said that there are many reasons. But he never told me what. He said him “let her think whatever she wants. She doesn’t live practically”. Once, earlier, he explained to him why blocked me as “I ignored her for her good. Cuz she still hasn’t found any job and is wasting time creating that grief world”. The night before blocking me last time we were talking in group with other people. I am much into grammar. And he said that doesn’t need a primary teacher. I said that I just care to understand what he tries to say! He didn’t answer to it. Idk if that was a reason he blocked me after few h then without any word. Later times his 1 friend said that B. went away cuz got it all what he wanted from me. I said that rather DIDN’T get. Cuz people who REALLY get it all aren’t leaving THIS WAY. I haven’t heard from any of them anymore. Already few months as. From B. – since May 24th directly. Indirectly – since June 4th.

    1. You’ve assumed right from the get go. You assume he doesn’t understand how much it hurts. Seems that he simply doesn’t care how much it hurts.

      People know that if they don’t respond, you will have no way of knowing if they heard or understood. They don’t respond because they don’t want to.

      In your case, I believe the guy wanted to move on, and by not responding, he could make you look and feel foolish. He could have explained, “I’m done with this. You need to move on,” but he wasn’t mature enough or caring enough to do so. Sounds like someone you’re better off without.

      Email is faceless. We don’t pick up the nuances of expression when we use the internet as a communication tool. Long paragraphs are like speaking in a run-on fashion that dominates the conversation, without coming up for a breath of air, or giving the other person space to speak their thoughts. They feel like an intrusion on the person without their even reading a word. So be careful how you write.

  8. The “ghostee” isn’t guilty for DIDN’T KNOW that SOMEHOW annoyed. The “ghost” isn’t guilty for DOESN’T SEE IT…

    1. The “ghost” who turns away doesn’t “see it” because they’re deliberately avoiding it. And it’s likely they “see it,” even if they pretend not to. How is that not their responsibility?

  9. Joyce, yes, I agree with you. Just I want to add that those who do it – simply don’t understand yet that others can’t always know what they find as “so clear” and “a common sense” to them! That I found while communicated with B. (that friend who was amazed why I repeat same again, while I thought that he just didn’t receive each time when he was replying like that msg even wasn’t there).

  10. It’s very possible that sometimes such people want you to apologize how you hurted them and wait for you to find them, but they just yet don’t realize that you don’t know WHAT they got hurt on you for and that you aren’t texting them cuz after finding that they were just ACTING DEAF you now haven’t much wish to text sm1 who possibly will even won’t read your msg!

    1. Vika-

      The only way two people can work out their differences is to talk about them. When someone turns you a deaf ear, it’s because they really don’t want to work out your differences.

      It’s not unusual for people to self-blame when that happens. We go through rumination to figure out what we did wrong, and what we could change about ourselves. Sometimes, we, in fact, discover, that we did something offensive. Other times we discover that the person simply misunderstood. The one thing that’s for sure, however, is that the person who is refusing to listen and communicate does not care one way or other. It’s one thing to differ in opinion. It’s another to emotionally cut a person out of your life without warning. It’s cruel and indecent behavior.

  11. Joyce, am not so sure that all who do it know that they hurt the ghosted person. And even those who realize it, I think, just yet don’t realize how it can backfire to them own and just yet don’t know another way. They hope the person will understand and they think that person hurted them knowingly, so sometimes they do it cuz want that person to think abt own behavior, and they don’t realize yet that that person didn’t mean to hurt and didn’t even know that they are exactly ghosting, and that’s why that person was trying to find them again. That am saying from my own story with a friend who has ghosted me and from what I sometimes hear from people who ghosted some1.

  12. To “GHOSTS”: Sometimes people hurt you cuz DON’T KNOW that IT hurts you. And they REPEAT same cuz don’t know that you’re just PRETENDING deaf…

    1. When a person “ghosts” another person, they know they’re harming the other person. They just don’t give a damn, or worse, they intend to harm them.

      People know that walking away without providing closure or a reason is a mean, pain inflicting action.

  13. Welcome, Joyce. And good luck to us all. Yes, they are cowards and lack of empathy. Just cuz yet are too blind in that case.

  14. And if some1 of you, reading it now, is finding ghosting right – I want to say that when you leave/punish them without any explanation of what’s going on – they can find how hurtful YOUR behavior is, but still not HOW THEY hurted you.

    1. Vika-

      People who separate by ghosting” are cruel, and cowards.

      There’s a difference between telling a person, “I really don’t want to speak with you,” and walking away without saying anything.

      Today, we have many ways to communicate that aren’t simply face to face. If a person is concerned with reprisal, they could explain themselves through an arm’s length means. But turning your back with no warning, explanation or closure is totally without pathos or empathy.

      Thanks for your contribution. And good luck with your efforts on this issue!


  15. Ghosting can happen with every1 who isn’t aware enough that for a receiving end the silence can mean not only DELIBERATE HINT, but also that maybe they EVEN DIDN’T RECEIVE that msg!

  16. It took much time and nerves to find that 1 of my best friend’s silence was exactly ghosting. He was thinking that I will “get so clear hint” and was amazed that I still text the same again and again and asking so many questions. Finally he blocked me without a word. Through a mutual friend I found that he was deliberately not answering to my msgs even though was reading them.

    Earlier we had talks, but it appeared that he never understood that the silence is just too confusing to a receiving end, cuz not clear if the person DELIBERATELY DIDN’T ANSWER or MERELY DIDN’T RECEIVE THAT MSG!!! That is the most confusing shit in that.

    In my last SMS I wrote that would like to hear how I hurted him, but he never replied, and only through the same mutual friend I knew that he received that SMS. So I never wrote him again via any way, cuz such blind person just doesn’t understand that what’s clear to them – yet not always so clear to every1 else. So no wish to text to some1 who could possibly even delete without reading or to change Nr. without notifying.

    Tbh, this block is 3rd from him. Before it he said that got annoyed with me. I asked him next time to say me when it happens again and to say what exactly I did that made him feel bad. But then he just laughed and said that if it will happen again – he will just block me again. And he did. Still am shocked and trying to find why such people are so blind. Maybe 1 day some1 (maybe even his sis who is even harder in that case) will do the same to him, and he will wake up… But I will reply if will ever receive his msg.

    I guess that people do it when are afraid to hurt with rude truth or when are convinced that it’s bad to complain or when think that others can read minds, so they rather vanish without any explanations hoping that you will understand… Tbh, many did it to me. One guy (whom I knew before meeting the above-mentioned friend) wanted European visa by marrying me. He acted friendly, but when got that I won’t go to marry him and see him just as friend – he said that then we haven’t anything to talk about and blocked me. I mailed him cuz he was denying that wanted only visa and was saying that am a nice person, so I hoped to clarify it as friends. He was barely ever replying and just repeating that am a nice girl and he likes me, and something else blurry. And not answering to my questions. His friends also blocked me when I tried to talk.

    After 2 years he mailed me and said that got abt 200 my emails and just found them being too rude for deserving a reply. I said that sometimes he also was saying rude things to me, and I was defending myself, and I thanked him for clarifying that he at least was receiving my msgs… Currently am into “ghosting” theme and posting on it in FB and Twitter. If some1 feels alone in it – welcome there, maybe something of my posts could inspire you. My FB name is: Vika Korotayeva, Twitter name is: Vika K @Vikozuki. Am replying to every1, just it can take time. And in FB am checking notifications prior to chats, cuz (Idk why! And it sucks!) FB deletes unchecked notifications when they get a week old.

  17. so you all got dumped and are now looking for revenge because it was not done in a way you would have liked?

  18. This is soooooo common. I’m glad there is finally a word for it. This seems to be the default method virtually every man uses when he looses interest in who he is dating.

    1. Hmm…. just a thought, Dina. You now how new lovers exchange stories about what happened to break up their prior relationships? It gives them a sense of whether the same issues might crop up in their own exchange with the person and provides insight about what makes them tick…. albeit a very one-sided view.

      Maybe another good inquiry is “How did you break up with them?” Perhaps you’ll get some insight as to whether they did so by having a forthright discussion or whether they slithered away like a coward. 😉 At least, it’ll open the door to let them know what you think of that behavior!

  19. I have experienced “ghosting” and am glad to see that this is being talked about. I feel that I now have “abandonment” issues in dating experiences. Why can’t someone just give you the closure that you need when departing from a relationship? After all, didn’t we share good times, laughter, and a romantic experience? Didn’t I give you part of myself? Other women I know talk about vanishing acts that happen to them, as well.

    I was involved in a four month romantic relationship with a man that lived 2 hours away. He was a successful medical executive. We went on a ski vacation with a local ski club. We had a fabulous week together. The last night of the trip, he seemed slightly distant. When we returned from the vacation, he dropped me off at my home, and then I only received minimal text messages from him. Two weeks later, only days before Christmas, I was finally able to get him to call me, but he was in a hurry and did not want to talk. I wanted to know about Christmas, and he said he was going to be out of town. Then, he reluctantly told me he didn’t want to break up at Christmas, but he was no longer interested. This was as close to a disappearing act as it gets. The emotional fallout from this was devastating.

    I dated another man for 5 months who was an airline pilot. He told me he was going on a scuba trip and then back to see family. After almost a month of no contact from him, I became emotionally distraught. He finally responded to me and said he was not ready for a long term relationship. The emotional fallout from that situation was very difficult for me to bounce back from.

    1. Anon-

      So sorry about what happened to you!

      It’s not unusual for people who are married or involved in other relationships to disappear. They don’t have the guts to come clean. They wangle their way into your emotions on the basis that they’re available and interested. Once they get what they’re after, they’re gone.

      Some are simply emotionally unavailable, pretending to feel emotions that will heighten your interest in bonding. It’s a game to them, not a meaningful connection. And the internet makes it very easy for them to flit from one conquest to the next.

      There should be federal catfish profile laws that prevent people from inducing sexual relationships by false internet claims. Stay tuned!

  20. Joyce, what’s really interesting to me about the NY Times article is the comments section!

    It seems to be common practice to break up with a person by ‘Ghosting’ them — for no reason other than a loss of interest — even when people have had a relationship for over a year! No conversation, no goodbye, no nothing, and people saying there’s nothing wrong with that?! They’re not talking about cutting off contact to protect themselves from abuse — not at all, it’s simply about losing interest and walking away like they never knew the person. I’m stunned.

    I really have to wonder about their ability to empathize and to have any concern or caring at all, since they don’t have any for someone they supposedly had a ‘relationship’ with. It’s really cold-hearted and self-centered, and the reason given is simply a loss of interest and the desire to avoid an “uncomfortable conversation.”

    I’m surprised a writer for the NY Times would not differentiate Ghosting from No Contact, especially in the case of Sean Penn, whose history as an abuser is well known. Unbelievable!

    1. The longer I work on this issue, the more self-serving, non-empathetic behavior I see. It’s little wonder that so much treachery goes on in online dating.

      It seems that society has lost its integrity and accepts bad behavior as common place.

      It’s sad…… and scary!

      1. I see it too, and it will never stop being shocking! It goes on in off-line dating too, and in friendships. It’s nothing less than a complete and utter lack of regard and respect for the other person involved. I can’t even wrap my mind around it. If these people were psychopaths, I could understand it. I suppose they have to be somewhat psychopathic to do such a thing and not even care, to not even think there’s anything wrong with it.

        Where is this pervasive lack of empathy coming from?

        1. Back in the day, when your mother, father, uncles and aunts were watching your behavior, particularly in small towns, your reputation was everything to you. Today, people not only enjoy anonymity, but with the broad access that’s currently available, their next conquest is just around the corner. It makes it easy to behave with heartless malfeasance, and simply move on.

          I also think that today’s youth are subjected to the sexual bombardment of pop culture at an early age and it undermines the development of values.

          Also, children need heroes to emulate as they mature, in order to grow up with character and high standards. Exposing the bad behavior of celebrities may be fun and games to the media, but doing so undermines the core ideals of the children who hold them in high esteem. There’s a downside to unbridled freedom of the press.

  21. In my experience the perpetrator (my Cuban wife) discounted everything I accomplished and raved about the accomplishments of others, leaving me bewildered & confused. I was made to feel totally unimportant. This was early on in her arrival to Canada. It continued, leaving me wondering what was going on.

    After realizing she was in another relationship in Cuba while married to me I was able to start putting the pieces together. From immigration fraud (married me just to get to Canada) to constant lies mixed with truth, Narcissistic & Sociopathic behaviours. In my foggy mind I sought to protect my assets all the while still confused until I started educating myself about the brain pathology of Socio/Psychopaths, Narcissists and Gaslighting.

    It has been a long journey (in reality only about 2.5 years) but the result has been drastic recovery from self blame as I understood I did nothing wrong. It still haunts me from time to time, 10 years is a long time to be lied to, I will never recover the years, but I will get revenge and will send a very strong message to the perpetrator who feels all Canadians and most people are stupid. What she fails to realize is the Trust and Caring part of a person has no relationship to their intellect, a devastated emotional mind frame makes it difficult to think clearly, but perusing understanding from an intellectual level has been my path to wholeness and recovery.

    1. I’m happy to hear that you’re on the mend.

      And you’re quite correct to bring up the fact that intellect has nothing to do with whether a person can be scammed or not. Often, it’s the person who has a high degree of trust and caring that gets caught in the emotional predator’s web of lies.

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