What Is “Passive Ghosting” & Why Is It Happening?

What Is “Passive Ghosting” & Why Is It Happening? ©iStock/alexey_ds

If you’re actively dating, you’ve probably been ghosted once or twice. As frustrating as it is to be ghosted, the emerging trend of “passive ghosting” might actually be worse. You know the people who keep responding and seem interested but either never make plans or always cancel them? Yeah, that’s who we’re talking about — but why do they do it?

  1. There are too many options. When there are hundreds upon thousands of single faces to swipe and click through, actually making the choice to pursue just one of them isn’t easy. A lot of guys would rather stay non-committal with a bunch of different girls and keep their options open than pick one and put in the work for something more.
  2. They want to keep the lines of communication open for possible booty calls. If a guy sends you flirty texts every once in awhile, you’re a lot more likely to entertain his suggestion that he stop by after last call on Saturday night than if you he texted you out of the blue after months of radio silence. It’s just common sense.
  3. They crave validation. A lot of the time, passive flirting is just a way to fish for compliments or confirmation that you are desirable. There was never any intention for it to lead anywhere — it’s just good for an ego stroke sometimes.
  4. “Collecting matches” is an actual hobby. There are a lot of people on dating apps that swipe mindlessly to kill time. They’ll respond if someone talks to them because it’s the “polite” thing to do, but they’re more interested in seeing how many matches they can rack up than actually going on dates.
  5. No one wants to get attached. Everyone knows the likelihood of being ghosted by someone you really like is obnoxiously high these days– that’s why we’re all so jaded that we end up keeping people at arm’s length. We’re all afraid to seem too eager or to get invested, because then it’s that much harder when it doesn’t go anywhere.
  6. No one wants to be the one to pursue. It used to be more clear cut that the guy was the one who would do the majority of the pursuing, at least in the beginning. Now, women are willing and able to make the first move which has changed the dynamic. They don’t feel the need to do all the work anymore, which should be a good thing, but it seems to have made things even more complicated.
  7. There’s no sense of urgency. People don’t see dating exclusively as a way to find a life partner. Casual dating multiple partners at a time is pretty common now, and settling down seems like something that will happen in the distant future, not any time soon. So who cares if it takes days to respond to a text? There’s plenty of time to pursue an actual relationship later.
  8. There are no consequences. Texting is a pretty emotion-free way to communicate with someone. Rejecting them is easier, ignoring them is way easier, and sending an experimental 2 a.m. booty call text is void of any and all repercussions. Most of the time nothing real has been invested, so the risk is low while the reward has potential to be high.
  9. They aren’t looking for anything serious. But instead of just saying that, they want to keep the lines of communication open just in case they want to go out for last minute drinks, or they’re in the mood to Netflix and chill and don’t want to go through the hassle of finding someone completely new.
  10. They’re passively dating. If they don’t have an actual end goal in mind — like getting into a serious relationship, for example — they probably aren’t following any dating rules (i.e. common courtesy) to achieve optimum results. If you keep responding to their lackluster messages, cool. If you don’t, whatever. The swiping continues.
By day, Courtney is a digital marketing copywriter living in Toronto, Canada. By night, she's a freelance lifestyle writer who, in addition to Bolde.com, contributes regularly to AmongMen.ca, IN Magazine, and SheBlogs Canada. Want to chat about relationships, Stephen King or your favorite true crime podcast/documentary/book? She's on Twitter @courtooo.