What To Know About The 'Ghostbusting' Dating Trend

With the availability of several dating apps, one would expect the dating world to become infinitely easier. Yet, far from that, navigating the nuances of dating has become exponentially more difficult. Terminologies like ghosting, soft launch, orbiting, and the contra-dating trend are only a mere fraction of what you need to know about modern dating slang to even qualify as dating-app eligible. A new term that has entered the scene is ghostbusting — which basically means pursuing the ghoster. 

As a California-based psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, Natalie Jones told The New York Times that the reason why dating terminology has gotten out of hand is because dating itself has changed dramatically. People now have an "abundance of options" meaning they not only don't have to put in the effort but can also disappear in the safety of the digital world. "When you have so many people to choose from, you can ghost, you cannot call, you can hide who you truly are through online dating," says Dr. Jones.

Unfortunately, the digital era has completely transformed the dating game. People feel that the availability of dating options through social media gives them the right to treat others with dishonesty and disrespect. But every action has a consequence, and every trend has a counter-trend. Ghostbusting is on the rise as a way to deal with ghosts who leave behind a trail of unanswered messages and unfulfilled promises.

What exactly is ghostbusting?

Ghostbusting does exactly what the word implies: It busts someone who's acting like a ghost. So, if you want to nib this toxic trend in the bud, you need to know what ghosting is first. Qualified mental health, positive mindset, and relationship coach Rachel Michaelson shared with Byrdie that "ghosting is when someone decides they no longer want a relationship — romantic or a friendship — with another party ... [and] doesn't know how to tell someone else, for fear of conflict or even causing hurt to the other party." Although ghosting can be described as a coward's way of ending a relationship, it is a fairly common go-to option among Gen Z and Millenials. In a 2023 study conducted by The Thriving Center of Psychology, a staggering 84% of participants reported being ghosted, while 65% of them reported having ghosted someone else themselves. So, given how frequently ghosting happens, ghostbusting emerges as a way to deal with being left on read.

In the world of dating, ghostbusting involves texting and spamming continuously so it is difficult or awkward for the ghost to keep ghosting. However, when pride gets in the way, it can be hard to keep texting someone who is ignoring you. Striking the perfect balance between wanting to be acknowledged vs. appearing like a stalker can be tricky. So, how do you ghostbust the ghoster without making things worse? 

Handling the ghostbusting business like a pro

Granted, when you've been ghosted, the first wave of emotion you experience is rejection. And you fairly want an explanation for this rejection. But if you sound too freaked out, angry, or needy, you will scare your "ghost" away. Remember, if they wanted to deal with drama, they would have been honest with you upfront and not resorted to playing Casper, the (un)friendly ghost.

So, instead of sending a long text full of accusations and complaints, keep it short and light-hearted. Guilt-tripping is not how to break their silence. Instead, show genuine interest and concern. You should also remember not to make yourself too readily available. Accordingly, a 2022 research study published in The Journal of Sex Research suggests that "playing hard to get" may actually work in your favor when done right. So, take a few steps back and show that you have other plans, too. 

If you do receive a reply, you should be careful not to sound desperate. Respect yourself, be confident, and make sure to be the first to end the conversation to give yourself closure.  Otherwise, you might allow them to come and go, a term known as prowling in the dating world. If they do want to end things — as difficult as that can be to swallow — at least you had the self-respect to discover the truth, even if they didn't have the courage to be honest.