Which motivations drive mobile daters to ghost? (RQ1)
Again, respondents were presented with the definition of ghosting and asked to indicate how often respondents ghosted other dating app users (M = 2.17, SD = 1.59) and how often they think other dating app users ghost (M = 3.51, SD = 0.88) on a scale ranging from 0 = Never to 5 = Very often.
Respondents (n = 211) indicated whether they saw the person who ghosted them face-to-face with answer categories no (0) and yes (1; 52.1%).
Duration of contact
Respondents (n = 211) indicated the duration of the contact before the other person ghosted with answer categories (1) a couple hours or less (n = 9), (2) a day (n = 9), (3) a couple of days (n = 26), (4) a week (n = 32), (5) a couple of weeks (n = 77), (6) a month (n = 25), (7) a couple of months (n = 27), (8) half a year to a year (n = 4), (9) longer than a year (n = 2) (M = 4.77; SD = 1.62).
Intensity of the contact
The intensity of the contact was measured using a scale ranging from 1 = very sporadically to 7 = very intense (n = 211; M = 4.98; SD = 1.42).
Level of sexual intimacy
A categorical variable was used to measure level of sexual intimacy with responses ranging from none (n = 136), mild (i.e., kissing and intimate touching, mobifriends n = 25) and serious (i.e., oral, vaginal or anal sex, n = 47). Three respondents did not want to share this information.
Two items from Afifi and Metts’s (1998) violated expectedness scale were used to measure whether the respondents (n = 208) expected the ghosting to occur (1 = completely expected; 7 = not at all expected; M = 5.50; SD = 1.67) and how surprised they were that the ghosting occurred (1 = not at all surprised; 7 = very surprised; M = 5.38; SD = 1.70). These items were highly correlated (Pearson’s r = .69; p < .001) and had good reliability (Cronbach's ? = .82; M = 5.44; SD = 1.55).
Respondents (n = 207) rated how painful their ghosting experience was (ranging from 0 = not at all painful to 10 = extremely painful; M = 6.03; SD = 2.67).
As described in the method section, for the first research question, we used thematic analysis to identify emergent themes related to reasons why mobile daters ghost. These were supplemented by a logistic regression analysis in which we looked at factors predicting having ghosted others on dating apps in order to answer the first two hypotheses. Similarly, for the second research question, we used thematic analysis to identify the different consequences of ghosting and the various coping mechanisms of ghostees. Again, these qualitative findings were followed by a quantitative regression analysis to test hypotheses related to factors contributing to experiencing ghosting as more painful.
To fully understand motivations to ghost, we first asked ghostees (n = 217) to elaborate on why they thought they were ghosted, which we then contrasted with ghosters’ (n = 142) reasons to ghost others. For ghostees, three main themes emerged that summarize why they thought they were ghosted as explained below.
Blame toward other (ghoster)
A fairly large proportion of the people who had been ghosted (n = 128; 59%) blamed the other person for ghosting them. They thought the ghoster was chatting with, dating, or in a relationship with someone else (n = 60); they described the ghoster as someone who had “issues” and thus could not commit to the dating relationship at this moment (n = 43). Several respondents also expressed their anger by describing the ghoster as someone who is childish, cowardly, lazy, rude, or disrespectful for ghosting them (n = 29). Finally, some participants indicated that the ghoster was no longer interested or too busy (n = 27).