Ghosting, simmering, and icing – What are they?

Ghostingsimmering, and icing are colloquial terms that describe the practice of suddenly ending all communication avoiding contact with another person without any apparent warning or explanation, and ignoring any subsequent attempts to communicate.[1][2][3] 

“When a person is ghosted, even if they try to reach out to the other person to either reconnect or receive closure, they are typically met with silence.”

Source: Navarro R, Larrañaga E, Yubero S, Víllora B. Psychological Correlates of Ghosting and Breadcrumbing Experiences: A Preliminary Study among Adults. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(3):1116. doi:10.3390/ijerph1

 As you can see, it’s called ghosting because it involves someone essentially “vanishing” into thin air as if they were a ghost.

The term “ghosting” typically refers to a romantic relationship where contact unexpectedly ceases, but it can also apply to friendships and family relationships.

Signs of Ghosting

Ghosting is often apparent, but it can also be a gradual process. The other person might start by ‘soft ghosting,’ where they progressively minimize contact over some time. Some early signs that someone might be ghosting you include:

  • “They frequently cancel plans to hang out, have a hard time committing, avoid sharing personal details, don’t want you to meet their loved ones, disappear from social media, seldom reply to your texts or calls, and their conversations lack depth, making them seem uninterested.”


Ghosting is a trait that can also happen on social media platforms. It refers to the act of cutting off all social media contact with another person without offering an explanation. This may involve unfriending, unfollowing, or even blocking the person on all social media platforms. In some instances, the person may even go as far as deactivating or deleting their social media accounts to prevent any form of contact

Though a new term, ghosting existed well before the digital age. “I think references of ‘going for a loaf of bread and never coming back’ are examples of ghosting,” says Bree Jenkins, LMFT, a dating coach in Los Angeles, Calif. “Ghosting used to be leaving a person and moving away or not leaving [them with] your contact information—its earlier origins are even the simple act of leaving a party or social gathering without notice and goodbyes.”

Why Do Some People Choose to Ghost?

Ghosting is often viewed as an immature or passive-aggressive way to end a relationship, and in some cases, it may even constitute emotional abuse.

There are two primary reasons why a person ghosts another, and often it’s a combination of the two.

It’s the Easy Route

The first reason why some people choose to ghost others is that they find it easier to avoid uncomfortable conversations about ending the relationship.

The person doing the ghosting often wants to avoid confrontation or dealing with someone else’s hurt feelings, so they simply cease all communication and hope the hint is delivered.



Option Overload and Fatigue

“Margaret Seide, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist based in New York City, explains that with internet dating, there are seemingly infinite choices as opposed to walking into a bar with limited options. Due to the large number of choices, online daters tend to quickly move on to the next potential match with an “OK, next” or “Yeah, but what else?” mindset. Although the person they are interacting with may be nice, they may not make the cut due to the fact that they are juggling multiple other people.

There are various reasons why people ghost, including fear of the other person’s reaction to rejection.

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