Why People Ghost & How We Can Understand It

Why do we ghost and get ghosted? From the corporate world to intimate relationships, Cristina and Alex discuss what it means to ghost someone from two perspectives: the person who doesn't like to respond and the person who feels disrespected without a response. Is there psychology around ghosting? Why do we take it so personally? We are all conscious that time is a precious resource and would like our time and effort to be acknowledged on both sides. This episode provides a discussion about why we do it and ways we can avoid ghosting. 

Credits: Raechel Sherwood for Original Score Composition.

YouTube Channel: Uncover The Human

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Alex Cullimore: Welcome to Uncover the Human where every conversation revolves around enhancing all the connections in our lives. 

Cristina Amigoni: Whether that's with our families, co-workers or even ourselves. 

Alex Cullimore: When we can be our authentic selves, magic happens.

Cristina Amigoni: This is Cristina Amigoni. 

Alex Cullimore: And this is Alex Cullimore. Let’s dive in.

Cristina Amigoni: Let’s dive in. 

Alex Cullimore: Let’s dive in. 

Authenticity means freedom.”

“Authenticity means going with your gut.”

“Authenticity is bringing 100% of yourself not just the parts you think people want to see, but all of you.”

“Being authentic means that you have integrity to yourself.”

“It's the way our intuition is whispering something deep-rooted and true.”

“Authenticity is when you truly know yourself. You remember and connect to who you were before others told you who you should be.”

“It's transparency, relatability. No frills. No makeup. Just being.”


Alex Cullimore: Welcome back to this episode of Uncover the Human. It's just Cristina and I this week. Hey, Cristina, how's it going?

Cristina Amigoni: Oh, great. It's 2022.

Alex Cullimore: I’m very confident. It is 2022.

Cristina Amigoni: It’s one of those – Like it’s after the holidays. It’s two years of pandemic. It's like, “How cheery do you actually want to be on January 5th, 2022?” “Not sure yet. It's on hold.”

Alex Cullimore: We're going to find out if this accordingly lifts or breaks the spirit.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, indeed.

Alex Cullimore: We want to talk this week a little bit, just a topic that's kind of near and dear to anyone who works with anyone anytime has experienced this. It was really generic. But really, they want to get down to the topic of ghosting. Why does it happen? What causes it? What can we do about it? And we figured this would be particularly interesting, because I have a strong history of not answering invitations and texts, and sometimes calls, and actually is much better about that. So we have two viewpoints here.

Cristina Amigoni: Well, and I have a strong aversion to being ghosted. So we're definitely on the opposite end of the coin on this one.

Alex Cullimore: So the fact that we've worked together well for several years at this point is a little bit of a miracle. But we did it.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. It is. We have two gigantic buttons that get pushed all the time. And yet we've found ways to not let them ruin the relationship.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. So let's dive in a little bit to what we really mean by ghosting. So first, there's lots of different versions I see in the corporate world. I've seen things like it's very apparent in the job search that it's very easy to send your resume to like 500 places in the field, just going into the void, you don't get an answer. Sometimes you'll get a couple of answers, and it'll disappear. I haven't been in the dating scene while there's been apps out. But that apparently is basically the theme of all online. I have face dating, dating for some amount of time, and then just the person disappears. You never hear from them again, whether things are going well, or not well, or in between. So there's that. And then there's RSVPs for invitations, and texts.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Especially invitations, they specifically ask for RSVPs because of contingency of independency on food, and drink quantity, seating, cost, etc.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. Did you have any other examples of ghosting you find particularly either common, or annoying, or both?

Cristina Amigoni: Well, annoying all of them. All ghosting is annoying. But we'll get into that. Yeah, I think it's just a general, you reach out to someone and that's it. You just cannot hear back. In the business world, I think it's specifically disrespectful when someone has spent time either putting a proposal together or reaching out. In any case, there's been a significant investment of time and not even receiving an acknowledgement of, “Thanks, I've got this. I'll review it. I'll get back to you.” It's a huge lack of this respect. And that happens, I'm sure a lot to anybody that's in business development or sales or anything like that will be on the receiving end of that. 

And not just general with people. It's like when you when you reach out, I find that whether it's friends, family, anything, it's like you end up either pinging them over and over and over and actually addressing the ghosting or – I don't know. Retreating and assuming that you're bothering them and they hate you and you never reach out again.

Alex Cullimore: It's definitely true in bizdev that there's a lot of unanswered things. I have plenty of things from people from like – It seems like either bots or potentially recruiters on like LinkedIn who will just come out of the blue or people who are selling a software product or something, it'll come out of nowhere on LinkedIn. And that one I don't feel so bad for like ghosting. I didn't know you. You don't know me. You've hit with a very awkward pitch right off the bat. That's one case where I guess I don't feel as bad not answering, even if they come back with like the fourth email that you didn't answer any of them. But the fourth email is like, you have to try to get hold for a while. Like, “Okay, yeah, but I get 40 of these. I'm not going to spend my life answering a polite note to everybody who is trained to go send another email.” 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, I agree. 

Alex Cullimore: But that being said, when you put the effort in, when you've already had the dialogue, when you're putting in a proposal, you put in a resume or something like that, that's work you've put in. If you're putting in a resume, presumably there's a job opening. So it would be, I feel, incumbent on the company to answer that. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, yeah. You think.

Alex Cullimore: Even if it's an autoresponder.

Cristina Amigoni: I always look at it from the point of view that time is the one resource we can't renew. So if we're all conscious about the time that people spend and the time we spend, as you mentioned, I can be on my soapbox on the high horse – On high horse on the soapbox at the same time on the ghosting piece. And I don't always respond to unsolicited sales emails. I do get to the point that on the fourth one, I'm so annoyed that I'm still getting a sales email from somebody I'd never reached out to about a service or product that I never really wanted to discuss to begin with, that I do actually answer and say, “Thank you. Not interested.” And that usually stops the train.

Alex Cullimore: That's definitely easy to kind of notify. Like people, when it's very impersonal at that point. There's no actual relationship there. So let's talk about the more meatier ones where there is the relationship involved, right? If you have an invite out to a party, or it's just text back and forth to friends that stop answering, I find there's – For me, personally, I think it's a bit of just kind of a worry. I don't like to have to come up with something, especially if somebody invited you to something you're like, “I don't have it in me to do that right now.” It's hard just to say no. Because you feel you have to like say something.


Cristina Amigoni: Anyone would have a crack out of this one.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. It's definitely a bit of a boundaries issue. But it feels almost impolite to be like, “Look, it's not that I don't enjoy your company often. It's just that this week, whatever, I'm not going to leave my house. It's not because I have plans. I plan on sitting on the couch. But I just can’t do that.”

Cristina Amigoni: Well, that brings up an interesting point actually. It's this need to have a reason, maybe. And again, I'm not one that doesn't respond. So I'm speculating why somebody wouldn't respond here. But it's this need of like there's this societal pressure of you're a cool person if you have plans all the time. You're accepted by society, or you're accepted by the elite group or whatever, whatever this group of magical people that are in the coolness are the ones that already have plans, are not just sitting on the couch, don't want to just sit at home. And so because of that, I can see how I say no, because the answer is just, “No. I don't feel like leaving the house.” Or it's just, “No. I just don't feel like it,” can be difficult to deliver.

Alex Cullimore: I think it's also a little difficult, because it sometimes feels like you're delivering the message. That sounds great. But I'm going to place your priority second to my doing nothing. Whatever you invited me to is actually less important to me than what feels by other accounts might feel like doing nothing. And maybe it's been totally a long week, and you're done. And that's fine to say once or twice. But I also have had the experience of having to meet with a lot of people who are particularly sensitive about their having to be a response or some people who will really dig in if you're like, “No, I'm sorry. I won't be able to make it.” And they’re like, “Well, why not? What's up?” You’re like, “Well, yeah, I just can't make it.” Like, “Well, what are you doing?” “Well, I have this obligation.” “Well, can you move it?” Like, “No. I said No. Please stop asking.”

Cristina Amigoni: Now that I can understand. One of the reasons why we wanted to talk about this is because since we are on opposite sides of the spectrum on this, I've gotten to the point where instead of always taking it personally when I don't get a response, I've now moved into the curiosity of like what is it that drives people to not respond? Because I actually don't mind hearing no, with no explanation. Just, “Sorry. Can’t make it.” That's it. That's the end of it. Like it's like I find that on my end of the not liking to be ghosted, I find that hugely more respectful of the relationship and the humaneness and the time spent then in no plus excuse or noise or whatsoever. I find that it's nice to just hear, “No. Can make it.” And you want to tell me the reason? Great. You don’t? Okay. It's not personal. Unless you're planning my murder, or demise, or something, it's okay for me not to know.

Alex Cullimore: Now, if you could just convince everybody else to behave that way, I don't think there'll be a lot of ghosting. For me personally, I've spent many years of all kinds of different relationships, close and professional, and that just have that feeling of like, “Well, you've got to have some reason that you're not doing this. I mean, this is something that I've said that you should do.” And like, “Well, I don't really feel like doing that.” “Well, yeah, but I invited you.” “Okay. I don't want to go because I broke my arm. I don't know. I mean, what do you need to hear?” At which point you're lying to people, which feels a lot worse.

Cristina Amigoni: You could use COVID at this point.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. That was a nice easy [inaudible 00:10:53].

Cristina Amigoni: I have been exposed. I've talked to someone who has been exposed. I may have it. I have a runny nose. I'm thinking about it. I don't see people during a pandemic. I mean, it's beautiful. 

No. I get it. And I get it mainly because I remember when I had kids, well, when I got pregnant with my first child, and then had kids, it was heaven. I was like I now have like a token reason to not do anything I didn't feel like doing. I’m like, “Sorry. I got kids.”

Alex Cullimore: I'm going to put down in the pros column for having kids.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, it's a definite pro. And I also gotten to the point where when once I turned 30, for some reason, I felt like I had permission to actually choose what I do and what I do not do. So once I turned 30, I was like, “Okay, now I can just say no.”

Alex Cullimore: That resonates a lot with me as well. I think as you get older, it becomes a little bit easier. There's something especially early on, and especially when it comes to careers and professional work, even later in careers, I suppose, there's a lot of pressure not to say no, especially if it's somebody who is your supervisor, or boss, or somebody who has some form of power over you over what your career, your job, whatever. It's a lot harder to establish that no. It's still very necessary. And usually, if you can do it in a respectful manner, it just ends up building the relationship. But it's a very difficult one, especially as all of us have experienced some form of toxic employers at some point where there's some boundary violation and there's some pushing even when it's like, “Well, I've already got four projects.” “Yeah, but can you just take this one? It's just going to be a couple days?” 

Cristina Amigoni: Sure. Always is. 

Alex Cullimore: Yeah, it's always just a couple days.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, go back to our episode on just for that one.

Alex Cullimore: And actually, it's been nice. Like how many – Because you're very straightforward about, “Hey, if I haven't answered for a little while, you'll definitely point it out.” And I don't feel attacked in having it pointed out. I usually just feel bad because I know that there's something I've been delaying on. But we have a close enough relationship that then we've talked for long enough that it doesn't feel weird, and I don't feel like you're super angry, or that there's some massive shame here and I don't feel really worried about being able to respond. It's just sometimes things fall a little bit more by the wayside. 

But ironically, it's then easier to respond to you with whatever because I know you're going to take it well so that I've become not ghosting you because I know you're going to receive that and be able to push and create your own boundaries just fine. By default, then I end up drifting towards that, what I would prefer to do in general anyway, but it's something that I don't see myself doing a lot in a lot of other arenas. But it's just easier when I have an established relationship that I'm not feeling like it's on a hair's edge at all times of they're going to decide I'm rude for this. And now there's nothing else I can do. And now I've ruined this relationship because I really was tired on a Friday.

Cristina Amigoni: Well, that's a very good point. I think the amount of trust that there is is important. I think not being ashamed, feeling that your space is valued, feeling that your decision to say no is valued and it's not taken as an attack is very important. And as everything, it's about habit. So it's about like, “Oh, if I do this, am I going to get sucker punched?” “Oh, I didn't this time. Okay, let's try another time. Nope. Still not getting sucker punch. Nope. Still not.” I'm like, “Oh, I think this is okay.” And it goes both ways. It's like when you're delayed in response or you don't respond that, I don't immediately, most times, I don't immediately think like, “Oh, yeah, he's done. That's it. I can never call again. I can never text again. I'm about to get a lawyer letter telling me that the business is being dissolved.” I don't automatically go down that route most of the times. If I do, sometimes, I realize it's about me and whatever state I'm in at the moment and whatever insecurity I'm dealing with that will most likely have nothing to do with what's going on in the relationship.

Alex Cullimore: So this brings up an interesting point is I agree 100%, that it becomes a lot easier when there's way more trust there. There’s way less chance that you catastrophize for somebody not answering or you catastrophize over having to give an answer that this is going to end the relationship or the relationship is already over. And I'm just not hearing about it because it's over. It's in the void. 

So it brings up an interesting point from both angles. One thing that I've worked on a little bit is trying just to get a little more comfortable. And it's easier when I have a relationship like I have with you or I have with Rachel. It's very easy to be like, “Look, I'm willing to do this, I'm not willing to do this,” because there's just already this established understanding. And so being able to practice essentially that skill with people where you know you have a good chance of it being a much safer space to do that, from my end, where I answered much less frequently, that has helped move the needle for me to where I start to answer a lot more. And I'm a lot less worried about doing it, because there's, like you said, practice and examples of, “Okay, I didn't get sucker punched this time.” So about from your end, what helps understand if you're not getting an answer? What helps diffuse some of that in your experience?

Cristina Amigoni: It's a good question. I was just thinking about it actually as you were saying that, and I think it's really the – It's kind of ironic, but the consistency. Not in the sense of the consistency of no response, or the consistency of response, but the actual consistency of both in the history, and the time, and the habits, and all of that. But I think it's almost like when you're at the beginning of a relationship, whether it's a friendship, a business relationship, any kind of human interaction, there's a lot of, I think, building that trust, and the building the trust is testing the waters. So you're trying to figure out like, “What is this? How do I navigate communicating with this person?” 

And so at that beginning, when it's constant no, or constant ghosting, or out of the blue ghosting, like one of example that I have that still puzzles me, and I'm sure it's happened to me many times, is when there's actual conversation of, “Hey, let's go get drinks.” And then when you reach out 20 minutes later, to say like, “Yeah.” Like, “Okay. Want to plan this? When can you do it?” and then you hear nothing. And then you reach out again, and then you hear nothing. And the initial, I guess, intent wasn't even from me. It was from the other person saying, “Let's schedule a happy hour.” That's when it's like, “Wait, I don't know what to do here. I didn't understand the non-response when I wasn't even the one initiating the event.” 

That's when you're still trying to figure out the communication, that's when it's tough. That's when I can see potential business or friendships or any type of relationships fall apart, because you're now in this kind of limbo state of I don't understand what the silence means. And I don't know the person enough to give them the benefit of the doubt, as bad as it is if they say it out loud.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. No, that's a really good point. The benefit of the doubt is incredibly important, but it is hard to get without that. And even if you do have a long-term relationship with somebody, you can fall to starting to create a story of why they're not answering you. And even if you find out that that isn't true, it's hard to let go of what has already started building in your mind. So it becomes like this almost like building up some kind of sediment in a pipe. Like you might not going to be blocked, but there's still something building up there that is slowly kind of clogging the works. 

So there's two interesting facets I'd like to discuss as well, because both you and I have talked about this and joked about it and even joked about it with like having kids and being able to say like, “I'm not going to do things.” I have a propensity, I really tend to enjoy a lot of social gatherings. But I do often have a lot of dread getting up to them. Like I will happily agree a week out because I know that I want to do this. And then the day off, I'm like, “Oh my God, do I really have to do this?” Like, “Yeah. I might have to like put on shoes and leave the house.” 

And so I'm curious, since you also have that feeling, how do you relate to that? What do you what do you feel like when you do that? And how do you get around it?

Cristina Amigoni: Not quite sure how I get around. Yeah. But yes, I experienced exactly the same thing. I have this almost like split personality where I want to get together with people. I need to get together with people. Like I do realize that I'm ridiculously drained of energy when I don't have consistent human contact and human connection. And at the same time, it's almost like going to a concert for me. Hey, I'm super excited. I buy the tickets. I can't wait. And then the day or the day before having to go, I’m like, “Oh, come on. Do I actually have put clothes on, and figure this out, and get in the car, and walk from the parking lot to the concert venue, and all of that stuff?” So I don't know why that happens. I don't know why the change in the enthusiasm is. 

And then typically, I mean, there are times where I go to gatherings and I'm like, “What the hell am I here? I should have stayed home.” But usually, I think I've gotten better at deciphering those ahead of time. But usually, I have an awesome time. And I'm glad I went out. But it's that, “Oh, I really don't want to go. Can a snowstorm please hit right now?”

Alex Cullimore: Some comedian. He's John Mulaney. He’s talking about how like – He’s like, “I’ve never done heroin. But I'm pretty sure that's what canceling plans feels like.”

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. 

Alex Cullimore: So there’s some joy in that of like, “Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to like go.” He said, “Get ready to go out and do all the things.” And I've realized that there's so much little tiny bits of friction that can change a whole course of things, like working out. I really enjoy swimming, but I almost never do it, because there's four extra layers on top of. Like that idea to get ready to go, to leave, to go, to get ready, to get into the pool, to get ready again to get out, to go. And then there's like nine different. That's a lot of extra steps that end up being that those little things can end up really piling up. Then I didn't really start consistently working out my life until I started getting equipment and buying it and putting it in my house where I didn't have to leave. That was like to all those things. The friction was a lot less if it's already there in your room.

Cristina Amigoni: I’m starting to sense a theme. 

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. 

Cristina Amigoni: As long as you don’t have to leave your house, you'll do anything.

Alex Cullimore: But why is that? Because I also have that, like – And the pandemic drove this point home. Like if you don't have some amount of human connection, I go a little nuts. I really do like being able to work from home. That's really nice. Like having the flexibility to do that. The lack of obligation to have to go into an office is wonderful. But I also enjoy when I go into offices, because you get that interaction. You get to like see people, talk to people, have those nice face to face meetings. And I don't know how to get my subconscious that is 30 minutes away from leaving on board with the fact that it's probably going to have a good time once it gets there.

Cristina Amigoni: Very good point, yes. I did realize that one thing that I never dread is hosting. So whenever people are coming to me, to my house, whether it's a dinner party, or tea, or go for a walk, I never dread that. I actually look forward to it. So there is something about having to get dressed. Figure out what the weather is. It is going to change. Am I going to be bored? Am I going to be cold? Are my shoes going to be comfortable? Am I going to find parking? Is it going to be too far. Is it going to be too close? Do I have to pay for it every two hours? Like all this extra stuff, like going swimming, that's what I dread. It's not the actual being there that I dread.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. And maybe it is some amount of [inaudible 00:23:05]. I don't know, maybe I would say that, in a lot of circumstances, if there's not enough energy being provided by whatever you're doing, you will feel some dread, you'll feel some lagging from it. But given that, oftentimes after seeing people or if I finally get my boots on and go out and meet the people that I set out to meet, I feel great. I love it. And I’d come back home, I feel more energized. I was really glad that – I'm really glad that I did that. 


So it doesn't quite follow that it's a lack of energy or that the actual event isn't enough. So it's this weird – I guess maybe we're we get really hung up on the details of what has to happen up to that point. And maybe that's the same without answering messages or something. If you have to come up with. Or even a question. Sometimes I find myself doing this when somebody asks an open-ended question. I'm like, “I have lots of thoughts on this.” I'll think about that and then get back to them. Then like days and days can pass where I come back to it and I'm like, “Yeah, I still have a lot of thoughts on that. Or I have them forming in my head and I still don't like –” But even just responding like, “Hey, I've got a lot to say about this. Give me a little time to put it together,” would be better than just waiting for days before I finally put it on paper and get it out there. 

Maybe it's something about like the understanding, and maybe I need to be more conscious of this personally of like, “Yeah, there's details that will have to go into it.” But when of details ever actually like squandered something? Like even if your shoes are uncomfortable, does that mean the night is ruined? Probably not? Depending on the outing. Unless it’s hiking. 

Cristina Amigoni: Unless I’m walking 20 miles. Yeah. 

Alex Cullimore: But it's a small enough detail. Maybe it's enough to get by, and maybe it's weird – It just takes more conscious effort to not get hung up on the specific details. And I'm not sure.

Cristina Amigoni: Well, there's always also a layer of vulnerability in anything. Whenever we show up, whether it's with somebody we trust to who we're comfortable with. It's vulnerability. I mean, staying home, even behind a screen, it's much less vulnerable. And vulnerability comes with being uncomfortable. It's like, “What if I show up and I have spinach in my teeth? What if I get spinach in my teeth while I'm there and nobody tells me? What if I say something wrong? What if this interaction, which I can always trust, tonight I say the wrong thing? And that's it? And then it ruins the relationship.” There's always some element of risk, I think, involved, which may be the reason why people ghost. And there's an element of risk in saying no. There's element of risk and saying, “Hey, that's a great question. And I need some time to think about it.” Because we can't fully predict what the reaction on the other end is going to be.

Alex Cullimore: It's probably better to take the time to think about it too, any kind of boundary setting. And we talked about this in our burnout panel. We've talked about that with Emer. Like knowing what you're willing to say yes to and how much you willing to say yes to, which, almost by default, is not just saying yes to everything. Because unless whatever that person is about to offer, is already within the, “This is something that definitely is – Something I value. Something worth my time. It's something I want to spend the time on and sacrifice that time that I would be able to spend on something else doing that.” Unless you know those to be a yes beforehand, you should probably be taking time to consider answers anyway. But not to the point of not answering.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And Emer actually was the one that taught me a very important lesson, which I'm still practicing and trying to remember to practice, especially in business, but I think it's very valid in personal as well, is when something comes our way, the things we should say yes to that we know we can be fully present for and be our best selves for and have the most amount of value given the time that's not a renewable resource for are the ones that are a heck yes. 

And I think a lot of times we are conditioned to think about things that if it's not a heck no, that it's a yes. But there's a gigantic gray area between a heck no and a heck yes. And so practicing that, I was like, “Is this a heck yes?” And heck yes usually come pretty quickly. You don't have to think about it. If you have to think about it, then it's not a heck yes. 

And so that's, I think, a big thing to practice and to start using and then starting getting comfortable with like, “Is it a heck yes?” “No.” “Okay, then let's get comfortable saying no.” Because this is going to happen over and over and over.

Alex Cullimore: And getting good at asking yourself that will bring that answer faster. But yeah, practicing that and you'll be better at immediately finding that answer for yourself. And then it's easier to say no, especially you have practiced no. Most things in life are not going to be a heck yes. That's just how it goes.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. And some things we have to do. So I mean, I have to go to the grocery store, whether I like it or not. So as much as it's never a heck yes or only sometimes, I'm going to have to do it if I actually want to eat and feed the rest of the family.

Alex Cullimore: I too, need clothes occasionally. So I have do laundry at some point.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. Yeah. Laundry is never a heck yes.

 Alex Cullimore: Yeah. If you're a bounce out of your bed doing that great start service, please then come to my house. 

Cristina Amigoni: For free. 

Alex Cullimore: I think it's, for me, a lot of the propensity to ghost comes from two things, from feeling worried about having to set some kind of boundary, feeling like its boundary. From feeling like the answer is to or from feeling like there's something more complex that I'd like to put more time and effort towards, then I will be able to in a quick response, which a lot of the time that's a self-imposed limit that people are asking for some quick response. If they've asked a question that's complex, there's a good chance they're looking for a more complex answer. But maybe in that way, it would help to start these things with a little more empathy. What are they really looking for and what are the chances what they'll do? And then also started maybe from, “Hey, what would I do?” I think we get worried that we're going to be judged because maybe we judge people and we were worried that someone else is going to do that. And so if that's the case, then we have to reduce the judgment we have other people when they say no, they don't do something. Or we just have to continually come back to, “Wow, that person really, really flipped out and really didn't like that I put up a boundary like that.” But that doesn't mean that boundaries are bad. That might just be this person, or this situation, or this one time. And that takes a lot of patience.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. And that is very difficult, especially when we don't usually put up boundaries, and then we do, and the reaction is drastically bad not just from an immediate reaction, but from just loss of friendship and of the good communication. That's when the default can definitely be to retreat and be like, “I'm never going to put up a boundary ever again, because then I lose people and I'm going to end up alone.” And our human instinct and our pre-wired need to always be in human connections with others can definitely kick in and prevent us from doing that. It's more of that trust of like, “Okay, let's actually look back into history.” And is it true that every time we've put up a boundary of any kind, people have – Or is it this specific relationship, or certain specific types of relationships, which could actually indicate something else that we probably need to dig into?

Alex Cullimore: I think that's 100% accurate, and maybe it really is down to – I think there's definitely some learned habits, which means it's kind of imperative on both of us. We talk about authenticity being the social contract of like, “I'm going to bring myself and I'm going to allow the space that other people can be themselves knowing that won't be exactly like me.” And I think there's some of that in ghosting. There's the, “I need to bring myself and be fair and open and say give my boundaries.” And then I also need to have the grace when somebody is putting a boundary up, even if I don't want to have that boundary, if you're being rejected from a job or your friends turn you down invite when there's something you wanted to do or whatever, then you have to have the grace on the other side, so that you can keep opening up the world so that it's a little easier for everybody to have that space. Because it is a bit of a two-way street. But to your point, it's not usually a successful strategy, just pull back into your shell and say, “I'm never going to set up a boundary again.” You'll end up exhausted.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, exactly. You will end up exhausted. And it's also not probably long-term success or long term pleasant to retreat into the shell and be like, “I'm never going to people again, because when I do, they don't respond. Or when I do, and I set up boundaries, they respond badly.” But whatever it is, from an introvert point of view, it is easier to kind of be like, “Yeah, I'm done. Just erase me from the world. I'm going to be happier that way.” I'm not sure how long that can last successfully. But there is definitely that initial instinct of like, “Yep. You know what? I am going to disappear. That's it.”

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. That takes courage to continue to put yourself out there as well as continue to have respectful boundaries that you set and walls you put up.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, yeah. So maybe my takeaway is when I haven't established a trust yet, and I'm still trying to figure out what the communication is and what's going on, is to not automatically think, “Oh, I've been ghosted. I should just retreat.” But it's to actually call it out.

Alex Cullimore: I think it actually does help. It takes even more courage because now you're essentially almost taking yourself out twice, just first advice, as well as the call out. On the flip side, like you were saying, when you're forming relationships, there's a lot of putting your toe forward and trying to figure out where lines are with people. Who these people are? How much are they willing to bend or not bend? And it's actually much more beneficial to establish good boundaries at that point, for one, because establishes the trust upfront. But then everybody kind of knows the ground they're playing on. There's a lot less ambiguity. I understand that I want to be able to respond here. And if I can't, I’ll let you know, or whatever. There’s having those boundaries set up a little bit sooner, and recognizing the patterns of when the people don't respect those boundaries, because there are definitely people who will not. And that doesn't mean that it's bad to set boundaries, but it may be worth revaluing that specific relationship.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, definitely. From the, I guess, giving end or from the initiating end, it would be helpful as part of the boundaries to actually give some grace in the sense of if we're sending a text or asking an elaborate question, then recognize that the answer may take some time, and verbalize that. So actually, say like, “Hey, like this is a significant question. And you may need some time to answer, and that's okay. No rush. Or can you just give me some quick thoughts by whatever?” So kind of giving parameters of what are my expectations here on getting an answer. And is it an expectation that's more existential? Meaning, I just want to make sure that you remember it exists? Or is it an expectation of, “I just want to make sure that this is on your radar.”

Alex Cullimore: And I think that's super helpful, not only because it gives parameters for the relationship, but it also allows – I find, personally, whenever I can set that kind of line, your minds can put it down. It's not wondering like how long is the right amount of time. It's saying I said that I’d follow up again if I hadn't heard back by Thursday. So I can basically put this whole train of thought and circle out of my head until Thursday because I know there's a timeline. These parameters help both sides of the relationship to give. Yeah, we always think it'd be better to have more freedom and more choice. But creativity always works a little bit better with a little structure, a little bit of boundary, a little bit of have something to push against, some definition. Not just total blank, open space.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes, yes, definitely. Yeah. And even from the business point of view, I think it helps a lot. It helps everybody to understand where they're at. It helps, again, like take this spiral out of the possibility and the wondering what to do next when there's clear communication of like, “Hey, I'm sending this out. And if I don't hear from you, I'll reach out again next week.” 

And on the other hand, like we just experience, from a client point of view, who was upfront about saying, like, “Hey, we're going to have to think about the strategy you guys put together. And if you don't hear from me by February, please reach out.” So now there's an establish. I don't have to sit here for the next five weeks wondering like, “Okay, is this a good moment to call? Should I wait another week? Are they trying to tell us they didn't want to work with us? What's going on?” Like, no. All of that it's gone. And it's such a huge mental space that can really detract us from putting energy in other things.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. And the other way I've heard that asks, which I love the idea of like being able to practically say like, “Hey, can I hear back from you? Please feel free to ping me.” Again, I started doing that with a lot more relationships. But also one that I've heard a couple times now that I really like is I've heard people say, “When can I check back on that?” And it’s not in an aggressive like, “Okay, well, yeah, I was supposed to have that now. When can I check back? Can I do two hours check?” It was just like, “So, I totally understand. You're busy. When should I ask about this again?” Then it just creates that dialogue, and there's better set expectations.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, there definitely is. Well, it sounds like we've resolved ghosting.

Alex Cullimore: Yeah. So that's it. No more ghosting.

Cristina Amigoni: I'm sure it will just vanish. I was thinking about the fact that, especially in dating apps, somebody has to come up with some bot that sends a little ghost emoji. I mean, at least you know, “You've been ghosted. Here's your emoji. Done. Drop it. Move on.”

Alex Cullimore: Yeah, even just the app. Like you don’t even have to send it from the person. Just, “Hey, you dropped this conversation?” There are enough AI out there. It can pull like names and numbers out of your text messages. Surely it can determine whether this was an ongoing conversation that suddenly stopped.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it shouldn't be that hard at all. 

Alex Cullimore: Let's make that bot. 

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah. Yeah. That's our business idea. The little dancing ghost bot.

Alex Cullimore: Siamo ghosts. 

Cristina Amigoni: Got to go with the trend. 

Alex Cullimore: This has been our first in a more bite-sized version of the podcast where we're going a little bit shorter and we just want to cover one topic in depth. But thank you guys so much for listening in. Please feel free to follow up with your thoughts on ghosting or why you do it and ways you found to avoid it, because we'd love to include them and love to put them out there.

Cristina Amigoni: Yeah, exactly. And if you don't reach out, we won’t take it personally.

Alex Cullimore: This is an open invite. This is like an unsolicited sales email. It's okay if you don't answer.

Cristina Amigoni: Yes. We won't be offended.

Alex Cullimore: Well, thank you everybody for listening.

Cristina Amigoni: Thank you. 


Cristina Amigoni: Thank you for listening to Uncover the Human, a Siamo podcast. 

Alex Cullimore: Special thanks to our podcast operations wizard, Jake Lara; and our score creator, Rachel Sherwood. 

Cristina Amigoni: If you have enjoyed this episode, please share, review and subscribe. You can find our episodes wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Alex Cullimore: We would love to hear from you with feedback, topic ideas or questions. You can reach us at podcast wearesiamo.com, or at our website, wearesiamo.com, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook. We Are Siamo is spelled W-E A-R-E S-I-A-M-O.

Cristina Amigoni: Until next time, listen to yourself, listen to others and always uncover the human.