By Zoe Weiner

Being ghosted always stings. But being ghosted during a pandemic is especially hurtful (and harmful). My interview with Well+Good reveals why this callous behavior triggers deep feelings of abandonment. #pandemicghosting

Journalist Zoe Weiner writes,

“It took a full year after matching on Hinge for me and Jason* to meet in person, but when we finally did, we just clicked. After procuring two negative COVID-19 tests over the summer, we went on rom-com-worthy dates to the beaches of Long Island, made out while watching freaking dolphins swim by, and talked about everything from our families and the books we wanted to write to the exes who had screwed us over. Conversation was nonstop and effortless, and he made me laugh. Hard. He told his parents about me and toyed with the idea of me coming to stay with him (and them), and I told my friends that I’d finally met a guy who wasn’t a jerk. Then, a month later, after he left my apartment in the wake of what I thought was another A+ date and texted me that he “had so much fun” and “missed me already,” I never heard from him again.

This wasn’t the first time I’d been ghosted—aka been rejected with no explanation or communication—but having it happen during a pandemic hit a whole lot harder than previous instances. And it’s not just me who feels this way, either; according Rachel Wright, a psychotherapist and dating expert based in New York City, pandemic ghosting can be more difficult to handle because of all the other stressors on our mind this year.

Why pandemic ghosting is uniquely awful and intense

According to a March poll of 1,005 people conducted by the University of Phoenix and Harris Poll, 41 percent of Americans report feeling lonelier than ever since the pandemic set in. While I’ve experienced my fair share of loneliness this year, those feelings felt more intense after being ghosted. Instead of being able to nurse my broken-heart feelings with the help of my friends, I did it alone in my house, watching CNN’s around-the-clock COVID-19 coverage and listening to my “Depressing Songs From 11th Grade” playlist. I didn’t realize how much I’d relied on my usual support system to help me navigate the awfulness of dating-related stressors until the pandemic made them unavailable to me.

Many of us are feeling extra lonely during quarantine, and that comes in addition to feeling extra stressed and anxious. But, since research has shown that intimacy can trigger a dopamine rush that can help stave off negative feelings, a romantic connection can be a soothing saving grace. The trade-off? Having a potential partnership ripped away with no explanation can be extra-crushing as well. Basically, so many feelings are intensified right now, which can mean falling faster and crashing harder when it comes to new romances.

“If you’ve been in communication for a long time under lockdown and this person becomes a fabric of your life through a daily call, text, or Zoom meeting, for them to pull away is devastating. That’s abandonment.” — Susan Winter, relationship expert

The intensity could also help explain why so many quarantine-born romances are best described as “turbo relationships“—new couples who feel seriously committed as an effect of pandemic conditions. That certainly rang true for me: Though the whole arc of our relationship lasted less than a month, I found myself sharing details of my mental health, family, and financial struggles much earlier than I would have in the pre-COVID days. “If you’ve been in communication for a long time under lockdown, and this person becomes a fabric of your life through a daily call, text, or Zoom meeting, for them to pull away is devastating,” says Susan Winter, a dating and relationships expert based in New York City. “That’s abandonment.””

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