Last week, The Washington Post published an essay examining how common it has become to end a relationship (romantic, friendly or even familial) by disappearing. We heard from dozens of readers with their own stories of having been ghosted, or doing the ghosting themselves. Here are their stories, some told on condition of anonymity or first name only, for personal privacy. These selections have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

I dated a guy for four months after we were set up on a blind date. We were both in the same career field, and I felt we had a lot in common and got along amazingly. He talked about me meeting his family. I’ve never considered marriage or kids and all that, but this guy made me feel things I never had before. Looking back, there were signs this was completely one-sided. He stopped responding one day and I didn’t think much of it. But days turned to weeks, then months. I was a wreck.

Fast-forward two years and I’m offered a part-time job at a hospital, which I accept. And who is assigned to train me? My ghost. He acted as if he didn’t even know who I was, which hurt so much. I left every shift in tears because I clearly still had feelings for him. I only lasted a few months before quitting.

— L.H., 33, Michigan

I have ghosted someone. I thought we could actually be BFF after she visited me from another country after a five-year hiatus. I was so happy to see her. Her visit was very meaningful to me. I stripped my heart and soul for her and let her know everything about me.

Perhaps it was too much, too soon. She felt overwhelmed. She said that she had her own troubles. I tried to stay in touch after she left, texting her on a daily basis. She responded sporadically. When I told her about times where I thought people had treated me unfairly, she showed no empathy. She also forgot my birthday. Last time we texted, it was to celebrate her birthday. I made a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of places where we met, a cake, a book I said I would give to her if we lived in the same country.

I am happy that the last time we texted we ended in an amicable way. After many horrible heartbreaks, I have finally understood that people usually don’t change, and even more important, I should not expect them to change. I don’t think she is a bad person. We just cannot be friends, so why stay in touch?! She has texted me and emailed twice in the past six months. I have not responded. What for? If we do not call, text, hang out, visit each other’s home, then we are not friends. I feel bad — I know ghosting shows my incapacity to deal with this in a better way. But why bother? I don’t expect to see her ever again.

— Antonio Cervantes, 42, Vancouver

One time a guy I was seeing for a few weeks reached out to make plans for the next day, and then I never heard from him again. I was trying to reach out to say, “No big deal if you’re not interested, can I just know you’re okay?” I was actually checking obituaries … then I reached out to say, “Hey no big deal, can I just have my parking pass back?” Nothing. Ended up running into him out on the town a few months later. He closed his bar tab, pretended to be on his phone and walked out right past me.

Another time this guy ghosted me after a couple of months. He reached out wanting to apologize and explain … then ghosted me again. My most recent: I was talking to a guy for almost six months (longish distance). It’s going on two weeks now with nothing, after we used to text every single day. My goal in dating right now is to meet a guy who would actually dump me.

— Jackie M., 34, Seattle

As a young woman I was ghosted by a man who turned out to have a serious problem with alcohol. It was humiliating, but I knew I was way better off without a substance abuser in my life.

However, many years later I was ghosted by a woman I had thought of as my best friend for six years, and that was more hurtful by far. When someone who has called you every day, professed undying friendship and sisterhood, supported you, advised you, defended you and included you in everything they did for years, suddenly locks you out of their orbit with no warning and no explanation, it’s easy to feel really misused.

When I did manage to get my ex-friend to speak to me on the phone, she told me that her seeming abandonment of me was “all in my head.” Mutual friends I consulted agreed that it wasn’t “all in my head,” but clammed up completely when pressed for further information. To this day I have no idea what, if anything, I did to bring this ghosting about, and as a result, I’m still hurt by it.

— D. Gunderson, 50, Albuquerque

My brother was a mean drunk and alcoholic for all of his youth. He’s also a crybaby, uses others, throws loud tantrums and takes no responsibility for his behaviors. He is 65.

I saw him two years ago and he is exactly the same. Absolutely no growth. I finally ghosted him, as trying to explain or justify my exhaustion with his mean-spirited behaviors would have fallen on deaf ears.

I just don’t care about him anymore. There are times when ghosting is the best way to handle a situation. I feel so much better now!

— Skylar, 66

I had been dating a guy for almost two months. Everything seemed like it was going well — we had made plans to go out the following weekend. Then he texted me that he was in the emergency room and would need to cancel our date. Of course I was worried, so I texted and called him numerous times to see how he was doing, but he didn’t respond. Eleven days went by and I constantly went back-and-forth between worry, confusion and anger that he might be ghosting me. I finally texted him “are you dead?” He told me he was just released from the hospital after emergency heart surgery.

I felt terrible. I asked him how he was doing and how I could support him. He said he needed time to recover and would follow up soon. I never heard from him after that. I texted him to follow up a couple of times, with no response. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, because I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t. Was he ghosting me the first time and just felt bad when I asked him if he was dead and made up the whole story about the surgery? Or was the surgery real and the relationship was just too much to deal with? I’ll never know.

— Sarah Little, 32, Alexandria, Va.

I am a ghoster, not a ghostee. I probably started when I was 18. I think something is wrong with me. I hate the feeling I get when a girl lectures me over text on how rude it is to ghost. I genuinely agree with those sentiments … and yet I’ve continued to ghost on relationships, at events and even in my professional life. A part of it for me is low self-esteem. I’ve never dated a girl in Washington, D.C., that I could see myself satisfying and being good to long-term. After a handful of dates, or in rare cases a couple months, I inevitably feel like I am wasting their time and they could be doing better without me … soon after that, I ghost.

I am sure a handful of young women in this city are confused, but I hope better off and participating in more fulfilling relationships with better men. I think I should seek help, and I would love to learn more about the psychological profile behind your average ghoster. I don’t get any sick pleasure out of not showing up somewhere or ceasing a line of communication. I feel horrible about what I have done (or not done) and I just hope whoever I have done wrong is happier now than they were whenever they interacted with me.

— Anonymous, 28, Washington, D.C.

We met through an online dating app in July 2017. Instant connection, lots of emails and texts. First date was at his house. Talked for hours, first kiss. Then he left to travel, which he did frequently. After a few perfunctory texts, he disappeared. I was a wreck for weeks, having never been ghosted before. I got over it, just by the passage of time.

Spring 2019, our paths cross again. I’m cynical, but he makes all the effort. He asks me out to dinner. He comes over to my house for wine a few days later. He suggests we have coffee Saturday mornings at my house, after his bicycle riding group is finished. He comes over to my house to cook me dinner. On a Friday night, about three months after we are reacquainted, he texts me a picture of himself presenting that week at a conference, from the plane, as he was coming home for the week. No text from him Saturday morning about our standing coffee date. I text him at noon. I text him later that day.

By Sunday late morning, I’m in a panic, thinking that he’s been hit by a car on his Saturday morning bike ride. No response from him. By Monday, I sent my final text, saying that I had no idea where he was, if he was even still alive, but that I didn’t want to move forward until I was important enough to him for him to respond to me. Turns out, he was still alive, very much so. I later learned that his “roommate,” whom he described as his ex-girlfriend in the process of finding a new place to live, was NOT his ex.

Eventually, I reached out to his “ex”; we had an amazing, healthy conversation, and I now consider her a friend!

— Laura B., 54, Portsmouth, N.H.

I was ghosted by my ex of four years. I last heard from him two days before Christmas. I’d been giving him some space because he had a sick relative and was stressing about school. I didn’t hear from him again until I got a “Happy Birthday!” text in February. I did not respond.

— Janice, 48, Herndon, Va.

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