Psychological insights on relationships: rejections, breakups, making relationships happy, unhealthy dynamics, and general psychology.

They Disappeared and Reappeared. Now What?

What it looks like and how to deal with ghosting, zombieing, breadcrumbing, and orbiting. Can a bad relationship get better with these partners?

  1. Ghosting refers to a complete disappearance from someone’s life.
  2. Breadcrumbing involves giving someone mere crumbs of attention.
  3. Zombieing is characterized by vanishing from someone’s life and reappearing.
  4. Orbiting is being around someone even if you want nothing to do with that person or after the relationship has ended.
ghosting, zombieing, breadcrumbing, and orbiting.

Reports suggest up to 25 percent people have experienced these behaviors.

However, this trend is on the rise and becoming more socially acceptable, partly because it becomes easier to repeat once we engage in such behavior. We mimic trends that are already widely accepted.

This blog post will delve into who exhibits these behaviors and what science reveals about these phenomena, and you’ll be surprised to discover the main reason behind such actions.

Even though those who have suffered harm are likely reading this text, hearing the justifications given by those who disappeared proves helpful. This allows a better understanding of where responsibility lies and what can be changed.

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Why do people disappear from relationships?

1. Ending a relationship this way is often seen as more manageable.

It’s simpler than having a difficult conversation and telling someone you are no longer interested. Disappearing also shields the person from facing the other’s emotions, which can be challenging and dramatic.

2. People believe they don’t owe an explanation to the other person.

A beautiful proud woman

Ghosting is typically reserved for people we know more superficially, such as those we interact with primarily online. However, many of my clients have reported that it also happens to people we know and regularly interact with.

Online communication allows us to keep people at a distance. Not take the relationship seriously enough to owe the person an explanation. Access to information about people through social media makes us feel like we know them even before meeting in person, enabling us to determine whether we find that person attractive and act accordingly.

If people recognize something they dislike in your online behavior, they might vanish from your life without explanation.

Another interesting aspect is that online communication helps people feel less accountable for unacceptable behavior. People find it easier to insult others online, just as they find it easier to disappear, pose provocatively, make inappropriate comments, and so on.

Why does a person have to go through bad relationships till they meet “the one”?

3. A third reason for disappearing mentioned in surveys is knowing the person’s flaws.

For example, if the person was unpleasant, angry, demanding, self-pitying, dramatic, or toxic, this is a common reason for leaving without an explanation. It’s a way to avoid experiencing their behavior in person.

Ghosted black man

4. Practicality is also cited in surveys.

It was more convenient for people to end the relationship than to invest further. Even dealing with the breakup was seen as impractical.

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5. Safety is obviously another reason.

People opt for disappearing when they feel discomfort or fear. An 18-year-old stated that disappearing is the best method when someone is strange.

6. Lastly, and most commonly, people may vanish from your life due to Communication Overload.

Handsome man with eyes closed

Social media contributes to a form of overload. We are constantly available to everyone, and inboxes are often full. People who talked about their reasons for disappearing often mentioned giving up responding to anyone due to communication overload.

Communication overload is a real thing.

If you have ten messages waiting and other tasks, it’s easiest not to respond to messages. This usually leads to forgetting earlier messages, resulting in message accumulation, guilt, and a sense of responsibility. Guilt arises from “violating communication expectations.”

Both, message overload and guilt, block resources for more important things.

It’s somewhat ironic that strangers can make us feel unfair, irresponsible, and non-serious. It’s also ironic that unknown people have private expectations of us. In any case, this is a strategy for people to free themselves from the burden of numerous active communications.

Ghosted woman

Although these reasons may sound negative, you can interpret each of them positively, especially if you’ve experienced someone’s disappearance and can’t understand the reason. None of these reasons sound dramatic or characterize your personality.

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The act of disappearing, most commonly occurs four months after the start of a romantic connection.

*There are not enough texts on the topic of disappearing from long-term friendships.

Studies have shown that people prone to disappearing are generally younger, and there are slightly more women than men among them. Individuals with both excessive and insufficient self-confidence also exhibit such behavior.

Those with excess confidence believe they can quickly and easily find new friends or partners after rejecting someone. Conversely, those with low self-confidence avoid facing other people and may choose to disappear, especially individuals with mental health issues such as depression or negative overthinking.

Ghosted black woman

Disappearing from someone’s life has serious consequences for the person left without an explanation and the one who initiated the disappearance.

Those left behind are practically treated as if they were irrelevant.

They can be ignored, resembling the silent treatment (many mental health professionals describe it as the cruelest form of emotional-mental abuse). When this happens, the person often chooses to suppress their feelings, treating others in the same emotionless manner as if they have no feelings, causing empathy to fade away.

Disappearing makes you helpless to understand the situation. It doesn’t allow you to ask questions or get information to help you emotionally process the experience. It suppresses you, hindering your ability to express your feelings and preventing the other person from hearing them, both of which are crucial for maintaining your self-esteem.

Can unhealthy relationships become healthy?

Individuals most vulnerable to these phenomena are:

  • People prone to excessive negative thinking (negative overthinking),
  • People with social anxiety who find it difficult to enter new relationships, cherishing every relationship,
  • People prone to rigid thinking. Those who believe things are as they are and will remain so forever, because they have done something wrong and there is no other explanation.
  • People lack psychological flexibility.
Man and woman in toxic relationship

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Is the act of sending flirtatious but non-committal text messages, small sightings, presents, etc. In any case, they give minimal signs of attention and things that are not difficult for them to give to lure a sexual partner without investing much effort. It’s done when a person has no intention of pursuing something more. He or she just enjoys the attention, flirting sporadically, occasionally sending messages, and sporadically liking.

This is done often enough to keep the person or people interested, but more is needed to develop the relationship.

A beautiful woman

The focus is that a person throwing breadcrumbs does not want to let that person go.
It represents a relationship on “standby,” and those who resort to it are not actually attracted to the other person but aim to stay relevant and attractive to them. Pathetic.

However, breadcrumb can easily lead to loneliness, despair, and a lack of satisfaction in life for those who endure it.

Breadcrumb inherently contains elements of addictive behavior for those on the receiving end. The mechanism behind addictive behavior is the so-called Reward Theory, which includes rewards: random messages, likes, and comments on social media, followed by anticipating a possible reward and unpredictability. All of this is again associated with the release of dopamine, pleasure hormone.

What’s important to note is that people waiting for someone else’s breadcrumbs feel excluded from life.

What Causes Obsession With a Certain Person


Attractive man sitting

A similar style of behavior to breadcrumbing. It differs because the person does not even give anything but is always there. It also differs because it can emotionally leave a warmer impression than breadcrumbers. They can talk more, be more supportive, be full of understanding, etc. This is how they keep people with them.

This behavior usually comes from people with low self-esteem or those in the wrong place emotionally. For internal reasons, it is tough for them to bond, and they need closeness.
Unfortunately, I’m a “hard current,” so regardless of their low self-esteem and bad emotional place, I perceive them as unfair. Because they can keep someone with them (without giving them anything) until that person loses all their chances in life, gets old, loses their biological clock, etc.

Journalist and writer Duško Radović said: Some people, in addition to their own lives, would like to spend a few other people’s as well. That describes them (orbiters) quite well.

They should be avoided, even though they appear to be good people.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Toxic Relationships


And finally, Zombing or returning.

Highly self-confident people act like that, believing they can leave and return to the same people, always expecting a warm welcome. It sounds benign. In its benign form, it’s pure opportunism used for personal gain without malice. The negative consequence is that the person being returned is eventually seen as foolish and naive, losing respect for them.

In a coarser form, this strategy is applied to gain control over romantic relationships or friendships that do not meet specific criteria. This is a convenient way to make someone behave the way we want because the punishment will be severe.

Suppose we acknowledge that self-confidence associates with self-forgiveness, as individuals with high self-confidence find it easier to forgive themselves for their actions. In that case, highly self-confident people are likelier to engage in one of these three behaviors.

How To Heal From the Toxicity In Relationship

What should be done to overcome these conditions

Man and a woman are walking side by side

In the event that someone disappears from your life, please select any of the previously mentioned reasons that are more likely to apply to you. And either work on it or accept that the person is like that. For example, tell yourself that someone with low self-confidence cannot face you.

If you’re experiencing breadcrumb collecting, please don’t forget that the person actually doesn’t like you enough to form a relationship with you, but they want you to like them. You are as appealing to them as an average pigeon being fed breadcrumbs.

In the case of people who are there for you and don’t give you anything special, remember that’s what your whole life will look like with them. You won’t get anything, but they’ll probably stick with you. So if that’s enough for you, if their presence is so precious to you…

And finally, for “zombi people,” returning is a matter of their high self-confidence that they can have you whenever they want. It is not about love.

How To Heal From the Toxicity In Relationship

Couple breaking up

This topic is the most complex to address, so we’ll discuss it in more detail in a future text. Although these tips are brief, I’m confident that contemplating them will reveal the ultimate truth, and you’ll act in the way that’s most right for you.

And remember: the quality of our relationships is connected to psychological well-being and predicts happiness. This means that not only do people who are rejected suffer, but those who reject others also suffer because they fail to develop good relationships when this pattern becomes a habit.


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