GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- When searching for a date these days, the possibilities seem endless. Websites and apps, right at our fingertips, pointing us to that special someone.

All those things that help you land a date might actually make a potential breakup an abrupt one, in the form of an emerging trend called ghosting.

The Urban Dictionary defines ghosting as "The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date." In other words, vanishing and hoping the other person gets the hint so you don't have to tell them you aren't interested.

A panel of singles that KARE 11 spoke with admits that they have ghosted someone else before and have also been ghosted.

“You don't want to be the bad guy and say something mean and hurt them,” says 21-year-old college student Kali Whyland.

“The only thing I've experienced with the whole Internet thing is people just drop off. That's really a bummer because you don't know what's going on,” says 61-year-old Pam Putzier.

How often is ghosting happening? We took that question to Kailen Rosenberg of The Love Architects.

“I'm hearing that the ghosting thing is happening a lot. And, it's happening more and more and more,” Rosenberg says.

Rosenberg says, instead of disappearing, we owe it to the other person to have that sometimes difficult and awkward breakup conversation so they can learn and grow.

“We have to stop being afraid of hurting another person's feelings,” she says. “If you no longer have the desire, the interest to see them, talk to them, be in a relationship with them, just let them know. It's OK.”

Rosenberg says, if someone decides to ghost you, don't beat yourself up too much -- and consider it a blessing.

“To just cut someone off, it's really about the person. It's about their own fear, it's about their own lack of self, their own lack of self-awareness. In a strange sense it's actually an uncomfortable but an odd gift that someone is giving you by ghosting you because they're showing you this is not someone you want to be -- or can be -- in any true, intimate relationship with,” she says.

Breaking up in the digital age (Photo: KARE 11)
Breaking up in the digital age (Photo: KARE 11)

The debate about whether it’s OK to break up with someone over a text message is an ongoing one. While it may be immature, marriage and family therapist Theresa Benoit says, a text message is much better than ghosting.

“OK, it's not cool to break up with someone over a text, but it's better to break up with them over a text than to not break up with them at all,” Benoit says.

Benoit, founder of the Relationship Therapy Center, says technology is making it easier to ghost. There are even websites like The Breakup Shop that will do it for you.

Rosenberg says she hesitates to put all the blame on our mobile devices.

“It's easy to go to technology, making that the culprit. But, at the same time, I really think that it's a disconnect in our society. It's a disconnect with ourselves. And, a fear of not wanting to face something that's uncomfortable. We have got to stop that,” Rosenberg says.

The group of singles KARE 11 spoke with seem on board with making their search for a soul mate an honest one.

“The priority of being honest is above my discomfort of saying 'no,'” says 29-year-old Min Lee.

“What you really appreciate is honesty. Nothing can replace that,” adds Whyland.