Last Updated: November 6, 2023
The first time I was ghosted, I didn’t understand what I had done wrong.
I met Chris in a little cocktail bar one rainy night in London not long after I had moved to the city. We had a fantastic date, one of my best first dates ever, and it culminated with both a passionate kiss and an invitation to a second date. He texted me on the way home.
“I can’t stop smiling…,” he wrote, and oh my god, there is no better feeling than getting that text after making out with a ridiculously hot, ridiculously intelligent journalist named Chris, let me tell you. He was the inspiration for the second part of this post.
Over the next couple of days, we texted back and forth and made plans for our upcoming dinner date. And then, the day before, I texted him to confirm what time we were meeting. No response. That seemed a bit strange, but I tried not to let it bother me until the next day. By lunchtime – I would assume we were meeting only a few hours later – I texted again. Yes, oh yes, the dreaded double-text. But I was kind of worried, and very confused.
“Hey,” I texted. “Are we still on for tonight?”
And that, dear friends, is when I encountered my first ghost.
Before Chris, I don’t think I had heard the term “ghosting” before. It essentially means to just disappear on someone, leaving them hanging. This can occur in many ways – the good old-fashioned “he stood me up” bit – but nowadays tends to occur when someone simply cuts communication altogether. I’ve also heard this referred to as “blue-ticking” someone, meaning you can see that they read your message on WhatsApp (or whatever form of communication you use) but they didn’t reply.
Ghosting is sort of a funny term to me, because ghosts haunt you, popping up when you least expect them. The people who “ghost” however? Oh no. They disappear for good. And it happens a hell of a lot more frequently than I first realized.
Case in point? I realized how prevalent ghosting had become when I told my friend about a guy who dumped me over a drink last year, and her first words were, “Aw, he actually broke up with you in person? That’s so sweet!” True story.
The second time I was ghosted, I didn’t understand why the guy ended up being such an asshole.
I met Mark in a crowded bar over thumping dance music and too many pints. He tried to kiss me on the dance floor, I got weirded out, and he convinced me to give him my number so he could take me out and make it up to me. To my surprise, he actually texted the next day.
It turns out Mark and I were a great match. We met up once or twice a week for a couple of months, and it was a really fun beginning to a relationship. I thought things were going really well; he even called me out of the blue once when he was feeling stressed, asking to meet up “because I always made things better.” It felt like we were on track to something great.
We were supposed to meet up on a Sunday night at 8 p.m. in my local pub. I had even run into him the day before – we live in the same neighbourhood – and he had introduced me to his friends and said he was excited to see me. I texted him on Sunday afternoon to confirm I’d be at the pub at 8, but he didn’t respond.
“Weird,” I thought, but I obviously went to the pub anyway.
And… you know what’s coming. He didn’t show up. I texted again (I know, I KNOW… the double-text) and said, “You coming? Everything ok?”
I never heard from him again. But hey, at least I got another story out of it, because he was the inspiration behind this post (FYI, you really should think twice before ghosting a blogger, especially one who writes a series called The Last Time I Saw You, hah).
I wish that I could say that I played it cool and just let it go, but he really pissed me off. Two months of dating? Meeting each other’s friends? C’mon dude. That’s just mean. A few days later, I wrote him a text saying I had expected more of him and that I wished he hadn’t been such a coward. I mean, at least have the guts to send a quick text saying it’s over… right?
And that’s what gets me the most about ghosting. When someone ghosts you, you’re left in a state of limbo – the rational side of you knows that the person is no longer interested, but you still hold out a bit of hope.
There are those horrible few days when you check your phone a lot more than usual, thinking they might just have been really busy (although, as my friend crudely but accurately says, “If you can shit, you can text”) or something happened to their phone (though with text, WhatsApp, Facebook, and email, just to name a few, that’s hardly an excuse anymore… not to mention you can easily see if someone has been active on social media). That uncertainty – do they like me? are they going to text me again? – is awful, and it often leads to a situation where you can’t stop thinking about someone.
Ghosting is such a cowardly act, and not only that, it’s rude. If you spend quality time with someone or make plans with someone, why not have the decency to text a few lines to say if it’s not working out?
Nearly every unattached friend I have – of any gender – has told me that they’ve been ghosted at least once. And while it doesn’t get any easier to take, I have realized over the years that it can actually be a really good thing.
To reiterate, the people who ghost are either cowardly or assholes (or at least exhibiting asshole behaviour), or sometimes a combination of the two. When someone ghosts you, they’re showing you exactly who they are. They’re showing you that they are capable of acting quite selfish and inconsiderate… and why would you want to be with a person like that? You deserve so much more than that.
As one of my favourite people on the internet, Mark Manson, writes, if you’re in the grey zone, you’ve already lost. And if someone ghosts you, or frequently ignores your messages, you are definitely in the grey zone… in fact, there’s no doubt about it, you’re out of the game all together.
Remember: there is no such thing as mixed messages in dating. If they like you, and if they want to commit to you, you’ll know.
I have no idea what photo to post in an article about ghosting, so here are some horses in Bhutan
There really is no explanation why people ghost, although I think most people either a) have changed their mind and don’t want to/don’t know how to end it or b) find it the easy way out of something they’re not ready to define (although a friend of mine was ghosted after dating someone for a year. A YEAR).
It comes from a place of fear, as in, they’re scared of having to share their feelings and *gasp* put themselves out there for a potentially awkward text conversation that really only has to take up five minutes of their life. They may not be an inherently bad person, but ghosting is definitely bad behaviour.
Is there ever an OK time to ghost someone? Perhaps – maybe if you only had a couple of dates and you didn’t make specific plans for another rendezvous – but for the most part, it is so much easier and so much more respectful to just send a polite goodbye text (unless you are being harassed or made to feel uncomfortable, in which case, ghost that motherfucker no matter how long you have been dating).
For example, I recently went out with a very sweet, very kind man. We went on two dates; the first one was fun, but by the time we met for the second date, something with the chemistry just seemed off (i.e. I didn’t want to kiss him, and the conversation felt stilted). We discussed a potential third date – bowling – but a few days later I knew I had to call it off.
“I’m sorry, Jonathan,” I wrote. “I don’t think I can meet you on Thursday. I really liked hanging out with you but I don’t see a future for us. I hope you understand.”
Listen – that is not a fun text to write nor a fun text to receive. But at least it’s honest, and he knew exactly where he stood. He wrote back almost immediately saying he did understand, and it was nice to meet me, and he wished me all the best. There! Done!! Neither of us had to harbour any ill will or frantically check our phone a hundred times a day.
The third time I was ghosted, the most recent time, I didn’t understand why I didn’t see it coming.
And just in case you think ghosting can’t cross international waters, think again. If you read my blog regularly and/or follow me on social media, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out which country the guy is from (Italy. I’m talking about Italy).
I knew this person for three months; we talked nearly every day after first meeting (texting or Skyping), and, oh yeah, he flew me back to his country to see him. After that visit – which was incredibly fun – we discussed seeing each other again a couple of months later, and we continued to talk a lot. And then, a couple of weeks later… oh yes. He vanished. One day there, the next… just gone.
I never thought that this person was going to be a serious boyfriend, but I did care about him. I knew it had an expiration date, but I thought we’d end up as friends, or that it would at least end on a nice note. Of course, I was totally gracious about the situation, and backed quietly into the shadows so that he could continue to live out his life. Ha ha! Nope, of course I didn’t. After weeks of silence (except when he asked me for tips about Instagram… which I gave him… please don’t judge me) I wrote him a message saying that I was sad that we were no longer in each other’s lives but I wished him the best, to which – as if this shocks anyone – he never replied.
And that’s another thing about ghosting… do you write to the ghost? And if so, what do you say? Do you ask why they decided to stop seeing you? Do you reveal your anger or your sadness, either way exposing that you did indeed care for him or her?
If you think it will make you feel better, or if you like having closure, sure, you can send a text; at this point you have nothing to lose. But know that, in all likelihood, the person won’t reply. I mean, if they don’t have the balls to tell you they want to end things, they probably won’t have the balls to say they’re sorry. This also might trigger you to feel double-ghosted (is that a thing?) wherein you start incessantly checking your phone for their reply.
Remember: if you were bitten by a shark, you wouldn’t chase after the shark to ask why it bit you. If someone ghosts you, therefore showing you what kind of person they truly are, it’s often best to just stay away and move on. No answer IS an answer. No answer IS closure.
If you still insist on sending a message, take it from me, though: be the bigger person and write something short but cool-headed, something you won’t cringe over the following week. Don’t spend hours or days of your time crafting the “perfect” text; you’ve already wasted too much time on this person when they’ve made it clear they don’t care enough about you to let you have some closure.
Try to keep your message to them classy, collected, and brief, although a little snark never hurt anyone. A message I’ve written a few times is something along the lines of:
Hey, I’m really not a fan of ghosting so thought I’d send a message as it’s clear I won’t be hearing from you again. I’m looking for something that is genuine and consistent, so it doesn’t seem like we’re a match. Take care and good luck with ________ (fill in something they talked about, like starting a podcast. WHY is it always a podcast).
Just don’t drive yourself crazy checking for those blue ticks. And remember: sometimes it’s best not to disturb the dead.
And then just laugh about it… after a few Aperol Spritzes, maybe
So, in conclusion, ghosting sucks, and I still don’t understand why some people do it when it’s just so much easier and kinder to be honest. But for all the times it has happened to me, and for all the times it has happened to my friends, know this: it is almost certainly not your fault.
Most likely, the person you’re dating wasn’t ready for something with you or even something with anyone, be it serious or not. As much as it hurts, he may have realized he didn’t like you very much after all or he may have started dating someone else. Or he might just be an asshole. Honestly, we’ll never know the real reason, and the sooner you let go of overanalyzing and overthinking about what you could have done or what you could have said, the faster you’ll heal.
Another major reason that people ghost in this day and age of dating – the online age, that is – is that people rush into relationships or situationships with people before actually getting to know them. All of that texting in the beginning? It could be a sign of love bombing, or it could just be that, sadly, you could be anyone. There are many people out there who date just to fill a void, but as soon as you become “real” (i.e. you show signs of wanting more) or the rush of a new romantic interest has worn off for them, they jump ship. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
And yeah, it’s an awful feeling – that someone doesn’t even care enough about you to text you (or, shock of all horror, actually call you) in order to spare your feelings, let alone want to date you. But as I’ve written about on this blog before, if someone doesn’t want to be with you… why do you want to be with them?
I still get bummed out when I’m ghosted – it’s easy to let it initially knock your self-esteem, and there’s the disappointment that comes with realizing that all of the excitement of a potentially new relationship has been squashed – but as mentioned above, I’m also thankful for it, because it shows me what kind of person I was dealing with. If he can’t even muster up the courage to write me two lines of text, what other emotional baggage am I going to have to deal with later on? (And if you’re still struggling with the end of the relationship, I’ve also written about how to get over a tough breakup.)
Ghosting is a huge indicator of both immaturity and instability. And honestly, at this point in my life, anyone who has this lack of emotional depth and a lack of basic courtesy is just holding up the line. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: there are plenty more fish in the sea. It would be awesome to find a fun, adventurous partner, but I’m not going to sit around waiting for a phone call or text when there’s so much more of life to explore.
So ladies (and the four gentlemen who read this blog), take heart: ghosting is real, yes, and it is shitty, but it doesn’t mean you should lose any self-respect, nor does it mean you should lose faith in dating. When someone ghosts, they’re making it very easy for you to see that they’re definitely not the person for you, and that you’re much better off without them. Again: you are worth so much more than this. You do not deserve this, and you do NOT want to date someone who treats people this way.
As soon as you realize this, you have room in your life for so many other fun things: new partners, sure, but also a new freedom to do whatever the hell you want to do… without having to worry that you’ll miss that text if you’re in the shower.
So hold your head high, realise being ghosted had nothing to do with you and everything to do with someone else’s inability to communicate, and repeat after me: I ain’t afraid of no ghost. I’m sorry. I had to.
Have you ever been ghosted? Or… have you ghosted someone before? Why did you do it?