The term “ghosting” is when you disappear or cut off communication in order to break it off with someone. Most people do it to avoid confrontation. I am sad to say that Portland being a little infamous for passive aggression is a hotbed of ghosting. Men do it, women do it.
But you shouldn’t.
Ghosting can leave you feeling unsure if the other person is not interested or is just busy… Even if the other person and you had exchanged dozens of texts in a day, and the silence should be telling.
Now it clearly sucks to be the one being ghosted, but what about the ghost? It sucks to be the ghost too. They are getting periodic texts (“hey haven’t heard from you in a while I hope things are ok”) from someone they’d rather ignore, and maybe even a phone call.
The ghost might think they are getting a clean getaway but Portland is oddly small for a big city. You never know when you might be dating someone special and when they start to praise you to thier friends one of them knows your ghosting technique. Suddenly YOU are ghosted and you thought it was going so well!
So ghosting is bad for everyone. So how do you avoid bad karma and awkwardness?
Here is the phrasing I like best.
“Ghosting isn’t cool- I hate when people do it to me. Straight up; I had fun [talking, texting, or on our date] but I don’t think we’re compatible so I am not interested in anything romantic. Thank you for the nice conversation\time.”
Got that? Ok copy it into your phone’s notes and keep it handy, if you need to text it. You will feel better too, and the other person gets to move on and clearly understand what is happening. Note: even if the date or conversation was AWFUL and you feel like the other person should know why you are breaking it off, I would still say the above. This isn’t about taking out your disappointment in the other person out on them, it is about behaving in a way that YOU are happy with YOURSELF when you walk away.
What if they want an explanation?
If it was a first date, or you only talked or texted on a phone you don’t owe any response to questions or further communication. Obviously if yoy’ve been living together for a year or some serious stuff, you need to at least respond to practical things like exchanging stuff or who gets to keep the concert tickets for next month.
Generally speaking, if you are early on and have dated less than 5 times, the above is all you need to say. They may ask you questions but if you don’t respond, it is fine. You told them how you feel- which is more than a lot of people.
If you really feel an urge to respond, you could say:
- I just don’t feel the kind of connection I am looking for
- I am just not interested romantically, and I don’t want to lead you on
Note that both of the above are gentle because you are not saying there is something wrong with the other person, or that you didn’t have some kind of connection- just that you don’t have the romantic feelings for them.
When am I obligated to tell him/her it is over? Is ghosting ever acceptable?
If you are on a dating website with message ability, if you decided you are not interested and you have exchange more than 5 messages… let the other person know.
If you have made ANY plans… let the other person know
If you have met in person, even if it was before your actual first date… let the other person know
If you have been on ANY dates or shared a kiss… let the other person know
Can I just text them?
It is up to you.
Honestly, if the choice is between being ghosted and a text I will take the text any day.
I feel obligated to call or do it in person if I have been exclusively with them at all. If we stopped seeing other people to focus on each other, I feel personally obligated to talk it out.
However- if the idea of doing it in person or by phone is so horrible that it is why you are thinking of ghosting…? By all means just drop a text.
Look for my next pro tip on selfies and profile pictures.