Don’t Ghost on Good Communication
What is Ghosting?
Merriam-Webster defines ghosting as:
"the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc."
Dipping out of something without warning--be it a party, a conversation, or even (you guessed it) a relationship—is not a new concept, even if the term “ghosting” itself is more modern.
So, why do people ghost?
Breakups are hard. Rejection sucks. There’s a level of emotional vulnerability that comes with it--not to mention the potential for hurt feelings (theirs or yours or both). There might be pushback. That’s why--for better or for worse--some folks just disappear.
The act of cutting someone off, ignoring their attempts at contact, or even blocking them from any form of communication could happen for any number of reasons. Maybe you met someone else, maybe you realized you weren’t into it, maybe you don’t want to lead them on, maybe you did it for your own mental health or safety.
While it could seem like ghosting could be the “nicer” option, compared to telling someone how you feel, it can leave the other person without a clear idea of what happened. It also can make saying no feel like giving “bad news” or something to avoid altogether, instead of a boundary to be valued (and a skill to practice).
It’s important to remember that your boundaries, limits, wants, and needs are real and hold value. Asking for respect of those boundaries is fair, and recognizing that a scenario- or even a relationship- is not for you is absolutely fair, too.
At the same time, communication isn’t just for people who are dating more seriously. Hookups and casual sex are about getting what you want, and communication is the way to make sure that’s happening. It’s especially important to negotiate with people you’re not as familiar with. Ultimately, you want to be someone that people feel comfortable saying yes—and no—to, and that happens through allowing for communication to happen consistently.
What can you do instead of ghosting?
Again--open and honest communication is key in any relationship, from beginning to end. Even if you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details of feeling that something’s not working out, you can still express your boundary in a short, simple statement. Maybe one of these will fit your situation:
“Hey, I had a nice time with you--but I just don’t feel a spark.”
“I appreciate your getting in touch, but I don’t think I’d like to continue on another date.”
“It seems from our chat that we have different priorities/values/needs, so I don’t think it’s best for us to continue this connection.”
“I think I want to take some time to explore more connections without getting seriously attached.”
“I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I want you to know that I’ve got a lot going on and can’t prioritize a new relationship/friendship at the moment.”
“It was cool getting to know you, but I didn’t feel that our connection was something that I’m looking for right now.”
When you tell somebody goodbye instead of ghosting, you offer them some closure—and you‘ll know you acted true to yourself too.
You can trust your feelings about whether or not a person is right for you, and if they’re not, step away and use your words to be clear about your priorities. Not only will this set boundaries, but it will also give you practice with that honest communication-- a very useful set of skills to have and use even with people that may be right for you as well!
So, this Halloween season, don’t get spooked by communication- and leave the ghosting to, well… the ghosts.
Need more communication tools? Check out our YES/NO/MAYBE list!