The Art of Ghosting: When to Suck It Up and Have The Talk

By Emma Elizabeth

Listen, it’s 2017. We’ve all been ghosted. Ask anyone – it sucks. What did I do? Did you just get bored? Did a girl with a nicer ass come along? You seemed like you liked the sex, so… is it my personality?

Let’s start by getting one thing straight: ghosting is a cop-out.

No matter who’s doing it, it’s an easy way out to avoid a bigger problem. She ignores your texts until you ‘get the hint’. He answers your detailed questions with one-word Facebook messages. She opens all your Snapchats but doesn’t reply, even though she’s still posting stories. It’s shitty, period.

Obviously, I don’t condone snake-y tendencies. I also don’t condone doing things out of vengeance or animosity. Some people gain a twisted, sadistic sense of pleasure from ghosting. Maybe it’s the power of being in control of the way a relationship is going, even if you’re not really sure how to vocalize your feelings. Maybe it’s the disruption of the antiquated gender roles which we’ve been conditioned to abide to in romantic relationships. 

I’ll admit it. I’ve ghosted people. Let’s be clear, though - I never ghost with malicious intent. I’m not a jerk – promise. Sometimes after I ghost a guy, I feel a little guilty for not outright explaining why I wasn’t answering him. Frankly, those conversations aren’t easy, even if they’re only over text. Typing up a message, deleting it, consulting your group chat of girlfriends to make sure you’re not coming off too harsh… it’s work. Sometimes, a “relationship” (though, let’s be real, most month-long casual hook-ups aren’t worthy of that title), deserves a proper ending. But sometimes, and especially if your dude is equally as disinterested in you as you are in him, ghosting is appropriate, convenient, and relatively easy.

It’s also worth considering that a lot of ghosting is the result of dating app hook-ups. According to Jennice Vilahuer, Ph.D, “The lack of social connections to people who are met online also means there are less social consequences to dropping out of someone’s life”. It’s a lot easier to not feel bad about ghosting if you only know someone from a week of small-talk texting and two hours of drinks in a loud bar.

When I asked for a guy’s perspective on ghosting, he said that he didn’t think people really did it until it was a last resort. This was interesting, given that I’ve usually ghosted early on to try and hint at my own disinterest. He thinks if someone is a reasonable person, it would be easier to just explain that you don’t want to talk anymore. He said he’s ghosted one girl, but that she quickly took the hint and it was an easy break. He also said that he thinks women ghost more because guys are “pushier and worse at reading social cues” (his words, not mine). They’re also, he thinks, more likely to have their egos hurt – even if a guy “gets it”, he might think, “wait, she can’t be the one to say no to me – it has to be my doing”. Ego talk aside, we both ultimately agreed that ghosting is an easy out to avoid dealing with an issue.

When it’s okay to ghost

Here’s when, in my opinion, it’s okay to ghost:

1. You’re both on the same page 

This is the dream situation for quasi-interested casual hook-ups. Maybe you both got exactly what you wanted out of the relationship and are ready to move on. Maybe you both weren’t feeling it and started to mutually distance yourselves. Either way, this generally results in a relatively quick fizzling-out. You lose your Snapchat streak and neither of you are particularly bothered by it. Easy peasy.


2. He’s an ass

Sometimes, when a dude fucks you over, you need to stand up for yourself and let him know that what he did was not ok. Sometimes you do this for yourself. Sometimes you do this for the sake of the sisterhood – all potential girls he will inevitably mess with in the future. But sometimes – and this one kind of goes without saying – a guy just doesn’t deserve an explanation. Buh-bye.


3. You got bored

This one’s a little trickier. Sometimes, one-night-stand sex just isn’t that good – and that’s okay. In this age of female sexual empowerment and the feminist belief that women shouldn’t be settling for mediocre sex, it just so happens that you and a perfectly lovely partner just aren’t sexually compatible. Odds are, he’ll feel the same way about it, too. Most of the time, I’ve found there to be an easy, common understanding that you probably won’t hook up again, which makes the (mutual) ghosting go much more smoothly.


Ultimately, reading cues and trying to get on the other person’s level is the best way to avoid drama and heartbreak. Sometimes ghosting is the most convenient thing to do, and no one has to be the “bad guy”. Nonetheless, if either party is even remotely invested in the relationship, it’s worth a real conversation. Just, like… don’t be a jerk.

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