Photo by Enache Georgiana on Unsplash
Ghosting. Sucks. I’m sorry if you’re a victim of ghosting. To be perfectly honest, I’m not going to sit here and lie and pretend I’ve never ghosted anyone before, because I totally have. Not my proudest moment. But I promised myself in early 2019 I wasn’t going to ghost a single soul. And so far, ten months into the year, I’ve stuck to it.
So why do people ghost? Lots of reasons — none of which are acceptable, by the way — but let’s enter the mind of the ghoster for a moment. The biggest reason I’ve seen as a relationship coach and therapist is people aren’t interested. There are two cases of the uninterested ghoster: one, they don’t know how to verbalize their disinterest so they bail, and two, they don’t care about your feelings. That may seem harsh. But it’s a harsh world out there — full of people with all sorts of unresolved issues being projected right onto you. And the key here is not allowing yourself to internalize someone else’s unresolved shit.
What’s that mean? It means don’t take someone ghosting you personally — because really and truly, it’s not personal. We aren’t compatible with all six billion people in the world. And second, it means that their behavior is not a reflection of your self-worth. Your self-worth is defined by how you see and value yourself, not through the actions of other people that you experience. But if you choose to let others define your self-worth, it makes moving on from a ghosting that much harder. This is why I really encourage people to have a strong sense of self before entering the dating world.
So how to get over being ghosted? Follow these simple steps.
1. First, make sure you’re being ghosted. Send a text message saying, “Hey (insert name here), let me know if you want to get together again. If you’re not interested, that’s cool too.” By saying this, you’re giving the person an opportunity to rekindle interest, or you’re giving them permission to say they’re not interested. Sometimes when people have that permission, they’re more likely to verbalize disinterest instead of ghosting.
2. Wait a solid day for a response. If after a day there’s no response to that message, then I’m sorry to report, but you’re being ghosted. Sit in these emotions and feel what comes up for you. Does it remind you of anything? What thoughts are coming into your head? Write them down if you can, or simply just notice them.
3. Process any internalization. If any of the above thoughts or feelings relate to internalizing the ghosting — IE, what did I do to make them ghost me, I’m not desirable, I’m not wanted, etc. — I strongly encourage you to process this with a therapist or coach.
4. Take some time off from dating. This can vary significantly, depending on how hurt you are by the ghosting. If you’re butt hurt for a day or so, take that time to stay off dating apps or trying to find someone new to go on a date with. If you were seeing someone for a couple of weeks or more and had sex with them, it’s totally okay for it to feel like a break up. At that point, the disrespect is more hurtful than anything else. And that really sucks. So don’t let others tell you “oh it was just a month, get over it” — because this shit really fucking hurts.
5. Start to move on. You’ll know you’re ready when you’ve learned something from the last person you dated, and you’re not thinking about them as much anymore.
So now what if the roles are reversed — what if YOU’RE the one who isn’t interested in someone, and you don’t want to hurt their feelings and ghost them? I got you. Here’s some common scenarios I’ve seen and even experienced — and a template for what to say.
You’re just not interested.
“Hey, (insert name here)! I want to be honest with you, I had a really great time with you, but I’m not really feeling a spark between us, and it wouldn’t be fair to either of us to keep seeing each other with the way I feel. You’re so cool and I had fun getting to know you — I wish you nothing but the best!”
Rationale: People appreciate honesty and would rather hear the truth and be hurt than be left hanging. Opening with the idea that you’re being honest lowers defenses. Next, you’re acknowledging that you had a great time with them, which shows the person that you did honor the time you had together and it was nothing that they did, they’re just not the person for you. This is also being validated with saying they’re cool and you had fun talking to them. Also, when you say it’s not fair to them, you’re honoring that you respect their value and what they deserve in a partner, while also doing the same for you. And wishing for the best is genuine and a good way to close while also giving them permission if they want to respond or not.
2. You thought you were ready to date but you’re not over someone.
“Hey, (insert name here)! I want to be honest with you…I thought I was ready to date, but after doing some thinking I still don’t feel like I am. I’m sorry I didn’t realize this until after we went out, and I want to be fair to you moving forward. I had such a great time with you, and I had so much fun getting to know you. I wish you nothing but the best!
Rationale: Again, honoring that you had a good time, but really emphasizing that it’s all on you and you’re not ready to date. If you liked them and want to leave the door open for the future, add this line: “I’m open to seeing you again when I’m feeling more healed, if you’re available and open to it, too. If not, that’s okay.”
3. Your values, lifestyle, and/or goals aren’t aligned.
“Hey, (insert name here)! I had so much fun with you and such a great time getting to know you. However in our conversations, I noticed (insert the thing that won’t make you guys work, IE, kids, religion, political views, where you want to live, etc.) which I’m glad you hold this value, but I (insert your thing). I want to honor what both of us value and want in a partner, so I think it would be fair to both of us not to see each other again. I had so much fun talking to you and getting to know you, I wish you nothing but the best!
Rationale: You’re pointing out exactly what won’t work for both of you and how it isn’t anything personal. You’re also honoring how you both deserve to be with partners who are compatible with you in the ways you value.
Whether you’re the one ending something with someone you’ve been dating, someone ended something with you, or it’s mutual, we can all agree that ghosting fucking sucks. No matter if you’ve gone on a date yet or you’ve been dating a month, choose to honor and respect that person and their feelings as a fellow human being. It may be the first time anyone ever has.