By Callie Beusman
It can happen to anyone: You’ve been talking to someone for a while; perhaps you’ve even been out a few times. Suddenly, they stop all communication with no explanation whatsoever. Getting ghosted can be upsetting, and it’s hard to know how to respond to ghosting—or if you should even respond at all. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide, based on your own communication style and what you feel most comfortable doing. Here are a few general things to keep in mind:
First, consider sending a friendly check-in
The best course of action depends on how long you’ve been dating, or even just talking to each other. If you’ve only hung out once or twice, or have just been talking for a while without meeting up, you may just want to take their lack of response as a response in and of itself. But if things are more serious or emotionally intense—or if it just seems really out-of-character for them to drop all communication—you may want to send a friendly check-in.
Laurie Davis Edwards, relationship coach and author of Love @ First Click, recommends waiting a few days, and then following up with a casual message. She suggests something like, “Hey! I’ve been thinking of you. How was your weekend?” That way, you can see if they’re actually ghosting you. It’s possible that something came up: a busy work week, a personal emergency, or maybe they were feeling sick. “It’s so common to think you’ve been ghosted when simply the conversation was either dropped or complete for the moment,” Davis Edwards says. “You may be surprised to get a response.”
If you still don’t get a response, or don’t want to send a follow-up text, focus on moving on
If they don’t respond to your check-in text, it can be tempting to follow up again. And even if you didn’t try to follow up in the first place, it can be easy to feel hurt and dwell on what happened. Try not to overthink it, though: It will be best for you in the long run if you just let it go and focus on moving on. If someone is rude and flaky enough to ghost, it’s a reflection on them, not you.
Try to see things in a positive light. If someone won’t respect your time and your feelings enough to give you closure, then they definitely weren’t right for you. “Rather than trying to figure out the reason why they did this, it’s more important to absorb the fact that they didn’t contact you; they backed away,” says clinical psychologist and life coach Karen Nimmo. “Ask yourself if this is how you want to be treated. Hopefully, the answer is no.”
And remember to take care of yourself. Do whatever feels right to keep yourself from dwelling on the ghoster: Mute or unfollow them on social media, and delete their number if you have to. Laura Yates, a dating coach and the host of the Bounce Back podcast, suggests you “talk to a trusted friend, journal, or focus your energy into something that really fuels you.” By putting your energy into yourself and things that bring you joy, you’ll be able to move on quickly and leave them in the past.
It’s also okay if you decide you want to call out your ghoster
Not everyone will be content to just let a ghoster go. If you want to express that what they did was hurtful and disrespectful, that’s a perfectly valid response, too. But experts warn it may not bring real closure or a sense of emotional satisfaction. “There are no rules as to whether you should get in touch or not,” emphasizes Nimmo. “But you shouldn’t do it in the expectation or hope that it will make you feel better.”
Keeping that in mind, you should try to come up with a succinct, clear message that conveys your feelings. (But make sure the person was actually ghosting first. You should only send a message like this if they’ve clearly ignored your follow-up.) Remember that this is about you expressing yourself, not about trying to figure out what was going through the other person’s head. “Feeling like you need explanations and apologies will only prevent you from being able to move forward,” cautions Yates.
Even if you’re feeling (rightfully!) upset, try not to be mean or overly accusatory in your message. A good way to avoid this is by using “I” statements rather than “you” statements—so, rather than something like, “You cut off communication with me, which was a disrespectful thing to do,” you could say, “I feel blindsided and hurt by the way you abruptly stopped talking to me. I understand if you think it wasn’t a good match, but I wish you had respected me enough to tell me that directly.”
Remember that this is about them, not you
Because ghosting is a symptom of poor communication skills, there’s a chance that they may not respond to this message either, or they may respond in a way that feels evasive or insincere. Again, this is a reflection of them, not you. Of course, they may surprise you and send a thoughtful apology, but either way, once you’ve said your piece, try your best to consider the conversation over and move on.
Above all, don’t be overly critical of yourself. While it’s valid to feel hurt and rejected—and you should give yourself space to feel those feelings—being ghosted by someone does not mean that you’re undesirable or that there’s a problem with you. Ghosting happens; it’s not your fault if you’re unfortunate enough to meet someone who does it. The best way to deal with a ghost is to simply let them out of your life. There’s a reason no one wants to live in a haunted house; don’t put yourself in one needlessly!