Ghosting has recently been exposed in the media as a method of slowly ending romantic relationships in which one no longer has interest. It is also a tactic that can be applied to familial and professional relationships, though not always to one’s own benefit – use at your own risk. However, ghosting is more complicated than fading away, and you need to erase your tracks as you go. If you’re in a situation where conflict or confrontation may be more damaging than radio silence or quick exit maneuvers, this guide to ghosting is for you.
If you’re on Tinder, or whatever online dating thing kids are using these days, don’t give out your number to someone unless you’re really excited to meet them (see our online dating guide for more tips). If a conversation starts going south—unmatch! Done! This person can’t contact you, and you never have to talk to them again! Perfectly valid strategy for anyone you haven’t met.
2. DON’T FUCKING ANSWER
If they text you, ignore it. If they call you, send it to voicemail and delete it. Don’t feel bad about it if you haven’t met them (say for example, you were text-flirting and then they said something inappropriate). If they are persistent, well…
Did you know that you can block numbers from calling your iPhone? (From a text message: Details, info, block this caller; from contacts, tap their name and “Block This Caller”). I have only blocked one person, who, Jesus Christ, kept texting me a good six months after our two dates. But for the record, I think ghosting is shitty if you have actually met the person. If you have a bad date, you can hope they don’t talk to you again and leave it at that, but if the other party does contact you, man up and say it didn’t work out.
4. LEAVE FRIENDS OUT OF IT
Most of the time when you’re ghosting someone, it’s a person you met on Tinder or some other online dating site. They probably don’t know the people you hang out with well. Do yourself a favor, don’t complicate things by getting friends involved. Don’t have your friends check out their profile, add them on any social media or speak too much about them if you think there’s a chance you’ll be ghosting. It will just be more people to explain it to when suddenly, you’re not speaking anymore.
5. DON’T LOOK BACK
If you’re anything like me, when you’re feeling a little low and have had a few glasses of wine, you might consider texting someone you’ve long-ghosted to apologize, try again or tell them about your new cat. Don’t do it. Delete their number as well as any conversations you have with them so you won’t be tempted. The only thing more annoying than being ghosted is having that ghost come back and make a surprise appearance at 2 a.m. three months later. Not a great look.
6. MAKE IT A POINT TO BE STINGY WITH DETAILS
This is a preparation tactic more than anything else. Don’t give someone multiple ways of contacting you—keep it simple, so that if a ghosting is called for, you only need to cut off one means of communication, rather than attempting to block them, un-friend them, and pretend you don’t see any emails coming in. Keep it tactical, people.
7. SAY YOU HAVE TO PEE
Simple in practice, this tactic works like a charm in both long term relationships as well as those first encounters where the idea of dating—or just talking about dating—the other person is as appealing as playing leapfrog with unicorns. You meet someone at a bar, they flirt, ask what you’re doing later, and maybe for your number and you’re not into it. Don’t think twice, answer that call of nature however real it may be and if possible, look for an exit on your way. If you’re already in an established relationship and are talking either in person or via text with someone who’s looking for much more than you’re willing to give, take a time out to “powder your nose” (or sit fully-clothed on the edge of the bathtub for three or four minutes), then change the conversation when you return. Looking for a way to turn “Where do you see us in a year?” into “What restaurants deliver this late?” this is your go-to move.
8. BE BUSY AS F*CK
He doesn’t need to know that you’re just at home, on the couch, in sweatpants, eating a DiGiorno pizza. He doesn’t need to know! Pretend to be busy as f*ck! With this tactic, you don’t need to block their phone number or ignore their texts. The best approach is to just answer occasionally and then slowly fade away. In the end, you’ll seem like a genuinely friendly person who is just super busy.
9. BE CRAFTY ONLINE
If you instantly gave away your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook profiles along with your blog, phone number, etc… They’re going to know you’re lying as soon as you update any of them. “I thought your grandma was dying, why are you Instagramming a puppy brunch?!” is a question you don’t want to have to lie your way out of. Nor do you want to have to change all your profiles just to avoid them.
10. BE BLUNT A.F.
“Fuckity bye” gets the point across nicely too…
11. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME; SAY WHAT YOU NEED TO SAY
The way I see it, while this may not be ghosting per se, if I see a date going nowhere I leave it at, “I don’t see this going anywhere, I think you might be too ______ for me. But thank you for taking me out and I hope you have a good rest of your night.” Is it harsh? Maybe. But the only thing more harsh than being blunt and telling someone exactly why you don’t think they’re a good fit for you is having someone lead you on. If they try to follow-up with texts and ask if you can be friends, if you don’t want to be friends, be blunt about that too! I’ve once told a guy how I literally didn’t see the point in pursuing a friendship and he said he was offended but flattered I didn’t waste his time.
12. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T SAY…
This is from the perspective of being ghosted, please whatever you do, don’t say “I’d love to see you again,” or “I’ll text you later about hanging out.” If you want to ghost someone, by all means, cut this person out! However, the last thing you want to do is say what you think they want to hear. I cannot stand when guys say this to me after a clearly awkward date. I would rather know upfront that you’re not feeling it than get this idea that you want to see me again.
14. SAY YOU’RE SICK
I generally opt for the honest approach; if I’m not feeling it, I’ll say so politely, or casually let conversations die until they get the hint. But being conveniently “sick” every time they ask to hang out is a pretty easy way to get out of plans you don’t really want to keep. Especially if you never take them up on that raincheck you keep making. Get into the gory details if you have to. Some people don’t take no for an answer (that’s when I prefer to pull out the blunt approach). Just beware of when using this one sparingly in case it’s that time of year where you’re actually sick and really do want that raincheck when you’re feeling less under the weather.
15. NOT-SO-CASUALLY KILL THE CONVERSATION
I do this all the time on accident when I’m too busy to keep up with someone new, but one of the easiest ways to ghost someone is to slowly let yourself lose contact with them. I’ve been on the receiving end of this one many times. You think things are going great, you’ve hung out several times, then suddenly they fall off the face of the earth and never return your texts. What happened? Chances are, nothing—they just were never as serious as they claimed to be, and you’ve been ghosted. Some telltale warning signs: they stop starting the conversation first, they respond slower than usual, then someday just don’t respond at all. If this happens, I just remind myself that the world is full of boys, and there are plenty out there who will have the common courtesy to not lead you on (someday, maybe, if we’re lucky).
Remember, there is no shame in ghosting as long as you do it in moderation and with as much respect as is afforded by the situation. Your time is precious; there are plenty of times where sitting at home in your sweatpants eating DiGiorno pizza was better than dressing up and going out to impress people you no longer needed in your life. This is why ghosting exists! It allows you the freedom to slip away unnoticed and get on with your life. You shouldn’t feel guilty for putting your needs first. Ghosting isn’t for everyone, so if you do start to feel more than a little anxious about how you ghosted into the night, then maybe it’s just not your style.
What are your best ghosting stories? Tweet us @litdarling or let us know in the comments!