So, first things first, you’re probably wondering what ghosting is and what it even means to ‘ghost’ someone. Well, ghosting is when someone who used to be friendly or romantic with you suddenly cuts off all communication without explanation. In other words, they have turned into a ghost because it feels like they no longer exist but their presence is still felt or seen (most likely over social media).
In terms of how many days of ignoring someone counts as officially ghosting it is hard to provide a one-size-fits-all answer because it depends on how often you usually communicate. We would say that if you send three dispersed messages (e.g one on Monday, one on Friday and one the following Saturday) and they don’t reply with any form of communication for a month, then it can count as ghosting. The reason we say a month is because we never know what is going on in people’s personal lives. For example, someone may not have responded to your message for two weeks but perhaps they are experiencing a family death or have unexpectedly found that the Wi-Fi in the villa they’re renting in the Spanish mountains doesn’t work. At the same time, however, if you notice that the person’s social media is extremely active and social and they continue to ignore you for ten to fourteen days then it may be fair to assume that the person is ghosting you even if it hasn’t reached a month.
Knowing how to respond to ghosting is hard because oftentimes when it happens we are ruled by the emotion or shock that it can cause the receiver. We may want to respond with anger or even with revenge in being very active on our own social media and continue to ignore or even block theirs. The first question to ask before deciding how to respond is whether or not it is worth responding at all.
If this was a relationship that consisted of several dates and you felt that you two had really built a connection that out of the blue they ghost you then it may be worth sending a sympathetic yet curious message that asks for an explanation. If, however, you only went on one – or maybe no – date(s) and there wasn’t enough time or opportunity given to develop a deeper connection that that person was probably not right for you and thus it isn’t worth the agro of bringing all that energy back up again.
If you have decided that it is worth following up, here is one of the best solutions. As previously mentioned, we never know what is going on in someone’s life so it is best to send a message with a kind and sympathetic tone. This also maintains the image of you as the non-offender, someone who is innocent in this situation and hasn’t caused any difficulties or upset. Try sending a voice note or written message – whichever feels more natural to you – along the lines of the following:
“Hi, how’s it going? I haven’t heard from you lately and I’m hoping that you’re doing alright. If you want to try to resolve any issues, I’d be happy to talk. Otherwise, I wish you all the best and am happy to call it a day. Thanks, (your name)”
You’re demonstrating sympathy here by leaving them with a choice to explain their ghosting. If they don’t, you have also created peace of mind for yourself by creating a sense of written (and thus confirmed) closure. Essentially, the overall outcome to responding to ghosting is to be the bigger person and by showing empathy and compromise, you succeed in achieving so.
Here is also a list of things not to do – however tempting they may seem – if you have experienced ghosting.
- Don’t post a social media rant
No matter how frustrated you may be feeling, don’t post a video or essay on social media. Without context, it is hard for people to get the true story and you never know, you may come out looking like the bad person. Instead, call a friend or family member and cry it all out, let them know how you feel stood up, embarrassed and frustrated. A one-on-one chat is a much more effective way of easing anxiety.
- Don’t shout or argue if they do reply back to your message
If you do receive a response, no matter how wishy-washy it may seem, try your best not to shout back. Your part is to be a good listener and to be apologetic. Relationships require two responsible adults who want to be held accountable to one another. If the other person has proved they can’t be that responsible adult, you still need to prove and hold your own.
- Don’t let this experience make you view yourself as undateable
If you have been ghosted you most likely have dodged a bullet. The problem is not with you but with the individual who is incapable of communicating their truth and who doesn’t have the guts to let you down gently. Celebrate yourself, go for drinks with friends instead and remember that there will come a day where you literally don’t give a monkey’s that this happened because you’ll be happy celebrating yourself and the wonderful relationships in your life.
Being ghosted is a horrible feeling that can make you doubt yourself. However, never take it personally. The ‘it’s not you it’s me’ cliché may feel tired but in this case it absolutely applies. Hindsight is 20:20 vision, so remember that even though it hurts and stings right now, soon you will realise how you dodged a bullet and how you are ready to move on to bigger and better things.