Have you ever ghosted someone? It’s okay. We all have (or at least thought about it). Modern dating culture is weird. The goal posts keep moving, and it’s hard to learn what’s right until you try for yourself. When you’re not feeling someone, it’s easy to unmatch or ignore a text instead of explaining why you’re not interested. Some people tell themselves ghosting is kinder than the alternative of having a real conversation. In truth, it’s usually just an easier way out for the ghoster.
The truth is—and I think we all know this deep down—ghosting is wrong. It just is. It disrespects the other person’s time and feelings. You’re not doing them mercy. There are no two ways abotu it. You don’t want to receive the same treatment. It’s Golden Rule 101. Whether you’re been on one date or twelve, you need to tell someone you’d like to stop seeing them.
It’s hard to do something knowing you’ll likely hurt someone, but it’s what right. While it won’t be easy, these techniques can help you find the words.
Keep it short and to the point.
“Hey, I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate the time we’ve spent together but I’m not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with you.” This message is effective, because you get the point across quickly. It may feel curt, but that can sometimes be best.
It’s okay to be abrupt.
“Sorry, I just don’t think this is going to work.” This tells them all they need to know. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s not padded with reassurances that they’re great, it’s not them, or any other cliches. There’s no room for bargaining. If you want to be a little softer, try something like, “I want to be honest and tell you that I don’t feel the romantic chemistry here.”
Make it about yourself.
The “it’s not you, it’s me” can feel so clichéd at this point that it comes across as an easy out. But it’s often the purest distillation of the truth. “I’m sorry, I’ve realized I’m just not ready for this right now” is a more eloquent way to say the same thing. You don’t have to give too many details or justify your reasons. What’s important is that you communicate the truth, effectively, instead of fading off into the ether of unanswered texts and blocked Instagrams.
What if the relationship has been longer than just a few weeks?
The longer you’ve been dating, the crueler a ghosting is. It’s more intimidating, sure, but you have to do what’s right. Time adds gravity, which makes it harder to say the words, but it’s time for you to turn over a new breakup leaf.
If you’ve been seeing someone for a while, you need to take a little extra care in breaking things off. Try to keep to the point, but exercise a gentler touch. Try something like, “I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve had together, but I don’t think we have the connection I’m looking for in something more serious.” It’s important to be considerate but honest. Obviously if you’ve been with someone for more than a few weeks, there may need to be a conversation following the bomb you’ve just dropped. You’re strong, you can do this.
Boundaries are okay.
In fact, they’re great. Half of why breaking up sucks is that we suck at setting healthy boundaries. You need to be kind to the person you’re ending things with but you don’t necessarily owe them a long, drawn-out explanation of your feelings. Use your best judgement and remember to try to treat them right.
If you just don’t have the emotional energy to launch a full-on explanation, feel free to break things off with something like “I think it’s best if we take some time off from seeing each other for a while.” If you’re willing to be friends later, that’s great, but don’t promise friendship as a consolation prize if you don’t intend on making good on it. And if you feel the conversation has run its course, you can always say “I’m sorry, you’re great, but I just can’t continue talking about this.”
Bottom line: ghosting is bad. It doesn’t feel good, it hurts people, and it’s immature. However, this is all said with an asterisk for abusive situations or other overtly aggressive people. Outside of that, though, don’t ghost—just copy and paste one of these phrases and hope for the best for them.