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Ghosting, Ghosted, Gone: Is Ghosting Someone Really So Bad?

Sometimes ghosting gets a bad rap! Confessions of a former serial ghoster

By Steffany RitchiePublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 8 min read
Photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels

I remember the first time I read about ghosting, as related to dating, it was one of these deep think pieces about how emotionally cruel and damaging it is. I paused as I realized "Uh oh, am I the baddie?". 

Ghosting for the uninitiated is defined as:

Ghosting is a relatively new colloquial dating term that refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so. Even when the person being ghosted reaches out to re-initiate contact or gain closure, they're met with silence.1 As you can see, it's called ghosting because it involves someone essentially "vanishing" into thin air as if they were a ghost.

The term is generally used in reference to a romantic relationship, but it can technically refer to any scenario where contact unexpectedly ceases, including friendships and family relationships.*

Confession, when I was younger, I ghosted. I ghosted a LOT, ok. I was also ghosted myself plenty too, though, so it all evens out in the end?

We didn't even have a word for ghosting when I last dated, I think we just called it blanking or blowing off? I think in the modern era it has become more complex with social media tying people together in complicated webs for all eternity if they choose not to cut ties altogether. 

Ghosting: Sometimes the Best Option?

I would argue that ghosting someone you aren't in a deep relationship with is not the worst thing in the world. Do we really need to stay in touch with every person we meet? Or hear the myriad lame reasons why someone is stupid enough not to like us back? (or to be the one having to come up with them!).

I mean, personally, I would prefer a ghosting over someone stringing you along or even cheating to get out of a relationship. At least ghosting, in its own obtuse way, is honest. Whenever I ghosted someone it was usually because I didn't know how to tell them how I was feeling. While I admit it is a coward's exit in some ways, it is maybe the lesser of some evils in certain situations.

No one is an expert at breakups, it is rarely not a painful experience for at least one party. Ideally, there is respect and sensitivity in a breakup but let's be real, they are mostly very painful. A lot of the time someone can't take a hint or let go, and someone has to cut that cord. I have been in both positions, and in some situations there is no one to blame really, it's simply not working out. On that note, I am going to share a few of my own ghosting stories here! 

A Few Times When I Was the Ghoster 👻

You were my boyfriend, but you didn't know how to make a move on me, and I was too young/shy to do it myself. I was 16, you were 19, I thought nature would take its course. You put your arm around me when we watched movies and it made me feel breathless with anticipation. You kissed me goodnight chastely like we were in a Jane Austen novel. I was young and wanted passion. You were thoughtful and kind but I grew bored of you. You were a jerk after we broke up but I get it, I ghosted you.

You were cute and nice. We went night swimming, we went to apple orchards, it felt sort of romantic but also dull between us. You wrote poetry. You made grand romantic gestures which freaked me out so I ghosted you. Twice. I'm the worst, sorry.

You were something I fell into unexpectedly. I told myself I didn't care about you but we had a weird spark. It was complicated and by complicated you had a girlfriend and I was in love with your friend. You ghosted me. We met again two years later and you apologized like you meant it. I never knew what was going on in your head, we had zero communication skills. We were like two frustrated magnets who couldn't truly connect. I ghosted you because I didn't know what else to do.

I met you in a bar, we had great banter. We went on a couple of dates but you were rude to the waitress and bragged about money. I'm not sorry I ghosted you.

You were on an athletic scholarship but always broke despite working the same job as me (I was happy to go Dutch on a date but drew the line at always picking up the tab!). You were hot, but dumb. I should have ghosted you sooner.

You were a bad idea, a real low ebb. But you made me feel on fire. I didn't like who I was when I was with you so I ghosted you. 

We met on New Year's Eve at a bar. I was not interested in you or anyone, I was heartbroken. You spent the night trying to cheer me up. I let you because I was sad and liked the attention. You wrote me an email professing your let's be honest way too fast feelings and desire to make a long-distance thing work after knowing each other one night. The curse of youthful charm when wielded carelessly. I ghosted you, it was for the best.

When I Was Ghosted: Hey! What Happened? 👻💔

We talked all night about recent heartbreak and listened to Elliott Smith. We connected and I thought maybe you liked me but you ghosted me.

We were work friends. You asked me to hang out. You told me it was a date at the end of the day, which I didn't know. You were a girl and I wasn't interested in you in that way and you ghosted me.

We met at a rooftop party on a warm spring night. We talked all night, a New York meet cute. You called my friend to ask about me, and invited me to an event you were performing at. I showed up, feeling vulnerable to put myself out there but hopeful. You said we should hang out but then you ghosted me, and acted aloof whenever I saw you around after that. (This one I admit perplexed me, but alas, when in doubt "they're just not that into you" is all we got! Comes in especially handy in NYC!).

We dated for a little under a year. We always knew we had an expiry date because I was leaving. We broke the rule and tried to make it work long distance but it was too much, we were in different places in life. You ghosted me after a lame phone breakup that felt meaningless. We met once more, desperate desire inflamed as it only can when you know it's over. You ghosted me again, a final cut. My heart was in pieces, for a while.

We were casual friends, then there was a spark, a beginning, maybe more. I wrote you a poem after I felt safe with you. A poem seemed small but I knew in my heart it was big: a declaration. You ghosted me (I'm starting to think poems in fledgling relationships are a bad thing? Who knew!😂). A few years later you married my/our friend. It was always meant to be you two. You tried to make it normal between us and so did I and life goes on.

You were my close friend. You went away one summer and lost a lot of weight in an obviously unhealthy way and I was the only one who asked if you were ok. You ghosted me.

We went on one date. You flirted with me one night during a Twin Peaks marathon. It felt like we hit it off. You were late for our date and acted weird the whole night and then you ghosted me. 

Reliving my ghosting experiences is illuminating to me because I carried a decent amount of guilt for a while about some of mine (despite my contradictory introductory paragraph, never trust a ghoster! 😉). And yet when I think about the situations where I was ghosted, I'm not really upset about them. Maybe I was at the time, but I got over it. 

I am glad the people who ghosted me for the most part didn't do it in a protracted, dishonest way, it means I still have fond memories of some of them. I guess the ones that bugged me the most were the "what if" situations, but honestly, if someone ghosts you, the "what if" was one-sided.

I know a couple of people I ghosted were bitter about it for a while. I get that it sucks to be rejected, truly, I have been there, but I don't think they would have felt any differently had we had drawn out breakups. I do think in the more casual situations I was in it would have been better had I just been straight with them, I was young and immature and hated confrontation/the idea of letting someone down. I think it's why I am ok with the times I was ghosted myself. I get it, it's not easy. 

I included a friendship ghosting here, I have had it happen once or twice and it hurts almost as bad if not worse than romantic ghosting if it's a true friend. 

I think that ghosting in the digital age has become all too common, but that seems to be an unfortunate reflection of the impersonal, fickle nature of online dating as a whole (only my impression, admittedly as someone who has never dated online). 

I also want to say that I am not referring to the harmful systemic ghosting and gaslighting that narcissists employ as a means of control/manipulation. If someone ghosts you and comes back they are probably playing mind games and/or using you. I admitted to ghosting someone twice in one of my situations, I felt really bad about it and it wasn't pre-meditated. I really wanted to like this person, I did like many things about them, but for whatever reason, it didn't work. When you are young I think you are more likely to try to force a romantic feeling when you think it "should" be there. 

We all make mistakes in life, most of us have good intentions, we're just doing our best. 

I hope I haven't sounded pat about heartbreak or ghosting. It's not the nicest thing in the world, getting ghosted, but I also think it kind of gets a bad rap. What do you think about ghosting? Do you think it's immature and cruel or sometimes the best/only option? 

Thanks for reading! 

*source: Very Well Mind

header photo by Trinity Kubassek from Pexels (I am struggling to embed credit links under photos, is there a trick I don't know about?)


About the Creator

Steffany Ritchie

Hi, I mostly write memoir, essays and pop culture things. I am a long-time American expat in Scotland.

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  • Jay LeTron Dobbins2 years ago

    So much better and mature to just end things verbally. I can recall a woman ghosting me and weeks later she saw me at a local bar. She had this awkward look on her face when she saw me, and I sent over a drink, texted her saying "it's all good!" and continued on with my day. When she came over to thank me for the drink, I dismissed her quickly by focusing on my current date. Avoid the awkwardness and just end it.

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