The Haunting Benefits and Downfalls of Ghosting Culture

Full disclosure: I initially planned this article with a clear bias and point in mind. I wanted to go against the grain by coming in and defending the practice of ghosting, especially for those who have felt the need to as I have in the past. However, after exploring what other Her Campus writers had to say about the topic, it became apparent to me that this was no black and white subject. I then began weighing the pros and cons of ghosting and realized the culture it creates was not as easy as leaving someone 'on read'...

                                                       Photo by Pan Xiaozhen on Unsplash

What is ghosting? It is the practice of ending a personal relationship by abruptly cutting off all communication to the other person without explanation or notice. Ghosting is a phenomenon that is commonly associated with the dating scene, but it can also happen to new acquitances who you simply didn't feel comfortable with or longtime friends who are no longer healthy for you. And that is where I make my case for ghosting.


In my experience, ghosting is a way of practicing consent with yourself. This is especially important when you are facing a date who doesn't make you feel safe or a friend whose relationship with you has gone beyond sour -- it has become toxic.  Ghosting then becomes a way for you to set boundaries and recharge yourself when faced with energy draining interactions. There is also something powerful about the way you can walk away from an unhealthy situation without explaining to the other party involved. You practice consent with yourself by allowing yourself to know these emotions are real; you do not need evidence to prove that your feelings of being unsafe or suffocated are valid.

But Nyle, you say, but what about the other party? Think about how they are feeling! Well…If you are so deeply affected by ghosting, let me direct you to the lyrics of Imogen Heap's Half-Life: "My self-worth is measured in text back tempo / it's been 2 days, 8 minutes too slow"

And that's exactly how we allow ourselves to be if we cling onto the offense of ghosting. We allow ourselves to measure our self-worth on what people think of us rather than what we think of ourselves. We are all on our journey to become better people, and sometimes, for certain people, the first time they say 'no' (or say nothing) to you could be could be the first time they say 'yes' to themselves.

                                                       Photo by Khalil Benihoud on Unsplash


Although prioritizing yourself is important, I still have to admit that ghosting is quite...selfish. Many see it is an easy way out with no consideration for the other party involved, and in some cases, it is. You leave with no explanation or further attempts to fix the relationships you have (whether new or old). You may end up going from using 'practicing consent with yourself' as an excuse to always choose flight instead of fight. As technology has allowed the phenomenon of ghosting to emerge, technology has also become ghosting's scapegoat when it comes to practicing courtesy and building lasting relationships.

My fear is that if this practice becomes too ingrained in us, it will begin to affect relationships that are perhaps more important than budding romantic ones. Family emergencies left unread. Employers with questions left unanswered. Broken yet salvageable friendships left unmended. 

This brings up many questions, such as where do we draw the line between self-care and selfishness? With the presence of ghosting culture, what does that say about how we value relationships in our society?

                                                       Photo by Manthan Gupta on Unsplash ​


So what do we do? Do we ghost or do we not ghost? And when do we say it is okay to do it at all?

My rule of thumb seems to be this: The deeper the relationship is, the longer time you've spent and invested in this person...the more you shouldn't ghost them. At least, not right away. Make an effort to mend the relationship, talk it out (preferably not behind a screen), and either make the wrong things right or compromise. 

At the end of the day, the question of whether ghosting culture is a bane or a boon to society boils down to respect. Respect yourself, respect others, find a way to do both, and make sure your relationships aren't mostly ghostly.