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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Is There *Really* A Way To Ghost Someone Politely?

We’ve all been there: We’ve had a promising match on a dating app, planned a date, actually went on the date, and then proceeded to count down how long we had to stay on said date in order to be polite. You can’t blame yourself if things don’t work out, sometimes the vibes from text don’t transfer over to in-person: maybe you realized you two have very little in common, or the way they chew their food just simply gave you the ick. Whatever the reason may be, once you get home, throw on your fav pair of sweatpants, and watch an episode or two of your comfort show, you’re going to have to figure out your plan on how to “ghost.” 

Now if you’re unfamiliar with the term, ghosting means to essentially disappear and cut all communication from whomever you have been talking to or established a relationship with. While it is for sure the easiest way out of something, I always have a guilty conscience because I know when it happens to me, it’s enough to ruin my week. However, let’s be real, how else do you break up with someone after one or two dates… there simply must be a better way. 

In order to get to the bottom of this dating etiquette I talked to relationship therapists Kalley Hartman and Jessica Lu to get their expert opinion on how to ghost respectfully. 

Really think about what you’re doing.

First, before you consider ghosting someone, you have to think about what your actions are actually doing to someone. “While ghosting allows you to carry on as if nothing happened, it can immediately cause the ghosted someone to feel confused and inadequate” Lu says. “Having an honest and open dialogue allows for clarity, closure, and acceptance.”

Rejection is never an easy pill to swallow, especially if you’ve been seeing them for a while. So before you go ghost, remember the impact of your actions. Sometimes, if nothing ever went wrong in the first place, a text is all you need to break things off.

However, it’s important for everyone not to set up expectations prematurely. “Ghosting fuels the ‘why wasn’t I good enough’ questions, so it’s important to remind yourself before going on a first, second, third, or fourth date to not label your self-worth based upon the outcome,” Lu adds.

Time is of the essence. 

So, once you’ve made the decision — and it’s entirely your decision — to ghost, it’s essential to do it once you’re not feeling it with that person anymore. “Dragging out a relationship you know is inevitably going to end, just because you’re scared is not helpful to either party,” Hartman says.

If you have a bad first date, make sure to address it promptly the next day. If you’ve entered into something more serious, it is best to let them know that the relationship is no longer working, before they get further attached even if it might be an uncomfortable conversation. 

Don’t leave them with a bad taste in their mouth. 

Let’s be honest no one wants to be portrayed as a villain in someone else’s dialogue, and while we have to accept there may be no way to prevent it. Vanishing out of thin air may not be the best move, so consider sending a super brief, final text before officially ghosting. “Showing support during this time can make a big difference to someone struggling with emotions such as sadness or anger,” Hartman says. “Offer kind words and understanding if appropriate, but remember that brief phrases like ‘take care,’ ‘I wish you the best,’ or ‘I’m sorry this didn’t work out’ are often enough.”

While self-awareness is hard, it’s essential when it comes to relationships. “Take responsibility for your actions in the relationship and don’t try to shift all of the blame onto the other person,” Hartman says. “No one is perfect and it’s important to be honest about what went wrong on both sides.”

While you may not be met with the same integrity, it is possible to still end things with kindness as joining in their feelings of anger and betrayal will only add fuel to the fire. 

Oh, but don’t forget to protect your peace. 

While it can be hard not to send someone a song that made you think of them, tag them in a TikTok. or perhaps even text them for a late-night booty call after a night out… you will only prolong your heartache. Once you’ve cut ties, make sure that they stay cut… at least until you figure out what you truly want.

“It’s important to establish boundaries and allow both of you the space you need to heal and move on. If you receive some form of communication, kindly remind them how you are looking for space and would appreciate it if they honored that request.” Hartman says. So it’s safe to say, whatever you do, don’t send that text to your ex. 

Hold on though, while this article is all about how to properly ghost, there is one exception. If whoever you went out with is racist, sexist, homophobic (any of the moral ick’s really), or made you fear for your safety in any way, trust your gut and hit them with a block and report. Don’t settle for less than the best.

Bryanna is a Her Campus National Writer, she composes articles for the wellness section weekly covering all things health, and sex & relationships. She also occasionally dips her toes into the culture section for more timely breaking news as needed. Bryanna is a current senior at Baldwin Wallace University where she is majoring in music theatre, but much like the famous line from Hamilton "why do you write like you're running out of time" Bryanna's life would be incomplete without working on articles for Her Campus and various other online publications. She is currently working on her debut poetry book "Love Letters I Never Delivered". When not writing or on stage you can find Bryanna making a perfectly curated Spotify playlist, teeing off at the local mini golf course, or curling up with a totally predictable romance novel. To Keep up with her: @bryannacuthill or https://bryannacuthill.com 💌 🪩🥂