Breaking up is never easy, Denver Therapist, Utah Couples Counselor, and Online Breakup Support Expert Kensington O. shares how to know when it's time to end things and if it is time, how to move on gracefully.
If you’ve dated for an extended period of time, especially online, you’re probably familiar with ghosting. Ghosting is when either you or the person you are talking to discontinues contact without providing explanation. This is usually a confusing experience but for some, this might actually feel relieving!
Today we are going to dive into ghosting: Why it happens, why you might want to ghost someone, and how to handle both situations. Because the truth is, there is a better way!
As a dating coach, ghosting is the number one topic that comes up. Whether it’s left you wondering “What the heck went wrong?!” or “I just don’t know how to tell them I’m not interested,” this topic gets brought up often in my dating coaching sessions. I want to demystify the act of ghosting for you today, so you know what to do if you think you might be getting ghosted and how to avoid ghosting others.
Why is this Happening to Me??
So, you’ve been chatting with someone for a while, things seem to be going great, maybe you even meet up for a date or two then…nothing. No follow up text, no plans made, no response when you check in to see if everything is okay. Being in this position is hurtful and confusing and it’s hard not to feel like something went wrong.
If you’ve been ghosted, you may be wondering “Why did this happen to me??” And understandably so! It’s difficult to know what truly went wrong if you’re left with little to no feedback.
However, instead of allowing yourself to get stuck in the muck of “Is this my fault? What could I have done differently?” I encourage you to take a step back from the situation and find gratitude in knowing that you didn’t continue down a path with someone who wasn’t the right person for you.
Just because you’ve experienced ghosting first hand, doesn’t mean that you’re unloveable or that something is inevitably wrong with you. It really has more to do with the other person than it has to do with you.
Being ghosted is confusing so I wanted to outline some tips to utilize if the person you’ve been talking to suddenly becomes MIA:
4 Ways to Move On When You’ve Been Ghosted
#1 Wait to See if They Respond
How long should you wait before calling it? Typically around 5-7 days is a good time frame to see if this person will respond. Unless something emergent arises or they explicitly tell you they aren’t able to respond, if you haven’t heard from them in more than a week, it’s safe to say that they have discontinued contact.
# 2 Try Not to Take it Personally
This is important. When you get ghosted, it’s normal to reflect on your conversations and dates to analyze every little thing trying to figure out what happened. I want you to stop, take a breath, and let yourself be okay with not knowing. Whatever happened, it was on their end. In the end, you’ll be happier dating someone who likes you exactly the way you are and who can effectively communicate their thoughts and feelings!
# 3 Send a Closing Message (optional)
For some people, once they get ghosted, that’s the final straw. If you are feeling like you need that closure, create a message to provide that closure for yourself. You don’t even need to send it, just writing down your feelings can help provide that closure. Being able to state something like “I haven’t heard from you since our last date. It was really nice getting to know you and good luck in the future!” can be relieving and a symbolic way to move forward. Remember to be kind and courteous, we’re all going through our own journey.
#4 Get Back Out There
Don’t let this experience discourage you from moving forward. This might even be a great talking point in future dates because chances are, they’ve been ghosted too!
Why Do People Ghost?
There are many reasons why someone might ghost a new relationship. However, the most frequent reason I see with my dating coaching clients is usually because they don’t know how to communicate their needs or express that they just aren’t interested.
Instead of having the sometimes tough and honest conversation, they just disappear. *POOF* Ghosters aren’t typically bad people, but they aren’t great communicators. If you’re finding yourself in this position, I know it feels like the easy way out is by ghosting the other person, but I have some tips for you today so that you can provide closure moving forward instead of confusion.
How to Avoid Ghosting Others
Being on the other end, it’s easier to understand that sometimes, ghosting happens! Some of the more common reasons I hear, as a dating coach, are: I’m not interested, I don’t want to hurt their feelings, I’m too busy, etc. Whatever your reasoning is, more often than not, ghosting feels worse than directness.
# 1 Be Explicit About Your Expectations
Before going on a date, let the other person know and understand what your expectations are. Talking about your expectations of the date and future relationship BEFORE beginning a relationship can help you sort through whether you even want to continue forward with this person. It’s easier to end a dating conversation than it is to end a relationship several months later.
# 2 If You’re Feeling it On the Date, Address It
If you’re on a date with someone and begin to feel uninterested, bring it up! Being able to be vulnerable and say “I’m not feeling like we are connecting the same way we used to. Do you also feel that?” gives the other person the opportunity to voice their feelings and thoughts. This is a good chance to see if it was situational or if you really aren’t feeling it. If you’re feeling it, chances are the other person is too.
# 3 Communicate
After you’ve done some thinking, perhaps you’re feeling like this isn’t going to work out. Send the other person a text or call them to let them know that you’re not interested in continuing to pursue this relationship at this time. Here are some examples:
- “Hey! I had a lot of fun last night- thank you for inviting me. I didn’t feel a romantic connection and I am not interested in going on a future date. Good luck!”
- “After talking to you, I realized we don’t have the same desires for a future relationship. I think it’d be best for us to both continue seeing other people. Thanks again.”
- “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you recently- thank you for sharing about yourself. Because I respect you and your time, I wanted to let you know that I am not interested in pursuing a relationship.”
# 4 Anticipate a Reaction
Being able to communicate and be vulnerable about how you're feeling, leaves you open for hurt. I believe this is part of the reason so many people ghost because you don’t have to see or hear the reaction that the silence has caused. In most cases, people appreciate the open communication and might be disappointed but understanding. Other people might show their hurt differently. Try to remember during these times that you are making the best decision for you and that you are being respectful of the other person’s feelings.
Dating is a tricky world to navigate and it’s become even more complex with the integration of dating apps and social media. Because there are so many ways to hide and avoid through the use of technology, it’s even more important that we show up fully and sometimes that means recognizing your feelings of discomfort, sadness, or loneliness. I want to encourage you to continue to push through, listen to yourself (not your inner-critic), and not feel discouraged with your dating experiences.