Communication is hard, especially when you have to tell someone something they might not want to hear, which is why sometimes we… just don’t do it! It’s not great, but no one’s great all the time. Here are 10 Autostraddle writers being real with you about ghosting people, whatever that has looked like for them.
Heather Hogan, Managing Editor
One time I was getting to know this girl and she told me she thought Bella Swan could beat Hermione Granger, both in a physical fight and a battle of intellect. I was like, “In what world!” We just went around and around about it and finally she just admitted, “Hahaha! I just like to get people worked up; I like to fight.” I never answered a single one of her texts or emails or phone calls after that. I do not like to be worked up! I do not like to fight! And I cannot even imagine an argument that sacrilegious coming out of my mouth, even as a joke!
What about that time there was a person whom I communicated with on Tinder for a of couple days before the conversation sort of died out and then they wrote in to the A+ podcast that I guested on about why I’d ghosted them? If we’re adhering to that definition of ghosting, then I guess I have! But also, I’ve actually ghosted someone when I was very young and not in a good place! (Last week.) No, it was when I was 21 and I basically left the state in the middle of the night after breaking up with them and I do not stand by it! It was a horrible thing to do. Also what? Otherwise, if I’ve abruptly stopped talking to someone without explanation, it’s probably because I’ve found out some nonsense they’ve done and I am choosing to remove myself from the situation, which I don’t consider to be ghosting, but having boundaries.
Alexis Smithers, Writer
I ghost regularly because I get in a deep depression where I’m like I DON’T DESERVE ANY GOOD THING! By the time I get out of it, I’ve convinced myself it never would’ve worked out and I’m really saving everybody the trouble. Also, once I specifically ghosted someone because they tried to kiss me and to this day I don’t know what about my body language said that was necessary.
Carrie Wade, Writer
I’ve only ghosted someone in the classic sense — internet first date, she texted afterward, I didn’t — once. The fact that I still remember it reflects that no, I’m not proud of it and actually find it very embarrassing. I didn’t know at the time how to say that I wasn’t interested in dating her, so I just… didn’t say anything? Which feels like the cheap way out in retrospect. I do think there are plenty of valid reasons to ghost someone, but I wasn’t in that kind of situation. I was just scared of hurting a stranger’s feelings! Plot twist: I may have ended up hurting her more that way! Whoops. As someone who’s been pathologically averse to conflict until very recently, I understand the appeal of the ghost. But I’ve become much more outspoken in all areas of my life in the past year and can report that it’s often a huge relief to JUST SAY IT. Turns out being avoidant takes a lot of energy!
Molly Priddy, Writer
I went on a date with a woman who was perfectly pleasant, but was going through a really hard time — rocky divorce after a violent abusive marriage to a man, juggling her kids, and living in a new place. I really wanted to give her so much benefit of all the doubt, but when I met up with her, I noticed a tattoo on her hand that looked…. odd.
I asked about it, and she confirmed that it was indeed a white power symbol. Her boyfriend tattooed it on the back of her hand when she was 17. She said she didn’t believe in all that Nazi bullshit, but kept the tattoo to remind herself about bad decisions. That didn’t sit with me, and I don’t fuck Nazis, so I said goodbye and ignored further contact.
Carolyn Yates, Writer
One time, when I was very sad, I made out with someone and we were intensely physically incompatible in a way that was incredibly obvious to me just from briefly kissing. After our date ended, I sent a message along the lines of “I don’t have bandwidth for this right now but you’re great” (I also genuinely did not have bandwidth for anything right then). I got many many messages back along the lines of “neither do I! let’s go for it!” and I just… never responded.
Riese Bernard, Editor-in-Chief, CEO, CFO & Co-Founder
This is tough — I generally like to give people the tools they need to understand what’s happening in their lives because I believe in doing unto others as you wish they would do unto you. So if it’s somebody who expects to hear from me, I usually won’t cut them off without explaining why.
However, this was not the case when I still dated guys, who love to ghost and therefore deserve to be ghosted. The worst was this guy Joey, who I met on J-Date. He was funny and charming on the phone so I took three trains to meet up with him on a street corner in the deep reaches of Brooklyn, and realized immediately that he’d lied about his height (he was 5’7, not 5’10). On the bleachers of a high school football field, we laughed a lot and smoked a joint and I learned he wasn’t even Jewish, he’d just joined J-Date ’cause he liked Jewish girls. I felt obligated to make out with him, in the basement hair salon his mom owned, all terribly lit and smelling of chemicals, and although it was mediocre, I saw him again. He just kept calling you know? One night he called when my roommate and I were freaking out about a mouse in our apartment, so I answered, and hooked up with him in exchange for him murdering a rodent in cold blood. I felt benevolent about doing such a good deed for my roommate. He left his belt at my apartment, though, which was the argument he put forward in a series of subsequent phone calls as to why we needed to see each other again.
He just kept calling and calling, each voice mail getting increasingly mean and unhinged. So that’s what happened when I ghosted somebody in 2004. He called me constantly, said I’d stolen his shitty belt, used him to kill a mouse, and other terrible things about me. Baruch hashem.
Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor
I have only ever ghosted exactly one person, and it happened because our fledgling relationship wasn’t working even a little bit and I had become acutely aware that she was a bad person who happened to be using me. Personally, I’m only ever really into being used by people I’m really into – I will let you get away with MURDER if I’m into you – so I decided to cut the whole thing off and let it all fade into the background. It took her a long time to notice (which confirmed my suspicions). If I’m being real we started talking again (as friends) a few months later because I’m a Scorpio and terrible at ghosting. It’s in my nature to over-communicate everything. I don’t think I could do it again.
Reneice Charles, Writer
I’ve always been on team ghosting is immature, but I’ve done it twice. Both times it was with people I’d previously been casually dating who started to engage with me in ways that I didn’t like. In both cases I expressed that I wasn’t interested in the same things they were, and both times their response was to ignore that boundary/think they could change my mind/try to win me over by continuing to reach out to me/call me at 2 AM for booty calls instead. Eventually it became clear that no matter what I said or did, they’d use it as an opening to keep pushing, so I channeled my inner Casper and disappeared.
I still stand by the decision. I tried to communicate before resorting to ghosting. Still, it makes me sad that it happened. It’s true that some people or situations don’t deserve communication to come to a resolution, but I do think those instances are relatively rare. Most cases of ghosting boil down to a lack of respect or ability to communicate effectively on someone’s part.
Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor
I have thought for a very long time about this and I really truly cross my heart do not think I’ve ever ghosted someone in a dating context? I’m sorry! I! Love! Direct! Communication!
I ghosted on a professional writing assignment once (not for Autostraddle) because I got overwhelmed and couldn’t meet the deadline and then just stopped responding to the editor’s emails. I think about that like, once a day because it’s so embarrassing and I’m so overcome with guilt and shame about it.
So, I don’t believe in ghosting people, but I do believe in taking a lot of intentional space after a breakup, and this is rarely received well. My ideal breakup situation is, after the actual breakup, for us to literally not speak to one another for… several months? At least one month. I have been told I am a monster for wanting this. I have also been told I am a genius for following through with this. It does seem to be, um, unusual for lesbians and queers to take this path in a breakup, but I really truly strongly believe that it is the right thing to do.
I have done it with varying degrees of success in different breakups – I asked my first serious girlfriend if we could take two months after our breakup to not speak to one another and she reacted extremely poorly to that suggestion, but I held my ground. We didn’t speak for eight weeks and when we finally did things were… manageable. There was less anger and less pain and she’d already said a lot of the mean things she wanted to say about me to other folks, so we were able to start building a friendship. I don’t think we really became proper friends until about seven months after the initial two month no-speaking period – when she started dating the person who would become her fiancée a few years later (this person happened to be my old roommate, because we’re gay) – but I do think taking that very intentional very dramatic pause space really helped.
I asked that ex recently how she feels now about that silent period. She was so mad at me about it in the time that it was happening, and I was curious how she saw it now. “You were totally right,” she said, a phrase I love hearing! Especially from an ex! “I was so hurt and so angry at the time because I missed you and I thought if you’d ever loved me you would’ve been there for me during the breakup, but I see now there’s no way you could have. I was addicted to you and I needed to break the addiction. I’m not sure I would’ve gotten over you as quickly if you hadn’t insisted on that clean break.”
Y’all, I WAS SO HAPPY TO HEAR THAT! Not just because I love being right but because that’s my exact reasoning for believing in space after a breakup! This person is my friend now, and I like being friends with exes, and it gave me so much hope for my relationships with other exes. I haven’t been able to pull off the long period of no-contact as well with any other exes, but I still do really think it’s a good policy immediately post-breakup.
So there you have it. I’ve never ghosted anyone, but if we date I will probably ask that we not talk for 2+ months after we break up. You’ve been warned.