The Etiquette of Ghosting


Photographs courtesy of Giang Nguyen

Picture this: you are hanging out with someone new that you do not know well. You’ve hung out with this person a few times and you think that the new relationship, platonic or otherwise, is doing well! You’re chilling out someplace when a pretty touchy subject just happens to come up. No biggie. You state your opinion and, all of a sudden, this person just drops a giant bomb on you, stating something problematic to you or something with which you vehemently do not agree.

We’ve all been there before. Perhaps you go through the denial phase and think that this person meant something different than what they actually wanted to say. Maybe you’re over thinking it. Sometimes, it goes straight to acceptance and understanding that this friendship won’t work out because of the different ideals that you don’t share. It’s at that point that you ghost them.

But ghosting has been a topic of much debate lately. Is it OK to ghost someone when you barely know them? Is it still ok to ghost people when you’ve known them for a really long time? There are many facets of ghosting that people have to look at before deciding to ghost. Although ghosting should be case by case, there should still be certain rules in place when ghosting someone.

For instance, you shouldn’t ghost someone you have known for a really long time if they upset you. At that point,it is no longer ghosting but simply lack of communication. The person should know what they did to upset you so that they learn not to do that again. If you make plans and no longer want to go through with them, don’t ghost either. Tell them that you aren’t feeling good and plan to reschedule the date or even suggest doing something else to make up for the time you lost.

This doesn’t exactly mean you shouldn’t ghost. Sometimes it is a little necessary to ghost when you meet someone new and you are not sure to discontinue the relationship. Sometimes ending it formally is a little too … formal when you do not know them. Sometimes telling them “I don’t like you anymore, please cease all contact” is a little too harsh. Ghosting can sometimes be the best way you can let a friendship fade because it is the least harmful way to let a friendship go.

Ghosting is a complicated relationship. The person needs to look at all the options before them before deciding whether or not to ghost someone. Sometimes it is a difficult decision, and a decision we’ve made the wrong choice on before. Whether or not you decide to ghost, one must understand that ghosting is a delicate decision and often a decision that is made for a good reason.