It's been established time and again: Ghosting, whether you're the ghoster or ghostee, is a terrible experience. For the one being ghosted on, it's a painful, confusing way to have a budding relationship end. For the person ghosting on someone, it's (usually) a decision that takes a lot of thought and nerve to carry out, but still manages to make you feel guilty. (Trust me, I've been on both ends of this situation.)
Believe me when I say that I am not an advocate for ghosting. There are much better ways to communicate to someone that you're not interested in them that don't involve coldly cutting them out of your life without so much as a "no, thank you." Honesty is almost always the best policy, and it will cause both you and the other person a lot less emotional turmoil to just be transparent about why things might not work out.
That being said, there are definitely times when it's OK to ghost on someone: If you've never met someone, known them for a very short time, or they've somehow made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you are by no means obligated to offer them an explanation as to why you won't be seeing them again.
Even though I'm an extremely empathetic person and hate the idea of hurting people (especially considering the pain I've gone through after being ghosted), I won't lie: I have been the one to disappear several times before. Here's my weirdest story of ghosting on someone that I met on OkCupid, broken down into 13 convenient stages.
1. Meet Them And... Nope
Going into this particular date, I was pretty amped. He was British! What could possibly go wrong? Surely after watching Love, Actually an embarrassing number of times, it was my destiny to fall in love with a Brit? Well, apparently not, because as soon as I met this guy coming off the train I could tell that it was NOT happening. His accent, far from being sexy as hell, made my skin crawl, especially because he used it in a weird baby voice (??). I was not at all attracted to him, physically or personality-wise.
2. Exit The Date ASAP
The next step was to think of an exit strategy. This proved especially difficult because our "date" was ordering takeout at... his apartment. Not exactly an ideal situation for the worst date ever, particularly because he kept trying to move closer to me on the couch while I pointedly avoided all eye contact for fear that he would use that as an excuse to kiss me or something. Luckily, the date started pretty late, so it was easy to pull a "well, I'd better get home..." as soon as I'd finished eating the mediocre sushi we'd ordered.
3. Do NOT Initiate Contact
After the courtesy, "I made it home OK" text, I did not reach out to this guy again. Obviously, I wanted to avoid seeming interested because I don't want to send any mixed signals. I bide my time, knowing that soon he will contact me.
4. Respond Minimally To Their Texts
Lo and behold, he is eager as a beaver to chat with me the next day. While I don't "K" him, I certainly give him nothing to work with in the conversation. Unfortunately, he persists, and asks me to hang out again sometime when I get home (I was conveniently visiting home shortly after our first date).
5. Mention That I'm Very Busy
Surely he'll get the hint, right?
6. Half-Heartedly Agree To Hang Out Again
I'm not proud of this, but after many texts from him, I cave and give some brief, unspecific version of assent to hanging out again. I know that this will not happen, not in a million years, but he is using way too many smileys and I f*cking cave. I'm only human, and truly, deeply feel empathetic towards the guy. His only crime thus far is just... not being someone I feel interested in romantically. Maybe we could be friends? (Probs not.)
7. Cancel, Even Though I Never Planned To Go
Wow, what a surprise! Something came up and I can't make it. Looks like we'll have to reschedule. And by that, I mean I will actually ignore his requests to hang out now, giving him no false hope whatsoever.
8. Continue To Ignore Them
*Silence for several days*
9. Wake Up To The Creepiest Text Ever
OK, first you need some background: On our brief date, I mentioned that I had never made a Build-A-Bear. Every human should have a Build-A-Bear, we both agreed. He alluded to the fact that one day, he would be the one to make one with me (I, of course, knew that no such thing would happen). The last text I ever received from this guy was, and I kid you not: A picture of a closed Build-A-Bear with the caption "One day very soon :)." SO. EFFING. CREEPY.
10. Block Them And Never Look Back
Goodbye, dude. May you never sit uncomfortably close to me and talk about our romantic future on our first date again.
11. ... Until I Feel Some Mild Guilt About It
I realize at this point that I am a mega-hypocrite. I have been ghosted on many times and I know how sh*tty it feels. Why wouldn't I just tell this guy that I wasn't interested? As much as I am an advocate for honest communication and transparency in relationships, at the end of the day, it's your right to decide how you deal with "breaking up" with someone. For me, meeting someone for a couple hours and getting very bad vibes from him made me less inclined to send a "sorry, I'm not interested text," and his last creepy text was the nail in his metaphorical coffin. Still, I felt bad (and hope he's doing well now).
12. Discuss With Friends, Realize I Was Right
My friends still laugh about this story, and it's been two years now. They thought his text was simply hilarious, as well as actually horrifying. Their support brightened me, and made me feel slightly less shitty about going full-on ghost. I resolve to do this as little as possible in the future (unless a similarly creepy situation arises).
13. Move On
On to the next (hopefully more successful) date!
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.