What Ghosting Text Messages Really Look Like


I'm not sure what's more spooky: a real ghost or the fact that someone you're dating could suddenly ~vanish~. Ghosting someone you're seeing isn't really a new concept, but it's become a lot more popular and accepted as a way to end a romantic relationship recently. Maybe it's dating app culture, maybe it's technology in general, or maybe we're just all bigger jerks than we were a decade ago.

"There’s a social disconnect in relationships that didn’t exist before technology became so instrumental in dating," New York based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "People met in person and dated in person and when they broke up, they ran into each other and each other’s families and friends. Today, because of the dating trifecta of distance, technology, and relationships, [it's possible] to not ever run into an ex. This robs us all of the opportunity to develop and practice communication skills necessary for awkward situations."

And if you've been single within the last few years, chances are you've been a ghost or encountered one. In fact, 78 percent of Millennials having been ghosted and 11 percent admit to being ghosters. There's even an app, Ghostbot, that will ghost people for you. But no matter which side you're on, ghoster or ghostee, you've probably felt crappy about it.

"In general, true ghosting is bad manners and an act of cowardice," Masini says. "And by true ghosting, I mean the disappearance of someone you’ve dated and slept with, who suddenly disappears, as if a ghost! It’s disrespectful, and it’s done out of either laziness or fear of disappointing someone and the conflict that can follow when disappointment morphs into anger. ... The only time when ghosting is OK is when there’s some potential danger involved. If your date displays violence, or gets arrested for child abuse and drug trafficking, you have my personal permission to act like a ghost and disappear. Inexplicable bad behavior warrants ghosting. In these cases you’re protecting your own safety and your family’s safety by ghosting. Or… if your date does something awful, like sleeps with your mother or father (or both) during your engagement. Ghosting, in this case, is recommended."

So what are some reasons people ghost? Some do it because they changed their mind and don't know how to communicate that, some do it to avoid confrontation, some feel uncomfortable with the person, and some don't think their situation warrants a "I'm not into this anymore" convo.

My general rule is never to ghost someone I've gone on a few dates with unless I feel incredibly uncomfortable. Yet, as I scroll through my text messages from the past few years (yeah, I don't delete anything), I see that a lot of the times I felt that way, I had no problem telling them I was no longer interested. It was when I just wasn't feeling it after a few dates (Masini calls this "the grey area") that I ran into issues breaking things off. In these cases I either pulled the slow fade or ghosted.

Two of the three times I've disappeared, I believe it was warranted (they made me feel incredibly uncomfortable) but the other time, the guy was perfectly nice but I got annoyed he was only texting me late on weekend nights and I could tell we were looking for different things even though we hadn't discussed it. I do think he deserved an explanation, but sometimes, when it feels like your only option is to text the person you've been out with a few times, it seems easier and way less dramatic to ghost then send a long-winded text message — but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

This weekend, in an effort to bring the voice back to conversations, Bustle is partnering with Blogologues' No Text Weekend, a challenge to not text from September 23-25. There will be event series featuring comedy, workshops, and classes all to help you connect better with others, including a panel on ghosting. You can get your ticket here and hear from real live ghosters.

Below, you'll see all the ways (and reasons) people ghosted someone they were seeing.

1. Because She Regretted Agreeing To The Second Date

2. Because He Made Her Uncomfortable During Their Second Date

3. Because She Actually Didn't Have A Great Time

4. Because They Did Meet Up That Night And His Drunk (And Racist) Behavior Was Scary

5. Because They Weren't On The Same Page

6. Because He Wasn't Getting The Hint

7. Because He Was Coming On Too Strong

Images: Fotolia; Screenshots