It’s always surprising when someone who ghosted you randomly returns, like a specter in the night. You might receive the famed “you up?” text at 1 a.m. or the “hey, how are you” message after being left on read for a year. The audacity is so strong with ghosters, it can be tough to figure out how to respond.
Of course, the simplest — and often best — option is to ignore them, block their number, and act as if you never received their message. You shouldn’t feel obligated to
reply to a ghoster, especially if you’ve 100% moved on. That said, you might jump at the chance to gain closure and shut things down once and for all. And really, who could blame you?
“You have the right to decide to exercise a healthy boundary and emotionally protect yourself,”
Krista J Miller, MS, LMFT, LCDC, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. “Someone who ghosts is showing you who they are: someone who doesn’t respect you.” So if you’d like to tell them to take a hike, go for it.
Not replying totally counts as a reply. But there’s also no shortage of witty and pointed things to say, should you choose to text back. Here, 20
texts to send someone who ghosted you for a variety of occasions. “Hold up. I’m gonna need an explanation.”
If you’ve been lying awake at night wondering what the heck happened — why they bailed, if you did something wrong, etc. — use this opportunity to gather more information. They might have a really
good reason for ghosting. They might just be selfish or non-committal. Either way, at least you’ll know. “Wow it's been a while. What prompted you to reach out?"
If you’re worried about sounding too chill, start by pointing out the elephant in the room, life coach
Stephanie Michelle, tells Bustle. This is a clear-cut way to call attention to all the time that’s passed, and again, gather more info. “I’m going to need an apology.”
The point here isn’t to make the ghoster beg, but to have them acknowledge that they hurt you before you say anything else. If you’re happy with their reply, cool. If not, put your phone down and forget about them.
“It’s good to hear from you! Want to chat over video?”
If you’re intrigued, yet don’t want to risk being ignored, Michelle recommends asking for a FaceTime call. Once you have them on a video chat, you can get your questions answered, check their vibes, etc.
“OK, so you didn’t lose your phone?”
This is a cheeky way to respond when you’re
kind of down to keep talking, especially if you’re only looking for something casual.
Ghosting is almost always rude, but it doesn’t always have to signal the end of a relationship. By keeping the text light and fun, it’ll be easier to pick up where you left off.
This one will sting, so reserve it for folks you want to shut down. It sends the message that you’ve moved on,
Gita Seshadri, PhD, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, and quite possibly don’t even remember who they are. “Sorry. I had fun with you, but I need consistent contact to feel a connection.”
Another way to put a stop to further communication — particularly for those folks who won’t take a hint — is by briefly explaining why you’re no longer interested.
If you would like to hang out, though, this text will lay down firm boundaries first,
Anita Chlipala, LMFT, a dating and relationship therapist, tells Bustle. Once they know what your expectations are, it will (hopefully) spare you from wasting your time again. “Ah, a zombie!”
This is a cute text to send when you want to playfully call them out for ghosting, Seshadri says. It’ll also clear the air
just enough so they’ll feel comfortable explaining why they disappeared — if you’re up to hear it. “Why are you texting me?”
Sometimes people go through their contacts and text everyone they’ve ever spoken to, Chlipala says, usually because they want some sort of an ego boost.
If you suspect that’s what’s going on, either don’t respond or keep your text casual and detached, so they can’t reel you back in.
“Do you need a backup charger? It seems like yours was missing the past 3 months”
This is another light-hearted text, Chlipala says, that acknowledges their behavior.
“Can I help you?”
Your first reaction might be to delete their number. But if your fingers start typing before you can stop yourself, go this route.
“Have you been well? I was getting worried.”
If you were genuinely worried about them, it’s OK to say so. Sometimes people have a good reason for ghosting, relationship expert
Alexis Dent, tells Bustle, such as a mental health concern or a job loss. “This is a neutral, open-minded text that doesn't make any big waves,” she says, “and shows that you can be understanding without jumping to conclusions.” “This seems like a recurring theme.”
“Some people are flaky and want to be present only when it's convenient or when they're bored,” Dent says. “It's important to have really strong boundaries with these people and not allow yourself to become manipulated and/or emotionally attached to someone who couldn't care less about being a reliable communicator.”
“You’ve gotta stop wasting my time!”
“You deserve someone who is at least going to put in the basic effort of texting back,” Dent says. So if it feels like enough is enough, let the know you aren’t interesting in continuing the pattern.
“Ghosting is a huge red flag for me. Please don’t text me again.”
Don’t hesitate to be brutally honest and do what “feels emotionally healthy for you when it comes to the response,”
Susan Trombetti, a matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. Ghosting is a red flag, so blatantly say so.
Not only will this text help protect you and your boundaries, she says, it might even help the ghoster realize their actions aren’t OK so they don’t do the same thing to someone else in the future.
“I see the aliens have returned you to earth.”
This one is yet another fun way to open the door,
Margot Zaher, an empowerment and relationship coach, tells Bustle. But just the tiniest bit. It has sass, which shows how you feel about the ghosting. And yet shows (obviously) that you’re still open to chatting. *Ghost emoji*
When in doubt, simply send the ghost emoji. “They’ll know what they did,”
Claire AH, a matchmaker and dating coach, tells Bustle. “Did you mean to text me?”
“Of course you know the answer but it’s too tempting not to get them to actually spell out that yes, they are texting you and want to reconnect,”
K.S. Lewis, a relationship expert and certified relationship coach at Chekmate, tells Bustle. “This is an open opportunity for them to go into more explanation and even offer an apology.” “I got your text. I’m not interested in talking, but I wish you all the best.”
If the apology isn’t enough, and you’re officially done, send a straight-forward text like this one. “It’s kind, yet clear,”
Dr. Joy Heafner, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. “Informing someone of what your boundary is frees you up from becoming entangled emotionally any further.” ~No response~
you do not have to respond. I repeat, you do not have to respond.
Nine times out of ten, “a ghoster doesn’t deserve your time and energy,” Miller says. They’ve already shown you who they are by completely ignoring you, so don’t hesitate to do the same.
Sources: Krista J Miller, MS, LMFT, LCDC, marriage and family therapist Stephanie Michelle, life coach Gita Seshadri, PhD, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Anita Chlipala, LMFT, dating and relationship therapist Alexis Dent, relationship expert Margot Zaher, empowerment and relationship coach Susan Trombetti, matchmaker Claire AH, matchmaker and dating coach Dr. Joy Heafner, licensed marriage and family therapist