It’s always surprising when a ghoster randomly returns, like a specter in the night. You might receive the famed “you up?” text at 1 a.m. or the “hey, how’s it going” 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 and act as if you never received their message. You should never feel obligated to reply to a ghoster, especially if they really hurt your feelings. “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 block their number and move on, go for it.
That said, if a ghoster returns, you might jump at the chance to gain closure, ask a few questions, or even give them a second chance. It all depends on what you’re looking for in the relationship, as well as how things were left when they ghosted. If you want to write back, there’s no shortage of witty and pointed things to say to express how you really feel. Here, 27 texts to send someone who ghosted you that work for a variety of situations.
“It didn’t feel good to be ghosted. I’m going to need to establish some rules before we start talking again. I’m sure you can understand my caution.”
“If you’re interested in talking again, it’s essential to start with boundaries out the gate,” Phillips explains.
Tell this person what you’re looking for in a relationship and what kind of time and energy commitment you’ll be expecting from them.
As with anything, there are no guarantees they won’t ghost again or that it’ll work out the way you want. But it’s important to say exactly how you feel and see how they respond.
“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, suggests life coach Stephanie Michelle. This text offers a clear-cut way to call attention to all the time that’s passed. And again, it’ll help you gather more info.
“I’m going to need an apology.”
The point with this text isn’t to make the ghoster beg or gravel, but to have them acknowledge all the ways their actions had an effect on you emotionally. 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 by this mystery text, then see if they’d be down for a quick Zoom or FaceTime call. Michelle says this is a good way to get your questions answered in real time. It’ll also be much easier to assess their vibes if you can see their face and hear their voice.
“Ohh okay, so you didn’t lose your phone?”
Here’s a cheeky way to respond if you’re kind of down to forgive them and see where things might lead. Ghosting is almost always rude, but it doesn’t always have to signal the end of a relationship. By keeping your response light and fun, it’ll be easier to pick things up where you left off.
“Hoping all is well. Unfortunately I’ve closed your file, but I’m happy to take referrals.”
If you want to shut them down, this is a funny way to do it, Phillips says.
It shows there are no hard feelings, just that you also aren’t interested.
“Wait, who’s this?”
According to licensed marriage and family therapist Gita Seshadri, PhD, LMFT, this response is meant to sting, so make sure you only send it to people who truly deserve it.
It’s a salty one, for sure. But Phillips adds that it gets the point across and shows the ghoster how it feels to be forgotten.
While the message isn’t guaranteed to sink in on their end, it might feel good to send after a particularly painful situation.
“How do I know you?”
Phillips also recommends throwing out a quick “How do I know you?” Texts like this one aren’t meant as an attack, but as a way to create distance between you and a person who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
“No thanks, I’ve moved on.”
Of course, it’s often best to be calm, honest, and straightforward. “A simple ‘no, thanks’ should do the trick,” Phillips says.
“Sorry. I had fun with you, but I need consistent contact in order to feel a connection.”
Send this text to end the conversation, especially if you know the person can’t or won’t change, says dating and relationship therapist Anita Chlipala, LMFT. It’ll make it clear that the on-again-off-again thing doesn’t work for you.
“I only want to keep talking if you’re open to consistent communication.”
Slightly reword the previous text and you’ll have another way to create healthier expectations before proceeding. Tell them they’ll need to communicate — oh, and not ghost — if they want to be in your life.
“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, says relationship expert Alexis Dent, such as a health concern or a job loss. “This is a neutral, open-minded text that doesn't make any big waves,” Dent tells Bustle. “And shows that you can be understanding without jumping to conclusions.”
“Hmm... 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 explains. If you suspect that’s the type of ex-partner you’re dealing with, it’s more important than ever to have strong boundaries. “Don’t allow yourself to become manipulated and/or emotionally attached to someone who couldn't care less about being a reliable communicator,” she says.
“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.
“Do you need a backup charger? It seems like yours was missing the past 3 months”
This is another light-hearted text that Chlipala recommends sending if you want to acknowledge their crappy behavior. If they have a good sense of humor — which they should, since they’re reaching out — they’ll respond with a photo of their cable.
“I see the aliens have returned you to earth.”
Here’s another fun way to open the door, says relationship coach Margot Zaher — but just the tiniest bit. This text isn’t super forgiving, which shows how you feel about the ghosting. But it is welcoming enough that it might lead to a longer convo about where they’ve been.
“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 think that’s what’s going on here, either don’t respond or keep your text casual and detached, so they can’t reel you back in.
“Can I help you?”
Your first reaction upon seeing their text might be to delete their number. But if your fingers start typing before you can stop yourself, go this route.
“You’ve gotta stop wasting my time!”
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something casual or more committed, “you deserve someone who is at least going to put in the basic effort of texting back,” Dent says. If it feels like enough is enough, let them know you aren’t interested in continuing with a toxic 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 really is a red flag, so call them out.
Not only will this text help protect you and your boundaries, Trombetti says it might even help the ghoster realize that their actions are not OK. While it isn’t your job to fix them, it might spare someone else from going through the same experience in the future
“I got your text. I’m not interested in talking, but I wish you all the best.”
If you’re officially done, send a straightforward 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.” It also frees you up to continue going about your day, stress-free.
“Thanks for this opportunity to acknowledge that you did me the biggest favor ever. Starting now, all of your texts will be blocked.”
According to licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Cornelia Gibson, LMFT, Ed.D., this is another assertive, effective way to tell them to leave you alone. It will come in handy if you hear from someone who really hurt you.
“What will be different this time?”
Gibson suggests saying something like, “Wow, you’ve resurfaced. I’ll give you one more chance because everyone makes mistakes, but this time with boundaries. What do you plan to do differently?” Asking them to spell it out will show their intent in reaching out. See if they’re willing to explain, then decide what you’d like to do.
“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 certified relationship coach, tells Bustle. “This is an open opportunity for them to go into more explanation and even offer an apology.”
When in doubt, simply send the ghost emoji. “They’ll know what they did,” says matchmaker and dating coach Claire AH. Send it, then go about your day with the knowledge that you aren’t letting a ghoster back into your life.
Remember, you do not have to respond. I repeat, you do not have to respond to someone who ghosted you. Nine times out of ten, “a ghoster doesn’t deserve your time and energy,” Miller says. They’ve already shown who they are by completely ignoring you and/or being inconsistent, so don’t hesitate to protect your well-being.
While there may be some instances where it’s possible (and even fun) to reconnect with a long-lost flame, it’s often best to leave the past in the past and hold out for a more positive experience with someone new.
Krista J Miller, MS, LMFT, LCDC, licensed marriage and family therapist
Rebecca Phillips, MS, LPC, licensed professional counselor
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, relationship coach
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker
Claire AH, matchmaker and dating coach
Dr. Joy Heafner, licensed marriage and family therapist
K.S. Lewis, certified relationship coach
Dr. Cornelia Gibson, LMFT, Ed.D., licensed marriage and family therapist
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