Why Ghosting Is Okay (Sometimes)

Hear me out.

I’ve done a lot of ghosting lately – and no, that doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s the type of ghosting that’s inconsequential, the kind where neither party really knows each other anyway, the type where to tell the truth would be entirely unnecessary, so you might as well just say nothing. It’s a million miles away from the way I used to date, and I’ve been finding it very helpful. 

My newfound attitude towards the beauty of a simple ghost has only come in recent months. Years ago, I couldn’t abide by it. I would reply to everybody, regardless of whether I liked them or not. I’d detail my days to people I had no interest in. I’d WhatsApp men I had no intention of ever meeting up with. I’d waste my time on people, and quite often, they’d waste their time on me. 

According to dating app Bumble, ghosting is when “someone ends all contact without explanation — profile unmatched, messages unanswered, calls avoided.” One would ghost a person because they don’t want to see them again, they don’t want to date in general, or because they simply don’t want to continue a conversation. It’s a way of saying goodbye without actually having to say it. A means of ending a thing, without actually having to end it. 

Being ghosted can be an upsetting experience, especially if you have invested something into a relationship. If you’ve gone on a date and never hear from them again. If you’ve been seeing each other for a while and suddenly they’re gone. If (God forbid) you’ve fallen in love with them, and one day, they disappear. 

But are there certain circumstances when a ghost is okay? And could it even be preferable for both parties in the long run? 

A 2019 study from YouGov showed that 25 percent of people had been ghosted before, and 21 percent had ghosted someone they were seeing. What’s more is that 82 percent of women also acknowledged that ghosting is a reality in modern dating. 

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel Ghosts portrays the act of ghosting perfectly – and painfully. When protagonist Nina meets Max, she’s convinced that he’s the one… because he pretty much tells her that he is. But then Max commences the slow ghost; the reduction of messages, the cancelling of plans, the eventual disappearance into the ether, leaving Nina wondering if he was ever real at all. 

Irish author Megan Nolan’s devastating debut Acts of Desperation also touches on the pain of the ghost. An unnamed narrator looks back on a toxic relationship where a partner suddenly decides to pull all contact over the Christmas holidays, after weeks of intensity and love-bombing. Like Ghosts, Nolan’s novel focuses on the gut wrenching heartache of loss – a relationship that was solid, developed, and expected to survive, only to be torn away without a word of explanation. 


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This type of ghosting is objectively unacceptable. It has to be. To suddenly disappear from a fully fledged relationship without a word as to why is cowardly, hurtful, and childish. It’s unfair to the person you’ve spent time building something with. But can the same be said for a ghosting where both parties don’t really know each other at all, and the stakes are so much lower? 

Beth* says that while she would never ghost a relationship, she doesn’t see any issue when it’s someone she’s just been chatting to on a dating app. Most of the time, she says, the decision comes from something in her own life, rather than anything a match has done. “It’s out of no malice, but sometimes so much time has elapsed I feel there’s no point in jumping back into a conversation only to probably take another 3 to 5 business days to reply,” she says. 

“I genuinely feel like 90% of the time it’s not that deep. You could have done nothing wrong but the other person just got caught up in their own life, and forgot to reply, or doesn’t check their messages much.” 

Over the past few months I have ghosted people for a myriad of reasons. I was busy. I was bored. The conversation had come to a natural end. The conversation left me feeling uncomfortable, or uneasy. The person was odd. Sometimes I ghosted because I wasn’t into someone. Other times, I ghosted because I just wasn’t into anyone. 

After all, what is the alternative? Tell somebody I’ve had one conversation with that I’m just not interested? That I’m bored? That I thought I was ready to start dating again but it turns out that no, I don’t think I am, actually? Such an admission is an explanation that nobody asked for, one likely to cause more unnecessary hurt than simply slipping away into the ether of Tinder or Hinge. 

There are certain dating scenarios that require clarification. And there are those that do not. There’s a considerable difference between disappearing when you’re in a relationship, and when you’ve only had one vague conversation about your favourite comfort food or your travel plans for the year. 

To become the ghoster (where appropriate) allowed me to recognise the reasons why other people ghost too. It allowed me to empathise. It took the sting out of modern dating. Now instead of blaming myself when a match disappears I am largely unbothered. I know why they’ve gone, and it probably has very little to do with me. Ghosting may be entirely unacceptable in a lot of situations. But in others, it may just be the best port of call. 

*Some names have been changed