Is Ghosting Someone Ever OK?

You hear a lot about ghosting these days and with good reason. Not only do most people know what it feels like to be ghosted to one degree or another, but more than a few have at least considered doing the same to someone else. Despite how common it’s becoming, people know ghosting is considered a no-no, but should it be?

Yes, people like and prefer closure, but is it something they’re entitled to? Is ghosting justified in certain cases, and if so, what criteria make the difference? Like most things to do with sex, dating, or relationships, ghosting is more complicated than it seems. There are times it’s nothing short of unacceptable, but there are times you’re probably justified as well. The following are some good examples of both.

Are you in an established relationship?

Ghosting should never be used as the easy way out of a relationship that’s already been established, even if it’s a very new or non-exclusive one. If the two of you have mutually acknowledged that you’re in a relationship of any kind and you want out, you owe it to that person to let them know in no uncertain terms.

If you’ve never even met up or have only been on a one date without any discussion having been had about going on another though, ghosting is probably an option, especially if it’s pretty clear to both of you that there’s no chemistry or interest. A break-up isn’t necessary when there’s no relationship to end in the first place.

Are you likely to run into each other again?

This is probably the biggest exception to the above point. Did you have a one-night stand or a “moment” with someone you work with? Do they live across the street or happen to be related to a good friend? Do they work someplace you can’t (or don’t want to) stop going? Do yourself a favor and avoid ghosting them. At best, you’re going to find yourself in a majorly awkward situation at some point if you do.

If this person is truly unlikely to cross your path again though, you’re probably fine just not talking to them anymore. This is especially the case if you’ve yet to meet in person or this was a long-distance thing with someone who doesn’t even live nearby.

Have you learned something disturbing about them?

Sometimes someone seems great on paper, but there’s just something fishy about them you can’t put your finger on. Then one day, you finally find out what it is. Maybe it’s come to light that they’re a serial cheater or it’s gotten back to you that they have a history of violence, abuse, or criminal activity. You’re definitely within your rights to ask the person about whatever it is outright instead of simply listening to rumors, but you also have the right to simply bounce in the face of really bad news. At best, this is likely to be someone who attracts drama and life’s hard enough without that to deal with too.

The same goes for anyone who’s been unacceptably disrespectful to you. If someone’s deliberately offended you or treated you badly, you’re under no obligation to return their texts anymore, let alone give them any of your time. Smash that block button and don’t give it a second thought. Life’s too short to waste it around people who make you feel uncomfortable, disrespected, or upset.

Is there a chance you’ll change your mind in the future?

There’s one move that’s almost universally considered worse than ghosting someone in the first place – ghosting someone and then doing a complete 180 the minute it suits you. That said, it’s best to think of ghosting (if you decide to do it at all) as a permanent move after which you can no longer pass go. It’s especially bad if you make a habit of it and do it frequently, so no booty calls. Don’t hit the person up the next time you’re lonely or in need of an ego boost either, even if they make it clear they’re open to it.

If you do elect to ghost someone and realize you’ve made a terrible mistake, handle the situation with care. It might be best to simply let the person move on with the rest of their life without the pain of having to hear from you. However, a heartfelt apology may also be acceptable, so long as you’re fine with it not being accepted.

At the end of the day, it’s never a bad idea to err on the side of caution and be kind to other people, even if you don’t have to. It’s not required in every situation though and there are those where ghosting makes more sense. Just use your best judgment on a case by case basis.