You are in a bad friendship or romantic relationship and want to move on. Or, maybe you’ve just had the worst-ever first date and want to quickly put it behind you. It would be easy to just “disappear.” But is ghosting ever okay?
From the other person’s perspective, being ghosted can be extremely upsetting. It can leave them wondering what’s happened and feeling disrespected. Even if they were lukewarm about your relationship, being ghosted can hurt. This perspective might not be enough to sway your decision about whether to ghost someone, but it’s worth considering.
From a more personal perspective, you might be tempted to disappear so that you don’t have to deal with any uncomfortable situations. And if feeling guilty isn’t an issue, ghosting just might work for you. But if this incidence is part of an ongoing pattern of how you cope – or choose not to cope – with problems, then beware. When people tend to dodge issues rather than think them through and face them, they often end up with unexpected ramifications, such as being overcome by their emotions or upsetting others in their social circle. This is unlikely to be a big problem if you choose to ghost someone you met for a single date, though you would probably still feel uncomfortable if you ran into that person at a party… or ended up going for a job interview, only to find that person was your prospective new boss.
A disappearing act can be even more complicated as a way to end established relationships. If you have any positive feelings left for the person – or even just positive memories — you are more likely to struggle with guilt. And, while you might be able to prevent painfully uncomfortable conversations with your partner by ghosting, you cannot avoid yourself so easily. Because feelings can’t just be wished away, when you deny them permission to occupy space in your heart and mind, they often find other ways to surface, often unexpectedly and with seemingly no explanation. For example, trying to blot out an ex from your life and your mind can leave you feeling inexplicably anxious or depressed. So, whether you work your feelings out with the person or just within yourself, you will likely find peace of mind only by dealing directly with what has happened and how you feel.
Of course, there are times when talking with someone about ending your relationship does not work well. For example, if you feel annoyed or even harassed by someone who refuses to hear the message that you are done with the relationship, you might feel better ghosting them. Victims of domestic violence are also frequently better off not trying to engage with their abuser. Basically, in any situation where facing the person has – or might – cause you more problems than it would solve, you would be wise to consider the option of ghosting.
Deciding how you want to end a relationship is obviously a personal decision. To decide what is right for you, it’s important to consider the decision carefully. Think about how it will affect the other person and how you feel about that. Also think about your reasons for ghosting the person and how disappearing compares with facing them and the situation directly. While ghosting has its place, it’s important that you give thought to whether doing so is the best decision for you.
Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.