Not all ghosts are bad. Remember Casper? Famously a very friendly ghost. But what about that hunk who slept with you and then evaporated into thin air, never to be heard from again? That’s a bad ghost. And while it’s perfectly acceptable to take their ghosting in stride and put them out of your mind forever, it’s also entirely reasonable to ask yourself how to respond to that guy who ghosted you, or that girl who ignored you after a date — because this time you don’t feel like just letting it roll off your gorgeous, proud shoulders.
In the world of disappearing lovers, there's ghosting, and then there's ghosting lite — or the appearance of ghosting — when someone genuinely gets busy and forgets to text you back. If you’re calling a girl out on leaving you high and dry or calling a guy out on ghosting you, keeping it cordial and polite is the best way to suss out whether life just got in the way, or whether they were actually just being mega disrespectful.
But first, let’s get one thing straight: If you’re calling out someone who ghosted you, you’re not being dramatic, and you’re not overreacting. It’s OK to be upset that they disappeared on you just as the going was getting good. There’s no shame in owning how much you care, and showing them that their behavior upset you.
Dr. Jess O’Reilly, a Toronto-based sexologist and host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast, says the first step to getting over your ghost is self-acceptance. “Ghosting has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their bad manners or their inability to express a desire or feeling that they believe will disappoint you,” Dr. O’Reilly tells Elite Daily. “Oftentimes, people ghost because they want to avoid confrontation, awkwardness, discomfort and/or hurt feelings; but of course, the result of ghosting often entails all of these responses for the other party anyway.”
Read on for everything you should keep in mind when calling out your phantom lovers.
Try A Check-In
Maybe you agreed to see each other again after the first date, only to never hear from them. Maybe you’re assuming they’re a ghost because they didn't respond to your last text.
Mistakes happen. Sometimes, we forget to respond to our closest friends. People get caught up at work. They go out of town. They have family emergencies. It's not out of the realm of possibility that they were planning to text you but other things got in the way. London-based celebrity life coach and relationship expert Sloan Sheridan-Wiliams previously told Elite Daily that some of her clients who’ve been ghosters themselves have given every reason from “I’ve got a lot going on lately” to “I lost interest” and “I forgot.” You never know until you ask.
A simple, non-committal follow-up (“Hey, I was bummed when I didn’t hear back from you the other day. How are things?”) is non-accusatory and also gives them the opportunity to respond without putting them on the defensive.
Then, give them 24 hours to respond. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are not glued to their phones. If you text them during the day, they might be in class or at work. Give it a day before you decide that they’re officially dead to you.
Keep It Brief But Honest
Dr. O’Reilly says that you can take your closure into your own hands by writing out your feelings — even if you don’t choose to send them. “Write them a note or a text,” she says. “There is no need to send it, but you can create your own closure by getting your feelings off of your chest.”
If you decide to send your message, make sure to focus on your feelings. They hurt you, but they're not a villain, so don't throw around insults. It’s possible that they didn't mean to hurt you by disappearing. It’s likely that they weren't thinking of your feelings at all.
Here’s a useful ghost-call-out template that you can implement :
“Hey, you should know that I feel hurt/disrespected/dismissed because you ghosted on me. The polite thing to do would have been to simply tell me that you weren't interested in seeing me again. Leaving me or anyone wondering is worse. I know you're not a bad person, so I hope you don't do this to the next person you meet.”
Let them know exactly how their ghosting made you feel. Then, let them go.
Know You May Not Get Closure
If you’re looking for in-depth, emotionally generous closure with a full explanation and apology from your ghoster, you might be wasting your time. Dr. O’Reilly says that they’ve already proven themselves to be emotionally unreliable, so there may be limits to the amount of closure they can offer you. “If this person doesn’t have the confidence or manners to tell you, ‘Hey — I don’t think this is going to work out,’ you don’t need to worry about their opinion of you or assessment of the relationship in general,” she says. “Instead, find closure by looking at the relationship realistically: Was it as serious as you thought? Did you really want it to be something long term? Did you really know them that well? Had you really connected intimately? If they can’t be straightforward about what they’re feeling now while dating, how might they behave in a relationship? In retrospect, you might find that the dissolution was what you would have ultimately wanted even if the method was hurtful.”
Delete Their Number
Waiting around for a response won’t do you any good, and neither will hanging onto hope. “Consider deleting their number and existing chats so that you’re not tempted to go back and over-analyze,” Dr. O’Reilly recommends. “Rather than focusing on what you did wrong or focusing on your own supposed shortcomings, consider theirs. You don’t have to bash or judge them, but do you really want to be with someone who lacks (or doesn’t bother to use) courtesy and open communication skills?”
Giving up the ghost is never easy. When someone refuses you the decency of a real break-up or rejection, it leaves you with questions that you may never be able to answer in full. Just remember that it’s really not you — it’s them. And good riddance.
Sloan Sheridan-Williams, celebrity life coach and relationship expert
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