I have been both the ghostee and the ghoster in my life. Those are the appropriate terms, right?
It's kind of hard to figure out what ghosting truly is and why it's a thing. When is it appropriate to formally break up with someone, and when is it OK to just stop talking to them?
We technically don't owe strangers or our dates anything. They are people we're just getting to know, and most likely, most of these coffees, movies, and dinners won't turn into relationships.
But when you've finally decided that you don't want to see someone again — and you feel too awkward, busy, or think it's unnecessary to say goodbye — there are some questions you should ask yourself before you formally ghost someone.
Because it's not always a great idea.
1. Do You Owe The Person A Proper Goodbye?
If you've been on three to five dates — or especially if you're in an actual relationship — then it's best to end things formally.
You don't have to give some long-winded explanation ("on date three, you had bad breath, and now, I am really over it"), but it's best to say you're not ready to date right now, or you think you'd be better off as friends.
This is better than totally disappearing, which can lead to a more awkward conversation down the line if they continue to contact you or if you run into one another IRL.
2. How Would You Feel If They Ghosted You?
Ghosting doesn't feel great, and it leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions.
Did that guy die, or did he just think I was an ugly lagoon creature with a horrible personality?
That's the problem with ghosting: It usually leaves us thinking the worst about ourselves, when typically that's not the case.
So if you would feel sh*tty if the guy you're talking to ghosted you, then maybe don't do the same to them.
3. Do You Potentially Want To See Them Again?
If you do, then don't ghost. Most likely, ghosting will cause a lot of bitterness and resentment, and they won't let you back in for a second chance in the future.
Instead, leave the door open and honestly tell your date about why you need some time or space.
They'll respect that, and it will give you the option of keeping in touch every once in a while if you'd like. (Although, I think this tactic can also be called breadcrumbing.)
4. Do You Have Mutual Friends?
If you have a lot of friends in common, then you don't want to get a bad reputation in your friend group by dissing someone everyone knows.
Additionally, that could make it awkward when things like parties or social events come up, and people think you and your ex (or that guy you only went on a few dates with) don't want to be in the same place.
So your social life doesn't suffer, or so you don't start getting disinvited to things, just say a quick goodbye to that guy you've been seeing instead of ghosting him, and part as friends.
It'll be better for your social life — and your friend group — in the long run.
So next time you're thinking of ghosting, it might be time to ask yourself these questions. And don't forget: Does it feel good when it happens to you?