A guy who just ghosted me has recently risen from the dead. After three weeks of not talking (he allegedly was on vacation, but due to my social media sleuthing, I found out that he had only been gone for a few days), he randomly texted me and decided to ask me out again. So I was forced to ask myself: What are you supposed to do when he ghosts you and comes back? IMO, this is a phenomenon that we shouldn't let slide.
Not to mention, flaky, inconsistent communication actually seems to be a frequent behavioral problem when dating. Recently, another guy I went on a date with nine months ago texted me saying, “Hey, sorry it took me a while to text you again.” A while? It's almost been a year since we last talked. I could have carried a baby in the time since we had our last date! The nerve.
Ghosting is bad enough. But when someone comes back into your life after ghosting after you've already mourned the loss of them, and they’re ready to pretend the ghosting never happened, it sucks even more. Plus, when he ghosted you and comes back, you both know that nothing has really changed — and if we’re being totally honest, that they aren’t someone you should be pursuing anymore.
Amy North, online dating coach and resident women’s dating expert at LoveLearnings.com, previously told Elite Daily, “People ghost because they’re afraid to have a real conversation about their feelings, and that’s not someone you want to be with anyway.” Patti Sabla, a licensed clinical social worker, added, “We teach people how to treat us.” In other words, welcoming a ghost back into your life pretty much gives them the OK to do it again.
So when it comes to dating, I'm a big believer in not taking anyone's bullsh*t and in setting boundaries early on to prevent people from walking all over you. And not tolerating ghosting is one of those boundaries.
That said, here is a three-step guide for how to respond when the person who ghosted you comes back.
1. Figure Out What You Want
Obviously, when the guy I was seeing pretended to be out of town, didn't contact me for two weeks, and then casually showed up in my life again, I took it to the group text. I mean, this was wild! Is that what dating looks like now? Not in my world.
I like to believe that chivalry is not dead and that people generally treat one another with honesty, kindness, and respect. If you're already lying, ignoring me, and/or putting me on the back burner in the dating phase of our relationship, then how are you going to treat me when we're actually exclusive and committed? Probably even worse.
Of course, it’s up to you to decide what kind of behavior you’ll accept — or whether you’ll forgive someone who ghosts you. At this point, you know what side I’m on, but there isn’t one universal rule for everybody.
So first things first: Decide what you want. If you want to give this person another chance, there’s nothing stopping you. (Though I’d encourage you to stick to a two strikes policy.) On the other hand, if you, like me, consider ghosting a dealbreaker, you know that it’s over. From there, you can proceed accordingly.
2. Set Boundaries Around Ghosting
Before you DTR, it can be tricky to set boundaries. But it’s just as important. No matter what stage of the relationship (or pre-relationship) you are in, you will have certain expectations of your partner — ones that should be communicated early on. If they can’t meet them, that’s fine; now you know and can both move on.
To bring it back to ghosting, if it is not OK with you that someone disappears for long periods of time and then suddenly re-enters your life, let them know. (Yes, this standard should be a given. But it isn’t anymore, which is why we need these boundaries.) No one is a mindreader, and people often need explicit direction on what behavior you will and will not accept.
It's the best way to ultimately get what you want, and only good things come from a reasonable boundary. “Often, when boundary concerns come up in a partnership, it opens the space for greater communication and understanding of one another, and the opportunity to grow deeper into love and respect and intimacy by honoring these boundaries,” Heather Kristian Strang, spiritual guide and matchmaker, previously told Elite Daily.
Once you set a boundary, people will either step up to the plate or step out of your life. Although one might hurt more than the other, both are good for you in the long run. If someone cannot (or is unwilling) to respect your boundaries, they aren’t the one for you.
3. Stick Up For Yourself
There are plenty of ways to set a boundary, and they do not all require an in-depth conversation. If ghosting is a no-go for you, not responding to their text sends that message — no further communication required. For example, I didn't answer the guy who texted me nine months after our date. He can read into my lack of response for himself.
But when it came to the person I've been dating who waited two weeks to text me and then asked me out again, I decided to be explicit, set a boundary, and stick up for myself. I told him that when I'm being pursued romantically, I expect more attention, honesty, and communication than what exists in our burgeoning relationship. Because of that, I told him I didn't think we should see one another anymore. He then asked if he could do better and if I would give it another shot. I appreciated that he respected my boundary and was willing to work on it, but, at this point, I’m still not sure if I want to give him a second chance. Either way though, I’m glad that I told him how I felt.
If you have been ghosted only to hear from that same person weeks (or nine months) later, know that you're not alone. Apparently, it's a phenomenon that just happens now. But it's a phenomenon that you can stop in your own dating life if you refuse to put up with it. So if someone ghosts you and comes back, let them know why it's not OK clearly and without anger. In the long run, it will probably be a great lesson for both you and that person.
Amy North, online dating coach and resident women’s dating expert at LoveLearnings.com
Patti Sabla, a licensed clinical social worker
Heather Kristian Strang, spiritual guide and matchmaker
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