Justin Timberlake was wrong. When it comes to breaking up, sometimes, the greatest way to say something is by actually saying something. Ghosting is usually not the way to go. It can make your partner feel like you just lost interest and don’t care enough to explain. Unfortunately, ghosting has become significantly more common in today’s dating culture, and if you’re guilty of it, you’re not the only one. But if there’s a chance you can run into your ghostee again, things can get really awkward, fast. How do you know what to say to someone you’ve ghosted? How do you confront them IRL if you couldn’t do it over text?
Deciding whether or not to ghost is tough. Maybe you don’t want to hurt their feelings, so you just avoid the conversation all together. Maybe you just don’t know how to have the conversation. But as someone who’s both ghosted and been ghosted, I can tell you it is one of the worst ways to get broken up with.
By giving someone an explanation as to why you don't want to date them anymore, you give them closure. You’re essentially letting the other person leave the relationship knowing why it ended, so they can avoid whatever it was that happened in the future, whether it was something they did or just so they have the certainty that you weren’t “the one” for them. It also allows you to leave the relationship with a clear conscience, knowing that you did the right thing. If you don’t ghost, you don’t even have to worry about awkward run-ins! But if you do, and a surprise meeting happens, here’s how to have a peaceful, mature exchange, without feeling like you want to crawl into a hole and die. Good luck!
1. Say Hello If You Both Notice Each Other
Show your face, and do not try to run away. Imagine you and your ghostee make eye contact, and then, they have to watch you run away from them. That’s cruel. If you notice that you’re both in the same place, and you haven’t made eye contact yet, don’t be the first one to approach them. You did ghost them, after all, and they may not want to talk to you. But if you do make eye contact and you both know the other is there (you know what I’m talking about), don’t be afraid to smile or wave. Don’t ignore them, and don’t pretend they’re not there. That’s what makes things awkward in the first place!
2. Make Light, Polite Conversation
If you have to converse, don’t be dry or rude. That’s the worst thing you could do. You already hurt their feelings once, and chances are, they’re a little salty toward you. Say hello, ask them how they’re doing, and keep it moving. “How’s work?” “How have you been?” and “Nice to see you again!” are all great starting points.
3. Keep The Conversation To A Minimum
You don’t have to have a full-blown catch-up. It’s uncomfortable, and they probably don’t want to, anyway (unless they still have feelings for you). Plus, if you show too much interest, it may make them think you want them back. Instead, make polite conversation, but don’t delve deep into the intricacies of their day-to-day. Don’t ask them how their parents are (if you met them), how their friends are, and don’t (don’t) say, “You look great!”
4. Don’t Conclude With Any Possibility Of Making Future Plans
Tell them it was nice to see them again, but don’t say, “Hope to see you again soon!” Think about it. How easy is it to overanalyze everything someone you have or had feelings for says? If you tell someone you’ve ghosted that you “hope to see them again soon,” they might actually think you hope to see them again soon. And you don’t. Because you ghosted them. Remember? Don’t give them the wrong idea, so they can move on with their lives.
5. Avoid Texting Them At All Costs
If it was a pleasant exchange, the ghostee may reach out with some variation of “It was nice to see you again, let’s do it again soon,” if they still have feelings for you. Assuming you’re still not interested in rekindling the romance, reply with a no-frills, straight-to-the-point “Likewise!” or “Same!” If they try to continue the conversation, keep it curt and let it fizzle out.
Remember, this encounter is probably going to be awkward. It's might be icky and uncomfortable, and neither you nor your ghostee are going to genuinely enjoy it. The bright side is that there are ways to make it less ugh and more eh. Don't say anything you're going to regret later, be nice, and try to keep the physical contact as minimal as possible. No big hugs or cheek kisses, especially if either of you has been drinking. Your quick peck could turn into something more, if you're both in the mood. A friendly, one-handed hug is totally appropriate and very polite. Stick to that, and that only.
Also, avoid talking about the encounter with your friends if you have a few in common, just in case they spill. The last thing you want is to hurt your ghostee’s feelings again, and if you thought your conversation was awkward or uncomfortable, you don’t want them to catch wind of those feelings. It’s basically pouring salt on the wound. Keep any negative comments to yourself, especially if your friends aren’t good at keeping secrets.
Don't be an assh*le. You can do this!
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