7 Times It’s Perfectly Acceptable To Ghost Someone
Certain offenses do merit a swift cold shoulder.
Being ghosted is a pretty terrible thing to endure… for those who don’t deserve it, anyway. Those who do are another story. It’s safe to say that there are indeed certain offenses that do merit a swift cold shoulder, and according to the experts we asked, those offenses are numerous. So the next time you start to see any of these red flags, feel free to start preparing to disappear in a cloud of smoke, leaving your potentially problematic counterpart on read for all eternity. Ahead, a guide to ghost-worthy scenarios, co-signed by our panel of relationship experts.
Inconsistent Or Unreliable Communication
“In the world of dating, it’s OK to ghost someone who has repeatedly shown inconsistency with communication or interest in hanging out,” says certified life coach, Tori Autumn. It’s all too common for people to lack initiative in either starting or actively continuing conversation digitally, and that usually translates to whether or not they’re proactive in making plans to actually meet up. Autumn recommends ghosting early on in this scenario in order to conserve your own time and energy: “Resist the urge to continue a meaningless conversation.”
Disregard For Consent And/Or Personal Safety
Consent is key in all dating situations, no matter the scenario or circumstance. As is personal safety — a date or potential partner should never make you feel unsafe in any way, shape, or form. If they begin to show even the slightest threat on either front, shut it down without a word. “If someone seems aggressive in any way, be it through pressuring you, being inappropriately argumentative, or is hot-tempered and easily triggered, retreat and delete,” says personal coach and dating expert, Michelle Baxo. “Consider this an act of self-love and healthy boundaries.”
Choosing ghosting over transparency or confrontation here is a smart move for your safety. Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in relationship safety, clarifies. “Confronting an angry or abusive person may do far more harm than good. Ghosting an abusive or chronically angry person doesn’t mean you are weak; it means you are smart and strong.”
When They Just Can’t Take A Hint
“As many times as you’ve tried explaining, it’s fine to ghost someone who just doesn’t get that you’re not interested in them,” says Autumn. Manly agrees. “When a partner refuses to get the message that a relationship is over, even after repeated attempts have been made to clarify that the relationship is over, ghosting is sometimes the only logical option.”
This is a big one. Catfishing — when someone poses as someone else online — is a real problem. “If the person you’re messaging online never wants to chat on video, starts asking for money for weird reasons, or comes up with excuses on why they can’t meet up in real life, move on and ghost them,” recommends Johnny Santiago of Social Catfish, an identity verification platform. So what are some other less obvious signs to look out for? “Catfish usually upload many different images to their profile to make it seem believable, but they do it all at once,” he says. “Another sign that you may not catch on to is that they have many interests or hobbies. The average person usually lists one or two hobbies, but catfish may have an unusual amount of pastimes or hobbies, and they keep their interests broad to attract as many people as possible.”
There’s no better option here than ghosting, according to Santiago. “The more a victim talks to a catfish, the more control the catfish gets,” he says. “The most effective way to remove yourself from the situation is to cut off all communications with them; don’t open any doors for them to potentially harm you.”
Signs of Lying, Cheating or Dishonesty
“If you feel that someone is lying to you — and you see a pattern of dishonesty — ghosting can be a very smart way out,” Manly says. “If you try to have an open and honest conversation with a deceitful person, their strategies may leave you feeling as if you are the problem. Thus, ghosting may be the only safe tactic.” This is a textbook example of gaslighting, which is a form of psychological abuse that should never be brushed off or ignore.
“If you are being manipulated into doing things that don’t feel right to you, ghosting may be the move that keeps you safe,” Manly continues. “A manipulative person will generally not respond well to heart-to-heart talks about what you are experiencing; a conversation with a manipulator will often leave you more confused and second-guessing yourself. As such, ghosting a manipulator can be a very smart tactic.”
Sometimes you just can’t put your finger on why a person’s behavior is bothersome, and that’s OK. You don’t have to justify a gut feeling — trusting your instinct is key when a date makes you feel uncomfortable, and if they’ve done so, you don’t owe them an explanation as to why you’d like to end things. If someone’s entire being makes you feel uneasy, cutting things off for your own good may make more sense than saying, “You generally suck as a person.”
If You’re Feeling Used
“If someone is only messaging you when they need something, that’s a perfectly good reason to ghost them,” says Justin Lavelle, chief communications officer at PeopleLooker, a U.S. background check database. “If you have asked someone to stop contacting you and they refuse to respect that, ghost them.” It’s not worth your energy to dance around the fact that this person is making you feel like you’re being taken advantage of — whether it’s conscious on their part or not, nothing changes what you feel in your gut. As a preventive measure, Lavelle recommends documenting your communication: “It is smart to save screenshots before you do this so you have proof of harassment if it continues to escalate.”