Illustration of video chat with a girl in classes

Chances are you know someone who has been ghosted or it has happened to you personally. “Ghosting” is when someone stops calling, texting or responding and it becomes clear the relationship has ended, sometimes abruptly. While it has become increasingly common in romantic relationships, people may also choose to ghost their friends, classmates or even their employers.

If you’ve been ghosted (or have ghosted someone else), here are some things to consider.

Why do people ghost?

While it may not feel this way on the receiving end, ghosting is a common way to avoid conflict and emotional discomfort (at least for the ghoster). Sometimes, a lack of a strong personal connection makes it easier for us to ghost someone, especially as it becomes more popular and somewhat accepted.

Is ghosting always bad?

Honestly, it depends.

Ending any relationship, especially one that has become intimate, by ghosting the other person is something we should all try to avoid. Ghosting can often lead to increased feelings of anxiety, guilt and lower self-esteem for everyone involved, whether you’re the one who is ghosting or being ghosted. While it can save us from immediate conflict, studies have shown that it can actually lead to more issues down the line.

But what about someone you just met (or haven’t met yet)? While having a conversation about ending things with someone after a week’s long conversation on Bumble or a single lousy date may seem like a bit much, it can be a good way to practice expressing yourself for when a more challenging situation comes up. Getting more comfortable having difficult conversations or letting someone know you’re just not that into them is a powerful skill that you can use to help set boundaries in other situations.

Additionally, if we are in a relationship with an abusive partner, cutting all contact can be a useful way to separate ourselves from a bad situation. In this case there is no need to stay in contact or give a detailed explanation about why you’re leaving. If you’re concerned about a friend or an abusive partner, the Office of Victim Assistance is here to help. They provide free and confidential support for a variety of traumatic experiences, including intimate partner abuse and domestic violence. Call 303-492-8855 to get connected.

Is there a better way?

Yes! If you’re not interested in someone, say so.

It’s important to be direct and honest about your intentions, and let the other person know that you’re not interested. That being said, be gentle with your word choice – avoid blaming the other person or using insults to make your point, which can escalate the situation. Instead, keep it short and simple. For instance, if you’ve gone on a date and decide you’re not interested you can say, “Thank you for tonight, but I’m not interested in continuing this.”

Keep in mind that rejection isn’t always well received, and that’s okay. If the other person gets upset, avoid feeding into it or arguing back and forth. When this happens, the best thing to do is to stay calm and end the conversation. Sometimes letting the other person have the last word can save us from unnecessary distress.

What to do after you’ve been ghosted

Not everyone will be direct when it comes to ending things. Like any breakup, ghosting can sometimes cause us to lose our self confidence. Here are some ways to get back on your feet after you’ve been ghosted.

  • Work toward acceptance. Ending any relationship can be difficult, but ghosting can complicate the issue more than usual because there’s no explanation or closure. We may be tempted to hang onto false hopes that they will come back or dwell on things we did or didn’t do. Accepting what has happened is the first step in moving on. Acknowledge that it happened and remind yourself that ghosting is a reflection of the other person, not of you. Sometimes, things end and it’s not always possible to know or understand why.
  • Address your basic needs. Do you need to eat, drink some water, go for a walk, get a good night’s sleep (or perhaps all of the above)? Listen to cues from your mind and body, and take action to meet your most immediate needs right now. Once basic needs are met, there will be time to get back to other activities you enjoy.
  • Revisit hobbies and other relationships. Identify hobbies and activities that make you feel like yourself and make more time for them. This is also a great time to reconnect with the people closest to us like friends, family or roommates. Make a point to reach out to people in your life and talk about how you’ve been doing (and how they’ve been, too).

Getting back to normal is a personal experience, and it looks different for everyone. The key is to treat ourselves kindly.


If you’re concerned about yourself or a friend, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) has a variety of services available virtually. Call 303-492-2277 to connect with a counselor. 

The Office of Victim Assistance also provides free and confidential support for a variety of traumatic experiences, including intimate partner abuse and domestic violence. Call 303-492-8855 to get connected.

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