Chances are you or someone you know has been ghosted.

Ghosting happens when someone abruptly cuts off communication without explanation. While this practice has become increasingly common in dating and romantic relationships, it can also happen between friends, colleagues and family members.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end (or have ghosted someone yourself), here are some things to consider.

Why do people ghost?

People may choose to ghost someone after a bad date or interaction, when they aren’t interested in moving a relationship forward or if they don’t feel a deeper personal connection with a person. In many circumstances, ghosting is used as a tactic to avoid having difficult or awkward conversations, dealing with conflict, experiencing distress, communicating wants or needs, taking accountability or expending mental or emotional energy.

In other instances, ghosting may have nothing to do with the relationship itself. Classwork, job schedules and other time constraints can sometimes make it hard to stay in contact or start a new relationship.

Either way, it is a good reminder that ghosting doesn't always happen because we did something ‘wrong.’ Being open to the possibility that ghosting can happen for many reasons may help us interpret this rejection with a little bit more self-compassion.

Is ghosting always bad?

Truthfully, it depends.

Some hookups or first dates end with mutual ghosting where neither party reaches out and the shared assumption is that no one wants to further pursue a relationship. This can be very effective when both parties are aligned. In this way, ghosting may save us from the immediate conflict of a breakup.

You also don’t have to continue talking to someone just because they messaged you if you are feeling uncomfortable. In some cases, disappearing without an explanation may be necessary. If a person makes you feel uncomfortable, is threatening or is engaging in other abusive behaviors, it’s okay to cut off contact to separate yourself from the situation. In this case, there is no need to explain why you are ending contact. If you’re concerned about yourself or a friend, the Office of Victim Assistance is here to help. They provide free and confidential support for a variety of traumatic experiences, including sexual assault, abuse by an intimate partner and stalking.

That said, ghosting can also create more miscommunication or hurt than may be intended. Factors like the intensity of the relationship and the timing may influence how “good” or “bad” ghosting feels to you and to the other person. For this reason, it’s best to avoid it when possible.

Are there alternatives?


Direct communication can be helpful depending on situational factors and personal values. While it may seem excessive or out of the ordinary to have a direct conversation with someone after only chatting online or going on a single date, this can help you practice valuable skills like communicating your boundaries, expressing your feelings and being clear about your own wants and needs. In the long run, you’ll probably feel better prepared for more challenging situations or breakups to come.

In most situations, it’s important to be direct and honest about your intentions and let the other person know that you’re not interested in continuing the relationship. That said, being tactful with your word choice demonstrates integrity. Avoid blaming the other person or using insults to make a point. Instead, keep it short and simple. You could say something like, “I’ve appreciated getting to know you and I don’t see this going any further. I wish you all the best.”

Keep in mind that rejection (of any kind) isn’t always well-received, and that’s okay. If the other person gets upset or angry, avoid feeding into their emotions or arguing back and forth. If you are in this situation, the best thing to do is to stay calm and end the conversation, even if that means letting the other person have the last word.

Prioritize your safety

Some people may respond to rejection or breakups in a frightening or threatening way. For instance, they may threaten you or someone you love, engage in stalking behaviors or use multiple numbers or social media profiles to try to maintain contact. If this happens, there are resources on campus that can help.

  • Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)
    OVA provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short-term trauma-focused counseling services for students, grad students, faculty and staff. They can also help you understand your rights and options, connect with other resources, create a safety plan or make an official report, if you want.
  • CU Boulder Police (CUPD)
    CUPD responds to incidents that take place on campus, including stalking, assault and more. They also have an embedded trauma advocate to support those affected by retaliation. Anonymous reporting is also available online or by phone.
  • Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC)
    OIEC implements and enforces university policies around sexual assault, intimate partner abuse and stalking, and other forms of sexual misconduct. If you or someone you know at CU has been impacted, reports can be filed online. Anonymous reporting is an option as well.

What can you do if you’ve been ghosted?

While it would be nice, not everyone will be direct when it comes to ending things. However, there are things you can do to bounce back.

  • Practice acceptance. The end of any relationship can be difficult, and ghosting can complicate the issue further because it rarely gives us closure. You may be tempted to hang onto false hope that they will come back, or you may dwell on where things went wrong. Remember that when things end, it’s not always possible to know why. Practicing acceptance is a good first step in moving on. Take time to acknowledge what happened and remind yourself that ghosting is a reflection of the other person, not you.
  •  Address your basic needs. Check in with yourself, and make sure you are meeting your most basic needs. For instance, you may need to eat, drink some water, check in with someone, go for a walk or get a good night’s sleep. Listen to your body’s cues and address them sooner than later.
  • Revisit hobbies and other relationships. Engage in hobbies or activities that make you feel like yourself and make more time for them. It can also be helpful to reconnect with close friends or family. Make a point to reach out to people in your life and catch up with each other.
  •  Avoid pursuing closure. Closure can help us move on from relationships, but we can’t demand that others offer it to us. Avoid repeatedly texting, messaging or calling someone demanding answers after you’ve been ghosted. This can escalate the situation, scare others and lead to further conflict.
  • Be mindful of future contact. Sometimes, people who have ghosted us may continue to lead us on. For instance, they may continue to interact with posts on your social media accounts or make contact with no intention of following up or getting back together. Be mindful of how a ‘ghoster’ is showing up in your life and what their intentions may be before engaging with them.

Keep in mind that getting back to normal is a personal experience, and it may look different for everyone. The key is to treat yourself with kindness.


Support resources

Let’s Talk

Students can drop in for a free, informal session with a Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provider to discuss a variety concerns, including relationship issues, ghosting, anxiety, stress and more.

Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)

OVA provides free and confidential support, consultation, advocacy and short-term trauma counseling to all CU Boulder students, graduate students, staff and faculty who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic, disturbing or life-disrupting event. They also offer support for those who are helping a friend, partner, family member or colleague through a traumatic experience.

Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC)

OIEC addresses university policies on sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking, and other forms of sexual misconduct and identity-based harassment. If you or someone you know at CU has been impacted, reports can be filed online. Anonymous reporting is an option as well

Learn more

Love bombing

New relationships are exciting, especially when you meet someone you instantly click with. In many cases, feeling connected and comfortable can be a sign of a healthy relationship to come. However, a relationship that starts off feeling great can shift in ways that are not so great once the excitement and novelty wear off. Here are some signs to watch out for.


While stalking is often directed at someone from a previous intimate relationship, it can also occur between former friends, roommates or someone the person has never met before, including matches from dating apps. Learn how to identify stalking behaviors and connect with resources.

Intimate partner abuse

Intimate partner abuse occurs in relationships that are or have been intimate. Abuse can take many forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, financial or reproductive abuse. Learn how to identify intimate partner abuse and connect with resources or learn the difference between healthy and abusive behaviors in a relationship.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault and violence can have lasting impacts on individuals and communities. Learn about sexual assault, consent and support resources.