Ask Hecuba: Ghosting

Hey Hecuba,

When is it appropriate to ghost somebody? Ghosting, in case you don’t know what it is, is the act of suddenly disappearing from somebody’s life, usually in romantic contexts.


Disappearing in Doheny

Hi Disappearing,

While ghosting is never the most mature way to handle a situation, it’s understandable that this method is growing in popularity. Most things in life require action to achieve the desired result; ghosting simply requires inaction to achieve it.

I’ve been happily married for more than a few centuries now, but I can empathize with those who have been ghosted. When my husband was away at war, every day that he was gone was agonizing because I never knew if he’d return or if he’d been killed in battle. I was in a limbo, similar to people who are ghosted. They don’t know whether you’re not interested at all or just really busy and planning to get back to them later, all because you’re avoiding having an awkward or uncomfortable conversation.

There are repercussions to ghosting, too. The other person will likely take much longer to move on because they don’t have any finality to the situation and may even feel worse about your relationship than if you had just ended things in a more transparent way. Want to ask out a friend of theirs in the future? Don’t count on things working out; they’ve probably heard about your propensity to ghost already.

That said, here are a few instances that I think it would be appropriate or reasonable to ghost:

  • The Tinder Match: You’ve only talked online a few times and never made concrete plans.
  • The Jerk: You hung out once (or twice) and they behaved so poorly that you’re embarrassed to be seen with them. You never want to see them or anybody associated with them ever again. It’s fine to ghost.
  • The Hazard: Turning them down directly might put you in danger. This is an outlier but some people can’t handle rejection and may get verbally or physically abusive in the face of it. If you have genuine cause for concern that they’d react in this way, you have every right to ghost and hope they simply forget you.

And that’s all. It’s a short list!

In summary, most people deserve a text at the very least. The amount of time you’ve been seeing them is generally proportional to the length of explanation you owe them. Plus, you’ll be stronger for it, and if they ever become your boss unexpectedly, it won’t be super uncomfortable.

Have a spoopy Halloween and ghost carefully,


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