I’m definitely guilty of impulsively sending a final text to people who have ghosted me: “That was mean.” “I know you’re ghosting, but heads up I have strep throat now so you might too.” Or, I’ll send a single ghost emoji. But did these texts prompt a response from the ghoster, or offer me any kind of closure? No, of course not! And dating experts say that although it may be tempting, it’s usually best to just let a ghost rest in peace.
Unfortunately, ghosting is a part of dating. A 2018 study found that out of 1,300 participants, 25% had ghosted people, and 20% had been ghosted. If you’re single and actively dating, odds are that you’ve been ghosted at least once — or even ghosted a few people yourself.
If the person ghosting you is someone you’ve just started dating — maybe you’ve been on one or two dates, maybe you’ve just texted — then let them go, relationship and intimacy expert Marla Mattenson tells Refinery29. “If they stop responding and it’s casual, the idea is to let it go, with gratitude,” she says. “If you let it go with anger or resentment, you’re going to reinforce the idea that you’re not good enough and there’s something wrong with you. Wish them well with gratitude, because if this is how they’re showing up now, how will they show up in the future? Listen to the sign. The sign says goodbye.”
If it’s a more serious relationship, however, that’s another story. If this is the first time your partner has ghosted you, “Give them the benefit of the doubt,” Mattenson advises. “Emergencies can happen.” After 24 hours, she says, go ahead text or call — but keep giving them the benefit of the doubt. “Say, ‘I’m concerned that I can’t reach you, can you let me know that you’re okay?’”
If your partner eventually comes back, Mattenson says, get your anger out privately — for example, in a journal — so you’re able to discuss the relationship and your expectations for communication calmly and with an open heart. But if your partner keeps going no-contact, Mattenson says, it’s time to get out. “If you allow ghosting to occur more than two or three times, that’s you now allowing this person to do this to you,” she says.
Someone who ghosts you isn’t someone you want in your life, Carolina Castaños, PhD, founder of MovingOn, an online healing program, previously told Refinery29. “When this is the go-to way of responding for an individual, and if they do not work on themselves, this will most likely not change,” she said. “This tells us that this individual has difficulty establishing relationships that have a degree of intimacy. Think about what you want, what you want in a relationship with your partner or a close friend.”
If you do feel like you need to text them again, Mattenson adds, you can send a final text — but again, keep it positive. “You can take full responsibility for your choice not to interact,” she says. “Text, ‘Hey, I haven’t heard from you for a number of days, so this relationship is not working for me. I’m going to let you free and let myself free. You’re welcome to respond, but if you don’t, that’s okay, too. I wish you all the best.’ That way, you have a full release for yourself.”
Remember, you don’t need anyone else involved to get closure. “You’re being called to have healthy closure for yourself, and it doesn’t get to include the other person,” Mattenson says. “You can send out vibes to the world saying, ‘I’m whole and complete by myself, and I’m available for a whole and complete person to come into my life who wants to contribute and uplift my life.’”
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