Is Ghosting Ever Acceptable? If So, When?

Generally speaking, ghosting is one of the most toxic behaviors in the dating world today — and sadly, one of the most common. The fact that so many people think it’s acceptable to just disappear from someone’s life when they don’t want to date them anymore rather than having an honest albeit uncomfortable conversation is a serious problem. However, is ghosting ever acceptable?

  1. You fear for your safety. Ghosting is absolutely not just acceptable but preferable when you need to get out of an abusive relationship that would be unsafe to end directly/face-to-face. Ensuring your own personal safety is always paramount, so if you feel that you would be in danger if you told the other person that you no longer wanted to see them, it’s more than okay to leave without another word. You have to protect yourself.
  2. You’ve tried to break up with them and they won’t take the hint. You may not worry that the other person is going to hurt you for breaking up with them, but you have tried many times to cut things off and they’re very resistant to letting you go. In some cases, they even refuse, instead trying to convince you on a daily basis that you should stay with them and give them another chance. If you’re going ’round and ’round in circles and not getting anywhere, least of all away from them, ghosting may be your only option.
  3. You haven’t met in person yet and realized you don’t want to. Let’s say you met this person on a dating app and they seemed great at first. You chatted a bit, felt like there was chemistry there, but before you actually met up in person, you found out they lied about something or they displayed some major red flags that point to them not being a very nice person. In this case, ghosting is acceptable as you don’t really even know one another and you have no idea what they’re capable of.

When is ghosting not acceptable?

It goes without saying that if your situation doesn’t mean the above criteria, you should be telling the person straight-up that you’re no longer interested in seeing them. However, if you need things spelled out slightly more, here are some of the “excuses” people use to go AWOL that are totally not okay.

  1. You changed your mind about them. You thought you liked them a lot, but as time has gone on, your feelings have gone from “hell yeah!” to “meh.” It’s totally fine that you’re not feeling them as much as you thought you did, but that’s no reason to disappear without a word. Show them the respect and courtesy of cutting things off directly.
  2. You decided you like someone else better. You were casually dating someone with the understanding that you were both still allowed to see other people. Turns out, one of those other people has become someone you’re crazy about and much more compatible with. That’s great! However, ghosting isn’t acceptable just because you want to get on with your other new relationship and forget this one ever existed. Tell them it’s over!
  3. You want to stay single for now. Casual dating is fun, but things are getting a bit more serious than you’re ready for right now and you think you’d rather be on your own for now. You don’t want to hurt them, but you also don’t really know how to break the news that it’s not them, it’s you. You’re an adult, though — figure out a way and do it.
  4. Your life has suddenly gotten too busy for dating. You didn’t have much going on when you started dating, but now suddenly something has come up that’s taking up a huge portion of your time and mental/emotional energy, so much so that you don’t really have the space for dating right now. You’re not in love or anything, so you’re cool with cutting things off, but you’re so busy and distracted that you just want to drop the other person without a word. Don’t do it. You can take five minutes to let them know that you’re thankful for your time together, but your circumstances have changed.
  5. You’re no longer attracted to them. Things were hot and heavy in the beginning and you really liked them, but instead of getting even more intense, they’ve just sort of fizzled out. Again, it sucks but it happens. That doesn’t make it okay to ghost the other person, though. As awkward as the conversation may be and as much as you might not want to have it, you owe it to them to break things off properly.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia