Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Have you Ever Been Ghosted (Or Done the Ghosting)?

29COMMENTS-master675

It’s recently been reported that Charlize Theron dumped Sean Penn by way of ghosting, which is a breakup tactic in which the dumper falls off the face of the planet never to be heard from again by the dumpee. We know a little about that here. The New York Times was so intrigued by this seemingly new concept called ghosting that they dug around a little and found actual people who had been ghosted, and some who had done the ghosting, to explain what it is and why someone would use such a tactic to end a relationship.

Take Elena Scotti, 27, for example. Elena is a photo editor for a media company in New York and had fallen in love with a guy she met while studying abroad. “We were inseparable,” she said. “I was talking to him every day and sleeping in the same bed with him for six months.” After they returned to their respective homes, Elena flew to Chicago to visit him and attend Lollapalooza. After one date together in Chicago, “He fell off the face of the planet,” Elena said, and she “didn’t see him again until he moved into her building in Brooklyn with his girlfriend three years later. The silent treatment continued, Ms. Scotti’s former flame ignoring her even as they passed each other in the hallway.” Oh, snap.

WHY would someone behave that way? Well, we can’t know why Elena’s Chicago dude acted like a turd, but Joe Stahl, some other dude, explains why he ghosted his boyfriend, totally cutting off contact, blocking him on his phone, and un-following him on social media: “I knew that there were things that I couldn’t fix about myself that were making him angry. I felt like I was powerless and ashamed that I couldn’t be this person I wanted to be for him, which is why I deserted.” Um, lame.

No, I’m sorry. It’s one thing to ghost someone you’ve been out with once or even twice. Or someone you connected with online but decided, for whatever reason, you didn’t want to meet in person (like, maybe you Googled him and learned he’s Republican or something–or, fine, a Democrat). But I agree with Anna Sale, the host and managing editor of the WNYC podcast “Death, Sex & Money,” who says: “If you go on more than three dates, you’ve indicated you’re interested. To disappear after that is confusing.” And rude and lame and plain old weak.

Unsurprisingly, the Times article about people explaining why they ghosted others garnered a lot of feedback. Readers left comments describing their own ghosting experiences and the Times rounded up some of the best responses, which you can read here. One person was even ghosted by a spouse who just upped and left her and pretended not to know her when they crossed paths within inches of each other. Wha??

Back in my single days, I was ghosted a few times, but none of the experiences really stick out in my memory as traumatizing or terribly dramatic or anything. There was one guy I met on OKCupid and went out with four times who simply stopped returning my emails and I never saw him again. No biggie — we didn’t have much chemistry anyway. There was another guy I went out with maybe three times who faded away (but I think it was a mutual fade-out, like maybe after the third date, when neither one of us contacted the other, if I remember right, or maybe there were a couple of short email exchanges that didn’t really go anywhere). And then there was a guy I dated for a year, and we actually broke up in person but then tried to remain friends too soon after the breakup and got into a big fight one day while hanging out. He called me a week or two after our fight to check in with me and confirm that he graduated from med school and would be moving in a couple of weeks. “I’ll call you soon,” he said as he hung up, and I never heard from him again. Which was fine. The relationship was over and I needed to move on. (I met Drew a year later).

So, what about you? Have you ever been ghosted or ghosted someone else? If you did the ghosting, what was your reason?

46 comments… add one
  • avatar

    SasLinna June 30, 2015, 12:13 pm

    I ghosted the first guy I kissed. I didn’t really enjoy the kiss that much and ignored his attempts to contact me afterwards. Well, I was 15. The funny thing is that he was still mad at me for it years later (I would run into him from time to time, and he always brought it up). It was sort of creepy.
    Oh, now I remember a much worse story. I also ghosted a good friend at age 15. I got annoyed with her, and instead of telling her I wanted to end the friendship, I just started ignoring her. I was sort of an asshole at 15 I guess. And just too insecure to state my boundaries upfront.
    I can’t remember really ghosting anyone since then though. I think I’ve done the fade out a few times, but no outright ghosting.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana June 30, 2015, 12:58 pm

      I did this to the first guy I kissed too, and it was so mean.. It was awkward too because we went to the same school and had a lot of the same friends, and like for a solid two months I basically just avoided and ignored him. We later became really good friends and ended up a couple, about a year and a half after the original ghosting, and I know he always sort of held on to it. I always felt shitty about that.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna June 30, 2015, 1:27 pm

        In my case I didn’t feel too bad about ghosting the guy. There was too much of an age difference (I think he was almost three years older) and he had pursued me in a weird, kind of pushy way. I do think ghosting my friend was super shitty though. The oddest aspect is that I gained a lot of new friends at that time and they were all totally willing to support my ignoring her. I guess they were assholes, too. It was a weird time in my life. I think I finally allowed myself some real teenage behavior at 15/16 and it all sort of came out in one wave of shittiness.

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  • avatar

    Jane63 June 30, 2015, 12:43 pm

    I was ghosted by a guy I had dated exclusively for 8 months. One day he simply stopped contact with me. No break up, fight or anything. Just complete silence. I found out several months later he thought I was cheating on him because I went to a movie by myself. At that point I was so glad he ghosted me & I had not wasted any more time on him I almost thanked him! WTH?

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  • Miel

    Miel June 30, 2015, 12:43 pm

    I’ve had the ghost-turned-into-a-stalker which is a really weird combination of creep. A friend introduced me to this guy basically by giving us each other’s phone number and telling us to call each other. I spent the following week on the phone every evening with this guy because he was really nice, funny and easy to talk to. We agreed to meet in person, so we met at a park and he was as nice and as funny in person.
    .
    Two days later or so I have a missed call on my phone, I think (wrongly) it’s from him. I call him and say “did you call me ?” and he’s like “no”. Then there’s like an awkward 10 seconds silence and I’m like “errr ok, hope your day is going well…” whatever, we hang up and that’s it. I tried calling and texting him two or three times but he never answers, so that’s it. I forget about him. Too bad.
    .
    Two months later, he sends me this super long email on how “he needs to fix things about himself to be a better person and he loves me so much and he wants to spend his life with me, but right now he really needs to focus on himself”. Okaaaaaaaaay, what the hell is that dude? Anyway, I don’t answer to that email.
    .
    Again, three or so months later, he texts me, just casual “Hey, how have you been ?”. I reply something simple like “hey”, just to see where it’s going. Basically he starts to chat me up, then start talking about how he really want a relationship with me and all. I tell him “what was going on with you ghosting me last time ?” He says it won’t happen again, I don’t believe him, and I just end the conversation like that.
    .
    To cut short to the story, he kept doing this for the next SIX YEARS. I blocked his phone, I blocked his email address, he tried to add me on social media and I blocked him there too. But still, years later, he will CREATE A NEW EMAIL ADDRESS so he can reach me. He still talks on how “we were great together” and stuff. He will create fake profiles using his first name and my family name (what the hell?) but I still block those too.
    .
    I haven’t read an email from him in 3-4 years so I don’t know what’s up with him. Hopefully a bot took over his email account and it’s not actually him trying to contact me, because that would be so creepy !!!!!

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  • mylaray

    mylaray June 30, 2015, 12:47 pm

    I dated a guy exclusively for about 9 months and then he ghosted me. I knew he had ghosted me after a few weeks but I thought it was so low, I confronted him about it and he told me he was already dating someone else, and I’m pretty sure he cheated on me. A few weeks before the ghosting I sensed something was off and gave him an out, but he was all “of course I still want to be with you.” Clearly, I should have broken up with him, but I was young and dumb. Actually now that I think about, the relationships I’ve been dumped in have always ended in ghosting on their part. That’s kind of sad. I think it’s fine after a few dates, but definitely not okay in a relationship.

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    • avatar

      Ale June 30, 2015, 1:06 pm

      Definitely not okay. It is pretty painful to not know what one did wrong.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy June 30, 2015, 1:03 pm

    I ghosted a guy that I went out with on a single date. We were texting a lot, but he was going through all kinds of drama with his very-recently-former primary partner. I was becoming his only sounding board for it, and it was really uncomfortable because I barely knew him. Then I suggested that maybe it would be useful to talk it over with a therapist, and he was like “Therapists are for people too weak to handle their own problems.”
    Then it came out that he felt the same way about anti-depressant medication. Since I’m pretty much relying on therapy and medication for the time being to control my (fairly severe) depression, that was pretty much it for me. I just stopped responding to him.

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  • avatar

    Ale June 30, 2015, 1:04 pm

    I was ghosted by a guy that I dated for 8 months exclusively. Things were going really great, he was divorced (or so he told me), we had a good relationship and I thought he was great. Then one day he stopped texting me and calling me and disappeared. It was weird because he was always in touch, during every moment of his day. But 24 hours passed and I knew he was ghosting me. I waited like four days and texted him, asking him what had happened. He told me that he had some issues and to forgive him, because he had decided to be with me forever and he loved me more than anything. So, our forever lasted… a week. He did the same thing all over again, stopped texting me, calling me. I waited longer this time and contacted him, only to tell him that I deserved to know the reason why he was breaking up with me. He told me that he loved his ex wife, and wanted to get back together with her, and that he hoped that we could be friends. I never replied.
    I never talked to him again, but really I dodged a bullet. I ended up realizing that maybe he was still married and his wife found out about me, so he had to cut me out. It was still pretty painful to go through that.
    I also have a friend who ghosted me. We were friends with benefits but he developed feelings so, we stopped the benefits. We continued talking and one day he calls me crying telling all the things he feels about me. I told him no again. We stopped talking for a while and then he came back and talked to me, telling me that he was over me. So we continued to be friends again, until one day he blocked me on facebook. And so, the drama ended.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy June 30, 2015, 1:04 pm

    The guy who ghosted his wife, though?! Seriously, what the hell?

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    • avatar

      Ale June 30, 2015, 1:09 pm

      Can you imagine being ghosted by a husband of 12 years? Passing next to him and he acts like he doesn’t know you? WTH?

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy June 30, 2015, 1:11 pm

        I feel like that would give someone some serious trust issues.
        And what kind of person does that? Like I feel like the dude must just be a total sociopath.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana June 30, 2015, 1:57 pm

        um yeah, like IDK how a person would bounce back from that shit.

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      • veracityb

        veracityb July 1, 2015, 9:55 am

        This actually happened to a friend of mine. Husband was working in a different city and seemed to suddenly go silent on her. And his friends and family. He insisted he wasn’t cheating, but offered no reasons for why. It was an absolute mystery to all concerned. Eventually she managed to get hold of him to suggest a divorce, which he agreed to. It took a while, but she seems..better. Not bitter at all even. She’s dating, focusing on work, and has her head screwed on tight. She did say she didn’t think she would ever let herself fall so hard again after he broke her heart so… You’re right, though, I can’t imagine a) someone doing this to someone else and b) the strength of character you would need to bounce back from it. You would need to accept and let go of so much.

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  • gigi

    gigi June 30, 2015, 1:12 pm

    I have both done it & had it done to me, well .. mostly I was the one doing it though to be honest. But all of them were in the 3-5 date range, before sex had ever happened, or any exclusivity talks. It still made me feel really shitty about myself. But when I would try to actually have a conversation with the first few guys, about how we just weren’t “clicking”, chemistry wasn’t there, didn’t want the same things, etc, they would want to argue & debate about it. They would text & email relentlessly, why why why? Then occasionally, they would have to throw out a few insults. It became much easier to fade out, or ghost them. I don’t miss dating too much 🙂

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover June 30, 2015, 6:55 pm

      This is why I did it too. I never did it till I started online dating, but there’s something about those guys! Not all of them, obviously, I did meet my husband online. But the proportion of guys who will try to argue or explain you out of your decision seems a lot higher online. Maybe a higher percentage of online daters are douches who can’t meet anyone in real life.
      .
      Anyway, yeah, I only ever did it after 1 or 2 dates. Or no dates at all. I felt kinda bad, but “the conversation” was always worse than the ghosting. I can’t remember if I ever got ghosted. Probably, but if I did it must have been after only 1 or 2 dates because I don’t remember any of the guys well enough to recall.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy June 30, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Honestly I’ve been ghosted a lot of times, but never with someone I’m at all serious with (fortunately). Anytime before like 5-6 dates doesn’t really bother me. I just accept it and move on.

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  • avatar

    K June 30, 2015, 1:58 pm

    I’ve never ghosted anyone, and I can’t recall being ghosted by a guy. Ghosting infuriates me. I’d much rather hear that someone isn’t interested up front, than be ghosted. I did get ghosted by my best guy friend though, which I wrote about today in the forum post about ending friendships. That really hurt me. If he was going to cut me out of his life because his girlfriend didn’t like me, at least have the balls to say something to me, or apologize for it. Especially after 12 years of friendship.

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    • kare

      kare June 30, 2015, 3:00 pm

      I think your friend ghosting you is worse. I’m sorry to hear that. 🙁

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      • avatar

        K July 1, 2015, 9:15 am

        Thank you. I know I’m going to see him at some point in the future whether it’s at a wedding, college reunion, etc. and I plan on trying to be the bigger person and acting normal.

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    • avatar

      Ange June 30, 2015, 6:21 pm

      I got ghosted by a friend as well, on the day we were meant to go to a concert together. She never paid me back the $80 for the ticket either.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover June 30, 2015, 6:59 pm

      Oh wait, I *have* been ghosted! I totally didn’t think of it till you brought up your friend. Yeah, a female friend of about 8 years ghosted me. For no apparent reason. After I’d dropped a ton of cash going to her destination wedding while 6 months pregnant. I think maaaaaybe she couldn’t handle that I was having a baby? She was almost definitely too old by that time. But still, we were friends a long time! I couldn’t believe she did that. 🙁 Still makes me sad.

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      • avatar

        K July 1, 2015, 9:35 am

        I think the sadness of being ghosted by a friend never truly leaves us. I’m sorry 🙁

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  • othy

    othy June 30, 2015, 2:38 pm

    This happened to my cousin and his wife. They had been married for about 8 months, and she was going through her second miscarriage in that same time frame. He went to work after taking her to her doctor, and came home and she had completely moved out. She moved back in with her parents, and only contacted him again through her lawyer. He was completely dumbfounded (although I strongly suspect there was a hell of a lot more to the story then what he shared with the family).
    .
    This is the same couple who managed to book their wedding night hotel room in the same hotel the whole family was staying at. And their room was in the same building as the rest of us (it was one of those hotels with many different buildings with a cluster of rooms.) I guess the hotel assumed we were all together due to our last names and just stuck them in the same area. Anyway, my grandmother wrote them a very nice note inviting them to breakfast the next morning, and we all signed it. They responded with a note back promising never to speak to us ever again. And then the bride upheld her part of the bargain!

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    • avatar

      K June 30, 2015, 2:54 pm

      Huh? “Come to breakfast with us!”…”We’ll never speak to you again!” ????

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      • othy

        othy June 30, 2015, 3:07 pm

        I think they were joking (i.e. we’re so embarassed that we don’t want to talk about it again). I’m not sure, he’s super hard to read, and she was even worse (in the handful of times I met her).

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    • Stonegypsy

      Stonegypsy June 30, 2015, 2:54 pm

      What the hell? Why did they decide never to speak to the family again? (I mean, okay, sucks a lot for your cousin that his wife up and left, that’s awful, but I’m super curious (er… nosy) about their motivation to cut off contact with your whole family)

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    • kare

      kare June 30, 2015, 2:59 pm

      I don’t understand…does she hate breakfast? I’d want an annulment if I married someone who reacted that way.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal June 30, 2015, 2:38 pm

    I ghosted a guy that I had been hooking up with/booty-calling. About two months in, one Sunday morning after a late Saturday night, he said, “What do you think about going on an actual date? Like to a museum or the park?” and I nodded, picked up my stuff, and left. And never reached out to him or responded to his next text.
    *
    In my defense, this guy was a bit unhinged — a coke head, prone to fits of anger, bragged about how many fights he had been in, didn’t have a bank account (or any credit!!!). He was, however, very handsome, an incredibly talented artist, and very good in bed. I was also just out of a terrible 8 year relationship and needed a good physical rebound.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 7:03 am

      I found this hilarious. Just got up and walked out. *chuckle*

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      • avatar

        TheRascal July 1, 2015, 2:59 pm

        He and I were definitely not on the same page about what we wanted from our trysts….

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  • avatar

    booknerd June 30, 2015, 2:51 pm

    I’ve never been ghosted or ghosted anyone! What’s wrong with me?

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    • Portia

      Portia June 30, 2015, 9:32 pm

      I haven’t really ghosted or been ghosted by someone I was dating. I have ghosted friends before, though.

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    • avatar

      Unwanted_Truth July 1, 2015, 9:31 am

      Nothing is wrong with you. You’re not a coward. It’s actually quite a good quality to have in my book.

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  • kare

    kare June 30, 2015, 2:56 pm

    My FWB stood me up on my birthday then ghosted. We’ve been friends for 3 years with the benefit part kind of popping up from time to time. Although I don’t have Facebook, so I get ghosted fairly frequently whenever I’m dating.
    *
    I personally try not to ghost people. If I’m not interested, I’ll politely decline another date. If the guy doesn’t back off, I’ll bluntly tell them it’s never going to happen. If they still persist, I block their phone number. Fortunately I’ve only had to do that with 3 guys.

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  • avatar

    shakeourtree June 30, 2015, 5:23 pm

    I’m pretty bad about ghosting guys I’m only casually dating. I used to always try and be polite and let them know I was no longer interested, but then I got ghosted several times by guys that I was only trying to contact in order to deliver the polite I’m-over-it spiel. So I feel like that’s just the way it’s done these days with casual dating. I don’t owe them anything; they don’t owe me anything. Granted, none of these people have been integrated into my life or integrated me into their life in any meaningful way. Once you start meeting each other’s friends and so on, I think you do owe that person an explanation.

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  • avatar

    Ange June 30, 2015, 6:23 pm

    I’m not a fan of ghosting in general but to delve into the celebrity gossip aspect of it I’m sure Sean Penn is no treat to date and he probably did something pretty heinous to deserve it from Charlize. He’s an angry, drunk baked ham of a man.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover June 30, 2015, 6:57 pm

      Baked ham!!!!

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    • kare

      kare June 30, 2015, 10:05 pm

      I agree…the gossip blogs are saying she dumped him because he was starting to get controlling and having a lot of angry outbursts. So in that situation, I think ghosting is totally acceptable.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 7:19 am

      Baked Ham for the win!!! Ahahahaha
      *
      Agreed that Sean Penn is a nutter. She can do soooo much better. They gushed about each other waaaay too much and waaay too soon. I thought she would have more sense than that- he definitely has some anger management issues.
      *
      Speaking of anger management, I bought the 1st season of Shahs of Whatever on Amazon recently and am almost through them, and I had forgotten what a hot mess GG was/is. Also, she and MIke totally had a thing, pre-Jessica. (Yes, I obvs like the more refined things in life, like Bravo trash TV and trashy magazines. Isthataproblem? hehe)

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  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover June 30, 2015, 7:01 pm

    Totally off-topic, but I just thought I should let everyone know that I filled up the whole Recent Comments sidebar. YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 7:04 am

      Nice.
      *
      On that side note, I went to junior high and high school with Anna Sale, that Wendy mentioned above. She was pretty cool then too. 🙂

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  • avatar

    Codename Betty June 30, 2015, 7:04 pm

    I was ghosted by a serious boyfriend. We’d been together off & on for 5 years; super dramatic late teens, early 20s nonsense but we were each other’s firsts & terrible communicators. He was enlisted at that point and we were supposedly exclusive. When he was in town for a mutual friends wedding, he told me “I love you and I’ll see you tomorrow” and then I didn’t hear from him for six years. When we finally spoke again I found out he’d been told he was going on tour in Iraq and it hit him hard. It didn’t make it okay but it was damned nice to find out why!

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes July 1, 2015, 7:10 am

    I think what bothers me about ghosting is that in doing it, you are assuming that the other person cant handle a break up/off or the inherent message that the person being ghosted isnt even worth your time. I totally agree that someone in the up-to-about-5-date range or thereabouts, ghosting isnt so bad, but actual long term relationships? Ugh.
    *
    Also, there is a difference between taking some time to not communicate and ghosting. One you agree on (or at least inform the other person you are doing it) and the other you dont at all.
    *
    What about ghosting before social media/cell phones/etc? Id have thought that the ghoster was dead or gotten into an accident and had amnesia or something.

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  • veracityb

    veracityb July 1, 2015, 10:06 am

    I *tried* to ghost once, but didn’t realise I had a boomerang boy on my hands. After ignoring a lot of texts, I eventually hitched up my ladyballs and told him it was over in a very nice, thoughtful text. His immediate text response was “what is this nonsense, darling. I’ll see you soon”. -_- And even after I declined to respond despite my irritation, he still continued to text me about when we were meeting (how about 10th of never?), and eventually about his dreams of me and a cat. (#wtf?) I spent Christmas figuring out how to block his number, only to be texted out of the blue six months later on whatsapp. Where I promptly also blocked him. That was some real Teflon shit.

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    • Stonegypsy

      Stonegypsy July 1, 2015, 12:19 pm

      This sort of reminds me of that Friends storyline with Chandler’s very brief roommate Eddie, the crazy dude who would not leave.

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