Is It Ever OK To Ghost Someone?

Turns out it's more complicated than we thought.

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

It seems we’ve collectively agreed that ghosting is a pretty heartless thing to do. The mere mention of it will provoke eye rolls, references to “intolerable fuckboys” and a “friend of a friend” horror story about a poor soul it happened to. People have strong feelings to say the least.

But is it as bad as we make out? What if you can’t reply to a text because you’re genuinely busy? Or the person you dated was a total creeper and you want to scrub the whole thing from your brain? Better yet, what if ghosting is something we need to accept about modern dating?

We asked some other young daters (ghosters and non-ghosters alike) whether or not they think it could ever be OK. Here’s what they think.

“I Stressed About It Longer Than I Should Have.”

The thing about completely disappearing on someone is that they don’t get any closure. For David*, this was the suckiest part. “
I went on a date a little while ago and we both had an incredible time,” he told us. “She said she had fun and would love to hang out again sometime next week.”

“Unfortunately I never heard from her ever again and sadly stressed about it longer than I should have.

 So be a polite ghost and be honest if you’re about to disappear on someone, don’t leave them hanging.”

“Sure, ghosting is easy as hell to do, but it’s easy not to do as well.”

Scarlett* vehemently agrees with this sentiment. “Sure, ghosting is easy as hell to do, but it’s easy not to do as well,” she says. “A simple, “Hey nice to meet you, but I’m not interested” will take five seconds to type out and send.”

Mutual Ghosting

And then there’s the mutual ghost: a rare phenomenon that involves both parties simultaneously agreeing they don’t want to see each other. According to Stephen*, it’s totally allowed.

“Because people are becoming more and more shitty as time passes, people are more willing to just straight up ghost,” he says. “If my plan is to ghost a guy I will do just that. If I don’t hear from them in three days, I will block them on all socials and seek comfort in the fact that they obviously didn’t want to reach out to me, so I’ll wipe my hands clean.”

He adds that if they do contact him, he’ll send a quick apology text and explain he’s not into them. But the mutual ghosting is by far the best case scenario.

“I Ghosted A Long-Time Friend.”

Emily was friends with someone who was continuously dishonest towards her, leaving her no choice but to stop returning her messages.

“I know the bigger thing to do would have been to be upfront about why I was upset, but I also arrived at the conclusion that, if that person didn’t understand what the problem was or wouldn’t own up to it, it wasn’t my responsibility to educate them about it.” she told Uni Junkee. “I was also emotionally exhausted by having to constantly question the things they said and came to the conclusion that I could no longer give them a platform to continue being dishonest, which was, I think, the better choice for my mental health.”

Sometimes it’s just up to the other person to realise they’ve fucked up. A ghosting can send an (albeit wordless) message. If they don’t get it, it’s their fault.

Or Is It Just How Things Are Now?

Then there’s the other argument that ghosting is the new normal. Michael* thinks this is the case. “I get that people can get upset, but in an era where it’s happening so frequently I think it’s important to realise it isn’t a personal thing,” he says. In fact, there’s lots of external factors that cause us to date the way we do.

“I think it’s important to realise it isn’t a personal thing.”

“We live in a world where our generation is under more pressure and stress than ever before. We’re in less secure forms of work and housing, our pay is stagnating, and the societal safety net is evaporating around us,” he says. “We’re entering into casual relationships to satisfy short-term desires, often to help try and counter the sense of alienation foisted upon us by our jobs. So in that context I think ghosting is excusable.”

“Ideally you would send a brief message just explaining that you’re keen for things not to progress further, but if you don’t receive that, don’t blame your partner. Blame capitalism.”

There you have it, folks. The free market is the reason for our dating woes.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons. 

(Lead image: Insecure/HBO)