Let Ghosters Ghost

You can tell them what you think, but you already have whatever answers from them you might be looking for.
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
A screenshot of a text that reads "haven't heard from you in a while... everything ok?" against a blue and white background.

There are simple ways to avoid ghosting someone. All it takes is one conversation, or maybe even something so casual as a quick text! And yet in today’s churn-and-burn, high-volume dating economy, ghosters abound. 

How to deal with them? In a story published Wednesday in Glamour, one writer documented her experience with taking ghosters to task in a ritual she refers to as “self-dumping.” The writer texted someone who’d recently ghosted her “there’s something I really need to talk about with you,” and he emerged immediately from the ghostland ether. What follows is a scene in which she attempts to goad him into calling their relationship off the proper way, or get him to crystallize the idea that what he did was wrong. There’s a moment of vindication laced with the routine disappointment of being dumped as he leaves the apartment.


It’s not a terrible idea, and one I’ve toyed around with myself. I can see how the idea of forced closure sounds better than no closure at all, and there is some amount of sadistic pleasure to be gained from making a cowardly person squirm a little. But to try and hold someone to account for an individual act of ghosting assumes on some level that it was a mistake or a moment of cowardice.

As the writer finds in her confrontations, it seems more likely that it’s endemic to who they (at least currently) are. One ghoster goes several rounds with her in a “sorry you feel that way” style of rhetoric that suggests he doesn’t get where she is coming from at all, which leaves her with the task of trying to rework his personality/trauma/dating history/psychological profile in a single conversation, which is an overwhelming task.

It’s a funny bit to confront those who ghosted you, but the Glamour writer refers to ghosting as a stripping of dignity. Ghostees are more than entitled to a text along the lines of, “hey, haven’t heard from you in a while… have you moved on?” or perhaps something more that more straightforwardly communicates their hurt feelings (if we are just talking about a few dates).

But as she finds, people who ghost at best have an entirely different approach to life, and at worst aren’t enlightened enough to be straight up with people they don’t want to see anymore; trying to hold them to account doesn’t work. To egregiously paraphrase Maya Angelou, a ghoster ghosting is giving you all the information you already need. Or as my colleague Sara David eloquently phrased it in a previous post for VICE, “these days I see People Who Ghost as people whose lives simply operate on a totally different compass than mine, like men who go to the park to slackline or women who throw ‘same penis forever’ bachelorette parties.” 

“It’s important to remember that people are allowed to break up with us at any time, and they do not need a reason,” the Glamour story sagely notes. Being dumped is a universally unsavory experience, and is often similarly unsatisfying when the dumper’s reasons don’t add up.  But as with those experiences, leaning on the ghoster or dumper for closure means never getting it. We are on the brink of hot vax summer; the weather is warm, the apps are flourishing, and the time is right for rocking on and getting down with whomever you want. 

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