Unfortunately, being ghosted has nothing to do with Patrick Swayze, Devon Sawa or anyone else who played a hunky spirit in a big budget film. Quite the opposite actually. Being ghosted means someone vanishes from all communication—typically in reference to a romantic courting of sorts—and you’re left without answers, or worse, their unfinished business. Rude! The worst part about being ghosted? Plotting your next move, which usually means composing the perfect text. A post-ghost text has to do a million things at once: call them out, ask them why, let ‘em have it and get some closure. All while sounding as breezy as possible. There’s no perfect text after being ghosted, but honey, you’ve got options. Here are ten.
What is ghosting?
Ghosting is a haunting phenomenon. It happens when the person you’ve recently started dating stops contacting you cold turkey. Hilary Weinstein, LCSW, of HLW Therapy, says, “When a person ‘ghosts,’ they are non-verbally communicating to you that they are not interested, or unsure at best.” Silence is a rotten way to let someone know you no longer want to date them. In fact, part of the reason ghosting is so frustrating is because there are no specifics! The person on the receiving end is left wondering if things are totally dead and if so, why?
We like to understand why things happen. When we’re ghosted, not only do we not know why, we begin thinking we’re the problem. “[Ghosting] often starts the spiral of narratives of negative self-talk, insecurities, and replaying interactions to try to guess ‘what went wrong,’ or ‘wasn’t enough,’” says Weinstein.
This is why that urge to text after you’ve been ghosted is so strong. We want our control back! All these emotions—anger, fear, hurt—swirl around and we choose the only weapon available to us: our phone.
Why do people ghost?
People ghost for a lot of reasons. One thing to remember: It’s not about you. For the most part, people who ghost aren’t comfortable communicating their emotions and don’t like confrontation. Breaking up with someone requires both and some folks aren’t cut out for it.
“They are giving you the gift of showing you, early on, a bunch of red flags about their ability to communicate, respect your feelings, prioritize somebody other than themselves, and basically, have their emotional shit together,” says Weinstein. “Whether or not you two shared certain interests, humor, physical attraction or otherwise is beside the point.”
Claire AH, a matchmaker, dating coach and owner of Friend of a Friend Matchmaking, reminds people that while ghosting is bad behavior, it can definitely come from a place of pain. It’s hard to know where someone is coming from if your only experience with them is a few sushi dates. In fact, when Taimi, the largest LGBTQ+ dating platform, asked users about their experiences with ghosting, several admitted they ghosted out of fear.
One user said she even ghosted people she was sure would’ve become great partners. “I think the main reason was my fear of the unknown,” she said. “I decided to end it because at that moment I faced major abandonment issues and was simply scared of diving into things deeper and then facing a potential breakup.”
Remember this if and when you decide to text after being ghosted. Lashing out and shooting off judgmental texts isn’t a good look whether the person is struggling with abandonment issues or not.
When should you text after being ghosted?
Overwhelmingly, all the experts we consulted recommend not texting anything after being ghosted. We know! It’s hard. Sending a message is just not worth your time or energy, especially since you can’t control the response. Would it be great to have them break down crying and apologize? Yes! Does that happen? Almost never!
But, there are a few circumstances where reaching out might make sense. If any of the following apply to you, wait a week or two to cool down, then compose a text.
- They stood you up on a date
- Things were going incredibly well and the communication was consistent
- You’d been on more than four dates
- Your sole intention is to express yourself
Ruby Payne, sex and relationship expert at UberKinky, a leading adult toy retailer, says being stood up or ghosted after four dates is grounds for a text. Payne adds, “Your goal here shouldn’t be to win them back or punish them. Don’t shout, swear or try to get them to give you another chance…Don’t hold out for a response or an apology; be the bigger person and realize you’re better off without them.”
We particularly enjoyed the advice from Dr. John De Oca, a relationship coach and nurse practitioner, who says the intention behind your text is everything. “When the intention is to get a response out of them, I believe that is when we should refrain,” he says. “Texting will allow you to make that one last effort and truly get what you need off your chest.”
If all you want is a sobbing, apologizing fool on the other end of the text, put. Down. Your. Phone.
What to text after being ghosted?
Every situation is unique, but here are ten texts to send after being ghosted. Send only one text. Don’t give in to anger. No guilt-tripping. Zero expectations.
1. “Hey, are you OK? It’s been a minute.”
Claire AH says a short, direct text is a “calm and low-intensity response that draws no attention to the matter of ghosting. Everything is kept light and open-ended.” Asking a question also shows you’re mature and haven’t freaked out yet (whether or not you have). “Whilst we may feel that the ghoster does not deserve our patience or niceties, if we want a response, we need to approach the situation in this way,” says Claire. If you don’t get a response, assume the worst (your date is not Devon Sawa or Patrick Swayze), and move on. If you do get a response, it’s possible one of our other options will work for your next text.
2. “Hey, I thought we were off to an amazing start, but you sort of disappeared. I hope everything’s OK. If you wanna talk, I’d love to know what happened, good or bad."
This is the text you send when you really felt a serious connection—maybe the two of you even exchanged exclamations of almost love!—and are shocked about the ghosting. Beware: This is a vulnerable text and you may not like the reply (or lack thereof). Dr. Oca says, “If it feels good to you, you can acknowledge in a text that you were enjoying getting to know them and spending time with them and that you were surprised to not hear from them.” Curious, honest texts are best. Please don’t write 100 sentences. Please don’t use the words “soul mates.”
3. “Haven’t heard from you in a long time, which is a bummer. For me, this has run its course.”
It’s totally fine to say it like it is, even if you’re simply confirming it for yourself. This language also lets the ghoster know you took note of their behavior, didn’t appreciate it and are moving on. We highly recommend deleting and blocking their number after this, to avoid replying to any excuses they may send over afterwards. Stay true to your word! Let it run its course.
4. “I’m heading to Cheers tomorrow night with some friends if you’re into it! LMK, it would be great to see you.”
Instead of Cheers, obviously insert the name of the real bar you’re going to—and invite real friends. Don’t go alone and trick them into a date. This is a great way to reignite the conversation if you’re still interested and think perhaps your Sam Malone just got nervous about things getting too serious. Some people open up more around other people. If you hear nothing, do not send out any subsequent invites! This person isn’t worth the will-they-won’t-they story line.
5. “Spilled coffee on myself and thought of you haha - hope that stain came out!”
Sending a “this reminded me of you” text is a nice way to acknowledge it’s been eons since you’ve heard from this person but there are no hard feelings. “I think it's fair to send a text checking in and just saying that the person has been on your mind,” says Claire AH. Warning: Don’t send this if you are still mad at them! This is not a way to trick them into replying so you can yell at them! A shared memory says you consider your time together as the distant past—and nothing more.
6. “Hey, I had a blast with you but I need more communication. Thanks for buying me sushi!”
Acknowledging your needs is a great move. This text is ideal for folks who really did enjoy themselves and yet have no interest in seeing a person who can’t reply in a timely manner. Now, it is possible this type of message will elicit a response. If you did have a blast and the person has a valid reason why communication has suffered, maybe hear them out. But take note of the pattern. Fool me once…then never again.
7. “I wish you had been more honest with me. It doesn’t feel great.”
Telling someone they let you down is almost as hard as telling someone you don’t want to see them anymore. Confrontation is tough! If you want to let your ghoster know they hurt your feelings, put yourself front and center. Focus on how you feel. Anyone who senses hostility on the other end of the line is going to immediately go on the defensive. “It doesn't usually do much good to chastise someone,” says Claire AH. “It rarely goes well and often gets out of hand.” Warning: Do not let this turn into a tirade or argument!
8. “I feel sad things didn’t work out between us. Any chance you want to let me know what happened?”
This…is a big risk. But Claire AH says, “If you would like, you can send a single text just asking what happened. You can actually indicate that you're looking for closure so that they understand the parameters of your request.” Closure can take a while to set in. Remember, you cannot control how they’ll reply.
9. “There’s no way we won’t run into each other. Please give me space.”
Oops, did you try to date someone in your friend group or close to it? If there’s a chance you’ll run into the person who ghosted you, it’s wise to send something like this text. Setting boundaries is crucial, even with acquaintances and friends of friends.
Ghosting is more about the other person than it is about you. Payne encourages people who have been ghosted to “put that effort into yourself instead. Try not to take it personally and do your best to not let them live rent free in your head. Unfollow them everywhere, delete their number, and move on. You deserve better.”