friendship

'Ghosting' from social events is an art. This is your guide to mastering it.

Ghosting is the most valuable tool in an introvert’s arsenal.

If you don’t know what ghosting is, this guide may not be for you. You may, however, find it useful for catching out that family member who disappears from Christmas dinner before dessert. Without saying goodbye.

(It’s me. I am that family member).

Ghosting is exactly what its name suggests: the art of vanishing into thin air. Of sipping a glass of wine and being mid-conversation one moment… and being out the door the next.

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Sure, there are one or two basic rules to follow. But ghosting is a loose concept… it’s malleable.

I encourage you to take the general concept of ghosting and make it your own. Add some flair. A few signature moves, perhaps.

And look… I know it’s not the politest thing to do. But I’m all about efficiency. And wasting 40 minutes doing the ‘goodbye’ rounds? Ain’t nothin’ efficient about that.

Listen: Robin Bailey and Bec Sparrow discuss small talk – questions to ask, and those to avoid – on The Well. (Post continues after audio.)


There will be times when, for whatever reason, you gotta bail. You just gotta.

And here are the four steps to follow when you’re upon those times.

1. No goodbyes. Period.

This is your bread ‘n’ butter. If you say goodbye in your ghost, it’s not a ghost.

You CANNOT TELL PEOPLE YOU’RE LEAVING. Because it starts a chain reaction of goodbyes. Some short. Some long-winded.

Most people don’t understand that ‘goodbye’ means you’re ready to leave. They take ‘goodbye’ as a conversation opener. They want to know why you’re leaving. They want to know where you’re going. They want to make a follow-up meeting which will, no doubt, never be followed up.

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When you give someone the ol’ “Was good to see you, I’m heading off”, it’s never met with, “You too, see ya.”

It’s met with, “Aw, you’re not having fun”, and “I see you have somewhere better to be…” and awkward jokes that make you wish you’d just made a run for it. Which is exactly what you should’ve done.

2. Don’t tell people you’re ghosting.

This seems like an obvious one, I know.

My Dad’s a big ghoster — it must be where I inherited the gene from. The problem is, he prefaces his ghosts with a disclaimer: “I’m ghosting in five minutes.”

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Think about spending months in training, practising a super secret set play… and then telling the other team what it is before you use it.

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It’s just as bad as saying goodbye. Actually, it’s worse, because you’re not even saying goodbye… you’re WARNING PEOPLE THAT YOU WILL LEAVE WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE.

Which doesn’t make a lot of sense. Because if we’re planning to be rude, we tend not to warn people first.

#politeghost.

3. Never look back.

No way is this some inspirational feel-good cliché. This is gospel.

Literally. Never look back.

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You’re on your way down the corridor, mid-ghost. The front-door’s in sight. But you’re feeling guilty… self-conscious about not saying goodbye, and ashamed of your ghosty ways (more on this to come).

So you swing your head over your shoulder, just to make sure the entire table isn’t pointing and talking about you. As you look back, you catch Sharon’s eye as she walks to the kitchen. And with that half-second, meaningless lock of the eyes? You feel the need to ‘fess up..

#ruinedghost.

But if you’re making for the door with your eyes locked straight ahead? Everyone’s assuming you’ve said goodbye to everyone else, and that you need to get out of there for whatever reason. No one’s calling you back, asking for an explanation afront judge and jury.

Keep your ghosting efficient, sheeple. No looking back.

There used to be one more person at the table BUT THEY DONE GHOSTED. via iStock.

4. Thank your host post-ghost.

This is optional, but highly recommended if you wish maintain any sort of friendship with those on the receiving end of your ghost. It's basically what texting was invented for.

Best if it's something a lil' more than "thx", though.

A simple "thanks a million, sorry I had to run," would suffice. Anything to let them know you appreciate their hospitality, their company, and their friendship.

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For us ghosters of the world, we know the practice isn't personal: it's about our need for alone time, rather than an aversion to a certain person or place.

Non-ghosters quite understandably find this hard to comprehend, so make sure they don't take your ghost personally. Make sure they know how appreciative you are and how much you love them. #itsnotyouitsme.

To be honest, though? When it comes to ghosting, the key is nobody - most likely - will even notice you've left. We're far less important than we think are.

Disclaimer: do not ghost one-on-one meetings.

Have you been ghosted yet this silly season? Or if you're a ghoster... any tips? Let us know in the comments below.

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