The (unofficial) ghosting etiquette guide.

A few weeks ago, my colleague Emily Vernem and I were on the topic of ghosting

For those who aren't in the know, 'ghosting' happens when communication with someone abruptly ends with no warning or explanation. The person who ghosts you could be a potential partner or loved one who simply doesn't want a relationship with you anymore, but doesn't want to hurt your feelings by making that clear.

(Except of course, being ghosted can still hurt, so there's that.)

While it's widely accepted that ghosting is a pretty unkind way to end a relationship with someone, Emily told me she actually prefers anyone if someone she's seeing cuts it off cold turkey, rather than be "honest" about their intentions.

Watch: The horoscopes and dating. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

She wrote about it too. 

"The thing with ghosting is that you get to choose what the outcome is," she shared in a story for Mamamia. "Me, being extremely egotistical, would always just assume that the person who ghosted me had either been in a bad accident or kidnapped because there couldn't possibly be another reason why they wouldn’t reply to my messages.


"So when I received a message of rejection, I couldn't make up something in my head that would ease the pain because he (very explicitly) told me exactly why he didn't want to date me. And it hurt. It felt like I was going through an actual breakup."

Her words stuck, specifically because I have always loathed being ghosted. 

For me, it's disrespectful behaviour from someone I probably once thought of highly. I can't stand being left in the dark. I prefer open, honest dialogue. Even if it's just a, "Hey! I've thought about this and I don't think we're suited for each other. Have a good one." I love that. A clean break. No drama. No problems.

Emily couldn't have disagreed more.

So the question is, can you ghost someone respectfully?

I turned to Phoebe Rogers, clinical psychologist, couples therapist, relationship coach, founder of The Relationship Space and the principal psychologist of At Home Psychology, to ask if someone can ghost another 'respectfully'.

Her answer was a resounding no.

"Respectful ghosting feels like an oxymoron," Rogers tells Mamamia, adding that it's really only appropriate in settings where there are no obligations on either end, like a dating app.

"I think it's more appropriate to 'drop off' or cease communication on an app with someone if you're not feeling it, they're not matching your energy, or not showing interest, and you haven't yet met," she continues. "This is also okay if there's been any inappropriate communication or a boundary violation."


But as for full-on ghosting?

"When there's been time and energy given to a connection, and you're starting to know a person, ghosting doesn't feel okay in my books... Particularly if they've shown kindness," Rogers adds.

What's the etiquette if you want to ghost someone?

For the ones a little too terrified to be honest about their feelings, it's important to remember that you're not just responsible for your own emotions when cutting off contact, but the 'someone' who you're about to cut off, too. 

"If it's early days, it doesn't have to be difficult," Rogers tells us. "You could say, 'Thanks for chatting and your time. Things have changed for me, so I'm going to end communication. Best wishes."

"You don't necessarily owe an explanation or have to justify anything, but this is better than saying nothing at all."

If you have physically met the person you'd like to ghost, the psychologist advises being friendly, but direct.

"I would say something along these lines: 'Thanks for spending time with me, I'm not feeling like there's enough of a connection to continue dating. Wishing you well!'"

What to do if someone ghosts you. 

Well, the first thing to do is probably acknowledge that it can be a sucky feeling — whether you'd prefer it over honest rejection or not.


Rogers tells Mamamia that ghosting is a clear sign that there is not mutual respect between you and your ghoster.

"I always say that healthy relationships must be built on mutual interest and connection," she says. "They're reciprocal. You need and deserve someone who is clear in their interest, and feels care for you.

"Remember that they probably don't feel brave enough to be truthful, and have chosen that response. Also, remember that dating can be an ongoing process to find a connection. 

"Try and hold hope that it exists."

The psychologist also says it's important to remember that not every person you meet is meant to be your person anyway. 

Rejection is normal — and these days, so is ghosting, unfortunately. But that doesn't mean you need to lose your desire for love or a meaningful connection.

"It's all part of the process," she says. "I like to put the lens of focus on what we can learn about ourselves in the process — what we're looking for, what we value, what we need, our capacity to connect and be vulnerable."

She adds, "Dating is a process, and the best chance of finding love comes from knowing and loving yourself, and knowing what you deserve."

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

Calling all beauty & fashion lovers! Take this short survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!