How to handle being ghosted

Moving on with no closure in 5 steps

If you’ve ever been ghosted, you know how confusing and stressful it can be. You’re left questioning things you thought you knew and ricocheting between being afraid that this person is lying in a ditch somewhere and thinking they’re the biggest jerk in the world. Here’s how to handle it:

1. Reach out within reason

Of course it’s normal to text and call a bunch at first, as it may take a little while for it to become clear what’s happening. But if you normally hear from them every day and they’ve stone cold stopped responding and it’s been two weeks…yeah, you’ve been ghosted. You can keep texting and calling if you want, but you are literally just talking to yourself at this point. Better to put your energy into moving on.

2. Probably don’t organize a search party

The chances that this person you really like has had a tragic accident are pretty slim. If you’re genuinely worried, check out their social media and see if they’re still posting. Checking obituaries and calling local hospitals is not going to be necessary if they’re still going out to drinks with their friends. Read receipts are also a really good clue that they’re most likely still alive and well.

(Of course, if you have any actual reason to think something has happened to them, like they have a violent ex who stalks them, for example, it’s reasonable to reach out to one of their friends or family members and/or get the authorities involved. And if y’all live together or have been together for years, that’s a different story.)

3. Let them know their behavior is hurtful

As your final outreach, it’s okay to let them know you’re hurt, as long as you go into it knowing you’re not going to get an apology or even an acknowledgement. You won’t hear back from them at all. But if it makes you feel better to tell them that their behavior has been awful, and you can handle the non-response, go ahead and get it out!

4. Practice acceptance

Accepting that you’ve been ghosted is a double whammy. You’re accepting that someone’s hurt you, and you’re also accepting that you’ll never get an explanation. You will never get justice for this. Acceptance is not about making yourself believe that it’s fine that this happened, it’s just about letting yourself believe that it happened at all, instead of rejecting the reality that is unfolding around you. Think of it like missing your bus or train—you might catch yourself saying “no!” when you arrive to see it pulling away, but…what do you mean, “no”? Yes, actually. It’s definitely happening. It already happened! Start practicing this skill by just saying to yourself “this happened to me.”

5. Never ghost anyone yourself

There’s nothing like being on the receiving end of bad behavior to ensure you never dish out that bad behavior yourself. There are so many better ways to end a relationship.

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