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What Can I Say Instead of Ghosting?

Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

Ghosting is when you abruptly end all communication or contact with a person (with whom you’ve had a relationship) without warning. Ghosting can occur in any type of relationship, but this blog will focus on romantic relationships which include casual dating, commitment, and every other category of romance. 

Ghosting is tempting. It’s a way to end a relationship without any conflict or effort. It’s a way to avoid being exposed to another person’s reaction to your decision. However, ghosting can negatively impact your partner’s mental health causing them to experience confusion, anger, depression, anxiety and/or shame. Ghosting can also negatively impact your partner’s ability to accept the end of the relationship and achieve closure. 

Your Safety is Top Priority

Ghosting is appropriate when it promotes your safety. If you do not feel safe being physically present with or engaging with your partner, you may need to avoid communicating with them. Here are a few examples when you may need to ghost in order to protect yourself: 1) You’ve attempted to end the relationship, but your partner does not allow you to do so. 2) Your partner has threatened to harm you if you were to end the relationship. 3) Nothing has occurred, but you simply feel physically and/or emotionally unsafe with your partner. 

Briefly Explain Why 

One aspect of ghosting that is hurtful is that your partner never knows why you ended the relationship. Not knowing why can make it worse for them and hinder their ability to achieve closure. If you feel safe then try communicating why you have made the decision to end the relationship. This can be difficult to do if you are concerned about the possible negative consequences of doing so. Perhaps you don’t want to hurt your partner, or perhaps you don’t want to be exposed to their reaction. In that case, keep your explanations brief. You may have the opportunity to elaborate in the future if necessary. But for now, the purpose is to end the relationship by explaining your reason(s) why. Here are a few examples of phrases you can use: 

  • I had a great time with you last night, but I don’t feel we are compatible.  
  • I have met someone else, and I am going to focus on that relationship. 
  • I am looking for someone that I have more in common with. 
  • I thought that I was ready to date again, but I’ve realized that I’m not. 
  • My (work/family/children/self) need to be my priority right now.  

Focus On Your Intent

You might not want to end the relationship, but you might you want the relationship to change.  If so, try communicating your needs, wishes, or intentions. Your partner can then inform you about whether or not this is also something that they want. Here are a few examples:

  • I don’t feel a romantic connection with you. I would love to stay in touch as friends if you are open to that. If not, I understand. 
  • I’m looking for something more serious, so I am no longer causally dating. If this is something you’re interested, in please let me know. 
  • I’m not looking for anything serious, and I feel as though we are moving in that direction. I’m looking for something more casual. 

Express Specific Appreciation 

If you value your partner, it may be appropriate to express this when ending the relationship. Be careful not to overdo it, as this could come across as sounding disingenuous. Also, provide specific appreciative statements as opposed to generalizations such as “You’re a great person” or “You’re too good for me.” Here are some examples of expressions of appreciation:

  • I was glad to get to know you. Your passion for your career is inspiring and it’s helped me to look at my job differently. 
  • I really enjoyed spending time with you. Your silliness is contagious.  
  • Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and being so patient with me. 

If you need help with ending a relationship or improving your current relationship, consider working with a counselor. Symmetry Counseling provides individual and couples therapy. 

Nu, Jennifer. 2021. 10 Things To Say Instead of Ghosting. Social media post. @psychotherapy.central 

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