new yorkers answer: is it acceptable to ghost?
welcome to New Rules, a column by mixed feelings which highlights the strong opinions and social mores of New York denizens. It's modern etiquette, according to the most tapped-in among us. Have a question you want them to answer? Comment below or DM us.
If you missed our first installment of New Rules, we asked New Yorkers to give their two cents on who they share their location with and why. In this month's edition, they answer: Is it acceptable to ghost?
Retired ghosting professional here, hello! The people that they warn you about when it comes to ghosting? I was one of them. So, as much as I hate to say it, I have some experience in this arena.
I’ll give you some background on that version of “Isabella”: I was shy, introverted, and non-confrontational. I ghosted both friends and partners, and while I’m not proud of it, I’ll give you some “justified” reasons:
I had a friend who didn't make me feel great about myself. I was not the best version of myself with them. When it got to a point where it felt like I wasn't benefiting from having them in my life, I distanced myself completely. In other words, I fully ghosted. I called it a "natural drift" (it wasn't). It was just my way of avoiding confrontation. They ended up taking the hint.
I have ghosted a couple of “talking stages” (aka people I was in the early texting phase with). The majority of the time, it was because I wasn't in a good place or simply wasn’t ready. I was scared of the commitment and was pulling a dick move, to be honest. Once I ghosted someone because they said "I love you" after a week (you can't blame me; there was really no other way to react when someone who doesn’t know the whole “you” claims to love you).
That being said, I don't think it's ever really okay to ghost. I knew that even when I did it. But if you're willing to take on that load of ghosting and say you've ghosted someone because you felt it was the best way to handle whatever the situation was, then by all means go for it. Personally, I stopped when I realized if someone did it to me, I'd feel like shit. I figured I’d just grow a pair and handle it with honest communication, which would hopefully spare both parties involved any unnecessary hurt feelings. The easiest way to do it is just a simple “this isn't working out for me” text whether it's a partner or friend. Just give an explanation. — Isabella Ramos, 18 (she/her)
I hate being ghosted, but I hate ghosting more.
In the span of 6 months, I proceeded to ghost a girl, feel bad about it and apologize, then get ghosted by her, in turn. It was difficult to find a middle ground between being friends and flirting. We both knew that it would never work out between us, and talking to her felt like we were driving in a getaway car with no destination. Ghosting was the easy escape from blowing it all up.
In the initial period of ghosting, we were on the cusp of summer break, and I felt I needed a long-term break from where our relationship stood. I severed all ties — ignoring her texts, blocking her on Instagram, and ignoring messages from her friends about our situation. After ignoring her for a week, I started to feel guilty. It didn’t feel right, forgetting everything while just leaving things open-ended like that.
After seeing her on other people’s Instagram stories, I unblocked her and apologized, without ever explaining what had happened. We both agreed to brush it off, at least on the surface. The saga would then drag on for an entire year. One party would initiate the ghosting, then someone would say “we need to talk,” and the pattern continued. As we began to interact less, it was clear our relationship was naturally fizzling out. In settings where we saw each other, we stuck to our friends and ignored each other as much as we could. Ultimately, we both unfollowed each other on Instagram.
With social media, everyone is interconnected through these platforms that make us visible to the whole world and each other. It allows us to distance ourselves from others online, serving as a less personal extension of our physical relationships. We can’t escape from each other’s presence in our lives, as we are typically still just a click away. We see each other in posts and pictures, making conflicts difficult to avoid, and chapters harder to close.
I find it difficult to properly communicate things to people, especially when hovering in the gray area of a relationship. Choosing not to define where things stand, and constantly kicking the can down the road is not good for anyone, especially when there is no clear explanation. Ghosting perpetuates a cycle that leaves both parties in a losing position. If you feel a certain way, then you should say it. Speak now, or forever hold your peace. — Devin Wu, 18 (he/him)
In the digital age, social media and the convenience of communicating long distance provides people with a new avenue for ending a relationship: ghosting. People don’t have to communicate their thoughts and feelings, especially those afraid of confrontation. It is much more convenient to chalk miscommunication up to “sorry, I never saw your text” or “I’ve been too busy to check my phone lol.” Pushing aside a truthful conversation can be easy in the short term, but communication is always preferred, in my opinion.
I understand the struggle of being direct, especially for those with a fear of confronting or hurting others. However, learning to communicate thoughts and honest feedback will hurt that person less than being blindsided. Those that have been ghosted before will know the feeling of confusion and low self worth. In addition to hurting that person less, learning how to communicate is essential for building healthy relationships, and is simply a life skill everyone should have.
However, in some cases, you can let the silence speak for itself. If a person has knowingly crossed a boundary and hurt you in a specific way, ghosting can be a useful tool. But in most cases, clear communication is beneficial for everyone involved. — Natalie Ma, 18 (she/her)