Used properly, the ghost is one of the most successful weapons in any girl’s dating arsenal. Up there with the old ‘I’m going to let you know I’m DTF by liking all of your Instagram posts’, the ghost is to 21st century dating what the ‘hey do you have a lighter’ move was to socially-smoking kids of the past.
Sure, a lot of negativity surrounds ghosting. People say, ‘why don’t you just break up in person/get your mum to do it”. And that’s cool, if face-to-face is your vibe. But in my experience, nothing really communicates the fact that you’re no longer willing to listen to a white boy with dreads perform acoustic versions of Formation in return for some dead-tongued head quite like a good old-fashioned ghosting. And I’m not alone in this. According to a recent study, around 80 per cent of millennials have been ghosted at least once, meaning there’s a whole lot of unanswered ‘hey you up…’ iMessages swimming around in the digital soup.
A well-executed ghost will rid you of the slack-tongued moron you were only using to keep your bed warm during those cold winter months, without all the drama and bullshit that real-life breakups involve. Plus, if you’re feeling lonely and in the mood for acapella sing-a-longs with your culturally-appropriating friend in the future, the door’s still kinda open to them – just make like you were in a car accident and you’ve spent the last couple of months recovering from an (unspecified) brain injury.
Of course, if you’re going to ghost people, you’ve got to be able to take it too. To help out, here’s the girl’s guide to ghosting and being ghosted in 2016.
KNOW YOUR GHOSTING ETIQUETTE
There’s a right way to ghost and a wrong way: know your ghosting etiquette, lest the ghosting jury of the world convict you for crimes against ghosting.
Firstly, don’t just ghost people because you owe them money and don’t want to have to pay it back. That’s a dick move. Ditto, it’s not cool to ghost someone if they’re going through a legit crisis, you’ve given them an STI, or if you’ve just persuaded them to book an expensive holiday with you.
It is okay, however, to ghost someone and then accidentally forget they arranged for their Palace order to be delivered to your house. Just say it got lost in the post or something (or don’t say anything at all).
FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH YOUR TOOLS
Given that you probably communicated your intention for some sub-par fucking through social media in the first place, it’s only fitting that you terminate your relationship in the same way. Think of it as taking the relationship full circle. It’s almost poetic, if you think about it.
Social media ghosting includes, but is not limited to, unfollowing the ghostee on every form of social media, deleting them and blocking their profile. Be thorough, unless you want them to continue to try and chirpse you using LinkedIn requests or on Soundcloud messenger.
COMMIT TO THE GHOST...
If you’ve decided to ghost someone, it helps to follow through. Leave a channel of communication open, and there’s a chance they’ll continue trying to contact you or ‘romantically’ turn up at your office with a DVD of the film District Nine. Or worse – they won’t even bother, and you’ll realise you were just as disposable to them as they were to you.
...BUT DON'T OVERTHINK IT
Don’t overthink a ghost. The entire point is that you’re not actively thinking about that person in your life, and passively letting them drift away without actually having to do anything. Overthinking a ghost is like going on holiday and coming home and still being able to fit into all your clothes. You’re missing the whole point.
A QUICK NOTE ON OTHER VARIETIES OF GHOST
The FB birthday ghost: unfriending people in response to Facebook notifications about their birthdays.
The friend ghost: because sometimes you need to get rid of those toxic friends.
The ultimate ghost: faking your own death (gas explosion; boating accident; leaving a note at a suicide hotspot).
PEOPLE YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T GHOST
People you were using for revenge sex to get back at your ex
People who are really good in bed
People who are considerably more attractive than you
Your family (sorry).
LEARN TO RECOGNISE THE SIGNS YOU ARE BEING GHOSTED
Like a slasher film or a job interview, ghosting follows a set format and protocol. Understand this, and you’ll be able to ride out a ghosting with your dignity intact. Fail, and you’ll spend the next five years avoiding your former fuck buddy's friends at parties.
Most of the time, you can tell when you’re about to be ghosted by someone. The signs are telltale, and they usually start in the bedroom. A good rule of thumb, in life and in love, is to listen to your gut (and your genitalia).
They’ll either want to bang loads (because they know it’s the last time), or they’ll stop making any effort in bed (because they’re getting it somewhere else). If either of these things happen, get in there first with the unfollow, because a ghosting surely follows. Ditto if they start muttering about how busy they’re going to be at work for the next couple of weeks; make references to unspecified illnesses which will require extended hospital stays; or noticeably start logging off every time you go online.
DON'T BE TOO DESPERATE
It’s easy to tell yourself “it’s not me, it’s them” when you’re being ghosted, but the reality is – it is you. That’s cool too. They don’t want to see you anymore, so you need to come out of this with your head held high and as much swag as you can carry pilfered from their flat.
Limit yourself to three chasing texts and one late night hopeful booty call, and don’t do that desperate move where you’ve memorised their birthday/date of their dog’s death and use it as an opportunity to ‘reconnect’.
They’re dead to you, it’s over, and the only proper time to get back in contact with them is to accidentally on purpose send them a naked selfie (“oops, not for you! delete”) or to reach out and let them know you might have given them an STI. If you’re feeling really bitter about it still, why not send them the “hey I might have given you an STI” message on the anniversary of their dog’s death. After all, there’s no such thing as a friendly ghost.
Follow Sirin Kale on Twitter here @thedalstonyears