I don’t necessarily endorse ghosting people. It can be incredibly cruel and lead to far more hurt feelings than talking to someone and formally breaking something off would. It’s an unfair way to communicate. The ghoster gets away with pretty much no consequences while the ghostee is left with questions and the nagging feeling of something unresolved. But what about when ghosting someone really does feel like the only way to convey your lack of interest? Cornell is already so stressful in ways outside of romance that it’s so much easier to just disappear than to go through the emotional labor of actually ending things with someone. Sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do, and ghosting might just be the move. Consider this your guide to ghosting. And you can trust me on this because as anyone who has ever hooked up with me knows, I’m a master of ghosting.
The first case under examination is the one-time thing with someone you don’t know. In this situation, ghosting is so easy that it’s practically your only option. You don’t want it to happen again? Then just don’t text them back! It’s that simple. At this point, you don’t owe the other person any obligations, and they’ll surely get over it in a matter of days, if even that. If you see them around, you can do the classic smile and nod, or just go to the old standby of looking at your phone.
The second case is the one-time thing with someone you do know. If it’s just an acquaintance, you might want to extend them a courtesy text turning them down the next time they hit you up, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t really have to. If it’s a friend, just continue on like it never even happened, and soon enough it’ll be like it never did. If you know them, you’re far more likely to see them on a semi-regular basis, so do them the favor of acknowledging them, but don’t let it go any further. Though this situation is a little bit more complicated than the previous because you are in each other’s circles, I fully believe that if I ignore my problems then they’ll just disappear, so feel free to put that logic to the test here.
For every time you hook up with someone, the difficulty of ghosting them increases. So what do you do when you’ve hooked up with someone more than once and you want to end things? This is the point where a hard ghost starts to get too cruel for comfort. If you’ve hooked up more than once, chances are there’s something there, and things start to feel a little mean if you vanish completely. In this situation, I recommend a new tactic that I would consider to be a form of long-term ghosting: the fade-out. You start slow, making excuses for why you can’t hang out when they hit you up and finding ways to excuse yourself when you run into them in public. You don’t want to start off too strong and never be available again, but rather you should make more and more excuses as you go. As time passes, increase your response time to messages and blow them off even quicker until eventually they stop texting or saying hi at all. With the fade-out, take it slower the longer that you’ve been hooking up with the person.
The final case in which you may consider ghosting someone? If you are dating them. Here’s my verdict: don’t do it. It’s cruel to the point where it’s unconscionable. If you liked a person enough to date them, you can talk to them. Unless you find yourself in an abusive or otherwise toxic relationship and you need to get out immediately, or wouldn’t be able to leave otherwise, don’t do it. If it’s not an emergency, just don’t even try.
While some may see ghosting as the easy way out, it can be a necessary evil. Maybe you’ve been hooking up with a friend and you don’t want to have the awkward “sex with you is bad” conversation. Maybe you’re drowning in prelims and you just want whoever it is to stop bothering you. Whatever your reasons, sometimes it’s okay to ghost. And if you ever hooked up with me and I disappeared on you — it’s not me, it’s you.
Scarlet Letters is a student at Cornell University. Between the Sheets runs monthly this semester. Sex on Thursday appears every other Thursday.