A Guide to not Ghost

An article by our partners at humhum

Ghosting has become too common a strategy in today’s dating culture. The humhum community has shared with us the frustration, confusion, and pain that follows feeling ghosted, or ghosting — this abrupt cutting-off of an energetic flow between two people can feel unpleasant for both parties.

As a collective, we can bring more personal accountability to how we date. If we want intimacy we have to stare our own discomfort in the eyes. If we want love we have to treat ourselves and one another with love. If we want connection we cannot peace-out when we are uncomfortable. We can do better— first, let’s understand what’s happening.


This is actually now in the Oxford English Dictionary, friends! They define Ghosting as the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Ghosting is a manifestation of “flight and freeze.” In response to not knowing how to communicate what we need, we freeze and in aversion to the discomfort we may anticipate if we communicate what we need, we flee (flight).


I’ve noticed in the US, a habit to continue communication beyond a momentary enjoyable exchange. Whether it’s an unwillingness to let go, a desire to be polite, a lack of tools to show appreciation for the engagement without binding oneself to further connection… we dig ourselves into a hole by committing to further connection when we haven’t had a moment to reflect on if we truly want to stay connected. It’s a default, a reflex, a conditioned response that if left unexamined can create confusion.

We might ghost because

  1. We are unaware: we aren’t connected with our intentions in the moment, and out of reflex, commit to more connection
  2. We are being polite: we are aware that we don’t intend to sustain a connection and agree to out of politeness, or a sense of obligation
  3. We sense a misalignment: We’ve been connecting, and now sense, perceive or assume that there is a gap between our own intentions for the connection and those of the other person and struggle to name our needs
  4. We want to give our attention elsewhere: we may no longer feel aligned in giving our energy to a connection and have a hard time articulating that we intend to let the connection go
  5. Other: You tell me… why have you ghosted? Email me at hello@humhum.space

We may assume our presence in someone’s life is greater than it is, fearing we will hurt someone, or let them down when really, they might be on the same page, or fine with a deceleration of communication, or ok with letting the connection go too. Honesty is far kinder than stringing someone along and then ghosting.

While in the moment, ghosting may seem like the ‘easier way’ out, when we ghost, we miss a critical opportunity to grow, set boundaries, and communicate our needs authentically, all practices that will ultimately serve us well in future relationships, and help us to feel in integrity with each interaction we have.


  1. Check-in. How am I really feeling about my intentions to connect beyond this moment?
  2. If you are interested in continuing to explore a connection, start slow, and build. Pick a low commitment channel to start with light-touch, and build. Start by feeling out the connection and cadence of exchange by connecting in a more casual way like linking up on Facebook or Instagram, or exchanging emails giving yourself the option to reach out if you feel called to, but without the pressure of having to follow up via text. This way you can form an organic bond over time.
  3. If you’re clear you’re ready to let a connection go, do so. Use clear language, and say what you mean. To help yourself not to get into a situation in which you feel compelled to ghost, practice not verbally committing to something you don’t intend to follow through on. E.g. instead of tacking on phrases that aren’t true for you like…Talk to you soon, let’s keep in touch, let’s talk again soon, let’s connect again, I hope we connect again…
  4. You’ve been connecting, and you have a change of heart, it’s okay. Express it. Whether we were riding the high of the interaction, and want to sustain it in the moment and then realize we don’t, first release yourself from the burden of guilt for changing your mind. You’re not a bad person, you’re human and it happens and it’s fine. How you handle this change of heart matters much more than the change of heart.

To make a respectful and empowered exit:

  • Have some self-compassion. Recognize that it can feel hard. And it is okay to change your mind as you have more data or a change of heart. This isn’t mean or problematic.
  • Express gratitude, or appreciation for the connection and leave it at that e.g. I enjoyed getting to know you, I’m glad we had this time to connect
  • Name what is true for you. State your needs and your intentions clearly. Be kind, and thank the person for their time, and name anything you appreciated about the connection if that feels right. Make no assumptions about what another is feeling, and keep the focus on you. You can provide context that is true, relevant, and kind e.g. I don’t feel we are a match, or I feel more of a friendly vibe…

Some things that are NOT helpful:

  • Explaining yourself or oversharing this is a common strategy to soften the blow and is unnecessary and unhelpful. Instead, cut right to the heart of the issue and be clear. If someone asks why only then you can offer more color to your choice.
  • Blaming external circumstances— it creates confusion, and it’s usually clear to the other person that it’s not the heart of the truth. e.g. “I not able to make time for a relationship…I am really busy with work”…etc.
  • Telling someone how they are— saying “you are amazing, or nice, or lovely,” etc. can feel condescending even if you mean to be complimentary. It can feel inauthentic when paired with your intention not to stay in touch. Insteadkeep the focus on you. They are amazing and so are you, and that doesn’t soften an initial ouch when you want to stop connecting.

If you’ve been on the other end, and have felt ghosted, do remember it is not personal, even if it feels so at the time. Sometimes, someone might just know first that the connection is not a fit, and can name it before you do. If one isn’t feeling it, it’s ultimately best for both parties. You’re enough. And if you’re thinking, “not enough for them…” you’re giving your power away. We’ve all been there. Rejection can feel like a reality, but it is a perception and a feeling. It is not the truth. Only we can reject ourselves. Those who come into our lives offer us the opportunity to see and heal our own wounding around belonging, enoughness, acceptance, etc. that no amount of external validation and desire from someone else will heal. Our own willingness to remember our worthiness and let someone else go with love who is mirroring back anything other than that to us heals us. You deserve to be communicated with kindly, and someone else’s capacity or lack of capacity to say what is needed is not a reflection of you but of where they are within themselves. Our own work starts in the places where it stings.

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