It wasn’t until recently that I came to the life-altering realization that I don’t owe anybody my time. Whether it was the societal pressure to always be available or the recovery from a relationship that was built around constant communication, my fingers grew weary from texting out of obligation.

That’s when I decided that if I don’t want to respond to someone, I don’t have to. Enter, my life as a ghost.

Ghosting isn’t a new action, but the term itself has turned into a modern-day phenomenon. When someone ghosts you, they cease all communication — via phone, social media follows, or in-person contact — without warning. Pretty much every dater has experienced it, and no matter how short the romance, any heartbreak and all feelings are 100 percent valid.

However, to play devil’s advocate and perhaps give some insight into the “why” you’ve never received, I’m openly admitting to three times when I became a ghost.

Michael, The Man-Child

Though most of you have never met the Michael I am about to discuss, I guarantee you know his traits. When Michael and I began our online courtship, I was utterly impressed. He had a witty response to everything I threw at him, our banter was the stuff of indie romantic comedies, and he sent me pictures of his French bulldog. I was swooning.

On our first (and as it would turn out, only) date, he appeared to be a total gentleman. We drank a few beers by the river and debated everything from politics to superhero movies. It was not until we were walking toward the train station that I realized we were on completely different pages.

To Michael’s disappointment, I told him I would be going back to my apartment solo. Rather than planning a second date, this 23-year-old man threw a tantrum. It was when he actually said the words “pretty please” that all of our flirting was retroactively wiped from my brain.

Over the following days, he sent texts that ranged from questionable to downright creepy. While not all women are the same, I think I speak for the general public when I say begging gets you absolutely nowhere. And at the first sign of aggression, I disappear faster than you can type.

I didn’t know Michael well enough to make this into a fight, nor did I really care to. So I ghosted him and never looked back.

Francisco, The Sometimes-Charming Egomaniac

I met Francisco in line for the bathroom at a crowded bar. We bonded over mutual bladder urgency and fear of missing the DJ set we were attending. He let me cut him in line, and I thanked him with my number. It was a sweet and simple meet-cute that I will always remember fondly.

However, flirty eye contact outside of a single-stall bathroom was the peak of our romantic chemistry. Two days later, we met for an after-work drink at an overpriced cocktail bar. He is a software engineer, has two sisters, lived in London for six months, and dreams of one day owning a boat. While I could write a Russian novel on the things I learned about him during our date, I doubt he could even tell you what I do for a living.

Talking to Francisco was weirdly competitive — if I wanted to get a word in edgewise, I had to jump in and speak concisely before he steered the conversation back to himself. I left our date with a headache.

The next day, when he wrote to schedule a subsequent verbal boxing match, I didn’t know what to say. Honestly, I wanted to tell him that he didn’t need me to drink with him, he would be just as happy sipping a martini and shouting at a wall. Instead I said nothing.

I decided it wasn’t fair to directly attack someone’s personality after one date. While Francisco is either an egomaniac or completely oblivious, he is a nice enough guy. We just weren’t compatible. So, I spared his over-talkative feelings and let bygones be bygones.

Thomas, The Nice Guy With Terrible Timing

I met Thomas about four months ago through a mutual friend. He is Portuguese, is charming, and wears nicer clothes than I do. While I was immediately interested in Thomas, I was too busy mending my wounds from a previous breakup to give him the time of day.

It wasn’t long before he confessed his feelings for me, and I didn’t know what to do. He showered me with compliments and it felt like I was drowning, but how do you tell someone that? The cold, hard truth of the matter is that not being able to reciprocate feelings for a perfectly nice guy made me feel even lonelier. And the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” gambit felt even meaner than ghosting.

So that’s what I did. I decided to ghost him. My inbox became a graveyard of unanswered messages from Thomas, something I am surely not proud of nor advocating for.

Fast-forward to two weeks ago. I was out with friends when I recognized a finely dressed gentleman with a goofy smile in the corner of the club. It was Thomas. I immediately felt a rock in my stomach and so, so much guilt. I swallowed my pride (and the rest of my gin and tonic) and went to apologize.

When he saw me, his expression went from happy and surprised to confused. He played it cool and said, “So the aliens that abducted to you decided to release you back to Earth?” We joked, I explained myself, he understood, and we arranged a redemption date.

While ghosting was definitely not the most mature way to handle things with Thomas, I did what I needed to do for myself at the time. All too often, people feel that they need to please and appease their partners or potential partners while neglecting their own feelings. And I am here to officially say, if you don’t want to talk to somebody, don’t.