Unpopular opinion alert: I think it’s totally okay to ghost someone. I wasn’t always this way — in fact, I spent a good portion of my life being a notorious slow fader. I thought ghosting made me “mean” and as someone who is terrified of hurting others’ feelings, I’d halfheartedly answer my former crushes, willing them to take a hint. And it wasn’t just people I was dating. I couldn’t even ghost my hairdresser without an explanation.
That is until I discovered there are some situations where ghosting is the right(ish) thing to do. I had just gone on a fabulous date with some lawyer (or was it engineering?) girl. We had no romantic connection, but our conversation was fun, she was hot, and we hooked up. The next night my phone vibrated with the strangest message: She wrote me a long-winded text about how she didn’t think we were compatible and didn’t want to see me again. I felt like she thought I wanted to get married, when in reality all I wanted to do was discuss “The L Word” and go down on each other. Yet this girl literally broke up with me after a one-night stand. And I didn’t feel respected, I felt annoyed. That’s when I thought, She should’ve just ghosted me.
From then on, I have dutifully ghosted and been ghosted. I can confidently say that I prefer being ghosted to being “broken up” with — especially when I wasn’t in a relationship in the first place. And now, I definitely prefer ghosting to slow fading. But not everyone agrees when it comes to this polarizing issue.
Ghosting can be for the greater good. Let’s be real: Being ignored hurts, but at least it sends a clear message. According to those in favor, ghosting can be the easiest and most painless way to let someone know you’re not interested.
“Ghosting lets somebody move on,” says certified sex educator and relationships expert, Corinne Kai. “The slow fade makes you hang on to the possibility that you could date; ghosting leaves nothing to question.”
Hannah Orenstein, dating editor at Elite Daily and author of “Playing with Matches,” agrees that ghosting is better than slow fading, but that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution: “Neither is ideal, obviously. If you’re not into someone, the best course of action is to gently let them know you’re not feeling a romantic connection. But if you’re insistent on treating someone disrespectfully, ghosting is probably better than the slow fade. The slow fade can be a long, torturous burn. With ghosting, your intentions become clear sooner rather than later, and the ghostee is free to move on as soon as they’re ready. Why peel off a Band-Aid slowly when you can rip it off?”
Slow Fade All The Way
Slow fading can be way easier, even if some daters think it’s cowardly. “I like to slow fade because I feel like it’s way more gentle than ghosting,” says Nick*, a 27-year-old magazine editor. “Plus, honestly, it gives me time to keep them on the back-burner in case I change my mind.” We can all be fickle sometimes, so a bit of honesty to defend the slow fade is refreshing.
“Relationships rely on the alignment of desires,” says Victor P. Corona, Ph.D. “Sometimes these desires need to be expressed explicitly, like with affirmative consent. But relationships also rely on unspoken social cues. The slow fade is a more humane way to end a relationship than ghosting, but it requires some social awareness. The person being dumped needs to be able to sense that, well, they’re just not that into you. No or little response is a response in itself.”
The Evil Lurking Beneath The Slow Fade
The slow fade, as we’ve established, may seem less harsh than ghosting, but it surely creates confusion and questions. The object of the slow fade is destined to wonder if the other person actually wants them, what their intentions are, and it can, in short, make you feel crazy.
“The slow fade makes you hang on to the possibility that you could date; ghosting leaves nothing to question.”
“The slow fade is absolutely more horrible than being ghosted,” says Zara Barrie, a 31-year-old writer and TV host.“ When you’re ghosted you can say, ‘Oh, that asshole ghosted me, what a jerk!’ and all of your friends will agree. You can move on and compartmentalize this person as a piece of shit in your head. The slow fade is a total mind-fuck. It keeps you hooked in. You can feel them fading away but they do it so slowly that you’re unsure if it’s all in your head.”
It’s Not Me, It’s You
“While being ghosted could be attributed to the other person’s short attention span or lack of interest, I feel that a slow fade is much more personal,” says Nico, a 26-year-old operations manager. “If someone slow fades me, it makes me feel self-conscious about myself. They were interested at first, maybe went on a few dates, but over time they lost interest. Was it something I did? The way I converse? The way I have sex? They took the time to get to know me, but then they decided that I was no longer worth their time.”
Austin, a 25-year-old fashion photographer, agrees. “I’d rather be straight-up ghosted. It’s like deciding between a quick death or a slow and painful one. I’d prefer not to suffer.”
There May Be No Good Solution
Some daters agree that both ghosting and slow fading are horrible ways to go about breaking up with someone. “If it were up to me, I’d hand in a 14-page explanation in MLA format as to why it isn’t working but between the two, I would say ghosting is way worse,” says Ani Ferlise, a 25-year-old certified priestess.
At the end of the day, both ghosting and slow fading have bad reputations, both inevitably hurt, and both happen. Rejection hurts, and it’s a part of life. If we want to keep dating (and we do!), we have to take chances. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll eventually find someone we’d never ghost or slow fade — and they’ll feel the same way about us.