“You know what’s more embarrassing than breaking up?” Having to hunt someone down to break up with you.
These days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a ghost or two in their dating history. In the age of online dating, it’s extremely easy to cut off all contact with our romantic prospects — but as any ignored dater knows, it can be nerve-wracking for the recipient. Traumatic, even.
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Whether it’s a wonder on a date or a figurative bucket of ice water on a budding four-month-old romantic flame, becoming a ghost is a disconcerting experience. While we may never understand the psyche of those who do, we can at least empathize with our fellow ghosts. Below are six fashion magazine readers share their ghost stories.
May*, 27 years old, she/she
I slept with a guy I met one night by chance. He asked me out on a date a week later and we locked everything down. Then the same day I messaged to confirm before realizing he had blocked me on all social media. He sent me a message! I texted him to say he was sleazy and rude and he didn’t respond. Flex Mami has an interesting theory that ghosting is the least cruel thing you can do because it destroys all hope. I tend to agree. At least I can hate my ghosts instead of yearning for them.
April 25*, she
About four years ago, I met a guy on Tinder that I had seen before and thought was cute. He was nine years my senior, which made me a little nervous since I had only ever dated people my own age. My apprehension dissipated once we started chatting; he was sweet and funny and super charismatic.
We went on a date, hit it off, and continued to hang out for the next 48 hours. We both called each other sick for work and began our whirlwind romance. We swapped stories, cooked together, slept, walked her dog, and I met her roommates…it felt very intense, very fast. After getting back to our regular lives, we started dating exclusively, he was the one who initiated the “I’d rather we didn’t see other people” conversation.
He had warned me that he was going on vacation to Canada with his best friend for a few weeks, a trip planned for about the three months of our relationship. I didn’t give it much thought, but I gave him plenty of opportunity to take a break from the whole monogamy thing if he wanted to sleep on his vacation. In retrospect, there must have been some red flags – why else would I say that? Memories are a bit mixed.
You can probably guess what happened next. He told me that he called me often and texted me as much as he could. Apart from a few photos at the very beginning, I have not heard of him during his absence. I knew the date of his return and followed him on Instagram, so I was expecting shamelessly when he announced his arrival in Melbourne.
I remember crying (ugh) in my room when it had been a week since he had come back and I hadn’t heard anything. I asked him for coffee and he didn’t answer. Eventually, I got angry – really angry – and sent him an angry paragraph detailing how he had made me feel stupid and gassed; asking him why he tricked me into a monogamous relationship just to pull a Houdini after his stupid little vacation. He (unsurprisingly) never responded, so I blocked him on everything to avoid heartache. I’ve seen him since and he pretends not to know who I am. Her hairline is receding dramatically, which makes me feel a little better.
Oriana*, 23 years old, she/she
We had been seeing each other for about a month, hanging out every other day, talking about getting serious, the future, etc. It suddenly turned cold and a few days later blocked me without any warning. My best friend saw it a week after he started distance walking with another girl. He’s had three girlfriends since I saw him. The boys are losers!
Zuri*, 27 years old, she/she
We met on a dating app and had instant banter, so we arranged to meet. It was by far the best date of my life. We had far too many drinks and just as many laughs before meeting up at his house for a rooftop dance party and a cheeky slumber party with very little sleep. Boy love bombarded me with shit.
We talked about how the two of us rarely date, but felt like we’d known each other for ages, and it was super organic, and we instantly clicked (all the usual lines). He was on the freeway over the summer, but we talked on calls and texts for three months, day in and day out. Once he pulled back, he suddenly stopped responding. Sick brother. I never saw him again. My girlfriends send me profile shots of his on dating apps, so he keeps doing the tricks (and probably loves bombing others).
Niamh*, 26 years old, she/she
I met Jack* at the end of last year during Sydney’s lockdown. We paired up on Hinge and decided to do the classic park and beer encounter to gauge whether either of us was psychopathic or liberal. We clicked, met at his house, ate pizza, and I stayed. After that first date, everything went pretty quickly. On Mondays, he used to come and joke with my roommates – they loved him. On Saturdays, I went to the place he shared with his sister. I didn’t particularly like him.
In the second month of dating, we had planned a weekend getaway to his family home in Albury. During the trip we went hiking. Within the first hour or so it started to rain and we got really lost. However, after hours of searching, we managed to find the trailhead and made it home safely. We had completed our first weekend and I had decided that I was in love. Moreover, it seemed mutual.
At this point, we had been together for three months, so I decided to check that we were exclusive. He said he didn’t want to sleep with anyone else, but would get back to me in “two to three business days.” I knew that was a weird thing to say, but I left it…I was going to the States for Christmas and we would find out when I got back.
The day before I left, I hosted a dinner party at my house with all my family, friends and Jack. To my surprise, he introduced himself as my boyfriend. The next morning, I gave him his Christmas present. It was an engraved compass that said “In case you get lost again – Love, Niamh”.
Ironically, after I gave him that compass…he got lost. So lost that he completely disappeared from my life. Jack did not contact me at all after I left for the United States. After a few failed attempts on my part, I messaged him saying I was worried and wanted to know if he was okay. He said he got sick and was pretty depressed during his recovery, so I decided to give him some space.
We went for a drink the day after I got home. The time together was short, but he kissed me goodbye and asked to see me again on the weekend. Saturday passed and I texted him – no response. Sunday I called – no answer. I called back on Monday, no answer. About a week later I finally got him on the phone and he agreed to meet me the next day to talk. An hour before, he canceled. We rescheduled and he canceled that too. I called or texted every other day for about three weeks until finally I texted basically saying he hurt me, I took care of him, goodbye and good luck. I did not get any answer.
Do you know what is more embarrassing than breaking up? Having to hunt someone down to break up with you.
Sheeva*, 28 years old, she/she
I was dating this guy for nine months before he broke up. He couldn’t commit to a relationship, even though he told me he loved me and introduced me to all his friends. We decided to stay friends and go out once in a while. We planned to go out to dinner and that week he ghosted me – unfollowed on social media, the whole thing.
I found out later that he had a girlfriend and had been with her the whole time we were dating. She found out he was having fun in secret, so he cut ties with me to win her back. I know because they had an on-and-off relationship and he would creep into my DMs like clockwork every time they broke up. He was apologizing to me only to ghost me again when they got back together. Ghosting sucks. Just be honest with people.
*Names have been changed
For tips on how to move on after being ghosted, head here.