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What to Say Instead of Ghosting

Illustration of a phone with unanswered texts falling into a hole and ghosts coming out of it

So you just started dating someone, and you kiiiinda don’t want to date them anymore. Maybe they’re just not for you, or maybe you’ve gone exclusive with someone else (congrats!) or maybe you actually want to be alone. All that into consideration, you just don’t know how to tell them. While it may be tempting to ghost, let us help you figure out what to say (instead of nothing at all). 


First things first:

Suddenly cutting communication can be a safety tactic for folks who don't want to engage with people who are potentially dangerous. If you sense this person will manipulate you, gaslight you, or even hurt you, absolutely cut communication with them. Your safety is your priority, and sometimes, that means going ghost.  But other times, we ghost because we want to spare feelings, or we don't want to feel awkward, or honestly — because it’s just easier.  

And listen: you don’t owe anyone a relationship or a friendship —  but honesty, however uncomfortable, will save everyone a lot of time and pain. It’s understandable to avoid the flash of pain that rejection can cause, but it’s much more compassionate than the drawn out anxiety and confusion that follows when someone ghosts.

Some things to remember: 

    • It will probably be uncomfortable. Honesty and vulnerability often is, but it will feel so much better afterward — promise.  
    • Be kind. It’s easy to cast the person you’ve been on three dates with as a side character in your life, but they’re not. Rejection hurts, and it should be doled out kindly and respectfully.
    • Know your boundaries. Rejection can bring out an unexpected side in people, and it’s not always pretty. Some may try to rope you into an argument, or try to change your mind — whether or not you engage in that is up to you.

What to say instead of ghosting

Use these templates as a baseline and add as much as you need to make it feel genuine to you.

After the first date:
“I had so much fun at [insert date location/activity here], but I want to be honest with you and tell you that I’m not feeling a connection, so I don’t think we should go out again. Thanks for understanding.”
“I don’t see this going anywhere romantically, but I think you’re a really cool person and would love to stay friends.”

After a few dates: 
“I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with you, but I don’t think we’re a match romantically. I think it’s best if we stopped going on dates.” 

When your relationship expectations aren’t aligned
“I’m looking for something a little more [serious/casual]. Out of respect for both of our time and feelings, I think we should date other people who better match our expectations. Still, I had a lot of fun getting to know you, and I wish you the best of luck!”

When you’ve met someone else 
“I’ve started seeing someone more seriously, and I’m no longer dating other people.” 

When it’s ACTUALLY you, not them 
“I’ve realized that I’m in no position to be dating at this moment. It was still great getting to know you, but I think I need to be alone right now. I hope you understand.” 

If you’re trying to find the right thing to say that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings or bruise anyone’s ego, you’ll be searching forever — and that defeats the purpose of this whole article, yeah? Whatever you say, say it with honesty, kindness, and respect. You both deserve it! 

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