If you’re single in the modern hellscape of talking stages and situationships, you’ve likely both been a victim of and partaken in ghosting. And even though ghosting is, unfortch, not uncommon, that doesn’t mean you should keep playing Casper. Dropping off the face of the planet without so much as a “thanks for the $19 cocktail” isn’t productive, but you know what is? The anti-ghost text, a dating habit TikTokers are blowing up because, frankly, dating is hard, and disappearing like a thief in the night only makes it that much harder on (*checks notes*) everyone.
An anti-ghosting text is a straightforward and relatively painless way to tell someone you’ve been on a couple of meh dates with that you’re just not that into them. It’s been lauded as The Move by the likes of Tinx, Emma Vern, and Ask Nelly. And even though rejection texts are nothing new, they’ve become increasingly rare with the rise of ghosting. But here’s the hard truth: No one wants to be ignored, and by doing it to someone else, you’re only perpetuating a defect in our dating culture. Unless you feel uncomfortable or feel it would be dangerous to communicate further (which, absolutely fair—please do not talk to anyone you don’t feel safe around), sending out a quick text will be appreciated more than your attempt to spare their feelings by simply not answering. We promise!
The why behind it is pretty self-explanatory: karma, decency, kindness…it’s just nice, okay? Sending a rejection text rather than just vanishing off into thin air is quick, easy, and mature. Is it a little awkward? Sure, but it’ll make running into them again a hell of a lot less awkward. It might not be fun or easy, but you’ll feel way better about it knowing you let someone down kindly instead of going totally AWOL.
“What happens on the other side [of ghosting] is that you leave someone wondering [what happened in the connection], which is worse than getting rejected because you have absolutely no idea what you’ve done or what you’ve said,” says dating coach Tenesha Wood, founder of The Broom List, a matchmaking service for Black professionals.
Don’t leave them wondering, send the anti-ghosting text. Here’s what you need to know.
Wh shyould I send an anti-ghosting text?
So you went on two dates with that hottie from Hinge, but you’re just not feeling it. That’s okay! Now it’s time to communicate those feelings with real words instead of leaving said hottie out in the cold (i.e., on Read). “It doesn’t have to be long and complicated, or make the other person feel like they’re not enough. [Maybe] there simply wasn’t a connection,” Wood says.
While you might think of ghosting as an act of self-preservation or even an effort to spare their ego, it doesn’t benefit either party. It leaves your date wondering what happened and doubting their own game, and when it becomes a pattern in your dating life, you’re subconsciously conditioning yourself to think that people are disposable—tossing one aside, swiping for the next, and rarely moving forward, says Wood.
You’re also avoiding an important exercise: the art of being upfront, which is a muscle you’ll need to both find and thrive in a relationship. “It’s good practice if you’re trying to find a real relationship where you can say, ‘Hey, you didn’t give me this piece that I needed and that’s important for me in a relationship.’ And once you actually get into a relationship, you’re going to need those skills too,” Wood says.
When should I send an anti-ghosting text?
The anti-ghosting text is mature and honourable…until it isn’t. There comes a point in every relationship when that “it’s not you, it’s me” text isn’t enough and the other person deserves a fleshed-out, IRL conversation, but identifying that point can be complicated. The line is often blurry and isn’t determined by an exact number of dates, but according to Wood, it’s more about how far you’ve come with that person on a deeper level than about how much time has passed.
“Once it’s gotten to the point where you recognize this other person is attached, and you also recognize you may not feel the same level of attachment, that’s the right time to have a conversation versus just a text,” she says.
If you’ve gone on a few casual dates and the vibes are still light, an anti-ghosting text is a move. But if there’s a more substantial emotional history there—like, IDK, they divulged their abandonment issues over a candlelit fifth date that you proposed—have an IRL convo. You’re perceptive! I believe in you!
Anti-ghosting text prompts to copy and paste (you’re welcome)
Alright, *cracks knuckles,* it’s time to get typing. You should never set a tone of blame nor should you dodge a straight answer. If there wasn’t a connection, there wasn’t a connection. Don’t give them some half-assed excuse about how “swamped” you are with work or fib your way through it with a lie about joining the peace corps and moving to Belize. “People will take the rejection and they will take the honesty, but what they can’t take is just feeling discarded and like trash because you said nothing,” Wood says. “You don’t want to beat around the bush with excuses…[and] you don’t want to get somebody’s hopes up.”
Leaving the door open, even just a crack, isn’t to anyone’s benefit. But if you’re still open to a platonic friendship, you’re allowed to express those feelings too. Just be intentional and upfront about what you see as a next step—and respectful if they aren’t down to carry on as buddies.
Writer’s block got your tongue? Here are a few easy anti-ghosting texts to copy and paste into your notes app or iMessage:
- “So glad we got to grab a drink last night. I did have a nice time, but TBH, I didn’t really feel a romantic connection and I don’t want to waste your time. Good luck out there!”
- “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you the last few weeks, but I don’t see this moving forward into something more serious and just want to be upfront about that. I’m down for friendship though, if you ever wanna grab a platonic drink.”
- “I know that you mentioned you were looking for something more casual, and after some thought, that’s not really where my head’s at. I think it’s best if we go our separate ways so as not to waste each other’s time.”
- “The last few dates were fun, and while I’ve genuinely enjoyed getting to know you, I’m not sure we’re super compatible. I think it’s best if we call it here, but wishing you the best!”
- “In the spirit of being super straight with you, I didn’t get a romantic vibe from our date and I know we’re both looking for the real thing. You’re wonderful, good luck!”
Dating isn’t all soul mates and butterflies and first kisses, but that’s kind of the point. You’ve got to try and fail—and yes, sometimes endure the brutal Slow Fade™️—in order to find the right relationship (i.e., that special someone that won’t watch ahead on The White Lotus). Instead of accepting ghosting as the norm, send an anti-ghosting text. It’s the kind, honest, and mature thing to do, and you’ll be glad you did it when karma rewards you with a Theo James or Aubrey Plaza lookalike.