Without a doubt, it’s the single most maddening part of dating in a world where endless romantic options exist right at your fingertips: the ubiquitous practice of ghosting. Official definition: when someone simply disappears on his or her partner. No breakup talk. No text. Not even—and this is for you Sex and the City fans—a Post-It. Just… poof.
As anyone who has been ghosted can tell you, it totally sucks. But luckily, there are ways to tell if a guy (or girl, for that matter) is planning to ghost you before getting in too deep. So keep watch, and don’t let it happen to you. And for more great dating advice, here are 7 Expert Dating Tips From Silicon Valley’s Top Millionaire Matchmaker.
These are pretty much never a good sign in general, particularly if they’re in response to a longer message that you sent. “If you start getting one-word texts without any questions or pleasantries, you may be headed for a ghosting,” says Jessica Graham, relationship expert and author of Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out. “People often use the slow fade before vanishing altogether.” And for more great relationship advice, here are the 15 Worst Reasons to Delay a Breakup.
And we’re not talking about years from now. We’re talking about the this weekend. One surefire way to root out a ghoster is to begin to talk about any future plans you have. “See if he goes silent and doesn’t respond,” says Kemi Sogunle, a relationship expert, speaker, and author. If it happens, then prepare yourself for a vanishing act. And if you’re looking to speak his language, here’s 32 Ways to Change His Behavior with Movie Quotes.
“One of the top signs that you might be a victim of future ghosting is lack of personal information given during the time of the date or dates,” says Melissa Rogers, a professional matchmaker at Tawkify. “When a person leaves out details you’ve freely shared about yourself, it could be a sign they don’t see a future and are ready to disappear into thin air.” So if you’ve given them the details on your job, family, and travel bucket list and they’ve given you nada, get out of there ASAP. However, we should say that there are some Secrets You Should Always Keep From Your Partner.
It’s actually quite easy to tell early on if a guy plans to ghost you—even if he doesn’t know it yet himself. By listening for certain language cues, you can get a heads up. “If someone has to qualify their intentions, chances are they’re not prioritizing a meaningful romantic connection right now,” says Amaris Kay, professional matchmaker at Tawkify.
For example, if he says something like, “I’m looking for a relationship, but I’m not in a rush,” or something similar, be sure to tread carefully. “Listen to the precise language people use during the date to avoid disappointment in the future.” Now, if you’re not sure you want a relationship, here are 15 Signs You Should Be Single.
If he cancels plans on you in the early, early stages of the relationship more than once, it’s probably a no-go. “It’s a red flag when the person you’re dating is canceling plans all the time, or suddenly has excuses for why they can’t spend time with you,” says Antonia Hall, MA, a relationship expert and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. “Anyone truly interested will make the effort to spend time together, even if they’re busy.”
Yes, sometimes this is a sign that you’ve found “the one.” But sometimes, the relationship actually is too good to be true. “Be very cautious of guys who pour on the affection, privately and in public, and dole out an enormous amount of compliments,” suggests Esme Oliver, dating expert and author of Smoke Drink F*#k. “This type of attention can be intoxicating, but remember they are just words. Anyone can say anything. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is.” For better insight into whether or not he’s “the one” here are 15 Signs Your Partner is Marriage Material.
It’s normal to avoid the nitty gritty details of your past relationships with a new partner. But if treats his entire romantic past like secret life of which you know zilch, that’s a serious warning sign. “How someone handled themselves in past relationships provides insight into how they value interpersonal relationships in the present,” explains Paul L. Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a psychotherapist who practices in New York, Malibu, and London. “A capacity to ignore the past indicates a propensity for what’s known as ‘emotional cutoff,’ which is the ability to completely sever relationships.” In other words, he’s likely ghosted before, and he’s probably good at it. Speaking of warning signs, here are 20 Relationship Warning Signs Smart Couples Never Ignore.
Maybe everything is fine over text, but if your date seems way less interested in your life than he was on the first few meet-ups, he might be getting ready to ghost. What should you look for? “He is no longer engaged in conversation or previously shared interests. And while his behavior is noticeably different, if he is confronted, he denies that anything is wrong,” says Teresa Solomita, a psychoanalyst and relationship Therapist in NYC. On the bright side, you’re probably saving yourself some energy by ending things with a guy who does this, as it’s a clear indicator he has issues with direct communication.
“Men who are checking out on you and on the verge of disappearing for good tend to be unable to simply tell the truth: ‘I’m just not that into you,’” explains Oliver. But if you try to bring it up with them, they’ll probably give you excuses they think sound “good”: “Work is so busy now. Traveling nonstop with work. Pressure from my family to come visit more often,” she says. “Watch for these lame excuses,” Oliver suggests. “They usually are a harbinger of things to come.”
“It can be a big red flag if someone comes on way too strong at the very beginning of a relationship,” explains Graham. “If they start making future plans and goo-goo eyes on the first date, you could be in trouble. This can be the sign of some serious co-dependency or the precursor to a ghosting.”
“Narcissists are only in relationships for what they can get out of them,” says Hokemeyer. If he mostly seems to be interested in how your relationship benefits him, then you might have a narcissist on your hands. “Always a master to be served, they view other human beings as disposable objects, immediately discarded when their novelty wears off,” he explains. That means your would-be S.O. could disappear without a trace once they get bored—just like a ghost.
Maybe you had some great dates in the beginning, but now “all you do is have sex,” says Sogunle. “He only contacts you when he is interested in sex and wants to come over immediately to get into the cookie jar. There is no emotional connection any longer.” Once the emotional ties are severed, it’s easier for him to justify disappearing. But if you’re in a healthy relationship, don’t miss The 5 Best Ways to Have Your Best Sex Tonight.
“I know most people don’t want to hear this, but it’s true,” says Sara Paules, an attachment, relationship, and sex therapist in Austin, TX. If you feel like you’re getting ghosted all the time, it could be that you’re going after the wrong types of guys.
“If you have an anxious attachment style, you tend to go with what you know, as in you are more attracted to individuals who can subtly come across as unavailable because it feels familiar and we are attracted to what is familiar to us,” Paules explains.
“For example, he says he loves you, but fails to show up for you in ways that are significant to you,” says Hokemeyer. Sometimes what people say and what they really mean don’t line up. “This indicates he lacks the capacity to see and value you as a human being with autonomous thoughts and feelings,” which could mean he won’t feel bad about ghosting you.
If you just have a sinking feeling about him, listen to that feeling, recommends Paules. “Based on new research coming out, there’s so much evidence out there that we really should get ‘back to basics’ and literally trust our gut. If you start noticing that you’re feeling sluggish, not able to get yourself up and ready for the date but can’t put your finger on why, it might be your body telling you something. Trust your instincts,” she says.
If you’ve ever been on a dating app, you’re probably familiar with this move. “If he is communicating with you through text and email regularly, but never makes a definitive plan to get together, then you should be on guard,” says Oliver. “Men like attention and he may even like you, but he probably needs attention from a lot of women and may be on the precipice of ghosting you for a perceived better catch.”
“If you’ve never met friends and loved ones of the person you’ve been dating for awhile, they’re not committed, and could potentially ghost,” explains Hall. If he never mentions telling his friends or family about you, that’s a pretty big warning sign.
This is especially true if you’ve been talking for more than a couple of weeks. “Maybe you only text every few days, late at night, and when there has been a little drinking,” says April Davis, a dating expert, matchmaker, and CEO of LUMA Luxury Matchmaking. If you’re just meeting up “casually,” that’s likely a temporary situation that could end at any time without notice.
“A good indicator of a classic ghost would be when someone is ALWAYS on their phone, yet when you’re not with them it seems like you’re rarely getting that text or phone call,” says Rogers. Plus, it sounds like he needs to learn the 11 Easy Ways to Conquer Your Smartphone Addiction.
This might seem obvious, but bear with us. If you’re seeing someone again who has ghosted you in the past, consider the idea that it might happen again. This is especially true if “the last time he ghosted you, he never really acknowledged that he had done it when he came back,” says Solomita. “If he never took ownership for it and didn’t give you a reason for his return, history is the best indicator of future behavior.”
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