Readers had a lot to say about “Exes Explain Ghosting, the Ultimate Silent Treatment,” an article about breaking up by disappearing, a tactic most recently said to be used by Charlize Theron. The story drew 340 comments on nytimes.com/styles and more than 970 comments on Facebook.
Some called it rude, cowardly and immature, while others suggested that it’s necessary in certain situations, such as those in which one person feels endangered. Many readers shared their own stories of ghosting and being ghosted. Below is a roundup of some of the most interesting comments, edited for space.
I ghosted my fiancé when I had definitive proof he had been running around on me with multiple people for years. My youthful years! I moved out when he went away on a study excursion for a week. I emotionally and financially supported him through four years of university and then some.
He had no idea why I left and I have never told him that I had discovered his deceptive ways. I had nothing to say but wanted to mess with him. I was told by a mutual friend he was utterly perplexed by the situation. I wish I could have seen his face when the penny dropped. I regret nothing and would do the same if I were cheated on again in such a fashion.
FRESHSTARTIFICATION, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
I had this happen to me several years ago. We had a date for Valentine’s Day at his best friend’s apartment. I waited for hours and hours for him to arrive. All of his friends were very sympathetic and puzzled by his behaviour. No one could figure out why he would do something like this.
We all called him but no response. He was a doctor. The next day I called the office. The receptionist took my message and nothing. After calling for several days in a row with no reply, I gave up.
It was extremely hurtful and dishonest of him. It was worse than a death as I knew he still was around and all of this was his fault for not having the courage to break up in person. I felt lost, hurt and impotent.
M.M., NEW YORK CITY
I ghosted my last relationship. His behavior was toxic, and for my own sanity, I had to cut off all contact. Some call it ghosting, some call it “no contact.” It’s not always done out of bad behavior — sometimes it’s simple self-protection.
A.I., NEW YORK CITY
I am guilty of ghosting friends. I didn’t know it had a name. But it is better, in my view, to just walk away silently than to have “those conversations” where you have to explain why you no longer wish to pursue the friendship. The outcome is not likely to change, and meanwhile, you have two uncomfortable people and may have caused pain.
The last time I did this, I used the old “it’s me, not you” approach, but the friend didn’t get the hint and continued to contact me. Too bad she didn’t do that for the 10 weeks when I really needed a friend and would have appreciated just an occasional text or two. When she finally did surface from her busy social life (she doesn’t work), it was with an email full of details about her busy life but not once did she say “Hey, how are you” or “Hope you are well.” By that point, she was already on the “not worth bothering” list.
I’m glad there’s a term for this; it’s more accurate than “dumped.” It happened to me a while back, in a relationship of 18 months that had grown quite serious. After three weeks of silence, I decided someone ought to issue an acknowledgement, and wrote him a note (by hand, sent via the post office) saying I was hurt and confused by his behavior, but had enjoyed good times with him and wished him well. It felt right to offer a sincere closing on my end, even if his actions were rude and immature. Maintaining my own integrity weakened the sting. In a sense, I, not he, was the one closing the door.
AMC, DENTON, TEX.
I, too, was a victim of ghosting. We had been dating for four months and he was leaving for the weekend to attend a conference. I told him to have a great weekend and then never heard from him again. I was surprised because he had always been respectful and mature. I never reached out to him because, truth be told, I had planned on ending the relationship anyway. I’m guessing he just thought he’d beat me to it.
MRS. S, NEW JERSEY
My ex-husband did this after 12 years of marriage. We hadn’t fought (we very rarely fought); he gave me no clue that he was even considering such a thing. He told me how much he loved me up to the day he suddenly stopped talking with me, moved out, and then pretended not to know me when our paths crossed, even when our paths crossed within inches of one another.
AMERICAN ABROAD, NEAR MUNICH
I’ve ghosted two people in my life. Not because I’m incapable of amicably ending a relationship. Not because I’m emotionally or intellectual stunted. But for my personal safety, and to spare others in my life relentless harassment of having someone constantly slander you while attempting to get in contact with you in the same breath.
Years ago, I had three dates with a guy who was not a match. On our second date, he bemoaned how people seemed to need to have conversations when breaking up, and why couldn’t people just fade away, wasn’t that the same message? Bemused, I stored that note in my head, and after the third date, when I was sure we were not a match, rather than send him a note, I gave him his wish and simply faded away.
DIVA, NEW YORK CITY
My best friend of six years did this to me, and it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. (She did the same thing at the same time to at least two other friends from the same chapter of her life.) It’s been 21 years, and only in the past few years have I quit being haunted by and wondering about her.
REBECCA THEIM, LAS VEGAS
It’s difficult enough to get some people out of your life, but it’s even more difficult when they can always find you on the Internet.
I couldn’t have been more clear about breaking up with someone. I didn’t break up with her because she was such an awesome “friend.” I no longer wished to have any contact with her. By the end of our “relationship”, she was just an annoying, harping drunk who would scream at me about how mean I was to her … for not wishing to be around someone who screamed at me all the time?
I actually left the town where we had met, and to this day, I get phone calls and texts and emails from her.
But so it goes. I just ran across this article. It reminded me of her, and if she reads this article, I have no doubt I’ll be hearing from her soon, given she has a new approach: “Why are you ghosting me?”
Because I don’t like you. Please stop stalking me. There is no friendship. Go find someone new to whine about and leave me alone.
OK, STUPID FAR AWAY