Is Ghosting Ever OK?

Ghosting, which refers to suddenly cutting off all communication with someone without any explanation or warning, is considered disrespectful and hurtful. Open and honest communication is usually a better approach for resolving issues or ending a relationship.

However, there are certain circumstances where some degree of “ghosting” could be understandable or even appropriate.

Angry woman scream yelling at husband closing ears not to hear.
Ghosting is generally considered to be a behavior that lacks empathy and communication, and it can have negative emotional impacts on the person being ghosted. However, there are a few exceptions where ghosting could be understood or justified.

If someone genuinely feels that communicating with a person could lead to harm, then limiting or cutting off contact can be a valid choice. But in the majority of cases where safety isn’t a concern, open and honest communication is usually the best approach.

When Is It Not OK to Ghost Someone?

Ghosting is generally considered inappropriate in most situations due to its potential to cause confusion, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings. It can leave the other person confused, anxious, and wondering what went wrong.

Treating others with respect and empathy through clear communication is a better approach than ghosting. Even if the conversation is difficult, it shows maturity and consideration for the other person’s feelings.

Here are a few examples in which ghosting is generally not okay:

  • You and your best friend have a disagreement, and instead of addressing it, you abruptly cut off all communication and ignore their attempts to reach out.
  • You have been on several dates with someone, but you realize you are no longer interested, so you stop replying to their messages.
  • You have been dating someone and you are starting to catch feelings, but your fear of commitment tells you to pull away. Although you tell them you will call them tomorrow, you never do and stop replying to their messages and calls.  
  • You’ve been in a committed relationship for several months, and you suddenly stop responding to calls and messages without explaining your reasons for doing so.
  • You’ve been living with a roommate for a while, and you decide to move out without giving them any notice or explanation.
  • A person you have been on a few dates with messages you often, and you are feeling overwhelmed. You like their messages and send the occasional emoji, but you do not respond fully (Example of soft ghosting).
  • You make plans to attend a social event with friends, but you decide not to show up without informing anyone, leaving them wondering what happened.
  • You’ve been chatting with someone online and decide to abruptly stop responding without letting them know you’re no longer interested in continuing the conversation.

When Is It Acceptable to Ghost Someone?

In situations where you genuinely feel that your emotional, mental, or physical safety is at risk, it can be acceptable to cut off communication as a way to protect yourself.

Your safety and well-being are of utmost importance, and if you fear that engaging in communication could lead to harm or escalation, taking measures to distance yourself, including ghosting, can be a necessary step.

The following situations are examples of circumstances where some degree of ghosting could be acceptable:

Consistent Disrespect, Harm, or Manipulation

If someone’s behavior is consistently disrespectful, harmful, or manipulative, it’s crucial to prioritize your own well-being.

If engaging in a conversation with them is likely to lead to further harm or distress, distancing yourself through ghosting could be a way to protect yourself.

Especially if your attempts at communication have failed to address the issue and they continue to exhibit harmful behavior, you might feel justified in ghosting to protect your mental and emotional well-being.

Safety Concerns

If you feel unsafe or threatened by someone, it’s critical to prioritize your own safety. In such cases, abruptly cutting off communication might be a necessary protective measure.

Prioritizing personal safety should always take precedence. If you believe ghosting is the safest course of action, do what you need to protect yourself.


Ghosting someone who makes you feel uncomfortable can also be a valid choice, particularly if you’ve already attempted to address the discomfort and the behavior continues.

If someone’s presence or behavior consistently makes you uncomfortable, you have the right to protect yourself from further discomfort.

If your gut feeling is telling you that ghosting is the best option to protect your emotional well-being, trust yourself. You know your feelings and limits better than anyone else.

Lack of Emotional Energy

While not ideal, some people might choose to ghost if they are struggling with their own mental health issues and do not have the emotional capacity to engage in a conversation about ending the relationship.

When you feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed, or exhausted, engaging in interactions, especially difficult or emotionally charged ones, can feel like an insurmountable task.

If you’ve clearly communicated your need for distance and explained your state of mind to the other person, but they continue to contact you despite your wishes, it’s important to take steps to protect your boundaries and well-being.

One-sided or Casual Relationships

If you’ve repeatedly tried to communicate your feelings or concerns to someone and they consistently dismiss or disregard them, it’s possible that they’ve already demonstrated an unwillingness to engage in healthy communication.

In these cases, gradually distancing yourself might be a valid option.

Or, if you had a very brief and casual relationship where there was not a significant emotional attachment, you might feel that ghosting is acceptable.

However, even in these cases, a simple and courteous explanation can help maintain a sense of respect.

How Can You Stop Talking to Someone Without Ghosting Them?

Stopping communication with someone without resorting to ghosting involves approaching the situation with honesty, clarity, and respect.

Unless you are dealing with one of the scenarios mentioned above (e.g., abuse, harassment), you should clearly express your feelings and intentions.

Being honest and direct is important so you avoid leading the person on or creating false hope.

While you should be honest, avoid assigning blame or criticizing the other person’s behavior and instead focus on your own feelings and needs.

You don’t need to go into extensive detail, though. A clear, concise message that conveys your intentions is sufficient.

If the person responds to your message, be prepared to listen and respond, but maintain your boundaries. If they have questions or express their feelings, show empathy without compromising your decision.

Remember that even though you’re ending communication, you can still do so with kindness and empathy. Treating others with respect is always a good practice.

Here are a few suggestions for what you can say to stop talking to someone while being respectful and considerate:

  • “I’ve appreciated our interactions, but I think it’s best for me to take some time for myself right now.”
  • “I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, but I have some personal things I need to focus on right now.”
  • “I’ve been feeling emotionally drained lately and need some space to recharge.”
  • “I think it’s time for both of us to move on in our own directions.”
  • “I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent talking, but I think it’s best for me to step back for a while.”


Is It OK to Ghost Someone You Have Never Met?

If you’ve only had a few brief online interactions with someone you’ve never met in person, and you decide that you’re not interested in pursuing further communication, it’s generally okay to simply stop responding.

If the person is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it’s also acceptable to ghost.
In such cases, it might even be best to block or disconnect altogether.

However, if you have never met a person but have invested a significant amount of time or emotional energy into the interaction, it can be more considerate to provide a brief explanation for your decision to disengage.

Is It Acceptable to Soft Ghost Someone?

While soft ghosting might be seen as a milder form of ghosting, it can still leave the other person feeling confused, frustrated, or hurt.

If the reason for distancing yourself is a lack of interest or a need for space, consider communicating that directly. A brief and honest message can provide closure and prevent unnecessary confusion.

While soft ghosting might seem like a less confrontational option, being open and respectful in your communication tends to lead to more positive outcomes for both parties involved.

In the end, how you handle the situation depends on your values, the context of the relationship, and your assessment of how the other person might react.

Should I Apologize for Ghosting Someone?

Apologizing for ghosting someone can be a considerate and empathetic gesture, especially if you feel that your sudden lack of communication may have caused confusion, hurt feelings, or distress.

However, whether or not to apologize depends on the situation, the nature of your relationship, and your genuine feelings about the matter.

If it was a close friend, a romantic partner, or someone you’ve had a meaningful connection with, an apology might be more appropriate. But, if you ghosted due to reasons that are legitimate (such as concerns for your safety), you might not need to apologize.

Remember that an apology can provide closure and healing for both parties involved, but it’s not always necessary or appropriate in every situation. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision that depends on your assessment of the situation and your intentions moving forward.

Is Ghosting a Toxic Friend OK?

Ghosting a toxic friend can sometimes be a necessary step for your own well-being, especially if the friendship has become emotionally draining, manipulative, or harmful.

It’s always best to try to communicate your issues and concerns first through open and honest communication. But if you’ve already tried to express your concerns and nothing has changed, ghosting might be a valid choice.

While ghosting might be understandable in the context of a toxic friendship, whenever possible, opting for open communication and boundary-setting can be healthier for all parties involved.

This article was edited by Julia Simkus.

Saul Mcleod, PhD

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Educator, Researcher

Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

Anna Drescher

Mental Health Writer

BSc (Hons), Psychology, Goldsmiths University, MSc in Psychotherapy, University of Queensland

Anna Drescher is a freelance writer and solution-focused hypnotherapist, specializing in CBT and meditation. Using insights from her experience working as an NHS Assistant Clinical Psychologist and Recovery Officer, along with her Master's degree in Psychotherapy, she lends deep empathy and profound understanding to her mental health and relationships writing.