Suddenly going dark is not the way to end a relationship—except in this case.

Anthea Levi
January 26, 2018

In the age of Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge, ghosting—ceasing all communication with a person you no longer wish to date—is a common way of avoiding the potential drama and awkwardness of breaking off a relationship. But just because it's rampant behavior doesn't make it hurt any less when your crush goes MIA after date number three and leaves you clueless about what happened.

“Ghosting is an immature and possibly cowardly way of ending a relationship,” says Jennifer Wiessner, a sex and couples therapist based in Cumberland, Maine. “It leaves someone wondering why, and it doesn’t allow for the tidy closure many people desire.” 

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Experts generally agree that it’s better to let someone clearly know that you’re no longer interested in them rather than ignoring their texts and hoping they get the message (or lack thereof). “Ghosting can cause emotional distress and make one ruminate about what went wrong,” adds Wiessner. Of course, no one wants to be the bearer of bad news and disappoint another person, so ghosting seems like an easier way out.

Okay, but is it ever acceptable to ghost someone? It is, according to Wiessner—if the person you want to stop seeing has been in any way abusive to you.

“Verbal abuse, coercion, and violence are all cause for using ghosting to get out of the relationship," she says. If abuse did occur, you may not feel comfortable or safe telling the person outright that it's over. When your personal safety is threatened, ghosting is a viable option, she says.

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If you've decided to break up with an abusive person, ghost away. But if you want to end a relationship where no abuse has occurred, do the right thing and let them know over the phone or in person. Wiessner suggests phrasing it this way: "It’s been nice to hang out with you/talk with you/have sex with you, but I’m not ready for what is developing." This statement is short, to the point, and gives clarity to the person you're dumping, says Wiessner.