It’s pretty much a universal law that after you ghost someone, they’ll start looking hotter in their Instagram pics. They might not even be doing it to show you what you’re missing, but it always feels like they are, and you, like many before you, might find yourself compelled to slide back into the DMs of someone you hurt when you went silent. Here’s how to do it without the whole thing blowing up in your face.
Think back on your time together
Whether you dated, hooked up, or had a talking phase without ever meeting in real life will play a part in how you should proceed with re-shooting your shot. You also need to consider how long your arrangement went on.
If you talked to someone for a little bit on Tinder and left them hanging without so much as a goodbye, it might not be as difficult to restart the conversation than it would be if, say, you dated a whole month before doing the dip. Only you know the details of the relationship, and only you know how they might respond, so trust your instincts as you carefully move forward here.
Take a look at the last messages this person sent you, around the time they first realized you were deliberately ignoring them. Are they angry or desperate? Are they confused? Let the realization that you were kind of an asshole wash over you and understand where they’re coming from. It’s not a good feeling to be left on read, so don’t expect them to be thrilled that you’re back. (And if they are, ask yourself if their eagerness to reconnect with someone who badly disrespected them is a red flag of its own.)
Figure out your own motivation
Look, this person is probably pretty pissed at you. You left them high and dry with no explanation. If you’re going to try to resurrect an old chat thread or entice them onto a date, expect resistance and a lot of questions. You need to know your own motivation for reappearing in their DMs so you can convincingly relay it to them.
Maybe you really did miss them. Maybe they did just get super hot. Maybe you ghosted them because you rekindled things with your old partner, then broke up and found yourself single again. Maybe the well of Bumble matches in your area ran dry. At least be honest with yourself, man.
Steven Rodriguez, a 27-year-old artist from Brooklyn, told Lifehacker that he ghosted a young woman we’ll call Angie after she “was a little too excited” on their first date and wanted “hugs and kisses and all that right away.”
Rodriguez said he’s not quite as affectionate with borderline-strangers as Angie wanted him to be, so though they’d chatted on social media for a while before meeting, he ghosted her after the date. After that, he said, “she was just blowing up my phone nonstop. Like, nonstop.”
“When I went on the second date with her, she actually started crying,” he lamented. “When that happened, I actually had to ghost her again.”
Angie cried over being ghosted, so there’s a lesson here: You’re hurting feelings when you do this. But Rodriguez’s assessment was that Angie, with all her physical affection and outward displays of emotion, wasn’t the right fit for him and he definitely wasn’t the right fit for her. Whether you think it’s wrong or right, the man double-ghosted her, which might have been avoidable if he’d done a little self-assessment and realized he was only going on that second date because she was blowing up his phone like, nonstop.
Address how you ghosted (or don’t)
Rodriguez said the advice he’d give a friend angling to get back with someone they ghosted is just to approach them nonchalantly and ask for a date. If the ghosted party were to respond with interest, he said, the ghosting party should go from there and not bring up the period of silence.
Eric, a 45-year-old from East Harlem, disagreed. If you were talking to the person for a sustained amount of time before you disappeared, he said, “Give them a call.”
After a little consideration, he conceded a text might work, too, depending on the situation, but he advised making sure both parties are on the same page. He was ghosted, he revealed, by someone he also connected with on social media and dated for about a week. She hit him up again after a few weeks of total silence, offering a simple “hi,” but by that time he’d already deduced from her posts that she’d reconnected with her old boyfriend, then broken up with that old boyfriend again, and was single once more.
“I didn’t have to ask her,” he explained, because he already knew her reasoning, so consider that. You might have disconnected from someone intentionally, but you’re still connected to them in a variety of ways. The other person probably knows more about why you ghosted than you think they do, especially if they went into a silence-induced social media creeping spiral and, say, lurked your Venmo transactions or Twitter likes. Still, Eric said, if it’s not immediately clear or they start asking questions, it can’t hurt to explain yourself so you can get on with the relationship, whatever that ends up looking like.
He and the woman who ghosted him never got together romantically again, but formed a strong friendship.
Try to move forward, and stop ghosting
If you really like this person, put some effort in. If you’re sorry, tell them. If you’re not sorry, don’t lie.
The fact of the matter is that we’ve all ended things with someone a little unkindly and we’ve all had it done to us. It sucks, but ghosting shouldn’t preclude you from doing better in the future, especially if you learned from the experience.
You should always try to find a lesson in any sort of romantic entanglement, even a stray DM. Rodriguez, for instance, recalled a time he was ghosted for drinking a lot and “getting a little attitude” when he was drunk. He drinks less now, he said, and won’t ever forget that woman subliminally telling him, “Don’t hang out with me anymore.” (She does still like all his photos, but those mixed messages are a story for another day.)
“Keep it exciting, keep it going, and be happy!” Eric said.
And, we might add, maybe stop ghosting people. It’s not cool.