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Does ghosting last forever?

Ghosting, or the act of suddenly ending communication without explanation, has become increasingly common in relationships and friendships in recent years. With the rise of digital communication, it’s easier than ever to simply stop responding and essentially disappear from someone’s life.

But how long does ghosting really last? Is it usually a permanent end to the relationship or something temporary? Here we’ll explore whether ghosting is forever and provide some insight into this modern phenomenon.

What is ghosting?

Ghosting refers to when someone you are dating, friends with, or otherwise communicating with ends the relationship by cutting off all communication without explanation. This is different than a mutual slow fade, where communication gradually becomes less frequent over time.

With ghosting, there is abrupt silence. One day you may be texting or talking as normal, and the next your messages are simply ignored. The person does not offer any closure or reason for no longer responding.

Ghosting can happen after two dates, several months of dating, years of friendship, or any time there is an expectation of ongoing communication. Being ghosted can leave you feeling confused, hurt, angry, and searching for answers.

Why do people ghost?

There are a few common reasons someone might ghost another person:

  • They find it too awkward or uncomfortable to directly end the relationship
  • They lose interest and let communication taper off over time
  • Something happened that changed their feelings about the relationship
  • They started dating or pursuing a relationship with someone else
  • They met someone new and focus energy on that person instead
  • Communication problems or arguments made them check out
  • They decided the relationship was moving too fast and wanted to slow things down
  • They realized the relationship would not work long-term and lost interest
  • They got busy with work, school, family emergencies, or other obligations
  • They struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues
  • They did not feel safe or comfortable directly ending communication

While ghosting is often about the person doing the ghosting and their issues or circumstances, sometimes it is a reaction to inappropriate behavior from the other person. However, in most cases it is still seen as inappropriate and hurtful to end communication without explanation.

Does ghosting last forever?

Whether ghosting lasts forever or not really depends on the two people and individuals involved. There are several scenarios of what could happen after someone ghosts:

They reconnect to apologize

For some people, ghosting is a temporary strategy they use to get space from a relationship that feels overwhelming. After time passes, they may regret ghosting instead of communiceting directly. They then reach out to apologize and explain what happened.

Reconnecting could occur days, weeks, months, or even years later. This at least provides the ghosted person with closure. But it does not always lead to restarting the relationship.

One person reaches out to reconnect

Sometimes the person who was ghosted will reach out to the ghoster weeks or months later to ask if they would like to try communicating again. This could work if the ghoster regrets their actions or lost interest temporarily. But the ghoster may still not respond or could reject reconnecting.

They accidentally run into each other

If the two people run in the same social circles or live in the same area, they may accidentally see each other at some point. This could lead to an awkward conversation in which the ghoster apologizes or ignores what happened. Or they may pretend not to know each other and move on.

The relationship stays ended

In many cases, once ghosting occurs the relationship ends permanently. The ghoster has likely moved on and continues to ignore communication. They may have started seeing someone else or simply lost interest in the person they ghosted.

They may feel too much time has passed to reopen communication, or feel uncomfortable explaining why they ghosted after so long. This scenario likely leads to hurt feelings and no closure.

They become friends again someday

Rarely, two people who ghosted each other or experienced ghosting can reconnect as friends down the road. After a long period of no contact, they may be able to restart a casual friendship with healthy boundaries. This requires maturity and typically only happens if both people have grown and learned from the experience.

How long do people typically ghost for?

There are no hard rules about how long ghosting lasts. It really depends on the two people and the depth of their relationship. Some patterns include:

  • Ghosting after a few dates: This often lasts permanently or indefinitely. With little investment in each other, there’s less incentive to reconnect.
  • Ghosting a friend: Friends may reconnect in a few weeks/months realizing how much the friendship means to them. But ghosting friends can often end the friendship.
  • Ghosting a partner: Ghosting may last permanently after shorter relationships like a few months. For serious relationships, it could last weeks/months before the ghoster reaches out or the partner demands answers.
  • Ghosting by someone depressed/distressed: They may resume communication after getting through the hard time. But mental health ghosting can also be permanent.

Ghosting lasting forever or not also depends how often the two people see each other in real life. Running into each other frequently makes it harder for ghosting to continue indefinitely.

Signs ghosting might not last forever

While every situation is different, there are some signs ghosting may be temporary rather than permanent:

  • The relationship was generally happy and healthy before the ghosting occurred.
  • Major life events happened right before the ghosting, like a job change, moving, family death, etc.
  • The ghoster struggles with mental health issues like depression that may impact communication.
  • Arguments or conflict preceded the ghosting but seemed solvable.
  • The ghoster has ghosted people before but eventually resumed contact.
  • The ghoster contacts mutual friends about the person being ghosted.

On the other hand, signs ghosting will likely be permanent include:

  • Cheating or deception was uncovered right before the ghosting.
  • The relationship was unhealthy, toxic, or abusive.
  • Major values or commitment differences emerged.
  • The ghoster does not communicate with any mutual friends about the person.
  • The ghosted person exhibited stalking behavior or refuses to accept the end.

Coping with being ghosted

Being on the receiving end of ghosting can be a painful, confusing experience. Here are some tips for coping with being ghosted by a partner, friend, or someone else important in your life:

Give it time initially

When you first realize you have been ghosted, give the person a little time to respond. A week of no communication could be temporary. But if it stretches longer with no explanations, it becomes clear you have likely been ghosted.

Ask mutual friends if they know anything

Reach out to mutual friends respectfully to see if they know why the person is no longer speaking to you or if they are okay. But avoid constantly contacting friends about the ghosting.

Seek closure for yourself

Write a letter or email explaining your feelings and asking for answers, even if you don’t send it. This can help you process the end of communication. Closure often needs to come from within.

Limit contact and move on

Avoid constantly calling, texting, or visiting places the ghoster frequents. Limit contact on social media as well. Pretending the relationship is fine will only prolong pain. Accept that communication has ended and start moving on.

Reflect on any role you played

While being ghosted is never justified, reflect on how you contributed to issues in the relationship. Could you have communicated better? This can help you learn and grow.

Practice self-care

Ghosting often damages self-esteem. Staying healthy, surrounding yourself with loved ones, and engaging in fulfilling activities helps healing. Consider therapy if you struggle with closure.

Forgive but do not forget

Forgiving the ghoster can help you move forward, even if you never reconnect. But be cautious about re-establishing contact if possible, since ghosting may repeat.

Is ghosting ever acceptable?

Most relationship experts recommend against ghosting in any circumstance. Directly ending communication in a considerate way is healthier and avoids hurt feelings. Exceptions when ghosting may be understandable include:

  • After a first or second date where little connection was made
  • After casually dating or talking for a short time with no commitment made
  • When you have safety concerns around the person’s reaction to rejection
  • When your attempts to politely end communication are ignored
  • When ending an abusive or toxic relationship

However, it is still wise to provide closure whenever reasonably possible. Let the person know you do not see things progressing and wish them well. This prevents confusion and preserves both parties’ dignity.

Healthy ways to end a relationship

While ghosting may seem easier in the moment, maturely ending communication is better for your conscience and the other person. Here are some healthy ways to end a relationship:

  • Meet in person if possible or talk over video chat. This shows care.
  • Offer a direct but thoughtful explanation. For example, “I don’t think we’re a good match long-term.”
  • Avoid blaming or shaming the other person to alleviate guilt.
  • Give closure but don’t try to remain friends right away. More distance helps healing.
  • Thank them for the meaningful experiences you shared.
  • If ending communication with someone potentially dangerous, take precautions like having friends with you.

Ending relationships directly strengthens communication skills for the future. And you never know when your paths may cross again someday.


Ghosting often causes hurt feelings and confusion for the person left wondering what happened. In some cases ghosting may only last a few weeks or months before the ghoster reaches out again or the two reconnect in person. But frequently ghosting results in a sudden, permanent end to communication with no closure.

The healthiest choice is to provide closure when reasonably possible, even if that is difficult. But if you are on the receiving end of ghosting, give yourself time and space to grieve and process. Seek support from loved ones, engage in self-care, and move forward remembering your self-worth. With resilience, understanding, and keeping an open heart, you can recover from being ghosted and thrive in other relationships again.