You date someone. You realise you don’t like them. You ghost them.
It’s easy, simple and effective. But enough of us have now been on the other side of it to know that being ghosted is actually horrible. Has the other person stopped replying because you just said something weird? Have they met someone new? Do they not actually like you? Have they died?
We often don’t explain our reasons for ending a relationship because it can feel impossible to know what to say. How do you reject someone kindly? What if they reply? And is there a non-awkward way to do it?
It turns out there is. We’ve asked five experts – a professor, a counsellor, a TV dating coach, a scientist and a YouTuber – to come up with the perfect message to send someone instead of ghosting them.
Jean Twenge, professor of social psychology at San Diego State University and author of Generation Me.
Tbh it's been fun hanging out lately but I don't think we're meant to be a couple.
"To be honest" is a good way to deliver unwelcome news, while "I don't think we're meant to be a couple" is more gentle than some of the alternatives.
Today’s younger generations are very interested in emotional safety and don't want to upset others – that’s one of the reasons they 'ghost' in the first place.
If they do send a break-up text, they'll want it to be as gentle as possible. One thing I would add is, if this relationship has gone beyond, say, three dates, a text isn't enough -- it deserves at least a phone call.
Peter Saddington, Relate counsellor.
Hi, hope you're good. I really enjoyed getting to know you but if I'm honest, I'm not feeling a real connection between us. It was lovely meeting you.
If you’re ending a long-term relationship, we’d suggest talking face-to-face. But if you’ve just been on a few dates then it’s probably acceptable to do it by text.
Sending a kindly worded but clear text is likely to make you both feel better. Most people don’t find it easy to end a relationship or to take responsibility for the decision, which is why they end up 'ghosting'. We tend to avoid difficult situations because we don’t want other people to think badly of us.
If you want to end things in a good way, it’s better to talk about yourself. Say, “I’m not feeling a connection,” rather than blaming the other person and picking out faults in them.
This example is honest and takes ownership, but also emphasises that it was good getting to know the person. It doesn’t suggest staying friends - and I’d avoid saying this unless you’re genuinely interested in a friendship with that person.
The TV expert
Lady Nadia Essex, Celebs Go Dating’s dating expert.
I wanted to say that I really enjoyed us chatting and I would love to see you again, but for me it would be as friends. Not sure if you would be keen for that?
I actually received this text from a guy recently, and it was the best rejection I’ve ever had! I wasn’t angry or upset.
I respected him for having the balls to say it - rather than just ghost me - and it was so eloquent I was fine with it.
Sameer Chaudhry, scientist at the University of North Texas, and author of 'An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date'.
I feel we aren't compatible and this relationship isn't working for me. So I'd like to end all further communication and wish you the best in the future.
A short, matter of fact note is best. Leaving no suggestion you’re open to changing your mind and making it perfectly clear these are your choices and you’re happy to own them without further debate. While nobody likes rejection, knowing where you stand is better in the long run.
Saying things like, "I enjoyed the date and thought you were a nice person" might suit some people, but it can create uncertainty and leave them with unanswered questions: "If I’m so great, why isn’t she into me?" or "Maybe he’ll change his mind."
Make sure you do it privately, never on public social media, and remember they can always share whatever you write to them, so be careful what you say.
Hayley Quinn, international dating coach.
Hey (name) thanks for meeting me yesterday. I'm pretty sure you feel the same, but I didn't feel a romantic connection. Always awkward to be the first to say, but didn't want to be one of those [ghosts].
This message takes full responsibility and makes it clear you don’t want to see them again, rather than something like "Maybe we can meet again at some undisclosed point in the future."
It suggests the other person feels the same, which helps save their pride (and most of the time they will feel the same). But it’s also playful and fun, which is important. Especially if you’re sending it after a first date.