Trick or Treat: How to Avoid Getting Ghosted This Halloween

Person dressed as a ghost sitting in the street

Halloween season is spooky enough. Let’s not add getting ghosted to the list of what to do this season! 

Ghosting occurs when someone abruptly stops communication without an explanation. Dr. Wendy Walsh, the psychology professor who helped pave the way for the #MeToo movement in 2017, says that there are three levels of ghosting.

  • Lightweight ghosting happens when two people argue, and one suddenly refuses to text back.
  • Midweight ghosting occurs when two people have met a number of times, and one party suddenly engages in active avoidance. The loss feels deeper in these cases and takes longer to resolve.
  • Heavyweight ghosting is the worst among the three types. This happens when two people enter into a sexual relationship, but one disappears, leaving the other blindsided.

The Business of Apps, a third-party analyst for app-based businesses, estimates that there were over 270 million dating app users in 2020. Finding partners has never been easier, but the constant swiping makes leaving partners just as easy. Ghosting can happen for a whole number of reasons, but a lot of it has to do with someone’s emotional maturity. Some people may anticipate the mess of a difficult conversation and choose to disappear instead. While the reasons are often totally about the other person, ghosting hurts nevertheless. Here are a few tips to avoid getting ghosted this Halloween season.

Two women sitting by a lake outside

1. Be clear about your expectations

Use your profile to your advantage. Whether you’re looking for something casual or a serious relationship, put it out there. The chances of getting ghosted are way lower if both of you have the same goal. In the same way, if you’re talking to someone for the first time and don’t know where you stand, it might be a good idea to be honest about what you’re looking for. Bring it up casually, but be honest and polite. The best-case scenario is you realize you both want the same thing. The worst case is you don’t waste each other’s time.

2. Show interest

People like to engage with people who seem interested in them and their interests. And the best way to show you’re interested in someone is by asking questions. Dale Carnegie, the author of the best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, had the best advice: “Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” Start with less sensitive questions and escalate slowly. Dive deeper with follow-ups, or keep your inquiries open-ended, so the other person has the option to share as they see fit. If you need a nudge in the right direction, Arthur Aron’s list of 36 questions has been scientifically proven to lead to love.

Couple walking down the street together, looking at each other and smiling

3. Keep things light

We’re all busy working from home, attending to our balcony gardens, and feeding our sourdough starters. Dating online should be the least of our worries. As much as possible, keep conversations light and sweet. It’s a lot easier to reply when you’re not thinking too hard about what to say. At the same time, it’s important to figure out when you’re sharing enough and when you’re sharing too much. As we age, we’re more prone to oversharing, but this can have consequences. Trusting new friends with important information can strain the relationship too early. Lindsey Aloia, an assistant communications professor at the University of Arkansas, says that “social media has changed the way we think about private information, so it’s changed the way we negotiate privacy boundaries, as well.” She suggests starting new relationships by talking about what you’re willing and not willing to share. If the match is a good fit, the sharing will come naturally and gradually.

4. Make plans

Sometimes, we think messaging can give us a good idea of whether we’re compatible with someone, but the back-and-forth texting is rarely a good measure of your chemistry IRL. Use the season to your advantage. There are a plethora of fun Halloween date ideas that are low on commitment but high on getting-to-know-each-other-better. Go on a ghost tour, get lost in a corn maze, or go apple picking for every apple variety imaginable. It’s a lot more difficult to get ghosted if future plans are in the mix.

Two people dancing outside dressed up as a ghost and a pumpkin for Halloween.

No matter the reason (and the season), always remember that ghosting is more about the other person than it is about you. Someone who ghosts is declaring that they aren’t ready to treat you like an adult or be honest about their feelings in a delicate situation. Think of it as a dodged bullet, and get back in the game. After all, all of the events around Halloween make it a pretty excellent holiday for singles.

Patricia Ann Lee

Patricia Ann Lee

Patricia Lee is a writer from the Philippines, who appreciates a well-made laminated pastry. While she holds a day job as a physician, writing has always been her first love. She thinks of dating as a great exercise in communication.

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