What's the time frame to assume a ghosting?
March 13, 2018 6:59 AM   Subscribe

How many days/hours should pass before one can safely assume that one has been ghosted?

For the purpose of this question, please assume the standard ghosting hallmarks, that there was regular contact which the assumed-ghoster simply ceased, that the assumed-ghoster is active on other social media such as the dating site (and clearly isn't in hospital or jail), and that these are still early days when ghosting is still an 'acceptable' breakup method.

When is it safe for one to block and move on? As a general rule?
posted by Capt. Renault to Human Relations (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Why do you want to block at all? That sounds more like ghosting than the actual quiet patch you are describing. Why not contact them and see what the response is?

I understand ghosting as truly disappearing and covering your tracks a little bit. This just sounds like neither of you are interested any more.
posted by 0bvious at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming that this is/was pretty early days with this person and that you both met through something like an online dating service where you're potentially meeting lots of different people on a fairly casual basis, right? If that's the case (please forgive me if I'm wrong) "block and move on" sounds a little bit more serious than necessary, as does waiting for some specific time frame to pass. Just stop actively reaching out to the person until/unless they contact you again, and keep looking for more dates with people who seem interesting. If the person does re-contact you then you can decide at that time what you want to do about it, and if they don't then oh well, no big deal—plenty of other fish in the sea, and all that.

From what I can see in your question, there's no need to make this a black-and-white thing. You're in a fuzzy gray area, and that's fine. Just roll with it and keep living your life.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:07 AM on March 13, 2018 [14 favorites]

This varies (though it's going to be in the days range, not hours) so maybe just decide how many days you're okay with being ignored by someone under these circumstances. Like if you don't hear from someone for a week and then they contact you, would you still even want to go out with them again? You can decide this. Then you don't need to wonder if they'll contact you again.
posted by Polychrome at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Now is fine. Why wait?

There is a power imbalance. Something about the silence dynamic reads as dismissive rather than a natural pause. I don't suggest waiting around on pins and needles while the other party is active on dating apps and social media. It's fine under these specific circumstances to make the call yourself.

The toothpaste isn't going back in the tube on this. Take your power back and move on.
posted by jbenben at 7:20 AM on March 13, 2018 [10 favorites]

I'd say two days is pretty solidly "looks like ghosts" territory. Not sure if/why you need to block, but such is life
posted by Jacen at 7:22 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

My rule of thumb would be if you've made two attempts to reach out, with the last including a direct question/suggestion to meet again, and haven't heard back for 48 hours, that's a ghosting situation. I don't usually block in that scenario but I do write the person off mentally.

Keep in mind that ghosts sometimes turn into zombies and resurrect days/weeks down the line.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 7:31 AM on March 13, 2018 [24 favorites]

Unless you've had some kind of ultra-intense bond/stayed up till 5am opening your souls to eachother/etc, just assume that literally everyone is about to ghost at any moment in the first 1 or 3 dates for no reason, no matter how nice or great they seemed.

Assume a ghosting is immenent, be pleasently surprised when they don't, and "move on" in the interim and continue to see what's out there in the dating app market. No need to block anyone unless seeing their profile is that painful.

And to answer your question I'd say 36 or 48 hours before "hey sorry for the delayed response!" seems more and more ridiculous. People bring their phones to the bathroom for chrissake.
posted by windbox at 7:52 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

On these particulars: it's been 96 hours. She not-particularly-enthusiastically agreed to a second date, she suggested this coming Thursday, and after a couple more texts Friday morning went silent. I've texted her since then, both chatty texts, and texts looking to firm up our date plans, and -- nothing. It is now Tuesday morning. I'm 99.99% sure this second date isn't happening and that I've been ghosted.

As for blocking: I block everyone I'm done with, as I have a firm rule that I never, ever go back. When I'm done, I'm done. Blocking is more about my own housekeeping than anything else, so I don't see whomever in my search filter again and have to remember what our story was, because I'm not going back anyway.

But yeah -- I'm assuming that on these particulars, I've been ghosted. I'm more interested in what a general rule of thumb would be.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

With your update, I'd wait until Thursday. If you haven't heard anything by then, you've either definitely been ghosted or she is a person who is just that bad at dealing (which reading between your lines sounds like something you're not really into?). But that's a pretty bright line given that she herself suggested Thursday. I think a specific rule is hard; finding a bright line like that (if a specific date/time has been mentioned) is a not terrible rule of thumb.
posted by annabear at 8:15 AM on March 13, 2018

Your update makes a difference -- if you had just been chatting, and she went silent, I'd give it maybe 3 or 4 days, max. But since you have a date sort-of-kind-of planned, I'd give it through Thursday or Friday, and then do your blocking, juuuuuuust in case something's going on that you can't see.
posted by JanetLand at 8:16 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Assume ghosting. If she comes back in the next day or two to wonder what's still going on for Thursday, great. If not, move along. It's one date so far, there are no rules beyond a bit of decency and expectations on that score are not very high already online.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 8:16 AM on March 13, 2018

When I was dating I had the same policy of blocking when it was definitely over.

In this case I guess I would wait until ~30 mins after you were planning to meet for your date. So if you agreed to dinner at 7pm on Thursday, block at 7:30pm if you haven't heard from her.

(And don't look back. When people show you that they're immature assholes, be grateful you didn't have to waste any more time on them!)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:38 AM on March 13, 2018 [8 favorites]

If she is unresponsive since Friday and there are no specific time+location plans, you've been ghosted.

I would suggest that you send her a final message: "It was nice getting to know you. I'm sorry it hasn't worked out. Best wishes for your future dating". Then go ahead & block if you feel the need.

This message isn't for her. It's for you, for your own closure, and to wish yourself well in moving on. To ingrain clear, positive communication and thoughts, even if she isn't providing the other half of the communication.
posted by Dashy at 9:13 AM on March 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm think you need to wait at least a week before you think you've been ghosted. If my work and personal life get a little busy, I may not respond to someone for 5 days (especially if a busy weekend was involved) because I am just busy and stressed. This holds true for friends and business contacts that I actually really want to get together with. Because I am just super busy and don't want to be less than enthusiastic with them.

She may be having a really busy week this week and that may be some of her reticence. I'd wait to see if she reschedules in the next couple weeks. Honestly, a lot of people are just super busy, and if you have something scheduled for 13 hours most days, giving up your last three seems taxing. I sort of just do nothing because I know at some point soon I will have a high energy day and overschedule my next two weeks.
posted by Kalmya at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

On your update, I'd say that yeah it sounds like she decided she's not that into you and ghosted. That said, who knows, maybe some kind of life emergency came up and she'll be back in touch soon. I'd say that there's no reason to expect you'll hear from her again, but there's also no reason to block her right away. Give it a couple more days and then pull the trigger.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:58 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

"She not-particularly-enthusiastically agreed to a second date"

Given that, who cares if she's ghosting or not. You should only go out with people who are enthusiastic about spending time with you and make an effort to make plans. Busy? Puh-leeze! I have been in work situations where I was literally working seven days a week and 10-12 hours a day and I still made time to see people I cared about. If this person was interested, then they would make time to hang out with you.

I can understand the desire to block because rejection of any kind stings, so if it will make it easier on you to not see this person or get any reminders of them, then sure block them. This is about you doing what's right for you.
posted by brookeb at 11:01 AM on March 13, 2018 [7 favorites]

I nth brookeb and windbox: people bring their phones to the bathroom and if someone wants to communicate with you, they will. If they don't, they don't. And it's incredibly rare for the person to have had some utterly incapacitating accident that prevented them from texting. These days I'm inclined to say that the rule should be something like 48 to 72 hours (give it a long weekend, especially if your last contact was at the end of one workweek, but if they said nothing by Monday/Tuesday, they're done) and then fuck it, they're not interested.

"I'm so busy and I just didn't get back to you for days" usually ends up being total bunk with most people in my experience. She could at least indicate she's alive, you know? Or say "hey, I'm busy right now, I'll get back to you if I'm free around Wednesday when I know how my schedule is going." * Trying to make up excuses for why they haven't contacted you does no good to your brain and drags out your limbo. (On a related note, everyone see this?)

This chick was already obviously unenthusiastic about a second date, so assume ghosting unless you hear back. I'd block her at the time that you were supposed to be going out on the date, though. At *least* give vague plausible deniability until then.

* Technically one person ever has come back from ghosting for me after a few weeks, and guess what, they ended up ghosting me again. Again, if they want to contact you, they won't sit around and wait on it for days or weeks.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

If someone's interested in you, they'll want to communicate with and see you. She's not interested. It doesn't matter if you block her or not -- she's not going to contact you.
posted by wryly at 1:58 PM on March 13, 2018

If you sent me a "closure" text I would find it passive aggressive, I would wonder if you would potentially turn into a stalker. Don't do that.
posted by jbenben at 3:14 PM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seconding brookeb. Drop it. Don't chase. Hold out for someone who's just as enthusiastic about you as you are about them.
posted by Sublimity at 3:36 PM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

So, uh, here's the thing: she texted me again this evening. And now..?

Further proof that I have no fucking clue how online dating works. I wasn't ghosted? I was ghosted and she took it back? No idea.

Regardless, thanks for all your input, everyone.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:42 PM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

unless the text was along the lines of "I was in Antarctica / unconscious sick / in the trunk of a car," I think the answer is that she is undecided on whether she is interested enough to see you again. For a while there she just wasn't sure, now she's like "might as well."
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

I recently met a woman on a dating app and we hit it off. We texted multiple times throughout the day, every day, and met up for coffee and had a great time.

After the coffee date she agreed to a second date, but was really busy, and wouldn't commit to a time. We kept texting, but then there was radio silence for 36 hours and I assumed I had been ghosted, but SURPRISE! She texted again one evening and asked if I ever played Spades. I told her I had in the past, and she mentioned she was playing a version of Spades on her phone. When I asked if it was fun and if she played against other people, she never responded.

I thought "You contacted me and brought up the topic! What gives?" Three days later she texted again and said "I just realized I never texted you back!"

At that point I was mentally checked out and never responded.

Some people are just weird when it comes to modern communication.
posted by tacodave at 5:26 PM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Two weeks. Two week waiting period before ghosting can be assumed, and even that's too quick. People have lives: they get sick, they get fired, they get slammed with work, they take care of relatives, they go on benders and vision quests. They bingewatch "Sneaky Pete" and eat all the ice cream.

You've got a date Thursday (even if not firmed up to your satisfaction), and you're thinking of blocking before the date?

And I'd urge you to seriously rethink that "no going back" rule.
posted by at at 10:28 PM on March 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was going to agree with fingersandtoes initially, and then I realized that I did what tacodave had experienced.

Basically sometimes I am really swamped with work and stuff, and then I receive a text about wanting to meet up, but maybe there were too many things I was juggling (commitments), and then I read the text, and I think about my response, and I imagine writing the response, and life gets in the way, and then a week later I'm like, I remember the text and I'm pretty sure I responded but maybe I haven't and let me open up the conversation thread and HEY WHAT WHAT I HAVE NOT RESPONDED.

FYI I'm a millennial and I use text and all the various chatting apps and am top 10th percent of techiness but I still lapse up on real-time responding even with friends requiring urgent responses sometimes. So, just another perspective.

I think Friday to Tuesday is fine, sometimes really busy weekends happen and among flurry of texts, conversations get dropped. I think if it's early dating and no commitments have happened yet, two weeks is totally acceptable. You have a response prior to your date on Thursday, so totally fine in terms of texting responsibilities.
posted by moiraine at 3:39 AM on March 14, 2018

So she texted you again, that's promising. But what is most important is the content of the text.

Did she send a message that indicated that she is excited to hang out with you? People who are excited to hang out with you do things like suggest days and times, suggest interesting activities, or mention a cool restaurant they want to check out?

Did she send a message that indicated whether or not she gets you or has been thinking about you specifically? People who are interested in you do things like send you a link to an article on a subject they know you like, share cat/dog/whatever videos because you're super into cats/dogs/whatever, share their opinion on a book/movie/graphic novel/band you talked about liking?

You need to keep the "Law of Fuck Yeah!" in the back of your mind as you interact with this person. If you don't feel "fuck yeah!" about her and she's not indicating that she feels "fuck yeah!" about you, then you should move on.

Now to be fair, online dating is totally weird and awkward and you might want to give someone a few shots for the sparks to catch. That's reasonable. If you do decide to go out with this person, I think you should be straight with her about communication styles. What do you need from a person in order to feel respected, desired, and cared for? Can she provide that 100% of the time, 75% of the time, 40% of the time? Think about what your threshold is and make sure she can meet it. If she can't, it doesn't mean she's a horrible person, it just means you aren't right for each other.
posted by brookeb at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

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