Chances are, you’re already familiar with ghosting: the act of abruptly ending communication with another person without explanation — which is an all-too-common occurrence in the dating world. While you may not have heard the term “anti-ghosting” before, the concept is nothing new.
Anti-ghosting refers to letting a person you’ve gone out with know that you don’t want to continue seeing them, often via a text message.
“Once you’ve lost interest, rather than taking the admittedly easy route and not responding to further advances — i.e. ghosting — you proactively send an ‘anti-ghost’ message to communicate your lack of romantic interest,” Blaine Anderson, a dating coach for men, told HuffPost.
Essentially, it means having the maturity to be upfront about your feelings as opposed to vanishing in a ghost-like fashion.
“Some examples include: ‘Hey, thanks for meeting up last night. You seem chill, but we’re looking for different things. I hope you find what you’re looking for!’ or ‘Last night was fun, I just think we have more of a friend vibe. Is that something you’re open to?’” she told HuffPost, noting that you shouldn’t make a friendship offer “unless it’s something you actually see as a possibility.”
Other common anti-ghosting messages might be something like: “I’ve had a good time getting to know you but I’m just not feeling a romantic connection between us,” or “After doing some thinking, I realized I’m not actually ready for a relationship right now. Wanted to tell you now so I didn’t string you along and waste your time.”
It may feel uncomfortable to let someone down, but it’s better than leading them on — or leaving them high and dry.
“I’m pro-clarity. Be kind, but say the hard thing,” Anderson said. “Sending an anti-ghosting message can feel a little like barfing. The lead-up sucks, but you feel awesome once you’ve got it out.”
That being said, there are some scenarios where ghosting might be a necessary move, like if you’re worried that interacting with this person again could compromise your safety or well-being.
And “if someone’s a real jerk, I think it’s fine to not communicate with them,” Battle said.
You Received An Anti-Ghosting Text. Should You Respond?
Feeling rejected sucks. Even if you weren’t particularly interested in this person, getting turned down still stings. And if you were into them, then receiving a text like this can be a real disappointment.
If the anti-ghosting message you receive is a polite one, Battle recommends sending a succinct reply like: “Thanks for not ghosting! I hope you find what you’re looking for,” or “OK, damn. You’re really cool, but I totally get it. Best of luck!” she said.
“If you agree with something the other person says, you can share that, too. Something like, ‘Definitely friend vibes!’ is a good move that can make the other person feel good,” Battle added. (However, if you receive a rude anti-ghosting text, it’s totally fine to ignore it and move on, she said.)
And keep in mind that you don’t have to reply to an anti-ghosting text right away. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to “feel all your feelings” first, Battle said.
“Avoid sending something snarky back. It doesn’t reflect well on you to meet someone’s anti-ghost text with negativity,” she said. “You may want to keep a few responses in a Note [on your phone] so you can grab something nice to say even when you’re feeling salty.”
Anderson said she is a proponent of the “rejection is redirection” mindset, which might be a helpful reframe if you’re feeling down about the situation.
“It’s very true that anyone who passes on you isn’t right for you — but honestly, rejection always stings,” she said. One of the best ways to mitigate the pain of rejection? “Don’t put all your eggs in unproven baskets, and proactively seek an abundant social and dating life,” said Anderson.
And for those thinking of sending an anti-ghosting text, you’ll be relieved to know that most of the time, these messages are received in a positive light, Battle said.
“Most people are grateful to not be ghosted! So if you’re hesitant to send an anti-ghost text, just know that it can be a relief to the other person,” she said. “Plus, you’re paying it forward to hopefully get less ghosted in your future.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.