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What Is Soft Ghosting? How To Navigate This Terrible Dating Trend

Dating has always been hard, but it’s becoming comically difficult with the advent of new technology, online dating apps, and social media.

So that’s why we’re going to talk about soft ghosting.

Yes, soft ghosting.

Because regular ghosting isn’t terrible enough, a remixed version is picking up steam. Chances are you’ve been guilty of it and/or have been on the receiving end without fully realizing it. 

What is soft ghosting?

Soft ghosting is a more gradual form of ghosting where a person slowly fades out of your life. It is not as abrupt as traditional ghosting but has a similar effect on the ghostee. 

Basically, soft ghosting is when you’re too afraid to tell someone you don’t want to be in their life anymore but can’t quite bring yourself to cut them off without warning. 

So what do you do instead?

You slowly exit.

You don’t completely ignore texts or messages, but you don’t fully respond either. Instead of replying back, you simply “react” to the message or send a basic emoji response, hoping the other person will get the hint. 

As with ghosting, soft ghosting is a type of avoidant behavior used when people lack the emotional maturity or confidence to end things properly. It’s also equally infuriating.

There is a text message that says "Hey! I had fun last weekend. Do you want to grab drinks on Saturday?" The receiver reacted with heart and nothing else. The woman looks confused and asks "What does that even mean?" The title reads What is soft ghosting?
What is soft ghosting?

What does soft ghosting look like?

Picture this. You’ve been hanging out with a guy or gal you like and (as far as you know) having a good time. 

You send a text message letting them know you had fun at the park with them last weekend. Do they want to get together for drinks on Saturday?

They respond by reacting to your message with a heart, followed by radio silence.

Nothing.

They do not reply back with a “Yes, that sounds good,” or “No, I’m busy this Saturday.”

They simply “love” your message and leave you to wonder if you’re having drinks with them.

Of course, you won’t be because they are soft ghosting you. 

They don’t completely ignore your communication, but they do ignore the question. 

Why?

Because they don’t have it in them to simply say, “No, I’m not available this Saturday. I don’t think this is working out for me.” 

Why do people soft ghost?

People soft ghost for the same reason they ghost – they don’t want to see you anymore, but they lack the maturity/respect/balls to say so. 

Now, in the ghoster’s mind, this is probably a happy medium between (gasp!) telling someone you aren’t interested and cutting ties without explanation. 

It’s possible they think this is the nicest way to duck out of the situation. 

Of course, anyone on the receiving end of soft ghosting can tell you that’s not usually the case. 

Soft ghosting is confusing for the ghostee.

It makes you question your sanity (and writing skills).

Didn’t I just ask them to have drinks? Why didn’t they give me an answer? Do I send a follow-up text?

You don’t typically like to double-text, but they just responded to your question with a heart emoji. Make it make sense!

What To Do If You Think Someone Is Soft Ghosting You

First, if you think someone is soft ghosting you, you’re probably right. If you look at the situation objectively, it’s pretty obvious. 

They can read. They know you asked them to hang out and, in turn, made the conscious decision to react to the message without giving you an answer. 

That is 100% intentional. 

But let’s say you wish to give them the benefit of the doubt. Here’s what you can do. 

Man holding phone looking upset and confused with a crown of question marks around his head. The title reads What to do if you think someone is soft ghosting you
What to do if you think someone is soft ghosting you

#1. Give them time to respond. 

Although unlikely, it is possible they were busy when they got your message, reacted, and then forgot to respond. 

They will respond to you eventually if they are interested in hanging out. It’s up to you to determine how long you want to wait before considering it ghosting

#2 Follow up. 

You can follow up if you don’t want to wait or have waited and there’s still no word. Again, I would not advise that. The lack of a clear response the first time was probably intentional, and they are soft ghosting you. 

But if you must follow up, you can. 

Let’s go back to the “Want to grab drinks?” text from above. 

You’ve received the heart reaction. Now what? 

After a few hours have passed, you can send a follow-up message. “Does XYZ location at 8 work for you?”

If they respond with a verbal confirmation, great! If they don’t respond or give you a random reaction message again, it’s time to let that person go. 

Should you call someone out for soft ghosting?

Relationship experts typically advise against calling someone out for ghosting. Soft ghosting is the same.

Don’t do it.

Ghosting is designed to confuse you and question yourself, but from an outside perspective, it’s pretty clear. 

If they wanted to hang out with you, they would’ve responded. 

Even if they got busy and forgot, eventually you would’ve heard from them. They would’ve apologized and immediately set up plans with you. 

If that didn’t happen, you know they’re soft ghosting. 

There’s no need to say anything. They aren’t worth the effort, and it might just make you look bad. 

What if you really want to say something?

Look, I get it. 

They did a sh*tty thing, and you want to call them out. Maybe it will make them think twice about soft ghosting someone else. 

(Although, I doubt it.)

Sadly, ghosting and soft ghosting are becoming more acceptable in dating. I wish that weren’t true, but it’s how people move these days. This is especially true in online dating situations. 

If the person soft ghosting you is someone you met online and barely know, I am begging you to let it go. 

But if you can’t, or if it’s someone you dated for longer than a few weeks, here’s what you can say:

  • “Hey, you never confirmed for Saturday, so I’m going to make other plans. I think we both know this isn’t going anywhere, so good luck to you!”
  • “Hey, this whole reacting to messages but not replying is not my style. But, good luck to you out there!”

Whatever message you craft, make sure it is brief, to the point, and straightforward. Don’t get dramatic or emotional. Say your piece and send them on their way. 

This approach gives you a little closure and retains your dignity. Once you send that message, go ahead and block their number. 

I can’t think of anything more infuriating than firing off a text like that and getting a ‘thumbs up’ response. 

Access should not be a barrier to help.

Soberish is proudly sponsored by BetterHelp. If you have tried (and failed) to find a therapist with the knowledge and background to help you navigate your specific issues, try BetterHelp. Learn more about my counseling journey with BetterHelp or visit their website below.

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What is soft ghosting? PIN

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