What's worse than a bad first date? A great first date that doesn't go anywhere afterward.
You know, the date that ends with a kiss and an "I'll call you tomorrow!" The date that you told your friends was amazing, then you never heard from him again. Yeah, that one ... the one where you got ghosted.
The word refers to the act of leaving without saying goodbye and usually is reserved for parties or events—when it might be completely appropriate to bail on friends—but now is being adapted into dating vernacular.
Ghosting isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the timing and context can be. So to help all of us figure out how to be better ghosts, I've outlined a few instances in which it's acceptable and not acceptable to ghost someone.
After the first date
If you want to ghost in a romantic relationship, then this the best time to do it. Very little investment has been made and, honestly, this isn't even really a relationship. Sure it sucks to have someone you shared Thai food at a BYOB joint with just disappear, especially if you footed the bill, but consider this just one of the risks when playing the love game.
After midnight at a house party or bar
It's after midnight, you're tired, and everyone is at levels of drunk debauchery that you can't imagine reaching. Heading home while your friends continue to party till the break of dawn is totally fine. Maybe just send a text in the morning to check in on their new best friend, Hangover.
After a one-night stand
There is a chance you don't even remember this person's name, meaning ghosting is totally fine. Actually, your one-night bed friend may have even have wanted you to ghost long before they ever realized you had been there.
At a dinner or birthday party
I love throwing dinner parties. And if I invite you over and you disappear after dessert without at least a "thanks, bye!" let's just say you'd better stay a ghost. Same goes with a birthday party, unless your gift was a day at the spa. Because then you can do whatever you want. Promise.
After the second date
By this time some feelings may be developing—good or bad. Since you were able to answer the text or call to arrange date No. 2—or 3 or 4—you can at least send some form of communication that communicates, "This isn't working for me anymore."
When someone says, "I love you"
OK, really listen to me on this: Saying "I love you" to someone who's not your mom is scary. Like, up there with dentist visits and Chucky dolls. So if someone utters those three words and your first thought is to ghost, please do everything in your power not to unless you really want to mess with someone's mental health.
We can get through this together, people. Wait ... where did everyone go?
Zach Stafford is a RedEye special contributor.
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.