If someone you have seen one day simply stops answering your texts without giving an explanation, you never know what to think.
It takes a while to realize you’re being haunted.
At first you may wonder why they don’t answer you as quickly as they usually do.
Then you might worry about whether something has happened to them.
But as the days go by you come to terms with the fact that they are not telling you that they want to end things, but that they have chosen to treat you with silence.
You then wonder what you did wrong.
Your self-esteem can take a huge hit.
You’re not getting the closure you want.
It takes a while before you accept what happened, and once you accept it, it can be difficult to come to terms with it because they never gave you a reason.
Sure, they probably would have spun you a “It’s not you, it’s me” line even if they had sent you a message or ended things face to face.
But at least you would have been able to draw a line and put it behind you instead of wondering for weeks what on earth was going on.
That’s what ghosts are all about. They never darken your doorstep again.
But some spirits do occasionally return from the dead.
What do you do if someone you liked in the past, who has gone silent about you on the radio, suddenly appears on your screen again?
If they’ve appeared from your WhatsApp archive folder (where you conveniently hid them so you wouldn’t have to see their name and try to forget everything about them), you’re probably wondering what your next step should be.
Once a ghost, always a ghost?
Is ghosthood an unforgivable crime?
Or is it sometimes justified and even forgivable?
Should you welcome them to the land of the living with open arms, or should you be highly skeptical of their ghostly apparitions?
Could you ever have a future with those who sheltered you?
Here are some things to think about if this should ever happen to you.
1. Think about whether it is worth answering.
If someone contacts you after receiving you as a host, the temptation to respond and find out what happened and why they contacted you again can be overwhelming.
But think about whether it is really worth it.
If you are not interested in reviving things, if you have drawn a line in the sand and don’t feel that you need a break, or if you really suffered when they sheltered you, you could simply leave their message unanswered and send it right back.
You don’t owe them anything, and you need to be kind to yourself.
So if you feel that it would be better for your state of mind to just leave things behind, that’s fine.
2. Consider whether you have ever been guilty of ghost play.
So, you really liked this person a lot before they ghost you.
But now your pride tells you not even to tell them the time of day.
Before you completely rule out having anything to do with this person again because of the way they treated you, you should think about whether you have ever been guilty of ghosting.
The chances are good.
Maybe you had a date with someone you liked very much, but then you were so consumed by professional or personal problems that you didn’t get back in touch on that second date until you realized that weeks had passed and it was too late.
Maybe you spent quite some time writing someone about a dating app and then just lost interest.
But you didn’t tell him that you didn’t want to talk to him anymore, you just let things fizzle out.
Maybe the way you hosted in the past was less extreme than the way that person hosted you, but you have to be careful to judge people for doing things that you might have done yourself.
If you think there might be a potential for friendship or romance with this person, you should be willing to listen to them.
3. Ask for a reason and think about it carefully.
Instead of just letting this person come back into your life without asking questions, you should be direct with them.
Call her out on what she has done.
Do not let her get away with it.
If you have an interest in continuing things with them, it is probably best not to throw it in their face, but you can still ask the question.
Ask them why they harboured you, and then consider whether you think their apology is legitimate.
Maybe they had a career crisis, or maybe someone close to them got sick.
Maybe they were still trying to get over someone else, or they were afraid of the prospect of commitment.
Or maybe they just weren’t so in love with you then and have now reappeared when they feel bored or lonely.
4. Listen to your gut.
It is up to you to decide whether their reasons for ghosting and now their reasons for coming back are valid.
Your gut will probably be able to tell you if they are just making excuses or if they had a real reason to ghost you, which you can forgive and leave behind.
If something deep inside you cries out that you should not trust them, there is probably a good reason for it.
Your gut feeling will also tell you if you really like this person enough to give them another chance.
If it doesn’t really bother you, or you think it’s just a passing fancy, it’s probably best to say no, because it’s not fair to either of you to start things up again.
But if you really liked them before they sheltered you, and these feelings are coming back now, then maybe it is worth giving things another chance.
5. Tell them how you felt about their behaviour
It is important that they know how their ghosting made you feel.
If you have ever ghosted someone, you have probably justified it by saying that you didn’t really care about them or that it was kinder to just keep quiet than to break up with them.
This person probably said the same thing to himself.
We all like to believe in things that make us feel better, rather than facing uncomfortable truths.
So don’t be afraid to tell them how it made you feel.
If you try to be cool and detached and pretend that it didn’t really bother you when it did bother you, they may be more tempted to haunt you again further down the road or carry their ghost train into the future.
6. Treat them as you would like to be treated.
In situations like these, it can be really tempting to give them a taste of their own medicine.
As mentioned before, you have the right not to react.
But you might be tempted to answer them, to pretend that all is forgiven, and then to pretend that you are hard to get, or to get revenge by being the one to dispense the spirit to them after a while.
That’s not the way to do it.
If you want people to treat you well, you have to treat them well.
Be respectful and kind, and do not do anything to a person you see that you do not want them to do to you.
What gets around gets around, and the better you treat other people, the better you will be treated.