The first time someone ghosted me, there wasn’t a term for it. I was a senior in high school and my very handsome crush had unexpectedly deleted me on Facebook and wouldn’t respond to any of my texts. He hadn’t been a particularly likable crush, but as I’ve already mentioned, he was very handsome. Being so completely ignored made for a pretty painful couple of teenaged months. My takeaways from the experience were that I was disposable, and that I should be grateful for any amount of attention a man was willing to give me.

This turned out to not be the healthiest attitude to enter college with! I spent the next few years seeking validation from whomever would agree to sex and asking for second and third dates whether I wanted them or not. Along the way, I was ghosted plenty more times.

During my junior year, I was ghosted yet again, after I confronted my then–crush about a less than consensual hook up. He told me we could talk about it when he got back from a weekend trip to New York. I just wanted to talk it out for closure's sake, and told him he could reach out to me when he got back. He didn’t. This confused my understanding of ghosters. I had previously come to accept that if I were being ghosted, it was because of some incompatibility or flaw on my part. But this time, I was pretty confident that he had messed up, not me. I realized he was ghosting me because he was unwilling to deal with the consequences of his actions, which is pretty pathetic.

This realization gave me power I had never felt before. I was, and remain, convinced that all ghosting stems from some social ineptitude. Most ghosters fear the act of rejecting much more than the ghosted fear being rejected and it leads to an uncomfortable silence that’s nastier than both. I pity them, really.

Since then, my approach to being ghosted has dramatically changed. I don’t take it lying down. I double and triple text. A full four months after the aforementioned ghoster had his weekend in New York, I sent him a simple, “^back from ny yet??” I knew he wouldn’t respond, but it served as a reminder to both of us that I had no reason to be embarrassed about what happened. I even started confronting my ghosters at parties. Believe it or not, that tactic has led to some of my most valued friendships.

I encourage everyone to stop ghosting before it starts. If you find yourself uninterested in a date or hookup that wants to see you again, do the both of you a favor and politely, and directly, let them know how you feel. If you do find yourself among the ghosted, just remember that you are powerful, and the ghosters are exceedingly weak.