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It’s likely that you’ve been told ghosting someone is a bad thing to do, and that it says something about your character if you stop responding to someone. But what about when you need to not talk to someone for your own safety or well-being? Contrary to popular belief, there are times when it is okay to ghost others.

1.  If they're harassing you 

Have you already told them you're not interested and they are begging you to hang out or come over? Chances are this isn’t about you at all. If you’ve let the person know you are not interested and they won’t stop trying to talk to you, ghosting them is okay. It’s healthy to reinforce your boundaries in this way when someone is clearly not listening.

2.  If they make you feel afraid or uneasy

Threats can come in a variety of forms. They can be a threat to your wellbeing, your loved ones, or even a threat to self-harm if a person doesn't get what they want. It could also be a quiet feeling that something isn’t right about the surrounding environment or that someone is unsafe. Trust your gut. It doesn’t matter what the reason for creating distance is if a person puts your personal safety at risk and/or has proven to be manipulative or disingenuous. You don’t need any other reason to end the conversation or relationship. 

3.  If they insult you or put you down

Ever have an experience where someone is telling you how great you are, and as soon as you don’t give them what they want (a chance, a date, sex, etc.) their behavior and tone changes? Maybe they’re telling you that you’re not as beautiful, smart or great as you think you are? Responding to gas-lighting will only leave you exhausted, upset, and dehumanized. If someone resorts to insults to get you to pay attention to them, chances are they do not respect you and are trying to manipulate you into doing what they want. This can be very dangerous and it is best to avoid them.

4.  If they've sexually assaulted you

Nearly 70% of sexual assaults that happen are perpetrated by an abuser you know or trust. If you are sexually assaulted, it is likely that your abuser has a way to contact you. It is even possible that they might try to pass the assault off as consensual with a text like, “last night was fun, we should do it again.” This can be traumatizing and confusing for survivors. Feel free to block your abuser, and to not respond in any way to them trying to control the narrative if it doesn’t benefit you. You deserve respect and do not owe anything to the person who has abused you.

Guiding Questions:

Have you ever ghosted or been ghosted by someone in your life? What are your thoughts on ways to effectively end toxic relationships?

 

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Featured Image for Can We Just Get Past the Buddy System Already?

I wanted to go to a Beyoncé concert and I didn’t. Why? I didn’t have a buddy. And all of a sudden there was that just-below-the-surface anxiety that by going into a crowded concert stadium alone I would get kidnapped, dragged into a bathroom, raped, trafficked, lost forever, murdered, or some combination. Where does that anxiety come from? Many of us have heard all our lives to stick with a friend for safety and definitely never go out alone at night. It’s the best/only way to stay safe, right?! And if you’re anything like me, then you also love going places alone and are tired of worried voices telling you that it's a bad idea. 

Parents and people who care about us promote the buddy system because it offers a sense of safety and control in a world where we are bombarded with horrifying news stories. (Anyone else out there have a mom who calls regularly with updates on the latest in rape and murder news? ) But, I disagree with the premise that our buddies will be able to save us, or that they should have to.

If you want to go out alone, what would you need to feel safer? Going to an event, I want to park somewhere safe; walk from my car to the event through a well-lit, populated area, and know there are people at the event who will see and support me if I need help. Is that so much to ask? Instead of telling people to go everywhere with a buddy, let’s advocate for our cities and social spaces to put in the extra effort to make everyone feel safe, especially those of us who often don’t.

Whether going out to a concert, festival, bar, movie, or downtown stroll, we should all be able to safely engage in our communities, have fun, and live our best lives. And if we want that, we need to think about environmental and social changes that make people feel safe, with or without a buddy. Otherwise, a lot of people aren’t showing up and we deprive our communities of the vibrancy that’s possible when everyone can be there.

I am still pro-buddy. But let’s be real about what our buddies can or should do, and quit acting like the buddy system is the gold standard of safety advice. Sadly, none of my friends are master martial artists ready to fight off attackers. However, given the likelihood that abuse or violence will happen among acquaintances, friends, or partners rather than strangers, I want my buddies to have my back if they see me in an unhealthy relationship or a non-consensual situation. And I especially want them to step in to hold me accountable if I am responsible for that situation. Now that would be a buddy system I could get behind! 

Guiding Questions:

What are your thoughts on how to make our communities safer for everyone? What do you want to see at events and social spaces to feel confident going out alone?

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