Ask the Past: ghosting etiquette

I met this guy on Tinder who seemed really nice, but we went on one creepy date and that was enough. I don't want to see him again, but I also don't want to have to discuss it, so is it OK to just ghost him?

You would think that old-fashioned etiquette would say a definite no to this, but the answer seems to be a solid "it depends". Lots of etiquette books will start out by saying, as Today's Etiquette does "No well-bred person "cuts" an acquaintance." The good news is, though, that there is a next-best option.

If, for some very good reason, you do not wish to continue an acquaintanceship, you can indicate it without a deliberate "cut." You can keep your eyes averted, or you can bow or nod with extreme formality.

Australian Etiquette agrees that "cutting is to be avoided if possible", but it will understand if you do it.

There are other ways of convincing a man you do not know him, but yet, to young ladies, it is sometimes the only means available to rid them of troublesome acquaintances.

Australian Etiquette also provides guidance that's appropriate for same sex couples and polyamorous relationships, though in that case, it seems that your relative ages and marital statuses are the main determinant of whether ghosting might be rude or not.

A young lady should, under no provocation, "cut" a married lady. It is the privilege of age to first recognize those who are younger in years. No young man will fail to recognize an aged one after he has met with recognition.

Assuming you don't fall into one of those categories, you should be fine, but it can be hard to offer the right kind of formal bow or nod by message, so you may be better off using this sample rejection note from Mrs Oliver Harriman's Book of Etiquette.

Dear Mr Hadley,

How nice of you to think of me, and how very much I should like to see "Maidens Fair" with you next Wednesday evening. But Lucille Everett is having a small birthday dinner that night and I have to give a toast. So you see, no theatre for me that evening.


Caroline Wharton

Hopefully, he will get the message, but if any reason he doesn't, Australian Etiquette has some flowers that could do the talking for you. The following bouquet, dropped off to his workplace or delivered to him at rugby practice, should be quite clear.

Agnus Casus - Coldness

China, Pink - Aversion

Daisy, Michaelmas - Farewell

Farewell. Photo by Ruth Gledhill

I'm sure that will help.

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