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Sex with Dr. Jess


December 3, 2019

Can I Ghost My Husband?

This morning, Jess sat down with Jeff and Carolyn on Global TV’s The Morning Show to address viewer questions about relationships and ghosting. Check out what Jess has to say, see her expanded notes and video clip below.

I’m married and want to leave, because I’ve met someone else – my forever person – and we’ve already started making plans. When should I tell my husband? I think I should wait until everything is in place to tell my husband I’m leaving in order to avoid a blowup and months of fighting, but my friends say I should let him know earlier. Am I right or are they?

Do not ghost your husband. Unless you feel unsafe — for example, if you’re dealing with an abusive partner, you want to put your safety first — be transparent. Tell him now. If you’re making plans to leave — changing mail, financial account info or looking for a new place to live — your partner deserves to know.

You say you’re looking to avoid conflict, but I think you may be looking to avoid accountability. This is common. It’s natural to want to avoid uncomfortable and tense situations. And it’s normal to want to avoid situations in which you’re going to have to take responsibility for regrettable behaviour that causes others to hurt. But a marriage is intended to be a partnership and your husband deserves a partner until the relationship dissolves.

Your friends are right and it’s possible that they feel that they’re in a tough position because you’ve told them about your relationship plans without telling the person who matters most — your husband. They may not be speaking up, but I don’t think you should continue to burden them with your secret plans. Talk to your husband first.

I’ve seen your posts about ghosting and I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of doing this. After a few dates, I don’t feel I owe anyone an explanation. But I recently ran into someone I ghosted and found out they work in my industry. It was really uncomfortable and I guess it was a bit of a lesson, so I’m looking for tips to avoid ghosting because I don’t even know how to tell them I don’t want to keep seeing them.

I’m glad you asked! I understand that ghosting (which involves disappearing with no explanation) can be appealing, because engaging with someone who is hurt or let down can be stressful. But I think we have to rethink the way we see relationships. Instead of measuring relationship success based on longevity, can we not consider fulfillment instead? If a relationship isn’t fulfilling, ending it can an indicator of success. It doesn’t have to be a failure.

I also think it’s important to think about the effects of ghosting. When you disappear without explanation — especially if it seemed as though you were interested in continuing the relationship — it can leave the person on the other end feeling hurt, confused and insecure. They may waste their time racking their brain to identify what they did wrong instead of realizing that you ghosting for your own comfort and convenience — not because of something they did. You don’t owe them an explanation, but don’t you want to extend the courtesy of honest communication?

If you’ve only been on a few dates, you don’t necessarily have to meet up to let them know that you’re not interested in pursuing the relationship. A phone call or text may also be appropriate depending on how you’ve been communicating regularly. If you’ve been in touch over the phone for several weeks, I recommend you reach out via voice call. But if all of your communication has been via text, this method might be perfectly appropriate.

Some language you might use to guide you…

“I’m glad we met and enjoyed ______, but I realize that this isn’t a love connection for me.”

“I had fun the other night. Thanks for making the time to hang. I want to be honest and let you know that I don’t see this relationship progressing any further. It was fun getting to know you a little and I wish you all the best moving forward.”

“You’re great, but I don’t feel we’re the right fit for one another.”

“I want to be honest right now so that we’re both on the same page. You’re great, but I don’t see us as compatible partners.”

“Thanks for hanging out the other night. I’ve been thinking about it and I’m not interested in pursuing this relationship further. I’m sure you’ll find many other interested in dating you, of course!”

“I’ve been thinking it over and I’m not prepared to take this relationship any farther. It’s not something you did. We’re just not a good match.”

General Tips:
1. Be straightforward.
2. Don’t make space for a future if you’re not interested (e.g. Don’t tell them “maybe in the future…” if you don’t mean it.)
3. Offer positive reinforcement only if it’s genuine.