Why do ghosters come back?
Whether the person you’re thinking of is a former boyfriend, a girlfriend, or bestie, you want to know why they ghosted, though you doubt you’ll find any satisfaction in the reasons they might offer.
Right now, more than anything, you want to know why they’re suddenly back and wanting to spend time with you again.
What did they miss that they can’t get with someone else?
And should you give them a second chance?
Also, read about 11 ways to handle being ghosted once they return.
How Long Until a Ghoster Comes Back
If you’re wondering, “Do ghosters come back after months?” the simple answer is “Yes—sometimes.”
There’s no set amount of time for these disappearing people to stay out of reach before they decide to come back.
Their return usually has more to do with what they want from you that they’re not getting from someone else. That could take weeks, months, or even longer.
If they come back acting as if everything’s cool between you, don’t think you’re overreacting if you call them out for that.
It turns out this boomerang behavior is pretty typical of those who play fast and loose with other people’s hearts.
So, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You’re not obligated to enable their thoughtless and entitled behavior;
- Real friends don’t ghost you and then come back when they need/want something;
- No one is 100% reliable, but ghosters are at the low-low end of the spectrum.
Why Ghosters Always Come Back: 15 Reasons They Show Up Again
Why do ghosters come back, anyway?
We’ve nailed down 15 reasons behind their disappearing and reappearing act. Some of these will probably sound like a better fit for the person on your mind.
1. They want attention.
They’re feeling less popular or less welcome in some circles (it’s a mystery), and they figure they can still get some mileage out of the time they spent with you.
You like attention, and they like attention – it’s a win on both sides. If they can just get you to respond to their super-positive and affirming text. After all, they honestly didn’t mean to ghost you.
Or they didn’t ghost you at all. They just… got busy (you know how it is).
But, now they’re not. Lucky you!
2. They’ve noticed you’re moving on, and they don’t like it.
Maybe they noticed your latest Instagram pics and want to know who you’re looking “awfully cozy with.” So, up they pop with a friendly, flattering message with a subtext of “I see you’re starting to move on. Allow me to mess that up for you.”
Ghosters who see you as “back-up” won’t like to see you moving on and being happy with someone else.
If they’re not 100% done with you, they expect you to remain alone and desperate.
3. They want to prove you’re theirs for the taking.
They’ve left their mark on you. So, in their mind, they don’t see how you could possibly prefer anyone else to them. Any time they want, they can just jerk your chain, and you’ll be ready to serve them again. At least, that’s what they think.
Time to prove them wrong.
4. They’re bored, and no one else is available.
They’ve got nothing exciting going on, and no one else is available to hang with. Or they’re bored of their current social circle, and they remember they had some fun with you before they bailed.
They figure, why not try to get more of that if you’re willing. They might have ghosted you too soon. Or maybe they shouldn’t have ghosted you. Time will tell.
First, they just need to convince you they’re your best shot at a good time.
5. They’re going through something and want to be comforted by you.
You’re their shoulder to cry on. They might even say you’re good at making them feel better. That’s your main purpose in their life. And once they feel better, they no longer have any use for you.
Maybe you’re the person they think of when they’re hurting because they don’t know anyone as empathetic and generous as you. But you’ve noticed a pattern in their behavior: as soon as they feel better… Poof! Gone.
And when you’re going through something difficult, they can’t be bothered.
6. They need your help with something.
They know something you’re good at, and they need your expertise with something. Or you have connections that could prove useful to them. Or they’re a little tight in the money department, and you seem to be doing pretty well for yourself.
After all, if they took a bit to get back to you the last time you texted, it’s not personal. When they realized their mistake, they didn’t want to bother you with their problem, but you’re the only one they can trust.
If the main reason they’re contacting you is because of what you can do for them… tread carefully.
7. Something reminds them of you.
At least that’s what they tell you to convince you of your importance to them. Maybe they haven’t bothered keeping in touch, but everywhere they go, they see things that remind them of you.
Ask them for a list, and they’ll probably be surprised and a little offended you would ask them for particulars.
I mean, can’t you just trust them the way they trust you? Way to spoil the mood!
8. They miss your face.
They miss your smile, your hug, your smirk, the way you waggle your eyebrows, your quirky fashion sense, whatever. They miss something or everything about you, and they swear to you they had no idea how much they’d miss you when they ghosted you.
It doesn’t normally happen. You must be special. They can’t imagine a world without you. And maybe they believe all that. But while they’re saying those nice things, pay attention to their actions and what they tell you.
9. They’re clueless.
Some people are genuinely unaware that their slowness to answer texts — for hours or even days — amounts to ghosting.
Maybe they didn’t even mean to ghost you; they just didn’t realize how important it was to you that they respond within a few hours of your latest text.
The ones who take much longer to come back may also be clueless about your expectations since theirs are different. You can still tell them what you expect of a friend or a romantic partner. How they respond to that can help you decide your next move.
10. They’re manipulative narcissists.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as a healthy degree of narcissism. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The toxic narcissist sees you as a means to their own ends.
This type of ghoster is likely to be surprised and lash out at you if you don’t immediately and gratefully take them back. After all, they chose to honor you with their time and attention.
Who are you to throw it back in their face?
11. They’re looking for a rebound.
And you’ll do well enough — unless they can find someone better before they meet up with you, in which case they’ll probably ghost you again.
Even if you do meet up and “rekindle” things with them (to show them what they’ve been missing, which assumes a lot), chances are excellent they’ll dump ice water on the whole thing as soon as they’ve got what they came for.
12. They’re checking in on their investment.
They put time and energy into building something between you — getting you hooked on their attention — before they up and ghosted you. Now, they want to see how effectively they’ve ruined you for anyone else.
If they can get you to overlook their mysterious absence and agree to a meet-up, they’ll see if they can’t tighten their grip on you… before they ghost you again.
At no point do they make any real or meaningful amends for what they’ve put you through.
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13. They’re lazy
They can’t be bothered with the whole dating thing just to find someone new to hook up with. They still have your contact info, and they’ll use that because it’s easier.
Maybe they’ll find some compliment fodder on your Instagram. Or they’ll tag you on a “Wish you were here” post taken somewhere that reminds them of you.
Or they’ll just send a flirty message and hope you don’t dwell on the whole ghosting thing. They’re all about the moment. And they’d like to share more of those moments with you.
Because, well… you’re there.
14. They’re blinded by arrogance.
Ghosters who are high on themselves act as if you should be flattered they still think of you. I mean, they could have reached out to literally anyone else and gotten a more receptive answer.
Even if that were true (which it probably isn’t), that doesn’t obligate you to let them back in. And with people like this, you’re better off leaving them hanging.
15. They can’t stop thinking about you.
Maybe they genuinely miss you and realize ghosting you was a mistake. If they respect you enough, they’ll let you decide whether and how you’ll allow them to make amends.
True, they could say this just because they know you want to believe it. If you want to give them another chance, see if they’re willing to take it slow and do things that interest you.
If they’re doing this for self-gratification, they’ll show that soon enough.
FAQs About Ghosters Who Come Back
Now that we’ve covered the main reasons why ghosters do what they do let’s tackle some of the questions you might (or probably) still have.
Ultimately, all we can do is try to make it make sense, drawing on the experiences of many who’ve been ghosted before you.
You’re not alone, which is why the following questions keep getting asked.
Do ghosters usually come back?
There’s a word for serial ghosters who come back: zombies. Just when you’d accepted the fact that they ghosted you and you’re moving on, they show up, as if coming back from the dead, usually because they want something from you.
We don’t really know what percentage of ghosters come back (we looked). But the odds of a serial disappearing act coming back for more tend to be higher when they see nothing wrong with what they’re doing.
Do ghosters miss you?
Oh, sure. They miss something about you, anyway. Identifying what that something is will help you decide whether responding to their out-of-the-blue text is worth your trouble.
Zombies often act as if you should feel special because of their renewed interest in you. Ultimately, that’s what they want you to focus on–not how you felt when you realized they dumped you without so much as a “goodbye.”
Do ghosters regret ghosting?
The short answer is “Sometimes.” Everyone makes mistakes, and your particular phantom may realize they made a big one when they disappeared on you. Look for signs they genuinely regret hurting you.
For one, they let you decide whether and how they get to spend time with you.
Why do ghosters still follow you?
Even if the person doesn’t respond to your texts or give any sign they’re still alive, they might still follow your social media activity.
In fact, one of the quickest ways to get a serial ghoster’s attention (if you want it) is to post pictures of you having fun with other people. Because how dare you?
It’s also possible they’re following you because they genuinely like you and want to see that you’re doing well.
Do ghosters deserve a second chance?
Before you give them a second chance, you need to let the following truth sink in: ghosting is a selfish act, and those who come back usually do so for selfish reasons.
It sounds trite, but the truth is it’s really not you; it’s them.
So, unless they’re willing to put in the effort to make amends in a meaningful way — to show you they know they screwed up and have no right to a second chance with you — you’re better off saying goodbye and giving someone else a chance.
How do you respond to a ghoster who comes back?
If they pop up expecting just to pick up where they left off—after ghosting you for several weeks—the best response is either no response at all or a simply-worded goodbye.
Here are a few ideas:
- “I’ve moved on, thanks. Don’t text me again.”
- “No longer available. Self-service recommended.”
- “Your window of opportunity has closed. Better luck elsewhere.”
- “What’s the password?”
- “My social calendar is full, thanks. Best wishes, etc.”
If they start off with an apology for their selfish and immature behavior and ask if you’d allow them to make it up to you, you’ll know better than we whether it’s worth the risk.
You’re now in the know about whether ghosters are likely to come back and why they do it. If you read this post with someone specific in mind, we hope you’ve gained some insights on how to deal with them from now on.
No one’s saying it’ll be easy. But you deserve relationships you can count on.