Bed to bed debate: To ghost, or not to ghost? The morning-after dilemma

It’s been fun, but…  All photos by Jeni Magana

We all know what it is to wake up next to someone the morning after getting down, see them lying there, and panic. Regardless of whether the person sharing the bed is a familiar face or a total stranger, a winter-warmer or a one-night stand, it’s safe to say that we’re always faced with the same decision: should we “ghost” outta there, or stick around until they wake up?

If you’re suddenly getting images of a partially-nude Patrick Swayze, let us clarify the term (hint: you’re not entirely off-base). “Ghosting” is the Brokelyn-approved slang for fleeing the scene of a sexual encounter the following morning, leaving no trace of your presence from the night before. Straightforward enough, right? The thing is, not all of us agree about whether the sleek, cat-like disappearance of a sexual partner is a good or bad tactic to employ. In fact, two of our resident writers land at opposite poles on the topic. Here, Gabby “The Vapor” Westfield and Sam “The Billboard” Corbin go head to head to defend their morning-after techniques. Whose side of the bed are YOU on?

The “pillow decoy” technique in action.


Billy Crystal did it in When Harry Met Sally. Ilana Glazer does it with pretty much everyone she meets in Broad City. Clearly, it’s advantageous that we ghost the morning after sleeping with someone. It doesn’t matter whether you like them or not. Ghosting is a precautionary measure against what might otherwise be a really awkward encounter, and a very vulnerable situation. You don’t run the risk of overstaying your welcome, and a “where did he/she go?” mystery keeps them wanting more. Dignity first, emotional clarity later.

It’s not just the intention that counts, though. To ghost successfully, you’ve got to suit up — start your preparations the night before, even. Set your alarm to wake up first; usually 7am is early enough, unless you’re sleeping with like, a trash collector. Wait, why are you doing that? He touches everybody’s garbage!

Okay, next: create an ally with the house pet, this investment helps avoid a potential whistle blower when it’s time to make your swift exit. Also, keep your belongings in one area of the apartment, as organized methods assist your getaway when the morning light doesn’t.

In the morning, you gotta be a motherfucking ninja. Ideally your partner respects the post-bone comfort zone, but if you happen to be caught in a cuddle then you’ll need to supplant your physical presence in the bed. (For this, I suggest the “pillow decoy” technique, which involves replacing your body with a pillow and slithering out of the hold.)

Once out of bed, you’re almost home free. Get dressed as quietly as possible; save the velcro straps/heels for outside. Finally, make your exit through any opening necessary. Fire escape, front door, don’t care. I got 99 problems but your locks ain’t one. And boom. Ghosted.

Sure, let’s analyze the ethos of what could be seen as the selfish Runaway Guide. Do I feel bad about my methods? Rarely. Odds are I was a team player when the night called for it and rocked his world, leaving me with the confidence to remain a phantom. It seems fair that if they have not sought out my info before sex, I should not wait around just to give it to them after. Their loss for not clarifying honorable intentions pre-bang.

If I leave a note, it does not usually have my number, but a callback joke from the night before, alleviating pressures of a follow up and relieving me of being a total monster. I find that if a person really likes you, they will find you (its the fuckin 21st century), so don’t underestimate the power of persistence and dedicated internet stalking, two attributes I am happy to reward with a second date. Also if a person is not willing to put in 10 minutes of Googling, they probably are not worth a second date either.


Hit the snooze button and cozy up.
Hit the snooze button and cozy up.


I think you’ve just got to honor the truth of what went down the night before. Ghosting is a total cop-out; regardless of whether it was a one-night thing or you want it to continue, two human beings can and should still just look at each other to be like, “Hey. So, that happened.”  I also don’t need to take myself so seriously, and neither should anyone I’m sleeping with. Even if it was a really drunken decision, you can stand to laugh about it in the morning.

Not ghosting doesn’t automatically mean you’re overstaying your welcome. You can still leave, you’ll just be doing it with a little more transparency. Like if I have shit to do in the AM, I’ll wake the guy up with some kind of gentle touch. There’s usually this stock dialogue that ensues, where the guy will super-sleepily ask, “Are you leaving?” and I’ll usually say “Yeah,” and explain why. You better believe we’re doing brunch if I don’t have anywhere else to be and I like you.

Caveat here: if you want to keep it to a one-time thing, don’t go to brunch. Part of the dreaminess of morning-after boozing is that you get to keep talking, which there’s no point in doing if you never plan on seeing this person again. So when it comes to one-nighters, there’s a sweet spot in there that involves just waking up, running through the above steps, then going your separate ways. And never apologize for that; part of the awesome maturity of not ghosting is that you have all the power to peace in broad daylight.

If you dwant to see the person again but you gotta jet, then make sure to have a check-in before you go. Something to the tune of, “So, I guess I’ll see you later?” Because 21st century, my ass. For all the new ways we’ve invented to communicate, we still manage to weenie out on speaking up when it counts. So if you like him but you ghost, and then he doesn’t text you, you’re probably gonna be racking your brains figuring out whether you sent the wrong message by leaving. At least by asking the doofy question, you’ll know where you stand.  Clarity first; dignity follows.


There you have it, guys—the vixens have spoken. Now, we turn to you: what’s your morning-after protocol? Is ghosting a badass strategy, or a spineless run-around?


  1. Eric Silver

    I’m usually up pretty early calling to break my lease and see when I can get some movers to pack up my shit at my old place. Not so much ghosting as a full on haunting.

  2. I’m a firm believer that a one-night-stand can also encompass morning sex, both to show the person that the night before wasn’t a total drunken regret (assuming it wasn’t) and because starting the day with a morning trip to the bone zone is probably a recommended thing to improve your daily health by some doctor somewhere. So since we’re all busy people, I fall on the side of set that early sex alarm, get it on, then get on with your life.

  3. Art Burns

    We have a woman who feels threatened about the prospect of being in the same apt, awake and sober, with last night’s partners. We have a gay male who on the other hand feels safe and largely feels that his partners deserve respect and are likely to respect him in the basic way of, for example, letting him leave with no fuss. Straight men: respect women in this way, respect them preemptively, don’t make them feel threatened, consider them as equals, and maybe they will still be there in your bed when you wake.

    • Eric Silver

      Actually, Sam is a woman. And it would probably be respectful to Gabby to take her at her word and not project a feeling of being threatened onto her actions.

  4. Kate Mooney

    I think that ‘ghosting’ is used inaccurately here. To me and many others it refers to the chicken-shit “slow-fade” that guys and girls do after a couple dates, where they just DISAPPEAR because they don’t have the balls to tell you they’re just not that into you

  5. Anti-ghost.
    If you’re never going to see the person again, then it’s not awkward.

    The only acceptable ghosting scenario is when you wake up before the other person and they’re probably not going to wake up shortly – then you are just sitting there in the bed looking at the ceiling, waiting, waiting, waiting. no bueno.

  6. Isaac Anderson

    Offer to cook breakfast? Nothing cures a hangover like an omelette.

    This assumes you haven’t made a terrible mistake–but your judgement’s better than that, right? Right.

  7. It all really depends…I mean was he snoring and keeping you up? There’s no point in wasting your time if you don’t want it going anywhere. BUT, how would you like to be treated? We are humans and a quick “Goodbye, that was fun!” could make just the difference to someone.

  8. ginac

    Fun read! I liked both arguments, and in the past have played both sides. But I think I’m anti-ghosting now. It could be my age or my martial status… probably both.

  9. I agree with Kate Mooney. Also re: the movie when Harry Met Sally – I believe what the director was really trying to show is how people come together. DESPITE the famous guys and girls can’t be friends line. Ghosting to me doesn’t really get you anywhere and as some of the others pointed out you might miss the fun stuff (morning after sex, brunch, more sex, etc) Did I mention more sex? Sex that will probably only get better.

  10. Callen

    What wasn’t addressed was the option to chew your own limb off like an coyote caught in a trap and get the hell out of there…it’s been referred to in some parts of the country as “coyote ugly” and only applies if the other person is NOT the coyote and YOU are not the trap. In the case where you ARE the trap, there’s an old company called ACME that has several products that are guaranteed to never work as you intended, which is what’s going to happen anyway if you find you’re the one trying to corral the coyote.

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