By Chris Seiter and Jennifer Seiter

Published on June 4th, 2023

If you are in a situation where your ex boyfriend broke up with you over text, you came to the right place.

Today we will dive deeply into a new phenomenon that my wife and I have noticed and have begun calling “Grey Ghosting.”

It’s a mild form of ghosting where one party terminates the romantic connection not through a direct, face-to-face interaction, but instead through an indirect method such as digital communication or via a third party.

I’d like to look at,

  • How this grey ghosting phenomenon works
  • Why it’s probably happened to you if your ex broke up with you over text
  • What statistics say about how common text breakups are
  • The top reasons grey ghosters use texts to break up with you
  • What to do after you’ve been broken up with via text

This is an exciting one so let’s jump right into it.

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An Introduction To Grey Ghosting

Experiencing a breakup can be incredibly hurtful, and it’s a feeling often amplified through such an impersonal medium as text messages.

In these situations, a sense of closure is lacking, and you’re left stranded in the dark, plagued by uncertainty.

It’s common to question the real reason behind the breakup. You may also wonder if things could have turned out differently had the discussion occurred in person, where you could have potentially talked them out of their decision.

Such is the fate of those on the receiving end of a “grey ghoster.”

Grey Ghosting: Refers to the practice in interpersonal relationships where one party terminates the romantic connection not through a direct, face-to-face interaction but through an indirect method such as digital communication or via a third party. Following the breakup, the person who initiated the separation slowly ceases other forms of communication, effectively ‘ghosting’ the other individual. This practice demonstrates a lack of personal confrontation and emotional closure, leaving the recipient in a state of ambiguity and uncertainty regarding the relationship’s conclusion.

Essentially it’s that ex who is too afraid to break up with you in person and so they decide the best thing to do is to use some other medium to do it.

Because… you know, they care about you.

I think an argument can really be made that someone who’s a grey ghoster has a lot of avoidant attachment tendencies.

Consider this carefully.

Someone with an avoidant attachment style tends to evade conflicts, particularly in one-on-one situations.

Therefore, an individual displaying avoidant behavior often breaks up from a distance.

They typically employ various methods to achieve this, with text messaging being the most popular choice.

Sometimes, they may even resort to ‘ghosting’ outright.

Or (shudder) using someone else (more on that one in a second.)

I found a study that basically said,

65% of ghosters feel anxiety, awkwardness, and guilt.

This gives us some insight into why an ex is breaking up with you over text.

They are experiencing anxiety, yet they remain entrenched in their own attachment-style tendencies.

An individual with an avoidant attachment style cannot simply shed this behavior.

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They may resort to impersonal communication when faced with a situation that they anticipate will lead to conflict and potentially portray them negatively.

This is one of the primary reasons why they might use methods like text messaging.

But it kind of got me thinking.

How often is this grey ghosting actually occurring?

What do the statistics actually say?

What Statistics Say About How Often Grey Ghosting Occurs?

The prevailing thought that everyone has is that it’s super common to get broken up over text.

You can look at some of the most popular celebrities that have been on the receiving end of text message breakups.

  • Katy Perry
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Kevin Federline
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Carrie Underwood.

But what do the statistics actually say?

There’s not a lot out there. So my wife took it upon herself to go to our private community and take a poll to see real-time (in the field research), and the results were interesting.

She basically asked our audience,

Hey, how did your ex break up with you?

And she included some premade results,

  • By Text
  • Face To Face
  • Phone Call
  • Through A Friend
  • Through A Family Member
  • They Ghosted You

But I wasn’t expecting how many members there would be that would chime in and put all these other answers that we never thought of. Answers like:

  • WhatsApp messages
  • Email
  • Snapchat
  • Zoom video chat
  • I ghosted him.

So, what was the actual breakdown? First, it’s helpful to consider the poll above as a representation of three distinct categories.

  1. Non-grey Ghosters: These are the ex-partners who were forthright, choosing a face-to-face method for the breakup.
  2. Grey Ghosters: These individuals shied away from a direct confrontation, opting to deliver the news through text messages, phone calls, video chats such as Zoom, or even through intermediaries like friends or family members.
  3. The third category comprises respondents who participated but failed to provide valuable insights or straightforward answers. For example, when asked about their breakup methods, a response like “Well, how did you break up with your ex?” was deemed unhelpful, and such answers were excluded from our analysis.

Here was the final breakdown:

  1. The non-grey ghosters accounted for 39% of the vote.
  2. The grey ghosters accounted for 57% of the vote.
  3. And the pointless choices people added accounted for 4% of the vote.

It’s evident that the prevailing notion—that most individuals, particularly in today’s digital age, will not opt for a face-to-face breakup—is mainly accurate.

However, the situation is somewhat complicated because ‘grey ghosting’ can also encompass methods such as video chat or phone calls.

What’s important to note is that these methods still fall under the ‘grey ghosting’ category, primarily due to the control they provide to the initiator.

Your ex-partner could end the call or video chat at their convenience, effectively ‘running away’ from the conversation.

And there’s another fly in the ointment that got me thinking.

People often point to exes who broke up with them via text and say,

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“Well I wasn’t together with this person for a very long time and THAT’S why they broke up with me this way.”

But that’s actually not the case.

One of the cool things about running these polls is people are allowed to comment on them.

In many cases, people were commenting and had shocking stories about how they had been engaged or with these exes for a long time. Yet, their ex still used text messages to break up with them.

I’m actually going to show you an example of that below.

From these observations, we can infer that ‘grey ghosting’ appears to be the general approach regardless of the relationship duration with the ex-partner.

This pattern is clearly reflected in the statistics depicted in the graphic above. It is also consistent with our interactions with those who participated in the survey.

What Are The Top Reasons For An Ex Breaking Up With You Through Text?

It’s going to boil down to four distinct reasons.

  1. Conflict Avoidance
  2. Safety
  3. Emotional Immaturity
  4. Fear You’ll Talk Them out Of It

Reason #1: Conflict Avoidance

The first reason relates to the conflict avoidance characteristic of an avoidant attachment style.

From our experience, our average client tends to display an anxious attachment style,

Real poll proving that most of our clients have anxious attachment styles.

While their ex typically exhibits an avoidant attachment style.


Individuals with avoidant tendencies highly value drama-free environments where they can maintain their independence.

Naturally, a breakup aligns with their inclination for solitude.

However, they might anticipate confronting your anger during the process.

This anticipation could lead them to amplify the conflict avoidance aspect in their minds, resulting in a decision to break up over text to sidestep confrontation as much as possible.

Reason #2: Safety

The second primary reason relates to safety.

We often advise our clients to conduct breakups in public spaces for their safety.

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In cases involving violence, a breakup via text can be the safest option.

While this may seem like an overreaction and out of place in this particular article, statistics reveal that intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.

This implies that one in three women or one in four men has experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.

Such violence can include a range of behaviors like slapping, shoving, or pushing, which may not necessarily be classified as domestic violence by law.

Without making any accusations or assumptions about your particular situation, it’s crucial to note that a history of such behaviors can be one reason your ex might choose to break up via text.

They might perceive the threat of a breakup as a trigger for violence, prompting them to opt for a text-based breakup or resort to grey ghosting.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it might indicate a need for professional help.

Speaking to a therapist and seeking anger management support is an essential step.

Reason #3: Emotional Immaturity

Essentially, they may not be ready for a relationship.

An interesting part of our process at ex-boyfriend recovery is the concept of the ‘value ladder.’

We recommend This strategy to clients aiming to win back their exes or even those seeking a new partner.

The value ladder entails leveraging different communication mediums.

You start with the ‘no contact’ rule, then proceed to texting, where you aim to build value.

Once you’ve established a rapport, you transition to phone calls, enhancing value further.

The next step is a meetup, a medium date, and a romantic date.

By the time you reach this last rung, your ex will likely consider reconciling, or you might find yourself in a position to ask them back.

This is the essence of the value ladder – a gradual climb where you can only proceed to the next rung once you’ve built enough value at your current level.

However, we’ve noticed with dismissively avoidant individuals, each attempt to move up a rung often faces resistance or a ‘headwind.’

And in case you didn’t realize, this value ladder concept also applies to your relationship before the breakup.

Every try to progress things? Take the “next step?”

  • Move in together
  • Talk about getting engaged
  • Discuss promise rings

Only to have your partner pull back and show less interest in advancing things?

This is mainly due to their desire to maintain independence.

Their emotional immaturity and fear. Sometimes it’s a strong enough trigger for them to end things immediately.

Reason #4: Fear You’ll Talk Them Out Of It

Another reason is that they’re afraid you will convince them to stay in the relationship, especially exes with weak boundaries struggle with this.

I have noticed that more women struggle with it. Still, it could be because our coaching practice predominantly deals with women rather than men.

I mention this because many of our clients have codependent natures, as this article outlines.

Their entire world revolves around getting their ex back, and they have structured their lives around this relationship.

As a result, they heavily rely on their ex and struggle with setting boundaries.

So this brings us to the million-dollar question: if you’re in a situation like this, what the heck do you do?

What To Do If Your Ex Broke Up With You Through Text

Well, there are several things to do, but it always starts with the same overarching strategy that I mentioned earlier—the value ladder concept.

value ladder

The value ladder concept begins with the no contact rule.

If you’re unfamiliar with this rule, it involves a period where you ignore your ex with the intention of surpassing them in personal growth. Successfully outgrowing them can make them miss you more.

I’ve written a comprehensive guide on the no contact rule, so I won’t delve too much into it here.

If you’re interested in:

  • A detailed understanding of its duration
  • How a limited no contact rule can work
  • What to do when you have children
  • What to do when you work with your ex

I highly recommend you check out that article.

Read The Free Guide Here

The best approach during no contact is to reach a place emotionally where you no longer desire them and then proceed with the rest of the value ladder concept.

  • Start by building rapport and value through text messaging.
  • Once you’ve established enough value and rapport there, move on to the phone call phase.
  • From there, progress to the meetup phase, followed by a romantic date, and so on.

The idea is to gradually escalate your interactions.

This is the overall strategy, and I won’t go into too much detail here because I’ve also written a comprehensive guide on how to execute it.

I highly recommend you check it out.

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