Relationships at any level can be challenging to manage, especially when one person wishes to discontinue the connection. In recent years, ghosting has gotten a lot of negative attention, especially with the increased ability to silently end things over text or email. As with so many complex issues, a spectrum of scenarios correlate to a spectrum of responses. There is no single formula that can contend with every separation situation out there.
That said, a good rule of thumb is to communicate with sufficient kindness and personal contact commensurate with the depth of the relationship.
If the beginnings of a connection had barely got started online or resulted in a less than energizing first meeting, then a simple texted "Thank you. I wish you luck in your pursuits." feels more than adequate. And if both parties are fully silent then the mutual ghosting may simply reflect insufficient interest on either side, no slights implied. Even long-term friends can silently drift apart without damage in rare instances.
In general, should a connection grow to the degree that there is a mutual friendship, the expectation for ending things, or canceling hanging out, rises as well. An in-person or extended written or spoken reply that relates honestly and kindly the gist of the reasoning seems sufficiently appropriate. The challenge rises when both parties want to stay in contact but at significantly different levels.
Ultimately it takes compassion and understanding from both sides. If a friend senses their counterpart consistently wants a greater connection, a verbal normalizing of expectations may be warranted. And if one party continually cancels or fails to respond reasonably to the other's attempts to converse, then it is a sad reality that for emotional health, things may have to end quietly. I like the use of "namaste" to indicate well wishes for a positive journey to that special person who has decided to allow the connection to fade.
And finally, for the longest term relationships, whether with family members, longtime friends or intimate lovers it would be simply ghoulish to end things silently when an opportunity to have a conversation exists. Realistically, people and circumstances change. Where at all possible, gentle attentiveness should be applied when such deep emotional bonds are to be broken. In many cases, a professional mediator may be conscripted to repair the bonds or ease the transition toward separation as desired.
We must keep in mind every relationship is its unique phenomenon. Given this modern age has so many communication methods and styles, each of us can be a little forgiving before condemning someone for ghosting. We can never know completely what's going on in another's head, even if we believe we do. As with so many gut-level judgments we should consider giving pause to first assess how our own verbal actions have influenced the moment. Often, when we can, it may simply be time to start looking for a new friendship or romance that better meets our needs.