2. Suck it up and have the awkward conversation
If you've gone on several dates, or had sex, or offered the promise of a relationship by saying things like you'd hang up pictures for her in her apartment, or asked her to be your date to your cousin's wedding in two months: you need to do more than text a farewell. If she leaves you a voicemail wanting to know what's going on, RETURN HER CALL. It's not necessary to meet in person to painstakingly hash out every detail of what went wrong; but please, please, please give her the dignity of clarity and closure voice-to-voice.
Here, because of the time that's been invested or the sex that's been had, you'll need to be more specific than "not feeling a total connection." Be honest (but kind!) about why you're no longer interested. When ghosted, women will often go over every past interaction again and again searching for a reason why things changed. Don't let her do that to herself. Let her know if you're busy with a demanding job and don't have time for dating right now, if you're not looking for anything serious, or if you just got back together with an ex. This might be the least fun thing you do all week, but if you want to do more than serially ghost and have any interest in being in a relationship one day, the ability to show up for difficult conversations is a necessary skill to have.
3. Take responsibility for your past words, actions, and promises
Maybe you're not absorbed in a demanding job, you didn't get back together with an ex, and there's no concrete, legitimate explanation for why you don't want to see this person again. One of the reasons that ghosting is so confusing and painful for the ghostee is that it often comes out of nowhere and is a dramatic shift from where things seemed to be heading. One day a guy is snuggling on the couch with you watching a Girls marathon and making plans for the future, and the next he disappears into the texting ether, making you feel like he never existed at all.
Listen, we all have our issues! But if you've misled someone to believe you were interested in more and then all of the sudden never want to see her again, you need to own up to it -- even if you can't totally articulate why. Saying things like, "I know I promised to [insert past promise], or when I said [thing that sounded like we had a future together] it made you think that I wanted to be in a relationship, but I tend to do that and then freak out when things get serious or more intense. It's an issue that I have and I apologize if it caused you any pain." By doing this you'll be validating the confusion and hurt she's feeling and taking responsibility for your part, so she doesn't go on blaming herself for your sketchy behavior.
4. Rip off the BAND-AID
For the conflict-averse, a tempting alternative to ghosting is the slow fade. But honestly, this is just as bad as ghosting. Some would argue, even worse. Maybe you think that if you keep saying you're busy or canceling and rescheduling plans (only to cancel them again), she'll eventually get the message and give up. But when a woman likes a guy (or vice versa), hope is clung to no matter how faint. The slow fade only prolongs the confusion, drags out the pain, and keeps her from getting the clarity she needs to get over you and move on.
Ghosting and the slow fade leave the door open for you to come back into her life and haunt her again. Not fair.
5. Be clear from the beginning
If you have a history of ghosting and know you don't want anything serious, you have a responsibility to share this information early on. That way she can make an informed decision about whether she wants to get involved with you. Unfortunately, many women -- myself included -- will hear this and think that we can change your mind, or that we'll be the one to make you want to settle down. But that's on us. The fact that we saw it coming will make it not hurt.
Or at least take the sting off.