To Ghost or Not To Ghost

Relationships/dating scenarios can end in so many ways: a tear-filled last goodbye face to face, an insincere text sent in the middle of an afternoon, an angry expletive-filled argument, or disappearing on somebody so abruptly and out of the blue that they consider filling out a missing person’s report.

This last scenario is so prevalent today. Most of the time, it happens in the early stages of dating. (I hope that nobody would actually ghost on someone you’re actually in a serious relationship with. If you’re that person, please re-examine your life choices and grow a pair.) You meet someone. You agree to go out with this person. You might have a good time. You might even have a great second time with them. There’s nothing really that wrong them. However, somewhere along the way, you realize something. There’s no chemistry, no spark, something is just off. This is not your person. You don’t really want to spend time with them again. You never need to see them again. So you make a decision. You decide that you no longer want them in your life. Take that a step further: you never want to communicate in any form with them again. So what you do you do? You stop talking to them. You stop returning texts. You ignore emails. You don’t return phone calls. You essentially disappear on them. In other words, you GHOST on them and hope they get the hint to leave you alone.

Now, ghosting is not a new thing. I’m sure people have been doing it for decades in the dating scene. However, before the takeover of social media and all of the options people have for communication now, disappearing on someone was pretty easy. You didn’t return a phone call and you erased voicemails. That was that.

But today, if someone really wants to get a hold of you, it might feel like you’re dodging messages and incoming efforts like you would do to dodgeballs in a dodgeball tournament. Every device, every app, every notification on your phone can ding if someone is really persistent. And because there are so many ways to ignore someone, the hurt of not getting ANY kind of response can sting so much more. To add insult to injury, add in the fact that they can actually see what you’re doing instead of responding to them. For example, you get a text, ignore it, then post a picture of yourself doing something super fun on Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat/Twitter. The person you’re ignoring can see this and the blow to their heart is much worse knowing you’ve been on your phone, you saw the text and really don’t care to respond, ever, and your life is perfect without them.

If only people could just be up front and honest, this wouldn’t be an issue. All it takes is a quick text response, “I don’t think we connected. We should stop seeing each other.” Yes, that sucks to receive, but then there is no doubt. If you’re a really mature person who doesn’t hide behind your phone screen, then meet up with them in person for one last time, explain the disconnect, and hopefully you both can move on with your lives. But let’s be real, most people today aren’t like that and that’s why ghosting has become such a problem.

Some reasons why ghosting is so popular today.

  1. It takes absolutely no effort. It’s so easy. Just don’t respond. And it’s not like blocking an ex or trying not to talk to someone you really want to. If you want to ghost someone, chances are you really couldn’t care less about their feelings so when you see a new message from them, you’re more likely to just roll your eyes and then forget about it. Sounds so mean, but it’s so true.
  2. Face to face contact can be oh-so-hard. If you plan on delivering bad news to someone, it’s so much better (for selfish reasons) to do it through email or text, especially if you really don’t know them that well. I mean really, at least they are getting some kind of explanation. You don’t need to see them react to what you’re saying. You really don’t want to be in the same space as them anymore. Besides, they’re more likely to convince you why you should go out again if you’re both face to face.
  3. Why talk about it? Let’s be real. You’ve made up your mind that you’re done with this person so why bring in their opinions about it. Responding will only spark a conversation of “what happened” and “I just don’t understand” and YOU just don’t really care. No response equals no conversation equals situation over.

I am embarrassed to say I have done this. OK, I’m not embarrassed. I don’t regret it, but I did feel bad for doing it. I would’ve saved the guy like a month of wondering where the hell I went if I just sent one text response back. But eventually, it was over. I know it’s not fair. I know it’s incredibly immature. However, I can understand why people do it. With so many dating options out there, it’s so easy to just move on to the next person who can hold our attention while forgetting so quickly about the last.

It’s not very healthy, but somehow, we millenials are making it work, while simultaneously complaining about how much dating sucks. Not only does nobody want to commit anymore, nobody knows how to break up with each other. Are we together? Not together? Broken up? On a break? Nobody’s making concrete decisions. If you think about it, we’re all just ghosts floating around in this limbo we call dating.