The being a better human series

Boo! I stopped ghosting. And you should too

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

We’ve all been there. We connect with someone, start talking, meet a couple of times, and then BAM! The silence begins. At times no one even really knows why, but both parties accept it as somewhat of a conclusion and move on.

For those of you lucky enough not to know what ghosting is, our friends at Urban Dictionary were kind enough to define it:

Urban Dictionary’s Definition of Ghosting

I started asking myself why a lot of us have been behaving this way towards each other. Has it become so common that we are doing it because everyone else is? Are we really that scared of the other person’s reaction that we would rather avoid them altogether and forgo human decency?

If you are asking yourself why the person you have had such great dates with suddenly pulled a Houdini on you, here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Confrontation avoidance
  • Emotional immaturity
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of courage
  • Selfishness/only thinking of own emotional needs
  • Fear due to sense of the other person being dangerous
  • Avoidance of inflicting pain on the other party
  • Personal pain/depression/trauma
  • Feeling of other person being out of their league (self-sabotage)
  • Reconnecting with an ex

As you can see, there are tons of excuses to ghost people. However, if you’ve ever been on the receiving end, you know how hurtful and unkind it can be. Why inflict this on another human being? And if the other person’s feelings is not something you care about, then think of yourself — do you really want to worry about the other person sending you a nasty text calling you out for your bad behaviour?

Before we go into the right way of doing things, let’s bust a few myths:

Myth #1: It’s more painful to tell someone you are no longer interested than to just stop messaging them

NO! The opposite is true — if you let someone know that you no longer want to pursue anything with them, they can accept it and move on. It might hurt when you initially tell them, but it’s better than the alternative. By disappearing, you’re leaving them questioning whether what you shared is truly over, analyzing what went wrong, and asking themselves whether they did something so awful that warranted them to not even deserve an explanation. This internal conflict can sometimes last weeks. Do you really think this is less painful when compared to the alternative of being informed you are no longer interested?

Myth #2: I don’t need to say anything, they already know things aren’t going well

Maybe — but you cannot know for sure. The only way to ensure that the other person is on the same page as you is by talking to them, and if they did feel that things weren’t going that well, it will make it a very easy conversation for the both of you.

Myth #3: I told them I wasn’t looking for anything serious, they should expect this from me

As humans we connect with each other — just because you said that you are not looking for something serious does not make is synonymous with “I have the right to ghost whenever my heart desires”. We notice patterns in behaviour and expect them to continue, regardless of the level of commitment. By ghosting, you are breaking the pattern you have set with this individual. Instead, communicate with the other person, talk about how you want to connect and what would make you happy. Maybe you want to have the type of connection where you go for days (or even weeks) without speaking, but agree on this before doing so, because it’s very possible that the other person does not have the same expectations.

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

So, instead of trying to embody Casper the ghost, what should you do?

Decide on how to end things based on how close you got with this person

Did you go on one date, or have you been inseparable for the past month? Sometimes just sending a text is enough — if you’ve only seen this person once or twice and have not grown very close, it truly will suffice. However, the more intense the relationship gets, the more difficult it will be to break things off, and the more personal this conversation should be. My rule of thumb is as follows:

  • If you’ve been on 1–3 dates → text message
  • If you’ve been on more than 3 dates and have grown quite close to the person → phone call
  • If what you have with the other person resembles a relationship → in-person

Understand the reasons for your loss of interest — and be honest about them

Did this person do something that bothered you? Have you recently gone through a breakup and got scared when catching yourself caring about this new person? Do you not understand it yourself? Sometimes we don’t have a reason, we’re just not feeling the romantic connection we need in order for a relationship to progress, and that’s fine. Just know that it’s very possible that the other person will ask you why you do not want to continue pursuing things, so be prepared to answer this question, and do not be shy to explain it to them if they ask. It’s easier for people to accept what is happening when they understand why it is happening.

Do not apologize for losing interest

You are doing nothing wrong, so why should you say sorry? Be honest and upfront, but do not apologize for your feelings, they’re very real and absolutely valid.

Do not suggest to just be friends

Chances are, this person most likely wanted to see where things would have progressed. The last thing they want is to be reminded of how amazing you are on a regular basis. You might have had some amazing conversations with this person, and maybe you could truly see yourself being friends with them — but remember, you are the one telling them you do not want anything more. This is probably not what they want to hear, and most of the time if they agree to just be friends, it is with the hidden agenda of “maybe if we got to know each other better, they will start to like me”. Do not fall for this, because you will be back to square one — thinking of ways to end things. Again.

Manage your nerves when engaging in this conversation

Telling someone you no longer want to see them is not fun, so you need to find ways to calm yourself down when doing this. Are you sending a text? Maybe you can have a few template texts saved on your phone that you can tweak to fit your situation. Are you calling? Grab a stress ball while talking, pace around the room if that makes you feel better, or light a few scented candles that will make your soul happy. Are you meeting them in person? Give yourself a pep talk in the mirror before meeting them and remind yourself that you have more courage than most people because of what you are about to do. Regardless of the method used to communicate this ending, allow yourself to decompress. Find what works for you, and just do it.

Remind yourself that you did the right thing

You cannot force a connection, and if you are not feeling it, you are absolutely doing the right thing by ending things. Sure, this conversation was uncomfortable for a few minutes, but you acted like a decent human being and should be proud of that.

There are a few rare instances in which it is okay to ghost someone, so if you do find yourself in one of these, do not beat yourself up for pulling the disappearing act:

The other person made you feel unsafe

If there is anything that suggests that the person you were seeing is dangerous, quietly disappearing might be the best thing to do for your own personal safety. Meeting up with someone to tell them you do not want to pursue things further while fearing they might cause you harm you is not a good idea. Remember that your safety *always* comes first.

Your boundaries are not being respected

If you’ve already set boundaries with this person and they have shown you time and time again that they are incapable of respecting them, removing yourself from the situation is the best thing you can do for your own mental health. You could tell them that you are no longer interested and want to end things, and if they still continue chasing you at this point, do not feel bad for not replying — you said what you had to say, you do not owe them anything else moving forward.

You are going through an extremely difficult time mental-health wise

You might be suffering from depression, or maybe you went through an incredibly traumatic event recently. It’s completely understandable that you might retreat from the world; you are dealing with very strong forces that are not fully in your control. Bottom line: if you are struggling with your mental health, focus on helping yourself get better, and do not worry if you end up ghosting that person you went on one date with. Your mental health is more important.

I remember going on a date with a man a couple years ago; we laughed, had a great time and agreed to go out again the following week. After not hearing from him until the second date, I asked him if we were still on to see each other, and he ended up cancelling last minute. A month later, he messaged me out of the blue saying he had a cold, which stopped him from messaging me during all those weeks, and asked if we could finally go on that date — to this day, my friends and I still poke fun at this story and refer to him as “the man who lost his fingers due to a cold”. Needless to say, he never got his second date. Don’t be like this man, you’re better than that. Send that message, and put the white cloak away. You will no longer be needing to wear it over your head.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

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