Don’t @ me, but I think ghosting has its place. It can be brutal – I know that all too well. But there are a couple of arguments for this modern break-up method which need to be considered before we completely discard it in the bin of gruesome milennial creations along with turmeric lattes and overinflated entitlement complexes. I might be wrong, but for me ghosting isn’t quite the mephistophelian act of rejection we all claim it to be.
What exactly is ghosting? Well, have you ever been chatting to someone, maybe even been out on a date or two then you’re met with an unexplicable wall of silence? No answer to your messages. You can see they’re online, they may even have opened your ‘Hey, how’s your day going’ little conversation reviver and yet those three little dancing bubbles that promise a glimpse of potential romantic entanglement just never appear? If so, then you my friend have been ghosted. And it is savage.
If you’re anything like me, you spend days wondering what it is you did wrong; you analyze and reanalyze the most recent messages you sent, wondering if somehow he could have misinterpreted them and now thinks you hate him. If you’ve been on a date with him, you run through every minute of the date racking your brain as to at which exact point you became so unappealing that he can’t even bare to dignify your politeness with a response. It’s a grim state of self-questioning to find oneself in and in the age where e-meeting is rapidly overtaking authentic meet-cutes, it’s unfortunately becoming more and more common.
But what if ghosting is sometimes the optimal option? Imagine the scene: you’ve been chatting to someone on an App after a mutual swipe right, you move to another social – most commonly Facebook, Whatsapp or Snapchat – and continue the chat for a few days. As the conversation develops you come to realise that you’re wasting your time with someone with whom you have no interest in taking things any further. What exactly do you say to bring it to an end? Formally laying on the line your reasons for shutting down this dialogue seems a bit intense given that you haven’t even met the person. Even if you do decide to take this route, the males of the species rarely take this polite excusal from the conversation particularly graciously. Responses I’ve received include:
“Alright hun I didn’t ask you to marry me did I?”
“Calm down yeah? F*****g hell women.”
“So what you’re really saying is you think you can do better than me.”
“Jesus don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
So if delicately crafted honesty garners such a truculent response, how else do you cut the conversation without ghosting? This becomes especially true when you live in an intimate community where you are very likely to bump into your ghostee, as ending your fleeting exchange with “Calm down yeah? F*****g hell women.” is going to make for a very awkward couple of seconds when you accidentally meet at the bar of your local. This awkwardness is of course down to his chilidish outburst exposing his inability to take soft rejection like a mature adult, but if you want this awkwardness to be avoided then perhaps rethink your aversion to ghosting.
Taking this up a notch, I would say that ghosting is still appropriate even if you’ve been on one or two dates. When I myself have been ghosted after a second date it most certainly has hurt. I quiz myself on what I did to make him go from liking me enough to ask me on a second date, to not even wanting to talk to me. It’s a hole of despair where I internally dig and dig and dig until I give up on trying to identify the key turning point. Whilst this is pretty miserable, I can wholeheartedly say that I would rather not know than actually hear what it is he didn’t like about me. What if he confirms one of my biggest insecurities, heaping more fuel onto the already roaring fire of reasons I hate that particular aspect of myself? Even worse, what if it was something I didn’t previously dislike about myself but he highlights it and it is all I can think about forever more? In this scenario, I’m a big believer that ignorance is bliss, because whilst being ghosted a couple of dates down the line upsets me, it would upset me a whole deal more if I was told what exactly it is about my appearance or personality that caused this U-Turn.
In reverse, I have ghosted someone after two dates and despite the group chat branding me brutal and cold, I robustly stand by my decision to this day. The guy was nice, good looking, a little shorter than I would normally go for but this wasn’t a deal breaker, chivalrous without being patronising and actually had professional ambition which I’m finding to be worryingly rare amongst the boys I go out with*… but oh my good God, his laugh was terrible. I mean, it was awful. It grated on me like nails down a blackboard. It felt as though the shrieking noise stabbed through me every time he so much as chortled, so much so that I subconsciously began to resent his actually quite funny sense of humour. I knew this couldn’t go anywhere – if the sound of someone’s laugh makes you want to bite a chunk out of your own fist just to distract you from the shrill assault on your ear drums, then there is no hope that a romantic relationship could sprout, let alone bloom. But how could I possibly tell him this? How could I tell an otherwise really appealling guy that his laugh is so terrible that I didn’t want to see him again? I chose not to lay my cards on the table, instead opting for a slow-fade, where I left longer and longer between each response until ultimately I left him on read forever. In my opinion, this was the kindest approach to take, because there is someone out there who is going to love his laugh (I shudder just thinking about the possibility) who might never have gotten the opportunity to hear it if I landed him with an insecurity about it and he felt the need to hide it from future dates. So whilst ghosting is often viewed as the more infantile form of rejection, here I think I demonstrated kindness and awareness in my choosing to ghost.
Modern dating’s a minefield and I rue the day I downloaded the first of the nocuous apps which match us on the most shallow of bases, but here I am along with millions of my fellow millennials tangled up in the web of right swipes and egg plant emojis. More of us ghost than we’d care to admit and do you know what, I’m not ashamed of it.
‘Hi, my name is Sasha Thompson and I’m a ghoster’.
*this probably says more about me and my self-destructive pull towards men who are the opposite of those I should actually be seeking, but there we go…I think that’s a discussion for another day