For those who don’t know, ghosting on a date is the act of suddenly terminating all communication with someone without providing an explanation. Yes, it’s just as devastating as it sounds. Regardless of the blatant level of disrespect, it continues to happen everyday. In recent years, especially among the millennial crowd, it’s actually become quite the phenomenon; one could even call it an epidemic.
Today’s dating world may very well be less formal and chivalrous than in the past, but there’s a real difference between keeping dates casual and bailing when things start to get more serious. Informal dates can be incredibly fun and help keep the pressure off, but flaking on someone solely leads to frustration and heartbreak. With the surge in popularity of ghosting, such respect and effort has diminished, leading to less fulfilling relationships, damaged feelings, and poor attention span within the dating scene.
A likely reason? You might think you can find someone better and write someone off without getting him or her a real chance. Or, you’re simply just not into it and don’t care to stick around. Plus, with so much of today’s hook up culture taking place with strangers either online or via text, ghosting has never been easier. Ghosting has become the easy way out, especially when the relationship hadn’t progressed far enough that would warrant an explanation. Still, no matter the scenario, ghosting only ever benefits the “ghoster,” and in some cases, it provides no benefits, as you may have missed the opportunity to connect with someone on a more intimate level.
Whether you want to completely end your relationship or keep the lines of communication open for potential rekindling in the future, an authentic and honest nature is key. By telling someone you’re no longer interested or would like to keep in touch as friends, you’re giving him or her the consideration that’s deserved. You’d be surprised how accepting and appreciative that person might be (in today’s age, clarity is quite refreshing). The conversation won’t be pleasant, as you’re still hurting someone’s feelings, but maintaining an ethical character will both strengthen your communication skills for future relationships and keep your list of enemies pretty low.
While the person you’re breaking up with is bound to get hurt, you’ll be saving way more tears than would be shed if you had gone the ghosting route. Those left on the losing end often feel confused, insecure, and frustrated, as they weren’t given a reason for the sudden break up. With understanding why this particular situation didn’t work out, it might mess with their heads and ruin future flirtations, dates, and relationships due to a pool of negative thoughts, memories, and fears that can easily inhibit their ability to trust. If the person you were with is known to suffer from poor self-image and confidence, the effects will be even more debilitating.
While passive withdrawal may seem like the best way to spare feelings, when it’s done to you, the brutal impact is much worse than the perceived moment of awkward tension. According to Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., “ghosting is the ultimate use of the silent treatment, a tactic that has often been viewed by mental health professionals as a form of emotional cruelty,” and “it creates the ultimate scenario of ambiguity.” This disregard for the other person’s feelings, no matter the intent, will always be more insulting than any straightforward break up. As you know if you’ve ever been ghosted, the situation leaves no room for closure or answers.
The conclusion? Be the bigger person, and step up. There’s a level of appropriateness for each stage of a relationship.
If the person you’re choosing to end communication with is someone you’ve briefly flirted with on a dating app or had texted once or twice, the impact probably won’t leave much of a scar; however, if you’ve been corresponding all day and night, or even for a few days, there’s enough of a connection to call for a heads up. Even more so, if you’ve been on a date with this person, and you’ve both put significant effort into the relationship, a nice text, or a sit-down, shouldn’t be too much to ask for. Last, but definitely not least, if you’ve been dating for a considerable amount of time or have shared intimate time together, an explicit conversation about why you’re ending the relationship really needs to take place in order for you both to fully grasp what’s happening and gain closure.
If you’ve been ghosted on, don’t think of it as a means to ghost others. Two wrongs will never make a right. Unfortunately, the more often it happens to you, the “more people become desensitized to it and the more likely they are to do it to someone else,” as explained by Vilhauer. It should be common courtesy to offer a simple apology when rejecting someone, no matter your own pain from different, failed relationships.
Consider the person on the other end. How would you feel after getting close to someone, only to never hear from him or her again? Can you sympathize with those emotions? If not then turn this phenomenon on its head. Instead of looking at the effects, think about the causes. Why do you choose to ghost someone? Would you accept that excuse?
(photo by Toa Heftiba)