According to the always-credible Urban Dictionary, ghosting is defined as:
“The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date … Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.”
The literary resource goes on to offer an example of a common “ghosting” scenario:
Beth: I thought it went well, but I’ve texted him a couple of times since then and he’s been ghosting me.
Carmen: What? I thought he was more mature than that.
Fun fact: I’m Kyle. Or was until recently. And by recently I mean about six months ago. Six. Months. Ago. That’s right, for the first 30 years of my life I perfected a disappearing act that I never really acknowledged until pop culture pointed its big fat finger at it and gave it an official name.
For years, I sugar-coated my personal version of “ghosting” and justified these bad dating habits as protection from inevitable heartbreak. And, I wish I could tell you about my great aha moment, but it never happened. Due to the fact that I’m a stubborn a**hole, this realization came slowly and gradually. Trust me, lots of wine-filled girl talks as well as a few guilt-filled evenings alone with Chinese take-out had to happen before I came clean to my apparition-like tendencies.
Although I admit that ignorance was bliss, dissecting my behavior and admitting to it has brought me some serious clarity and a little bit closer to being a real-life adult (I hope). And while I laugh with everyone else at the concept of ghosting (made popular by the douche lords and ladies of Tinder and other dating apps), I also recognize it as a destructive act that kept me single for so long. Here’s why ghosting sucks:
I was once broken up with in an email. Did I mention the guy I was dating was a co-worker who worked in the same building and whom I saw every single day? (To add insult to injury, the email was chock-full of grammatical errors and misspelled words. I mean, you didn’t even care enough to spell-check your work? Did our relationship mean nothing?!) Although I’ve always thought this to be the most solid case of douche-baggery ever experienced first-hand, I think having him completely ghost on me would have been much more painful (and, believe it or not, WAY more awkward). Vanishing on someone who invested time and emotions for the sake of getting to know you better is just plain not nice. Rejection is never pleasant and to have it done in such an abrupt and unceremonious way is hurtful, cruel and only normal for terrible humans. Any form of communication – text, phone call, email (if you must), letter by carrier pigeon – is a much better option. And, if you’re really a good person, break it to them in person.
My random acts of disappearing could always be traced back to fear. I somehow caught a glimpse of something in the guy or the relationship that led me to believe I was going to be disappointed and hurt in the future. These glimpses would come in the form of awkward conversations; misinterpretations of behavior and body language; lack of verbal affirmation; lack of interest on my part; and, my favorite, good ol’ jealousy. To be fair, the act of ghosting is often a result of the ghoster being burned just one too many times (or in fact being the ghostee at one point). I was one such ghost.
But here’s the kicker: My crazy thought process only rolls on a one-way track. And that track is called “Ang.” I only ever considered the outcome for me and how things could possibly affect me. I hardly considered the guy’s POV and dropping off the earth was my method of permanently avoiding doing so. The word is selfish.
It’s pretty simple. Games are for kids. Playing hide-and-seek was fun until the age of six or seven when you realized looking under sofas and beds for someone was a complete waste of time. That being said, playing hide-and-seek with your love life is equally juvenile and pointless.
All ghosting proves is that you can’t handle the two “Cs” essential to every adult relationship: confrontation and conversation. If you’re a grown man or woman with a verbal aptitude that exceeds that of a five-year-old, you are perfectly capable of letting a person know why it’s not gonna work out and/or what you want in a partner. You are not wrong to vocalize what you need from a person you’re dating or speak up when those needs are not being met. Be the bigger person and use your words.
It Does Not Lead to a Relationship
In all my years of game-playing, I can safely say I never came out the winner. None of those ghosting incidences turned into a relationship. Not one. Even if a guy pursued me some more and tried to figure out where I disappeared to and what went wrong, there was usually some frustration and distrust involved by this time – two qualities that don’t exactly define a healthy relationship.
And, let me tell you, no one will ever take a ghoster seriously. After you pull that peek-a-boo act once, you are officially exiled to “loser” territory. And no one wants to date a loser.
To end, let me clarify that this post is not meant to offend or point the finger at anyone but myself. I only mean to acknowledge my own mistakes as well as the steps I’m taking to make amends. And, while, yes, I’m still single, I’m happy to report that my dating path is a little less spooky.