A ghost came back to haunt me this summer. I had a first date with a guy. We agreed that things had gone well and made plans to meet up again when I got back from vacation. We continued to text while I was away; The conversation was good, definitely better than your average “Hey, what are you doing?” However, a week into the holidays, I replied to one of his WhatsApps and suddenly…nothing. This wasn’t the first time he’d taken a few days to reply, so I shrugged. Maybe he was busy. But a few days turned into seven, at that point I wrote him off, my logic being that he wasn’t interested anymore. I had been officially ghosted.
The term “ghosting” has been part of online dating lingo for nearly a decade. Simply put, it means ending contact with someone without warning: you stop replying to their messages, unfollow them on social media, stop answering their calls, and eventually disappear from their life altogether. In the past, this has been labeled toxic behavior by dating experts — without exception. Studies suggest that ghosting can even cause psychological harm to someone. But now, it seems, many people in the dating scene are experiencing a change of heart. Instead, ghosting may be considered acceptable. Even encouraged.
A week after our last exchange I received a reply. This guy claimed he didn’t get in touch because he “didn’t know how” to text me, apparently torn over some devastating news he had to deliver. Eventually he came out with it: he was dating someone else and instead wanted to see how things were going with her. “I’m sorry for not being more direct,” he wrote. “I felt bad for having a really fun time with you.”
My immediate reaction? I laughed. Honestly, by the time you turn 30 — which I had only done a month earlier — you’ll be quite adept at the unparalleled joy that is modern dating. I’m terrible with apps myself. I have limited patience, a short attention span and I’m certainly not desperate for a relationship. The whole endeavor feels more like a chore. So it would definitely be hypocritical to get upset about someone who is still ultimately a total stranger.
However, after laughing, I felt irritated. This guy has been texting me regularly for over a month and only just decided he’s not interested? Why was he gone, only to come back and startle my inbox with a mea culpa? Did he think I would be so infatuated with him after a date that if I didn’t hear from him, I would fall into a state of Ophelia-like despair? To reassure him, I replied to his message with a shrug emoji and the words, “Sure I’ll live. Watch out.” Just to make sure he knows I’m okay, you know?
It seems I’m not the only one fed up with these strange encounters. On social media, other women are trying to exorcise pesky wannabe poltergeists so they can move on. Just last week, stand-up comedian Carly Aquilino shared a TikTok quoting a recent date: “Oh I think you’re a really amazing girl but…” She blows a raspberry. “Nobody cares!” she says with delightful indifference. “Ghost me. Spare me. I was fine. I thought you died.”
The responses, mostly from women, are enthusiastic about their attitude. “‘Ghost Me’ will be my motto for 2023,” wrote one. Another commented, “I would 1,000 percent rather be ghosted than give all the reasons why you don’t like me.” As one person joked that “the way I’m so pro-ghosting is almost anti-feminist ‘ Aquilino replied with wise wisdom: ‘How anti-feminist is it not wanting to listen to BS, which they say only absolves themselves of feeling like a shitty person?’
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Because those are the messages, aren’t they? Absolution so the sender doesn’t feel like an ad for letting you read. For years these men have been told that ghosting is a grade A asshole. But is it really that clear? Of course, there are situations where ghosting crosses a line. Might not ghost someone if you’ve been married to them for 20 years. Or maybe you don’t feel someone you’ve been with for six months. Maybe you don’t haunt a friend you had a drunken one night fling with after promising you’d stay friends even if you get back together with your ex a few weeks later (the last one is mine yay) . Examples of when ghosting might be considered acceptable? When someone you’re dating throws up red flags. When the date was a dud and you both definitely know it. When Donald Trump is on the other line.
It seems very likely that we were too hasty in dismissing ghosting as bad behavior without considering the myriad scenarios in which it could occur. Do we really need closure in absolutely every scenario? I don’t think I felt any better when the guy confirmed he wasn’t interested anymore – I had already figured that out for myself. And if no one is looking for answers, doesn’t that make it clear that there is a mutual understanding? So please spare us the performative hand-wringing. In the horror show of modern dating, ghosts are the least of our worries.
https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/id-1000-per-cent-rather-be-ghosted-than-told-all-the-reasons-you-dont-like-me-the-toxic-dating-behaviour-that-suddenly-isnt-42114255.html “I would 1,000 percent rather be ghosted than have all the reasons why you don’t like me” – The toxic dating behavior that suddenly isn’t