You’ve been talking to someone on Tinder that you really like for awhile. You think the conversation is going well, but suddenly the other person does not reply. A day goes by. Then two. Then three. Then a week. Then two weeks. “Did they die?” you ask yourself. Finally, you realize you’ve been ghosted. Upon piecing this together, you begin to wonder whether you said something wrong or if you should message the person again, but you don’t want to sound too desperate at the same time. Many of us have had this experience, especially on dating sites (with Tinder being the HQ of ghosters). Having ghosted and been ghosted, I am by no means innocent of this. I’m not here to tell you how horrible of a human being you are for ghosting someone. However, I’m not here to encourage you either. Although ghosting is common among our generation, we must work to prevent ourselves from repeatedly indulging in this habit and not be disrespectful to others’ time and efforts.
If you’re not sure what ghosting is, it’s pretty much the evolution of the silent treatment. The individual doesn’t respond to your messages, calls, voicemail, DMs, or whatever method of communication you may be using at the moment. It’s as if the person suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth. After surveying over 800 single millennials, the popular dating app Plenty of Fish found that 80 percent of respondents had been ghosted at least once. This means that you or someone you know has very likely been ghosted before.
Before going any further, it’s important to highlight that there are times when ghosting is okay and even advisable. For example, if you have repeatedly told someone that you’re not interested and they keep contacting you, then ghosting is, and should be, absolutely acceptable. It would actually be more appropriate to block their number or page and cease all communication with them. Likewise, if one is in an abusive or toxic relationship, then ghosting is more than acceptable. However, these situations are unique, understandable, and, most importantly, rare. That is to say, the majority of ghosters do not ghost for those stated reasons, so chances are you’re probably still a bit of a jerk for doing it if it was not for your safety.
If you’ve ever been ghosted, then you may be aware of how horrible it can make you feel. It’s even worse when both parties have agreed to be in a romantic relationship and one partner “ghosts” the other through cancelled plans and soon unresponsiveness to calls, texts, and all forms of communication. Not only is it disrespectful to the other person, but it is incredibly lazy and immature. I get it; rejections, “I’m not interested” conversations, and breakups are not easy to deal with and discuss. There is no right way to tell someone those things, but there is a wrong way, and that’s when you simply don’t tell them at all. Instead of ghosting, find a form of communication that’s easiest for you (texting, calling, email, face to face) and tell the person what’s on your mind. Not only would this be helpful for the other party, but it’ll leave you with a clean conscience. Likewise, an even better solution is to not initiate relationships and communications that you have no interest in pursuing. By doing this, it reduces the risk of anyone getting ghosted and allows you to invest into a communication that interests you, so when you do respond to the person it would be because you want to and not because you have to.
Additionally, ghosting makes people feel disposable and the lack of closure can leave people wondering what went wrong. Are they hurt? Maybe they’re just too busy? You never really know, and it creates a certain level of chaos in the person’s mind. According to psychologist Mark Snyder, our brain has evolved to have a Social Monitoring System, also known as self-monitoring, which helps us stay connected to others and is essential for our survival. The SMS monitors for social cues and these cues can help us behave accordingly. For example, if you see someone roll their eyes at you, then maybe what you just said irritated or annoyed them. Therefore, the act of ghosting deprives you of these cues and creates a sense of mental chaos that leaves the individual feeling less and less in control. Whether the individual’s actions were intentional or unintentional, one thing is for certain: ghosting can leave one feeling confused and rejected.
If you have been ghosted, whether you were casually talking to someone or involved in a long-term relationship with them, it doesn’t mean that you are unworthy, boring, useless, disposable, or whatever negative opinion you may be thinking about yourself at that moment. All it means is that the person didn’t have the decency to let you know how they feel and doesn’t understand the impact of ghosting, or worse, doesn’t care. Don’t let their laziness or ignorance lower your self-esteem or rob you of your vulnerability. Instead, work on yourself, let them go peacefully, and remain open-minded so those that are worthy of your time and respect can find you and you can openly receive them.
Ghosting is not an easy habit to quit especially due to its prevalence in modern forms of communication and dating apps. However, we must continue to be respectful to and courteous of others. Ghosting does not have to be the trademark of this generation if we all attempt to reciprocate the time and effort shown to us by others. Imagine how much less awkward it will be when you run into someone who you mutually ended things with, compared to someone you left on read five months ago. Chances are you’re still alive and not a ghost, so give Casper his identity back, and work on being a better human being.