I Quit Ghosting And This Is What Happened
Modern dating can suck, why do we make it worse?
I’m going to open this article with a disclaimer in case you’re expecting some life-changing dating advice: I am still very, very single. So if you clicked this thinking I’m about to solve all your dating woes, sorry, I still have no idea. BUT I feel like a slightly less bad person, so I think that’s worth something, maybe?
The dawn of the dating app (for me, late summer 2013 when a big city girl visited my small town and spread the word) introduced us all to a whole new world of communication.
I’m not going to pretend I hadn’t dabbled with ghosting pre-dating app, but Tinder definitely made it worse. Telling someone you’ve changed your mind and you’re just not into it, or that you just aren’t into it at all, seemed a) ridiculous, and b) brutal. Much easier to just one-word-answer their texts then slowly stop replying all together, right?
At the time it just felt like the easier option. I even asked around my guy friends (because I’m nothing if not scientific and thorough with my rejection) and some of them said they actually preferred to be ghosted rather than have someone spell it out to them. So I continued my ghosting reign until 2016, when, you guessed it, this girl got ghosted.
While I suffered, a slow-motion movie of all the guys I’d ever ghosted played out in my head. I decided from then on that I’d change my ways and be completely honest if I didn’t want to see people anymore. This person has spent time with you, and they deserve at least some form of explanation. So after two-ish years of on and off dating, I’m now experienced in the “thanks but no thanks” text and the range of responses it gets.
It’s possible that my moral crusade only served to soothe my conscience because the reception hasn’t been great, BUT what do you expect when you’re telling someone you don’t want to see them anymore? Apart from the obvious upside that ghosting is bad and not doing it to people is a good thing, there are a few other things I’ve discovered:
There’s no coming back once you send that message. It is done. People will not reappear in your DMs a month later. I personally think this is great, but if you’re the kind of person who’s into a “omg sorry I’ve been so busy” text after two weeks of ignoring messages, then it might not be for you.
People don’t expect it. Maybe everyone is so caught up in the games and unwritten rules of dating and communication that being to-the-point comes as a bit of a shock. My research on this subject isn’t exactly in-depth, but at least within my friends ghosting is still the norm.
My non-ghosting policy extended itself into a policy of generally direct communication and an almost violent rejection of the standard games and tactics people employ in the world of dating. If I didn’t want to see someone, I’d tell them, and if I did want to see them then I’d make that clear too. This seems to terrify people, because in 2018 it is definitely not cool to seem like you care about anything.
And finally: as a result, I now expect the exact same level of honesty in the other direction.
This is still an experiment in progress and one I only get to try out when I’m actually dating, but even if people are freaked out by it, and even if it’s impossible to find the same level of honesty and straight-talking in the world of modern dating, I’m not going back to my old ways. Life is confusing enough as it is, what’s the point in making it harder for ourselves? Maybe we can all finally just ditch the games and start saying what we actually think and want to each other, because I decided that it IS cool to care.