For the record, I have said I would never ghost someone. For the record, I also said I would never do online dating. I am online dating. And I have ghosted. I had reasons. So here we are: the truth about ghosting.
(Please know I am writing this because I was asked too. I want to respect everyone, really. Also, the graphic is not a real conversation…I made it up on a website LOL but is perhaps inspired by real events).
For those of you who did not know what ghosting is, the urban dictionary defines it as: “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. 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.”
Now, based on that definition, I guess I have not ghosted.
Let me explain. I never thought I would ghost someone because I really do seek to treat people the way I want to be treated. It would hurt my feelings, no matter how invested I was or wasn’t, if someone just ceased talking to me. So I made a policy to never ghost.
But did I mention that I made that policy at a time when I wasn’t really dating, let alone internet dating?
What I have come to understand about internet dating (and, in some cases, dating in general) is that sometimes I have to go with my gut. I am all about meeting sooner rather than later (safely though) (and I should probably do a post on that concept too!) but depending on if they are close or far away, you may not meet them before your gut is telling you: uh oh. I’ve gone on plenty of dates from online dating and even briefly dated someone from it. But in the two cases where I ghosted on purpose, my gut was going off like a car alarm.
Ghosting Case Number One:
Let’s call him Sam. Sam seemed super nice and intentional…at first. We had a skype date after communicating for awhile. He was a couple of minutes late because he wanted to iron his shirt (he confessed with embarrassment to me). This endeared Sam to me. I share these details to show you that Sam was and I am sure, is not, a monster. He appeared sweet and kind. After the skype date, we started to text. This is when things went to a place I was not comfortable.
He started talking to me a lot, including many selfies and pictures of every part of his day…and I do mean every part of his day. This would still not be reason enough to ghost for me, especially with my relatively little experience with internet dating at this point. He started asking me for photos, specific photos. Nothing totally dirty. Sam is a Christian. But when I said no, I will not send you a picture of me in my pjs (!!!), he did not respect my boundaries.
He also started using terms of endearment as soon as we finished with the skype date. Again, this would not be reason enough for me to ghost someone. But when I was really upfront about the fact that it made me uncomfortable because we had only skyped once, he argued with me.
Here is a note for all of us: when anyone tells us they have a boundary, respect it. Are you seeing a pattern? Anytime I communicated a boundary or a level of discomfort, anything he did that made me uncomfortable, he argued with me and we went around in circles. I gave you two examples but there were more. Looking back, I should cut it off earlier but I was new to this whole new genre of dating.
In this case, I felt (and feel) as if I had no choice but to ghost him. To have a conversation about why I could not communicate with him any longer clearly would have resulted in another argument with him giving me reasons why I shouldn’t. I could literally map out how the conversation would go and it would not be helpful to either of us. So, I ghosted.
It was my first time ghosting (and very early on in online dating) so I felt awful about it but every time I almost changed my mind, I played out what would happen. And the ending would have been ugly. Considering how little we had actually invested in one another, despite how he seemed to treat the “relationship,” I did not want an argument. Furthermore, there were other tiny red flags that made me nervous over what he would do.
I didn’t cold ghost him. I didn’t have it in me. I just let it dwindle over time. In all fairness, he did ask me directly what was going on after time passed. He asked me several times. I did not answer because it would have undone the ghosting I had already done.
Here is the thing: I do not feel bad about ghosting Sam. I am sure he will find a nice girl. But boundaries are important to me and if I tell you I am uncomfortable and you continue to push back, regularly, then how will you handle it when I tell you, “I think we should not speak anymore because whenever I tell you I am uncomfortable, it feels like you argue with me about why I should be comfortable?” Answer in Sam’s case, to the best of my knowledge of him: you will tell me that you never did that, that you I should not feel uncomfortable, that this isn’t a reason not to end things, and maybe even that you will do better in the future.
And around and around we go, Sam.
Ghosting Case Number Two:
We shall call him Harry. Harry and I met on a Christian-specific site (this becomes important to me as the story plays out). We talked and he asked to text. I felt comfortable at this point so I gave him my number. Soon, he asked me to meet up. Again, I felt comfortable so we made plans to meet up (remember my thing about meeting sooner rather than later, if possible and of course, if safe). After that was decided, he told me that his plans for the night were getting dinner and a movie with someone. He would be home early because “she” had class early the next day.
Does that sound like a date or is it just me? But I let that go. Because maybe they are friends. Maybe a lot of things. I am not going to jump to conclusions. But then…
He told me was getting lunch with his “homegirl” (a different “she”). At this point, I did not confront him except to ask: Homegirl? hoping he would give me some detail so I could figure out if these were all dates (weird…why are you telling me?) or if he has a ton of friends of the female variety (not a bad thing…but also a thing I would want to know if he kept talking about the “she” he was hanging out with).
Later, he texted me to tell him he was disappointed that they didn’t get to go to lunch because she told him at the last minute he was bringing a friend. Oh, I thought, here’s an explanation. I asked if she was someone he had not seen in awhile and wanted one on one time with. I thought that would explain the level of upset. Nope. He proceeded to tell me they met on a dating site a few months ago.
I was straight up with him. I told him I thought it was disrespectful to talk to me about other girls, that I did not expect him to be exclusive with me by any means at this point (or vice-versa) but to talk about other women was just weird. He kind of apologized. Kind of. It could have been as simple as: I am so sorry. I can see how from your point of view that might feel. But the fact that he wasn’t super contrite made me feel like he wanted me to know how desired he was by all these girls and that he was very much aware of what he was saying to me.
He peetered out in talking to me so I figured I was getting ghosted, which frankly was fine with me in this case.
There was another red flag with this guy. It wasn’t just that he told me about these girls but how angry he appeared when this other girl wanted to bring a friend and he cancelled on her because of that (even though he claimed they hadn’t dated in several months). Bro, you haven’t seen her in awhile. You’re grabbing lunch with her on her lunch hour and she asked to bring a co-worker. You claim you’re mad she didn’t give you more than a half an hours notice of this friend. But bro, you are upset! You are mad!
I was glad to be ghosted.
Then he started texting me again when it was closer to the date when we were supposed to meet up. Again, I tried to be honest. I told him I didn’t think he was still interested based on the lack of communication after our “conversation.” He basically said, “Nah, that’s not the case. I would still like to see you.”
In the end, I ghosted him. I considered going on the date. But at this point, I felt like this guy was just trying to be a Christian Player who got mad at girls really easily. That is exactly the opposite of what I needed.
Harry went a lot more quietly than Sam. Sam was not good at picking up hints (he couldn’t even get it when I was straight up and said that I was uncomfortable). Harry, I think, knew he kind of messed up. Or Harry had a list of other ladies to meet. It was one of those two things, I am sure (I lean towards the latter but I don’t spend time thinking about Harry).
There was a third case and this was a complete accidental ghosting. I still think about contacting him to explain, especially as I write this. Basically, we went on one real date. It was clear to both of us that timing was off. The date happened to be on a day something traumatic happened with my family and I had to come clean with him about it (which I mean, I didn’t want to go that deep on a first date) but I was visibly upset and I knew I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t have cancelled because he drove a few hours for the date (After what happened, I would have rescheduled if I could).
The timing was super off. He was possibly moving away, definitely for the summer, possibly forever. And then the traumatic event became bigger with my family. He tried to get in touch with me with a phone call and I messaged him that things were crazy and I would try to call him (at the time of his call, I was snuggled up with my sister…the second time he called, I had just spent a week away from my apartment dealing with what was going on and was emotionally done). Then, I had a close family member have a serious surgery. I never got in contact with him and the summer was crazy.
I still think about just messaging him to let him know what went down because, in the thick of it, I was just capable of only focusing on my family. But that was back in June so now it feels weird. I don’t know. If all went according to plan, he is out of state anyway. But I still think about messaging him (I don’t think about him often) but when I consider the topic of ghosting, yeah, I consider it. Maybe I still will.
More than likely, I won’t because would he even want to hear from me now only to tell him, yeah, sorry I never told you I wasn’t going to see you again because of the timing of our lives (I usually always will give a second date unless something horrible happens but the timing! And also I was in no place for the level of intensity he would have wanted if he was even interested which in all honesty, I think he felt very similarly to how I felt).
So where do I fall with ghosting? I don’t think it should be anyone’s go-to. In as many cases as possible, I think a conversation, even over text, depending on what kind of relationship you have, is necessary (again, you’ve got to remember some of the rules are different with online dating…If I was full on dating someone, text would not be acceptable!). It’s the kind thing to do.
But I think my case studies have proven there are exceptions to the rule. If I had to guess, ghosting as I have described it (as opposed to how the Urban Dictionary described true ghosting) has been going on for generations. I guess I have never truly ghosted.
The new ghosting? The way the Urban Dictionary described it? That’s cold, man. I would not want to be treated that way. I wouldn’t want to treat someone that way. That definition talks about a lack of communication skills and in both cases, I worked very hard to communicate why I was uncomfortable. It also says that the hope in that version of ghosting was that the person would “get the hint.” That was not true in either of my cases.
So, thoughts on ghosting? Thoughts on what I shared? I tried to be respectful and this is also why I haven’t share super personal stuff here this summer. But in both cases, enough time has passed.
Here marks the first chapter of Nina’s Online Dating Adventures.