How To Tell Someone You're Not Interested Without Ghosting
Don't act like you haven't considered ghosting on someone before. I wouldn't be shocked if you've already done it because the impending awkwardness of a "breaking it off" conversation makes you cringe just a little too much. It's seriously so rude and you've probably been tempted to do it, if it's not already your preferred method of ending things. It's so prevalent in our dating culture that we sometimes prepare for it in how we choose to date. Ghosting, if you don't already know, means that you just disappear (stop responding to texts, phone calls, etc.) in hopes that the person you've been dating will figure it out and quit contacting you. But there are other ways to tell someone you're not interested.
It is disrespectful and it really sucks to be ghosted instead of just having a conversation like a goddamn adult. As Christine Schoenwald writes for Bustle, "Ghosting is what flaky, shady cowards do." You are not a flaky, shady coward, OK? You can rise above this, no matter how terrifying a "heeeey, I don't think I see this going anywhere" conversation may be (trust me, I know). So what are some ways you can end things besides ghosting?According to an Elle.com survey of 120 women and 65 men, 25.83 percent of women have "both ghosted and been ghosted" and 33.33 percent of men have "both ghosted and been ghosted." Let's try to be nicer to ourselves by owning our desires (or lack thereof), and let's be nicer to each other by respecting the time and feelings of the person we're dating even when we're not into it.With that being said, let's talk about what you can do the next time you are considering ghosting.
1. Recognize That You Have A Right To Be Uninterested
Ghosting a perfectly nice person when you're simply not feeling it is extremely rude. And lots of people ghost merely because they feel awkward talking to the person; it's especially tempting to ghost when you've met the person off of a dating app since the virtual beginnings make it seem like less of a big deal. While there are many uncool reasons why ghosting is a thing, we can't ignore the ways women have been conditioned to deal with unwanted advances from men when we talk about why we choose to ghost.
For one, women are already socialized to be people-pleasers in general, and we are especially taught to be people-pleasers when it comes to men. We can't even walk down the street without some strange dude asking us to smile for him. For years, messages teach us that we must be validated by male attention and we mustn't hurt their masculinity. These pressures become internalized, and it seems a whole lot easier to just fade away than have to risk emasculating a man with the words, "No, I'm not interested." This is some horrifying bullsh*t summed up by Daisy Buchanan for the Guardian when she writes, "I'm tired of being kind to creepy men in order to stay safe." If you don't understand how real these fears are, let's remember that almost one year ago, 27-year-old Mary Spears was shot to death by a man after she refused to give him her phone number. This is our terrifying reality.
These sorts of incidents understandably make us feel that we owe men an explanation if we aren't interested in hopes that we won't be painted as a bitch, or worse, killed. But all we should have to do is say, "No." Your safety is what is most important, so if your gut is telling you to ghost and avoid a possibly dangerous confrontation with someone you've been dating, then please ghost away into that good night. If you only fear ending things with the dude you've been casually seeing because you don't want to hurt his feelings, then I encourage you to recognize that you have a right to be uninterested and unapologetic about it. Plus, if he is a nice person, it's really unfair to leave him hanging and wondering what went wrong. Own your feelings and state them. It actually feels really good, as much as you may dread it. You don't owe any explanation ever.
2. Send A Text
Ellie Krupnick of Mic writes, "Why are we all ghosting each other when the alternative is so simple?" — the alternative being texting. Text messages are a blessing for those of us who have paralyzing fears of confrontation. You can just type up a quick message in a matter of seconds and never even have to read the response. No face to face meeting, no awkwardly avoiding eye contact, no getting yelled at, no changing your tune because you start feeling bad. But do we take advantage of this in order to avoid ghosting? NOPE. Krupnick said, "And yet somehow, so many of us still can't be bothered. Perhaps we don't know the words to use, or find that even communicating a rejection over text is too awkward."
We have to do better though. If the issue is general incompatibility, as opposed to threatening creeper vibes, then the person is deserving of our respect and has the right to know what went wrong. Often, getting strung along and wondering what fatal error you committed is a lot more painful than someone just saying, "Hey you seem supes nice but I just don't think we work out that way." I'm not trying to judge you too harshly because your girl is for sure no saint either, but it's really not right.
But here's how you can fix it. Krupnick spoke to a 27-year-old woman who has a fill-in-the-blank text saved in her phone so that she doesn't have to spend hours anxiously rewriting a text in an effort to not appear "mean." The message reads: Hey, I had a really good time at [whatever date we went on], but I don't see this going anywhere romantic. So I don't think it would be right to go on another date.
You can, of course, alter this wording to be more reflective of your tone, but it's a pretty good template if you're at a loss. Another young woman that Krupnick spoke to actually has her friends write the breaking-off text for her since she knows she will talk herself out of it. Once sent, she'll avoid looking at her phone for hours because the message makes her so uneasy, but at least the message is sent and she has done the most respectful thing that she can in the situation.
3. Ask To Hang Out As Friends (Only If You Want To Be Friends)
Despite what the #patriarchy tries to tell us, a woman's friendship (I'm talking about relations between a man and woman in this instance) should not be considered ~the worst possible thing in the world~ . Of course, unrequited love with someone who only sees you as a friend SUCKS. I will not try to downplay that heartbreak. However, considering a woman to be worthless if she doesn't offer you her body (because the "friendzone" is just SUCH a TERRIBLE place to be) sucks way more. Women are often made to feel that they are awful, villainous deceivers for genuinely wanting to initiate a friendship. This makes it feel impossible to turn people down romantically while opening a path to friendship.
Now, often times, you'll feel the desire to ghost someone because you just don't want anything to do with them. But once in a while, you totally like the person but can't imagine anything romantic happening. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. It can be a real bummer because you want to keep socializing, only without the pressures of courtship. Asking for friendship feels so scary because of all the negativity our society associates with the "friendzone," so you end up ghosting instead. And that's really messed up to do to a person that you would consider a friend. So why not ask them if you can just be friends? Of course, the other person has every right in the world to request space to get over their feelings, or to express that a friendship would make them kind of uncomfortable. But at least you tried, you know? Why ghost someone who could turn out to be a great friend?
Now, of course, THIS DOES NOT ALWAYS END IN BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP OR POLITE DISINTEREST. Someone may seem really cool, and then their Nice Guy Syndrome comes out in full force as soon as they aren't given what they believe to be "owed" to them. Whatever, eff those dudes. Now you know that you want nothing to do with them.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy (3)