During my past year and a half of singledom, I've become a serial ghoster. In case you've somehow been lucky enough not to hear about ghosting, allow me to enlighten you. Ghosting is the most recent trend in ending things with someone you're seeing, where you basically freeze them out by not responding until they get the hint. But before you start to get all judgmental, hear me out.
I only ghost first dates that I'm not interested in seeing again. Examples include: The date that forced me to use a coaster and referred to his mom as "mother." The date who proudly told me the story of how he cursed out an older woman for trying to steal his parking spot, and went on to provide other examples of women who "can't drive." The date who I actually would have seen again, had he not followed our first date up with a 1 a.m. Netflix and Chill invitation.
You get the picture.
But I've also learned some tough lessons during my year and a half of ghosting on the regular. For example, that ghosting actually isn't a one size fits all fix for ending things. Here are a few that have really stuck with me.
1. It's OK To Renege On Your Ghosting Efforts ... Sometimes
In most cases, if you're going to ghost on someone you have no interest in dating again, there is no benefit to deciding to answer their text messages. But one such exception I experienced was Dave*, a guy I went out on a first date with that fell into the category of, "I had a great time but I'm just not interested in seeing you again." I know that you're rolling your eyes right about now, but when people say that it's the truth.
Dave took me on a great date, but by the end of it I felt like I was out with a buddy, not someone I'd ever want to get naked with. After ignoring a few of his texts, I caved and braced myself for the mean text messages I was used to getting when trying to gently let someone down. But what came was a sincere thank you. In short, some guys won't act a fool when you're actually upfront about not wanting to see them again. They're just few and far between.
2. It's Really Hard To Ghost Someone When They Live In Your Neighborhood
You're probably like, duh. But when I found out that Kevin* lived in my town, I would never have guessed that he actually lived just a few blocks away from me. Or that his office was right around the corner from mine. Or that he goes to the same gym as I do. Or that we both take the same commute home at basically the same time every day. If I had known this before we met up for our first date, I honestly might have canceled. But here I am months later, still ducking behind commuters when I see him on the subway platform. The lesson here? If you're a serial ghoster, do your research before you agree to a date with someone you'll have to avoid in your everyday life.
3. Don't Ghost A Friend Of A Friend
This was another date where I had an awesome time, but by the end of it felt like we were just meant to be friends. I had met Jim* on Halloween through a friend's cousin, and from what I understood he didn't come around much. So when he asked to go out again, I ghosted. This one really came back in my face when a few months later, he started dating my best friend's sister. Which meant seeing him pretty regularly, and even performing in an engagement flash mob together. Thankfully he's a cool guy and didn't hold it against me (I think, anyway). But in the future, if there's ever a guy I end up dating who is connected to my friend circle (even distantly) you better believe I will do my best to end things in a civil manner.
4. Avoid Confrontation With The Person You're Ghosting. Because Then You're Not Ghosting, You're Fighting
Seriously, I never even went on a date with this guy. He saw me walk by a bar he was at after we had matched on a dating app (NYC is actually that small) and proceeded to text me saying so. He then asked why I didn't respond to him when he apparently banged on the bar's window. Sufficiently creeped out, I didn't answer. But he kept at it, hard, and eventually I tried to explain why I was no longer interested (because I don't have time for guys that get drunk and bang on windows at people they only know through a dating app — and then harass them about why they didn't respond.) What's that saying, you can't argue with stupid? I'll just leave that screenshot here.
5. Even If You Ghost On The Regular, It Still Feels Surprising When It Happens To You
Maybe it's because I assume that if I'm ghosting on someone, they must have had at least some inclination that the date didn't go too well. But when it comes back around on me, I'm somehow still surprised at how off I was on my perception of whether or not the date was going swimmingly. Then again, who knows what could have happened to this guy. I mean, he could have moved away, gotten back with his ex girlfriend, got hit by a truck right as he was sending me that blank space four months after our first date.
But that's part of the appeal of ghosting, am I right? It doesn't close the door all the way. Anything could have caused this person to stop responding. It's not necessarily us. It could be them. It's probably them. Yeah, let's go with that.
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*Names have been changed.
Images: Danielle Page, Pexels.com