It’s time for Halloween, where vampires and zombies abound… and ghosts, too—in the dating world, at least. Yes,
ghosting, the latest dating trend, where someone suddenly disappears. (Even pop singer Demi Lovato said she recently did it.) No goodbye text or email or phone call or, for the really bold, in-person ciao. They’re on a date with you one day, gone the next. Maybe you went on a handful of dates with the person, or maybe we dated for months (of course, the longer the time, the worse the ghosting feels).
It’s probably happened to you, without the ghost terminology. You
make up excuses in your head: “He did say he was going out of town for work.” (Right, and phones don’t work worldwide!) “She does have a lot going on…” (And you don’t?!) You’re in denial. That is, until you realize it’s been days of no contact, which will probably bleed into weeks, then months. Then, it sinks in. They’re gone. For good.
Perhaps you’ve done it to someone, too, because even when you told them you were not interested, they didn’t take the hint and sent you 101 follow-up texts or emails wondering why. They’ll say, “Should I have taken you to dinner instead of drinks?” or they may beg, “Pleaaaaaaase give me another chance!” Basically, people just want to know why it happens.
What did I do wrong that the person went MIA instead of saying they’re not into me? Yes, it’s way easier to simply not message someone and ignore them instead of dealing with the truth… but isn’t it way more wussy, too? I agree, rejection is tough, and so is telling someone that you don’t want to see them again. "Rejection can be tough to swallow, but I think it provides a lot more clarity than the recent trend of ghosting. There is a level of respect that comes with dating and it is really important to take into account the vulnerability of the other person’s emotions. The act of ghosting provides absolutely no answers and you are left ultimately asking yourself what you may have said or done to ‘mess’ it up.” — Kate MacLean, Resident Dating Expert and PR Coordinator at PlentyOfFish, tells Bustle.
Like it or not, some people
are into the dating disappearing act. Below, I asked Bustle readers for their take on ghosting: Do you prefer to be ghosted on or be told that the person's not interested? The responses came down to three categories: “No Way,” “For Sure,” and “It Depends.” No Way… 1. Tim, 41 “Absolutely not into ghosting. It’s the easy way out. Especially with technology these days, it takes just a few seconds to end things with someone. We all deserve that courtesy instead of being phased out. I’ve told women I didn’t feel we connected and they thanked me for letting them know. Sure, a few got upset and defensive, but I felt better being honest instead of having them play guessing games. 2. Kelly, 26 “I would prefer to be told in person that the person is not interested. I'd rather a guy be upfront and honest with me rather than mysteriously lose interest and disappear all together. When someone ‘ghosts’ you, you're left feeling confused and disappointed, creating scenarios and obscure reasons why this guy—who you thought was really into you—just completely peaced-out. You're then over-thinking the smallest, mundane details about your conversations, dates, how much you had to drink, did you talk too much about your cats?!” 3. Sivan, 24 “In regards to ‘ghosting,’ I prefer to be told (and to tell) of a lack of interest. I was recently ghosted after an amazing first date—the guy literally just dropped off the face of the planet—and it’s such an awful feeling. On my last attempt to contact him, I joked, ‘So, this is going well, huh?’ When I see that there is no future with someone I’m dating (after 1, 2, 3 dates), I let them know exactly that. I’ll say something like, ‘Hey, I'm sorry, I think you're a really great guy, but I don't see this going any further and I don't want to waste your time.’ The guys I've said that to have actually thanked me for my honesty, and it just makes it so much easier to breathe and move on. In my opinion, ghosting is such a classless move, and leaves the other person feeling worse than if you were just honest with them!!” 4. Ann, 33 “I prefer to be told he is not interested in me. I have recently re-entered the dating ‘game’ after being out of it for eight years, and this whole phenomenon of just not hearing back from a guy after a few dates amazes me. I'm a big girl and can handle the truth—communicate what you are feeling. If you're not into me, just tell me. I can deal with it better than I can deal with him just disappearing for no apparent reason.” 5. Elaine, 28 “I prefer to be told in some form or fashion the interest level—if any. I went on—what I believed—was the best first date this past summer. It lasted for hours and neither of us wanted the evening to end. I even sang to him—and I'm not a singer. We mentioned ‘the next time,’ but it has not happened yet and I don't know what could have happened. We also work in the same building, so it’s a bit awkward and I avoid running into him.” 6. Annah Rose, 27, Relationship & Life Coach “I would prefer to be told the person isn't interested. I think with texting and social media, it has made it become very easy to be ghosted. We all have done it, and we all have had it done to us, but personally, I think that if we all were honest with each other and just responded like, ‘Hey, had a great time, but I'm not into it,’ then when we are ghosted, some of us aren't left wondering. I have a friend that's been ghosted a few times and she's always left wondering, or the guy will message her weeks later to meet again and then she's confused. It just makes more sense for all of us to be honest with each other rather than play the ghosting game. Games never work.” 7. LaVonya Reeves, 40, Founder, Reboundlovers “I am a 40-year-old divorced woman. I definitely would prefer for a man to just be honest and let me know that he's just not interested anymore. For me, I think it's that's better than being ‘ghosted’—even if you may not understand why, at least you're not just waiting for someone to respond to you that has moved on or just not interested. It's an awkward and humiliating feeling.” 8. Jessica, 31 “I 100 percent prefer someone having an honest conversation with me instead of being ghosted. An honest conversation is mature, and it shows that you respect the person enough to tell them. I would rather have this conversation so that I can find closure in the situation, and then move on. I've found that ghosting is hurtful, confusing, and that being ghosted makes it harder and longer to find a sense of closure and peace about the other person, especially if there was something really great happening between us." “Personally, I hate it. I think it's cowardly and discourteous. All someone would have to tell me is, ‘Hey, this isn't working out for me,’ and I'd be fine with that. To be wooed and swooned for a number of weeks and then, ‘BOOM!—nothing—is a bit rattling and unnerving to me. However, I know some people who have ghosted. Some guys have said they don't like dealing with some women getting emotional. Several women have told me that they've had men get verbally abusive or made them feel they could be physically threatened. Either way, those things are scary. A couple of times, I discovered why I was ghosted long after the fact. Both of those guys had big secrets to hide, like personal bankruptcy and being behind in child and spousal support. My rule of thumb is to tell someone you've been seeing for a few weeks (or a few times) that you're not interested in moving on.” 10. Jason, 30 “I would prefer to be told that the person isn't interested. I don't need to have a lot of detail why, and no one likes hearing that they're insufficient, but I think a simple, ‘Hey, I don't think this is working out’ is preferable to silence. I prefer this because, as someone who's been ghosted and told outright (and as someone who attempted both methods), telling someone often creates a much cleaner break. There's no ambiguity, no ‘maybe they'll call back.’ If you're actually at the point where you're trying to plan dates with them, you won't be left in the awkward position of trying to build plans and only getting met with silence. Honesty is better than hoping they take a hint.” 11. Robin, 66 “Since this just happened to me, I prefer to be told ‘not interested’—this way, there is no wondering and you don't have to waste time thinking about the other person any longer—and just move on.” 12. Madison, 24 “I've had this happen to me very recently. Someone who is not mature enough to handle being told that the connection wasn't there would probably prefer to have something to complain about when discussing the breakup with friends—like ghosting. Everyone deserves some sort of explanation, but someone who is okay with no explanation is most likely not ready for a mature, committed relationship anyway.” 13. Audrey, 25 “I was just ghosted. I would have preferred for him to tell me he was simply not interested, it wasn't a good fit, the timing was wrong, etc. I'm a very reasonable person and am currently at the age where, if you don't see a future with that person, you cut them loose, as was he. So, I would have completely understood where he was coming from if he had simply told me how he was feeling. Ghosting is a cowardly act and it's truly unfortunate that, in this day and age with so many ways of communication, it has become a popular dating breakup tactic.” “I've been ghosted by two girlfriends I roomed with in college and, though we had our fights while living together (who doesn't?!), I never thought they would just completely stop responding to me one day. At the time, I was furious and hurt when these girls stopped talking to me—but after accepting the end of those friendships, I realized that while we had good times together, our relationships had been built on trivial similarities and we actually didn't have that much in common. The girls who ‘ghosted’ me felt indifferent enough to do so, which is a strong indicator we were never meant to be long-term pals, but I still would have preferred at least one conversation where they were able to explain why they were intent on cutting me out of their lives. It takes a lot more maturity to care about such an important conversation, but I think these conversations help us be better friends and humans to one another.” 15. Aliya, 37 “I prefer to be told that the person isn't interested. Otherwise, I tend to obsess over what went wrong. Being mature and straightforward is the way to go. I'm also all about self-improvement, so if there is any constructive criticism of value that the other party has to offer, I want to know about it.” “With ghosting, you never really know what happened. I just prefer to be told the person is not interested. Unfortunately, many women I have dated do not have the guts to say they are not interested.” 17. Phillip Petree, 58, Author of The Man Puzzle “In my new book, The Man Puzzle: A Guide to Understanding Men (Heart, Mind and Soul), I have an entire chapter dedicated to Men and Dating, and turning down a man is covered in that chapter. In researching my book, I interviewed thousands of men in small-group settings, nearly a thousand women, and more researchers than one can count. One thing men said over and over is they prefer a polite and direct statement of non-interest. By being polite and direct, the women become identified as a ‘woman of quality’ and men will view them more favorably down the road—and that includes endorsements to their friends. As for me, I'm dead in there with the rest of the guys—tell me honestly and respectfully.” 18. Stephanie, 25 “With dating, I prefer to be told the person isn't interested so that: I'm not sitting around wondering and making excuses for them (thinking that they are just busy, etc.); and so that maybe I'll learn something from the experience. Maybe, in telling me they are not interested, they'll give me insight into why so I can think about that for the next person I start to go on dates with. I've been on both sides of the coin and, although it's awkward to tell a guy that I'm not interested anymore, I feel more mature and better about myself when I do let them know, rather than just ghosting.” 19. Cherie Corso, 50, Parenting Expert “It's not OK, but explainable—people have reasons, but it's still rude and not polite. I like to think everyone loves me and if I'm ignored, they are just busy. Because it's truly not about me—it's their loss if they don't want to be my friend (or more) and it leaves room for new energy to come it. People do what they do. The ghosting is truly a pink elephant—you don't have to say anything. If people want to reach you, they will. More and more people are losing the human response because of physical distance and not having to look the person in the eye.” 20. Paige, Early 30s
“I'm against it. I was dating my sister's best friend. We had dated previously, but this was our second time and more serious. He lived in Tulsa (I live in DC), so the first month we didn't see each other—but we communicated every day. I finally made it out to Tulsa to visit and, to be fair, it was good but not great. He was supposed to come to DC two weeks later. I had a feeling the trip wouldn't happen, but reached out to him two days out and he said all was a go. Morning of (at 5 a.m.), I woke up to an email saying the washing machine in his apartment broke and he would need to stay in Tulsa to fix it. (He owned his own restaurant and his best excuse was that his apartment’s washing machine broke?! He should have been more imaginative!) The ghost part was he said he was so sorry and would call me the next day... I never heard from him again. At the very least, send a text like, ‘Sorry, but we are done.’ He also didn't come to my sister’s wedding five months later and he cut off mutual friends for a few months.”
For Sure… 21. Matt, 34 “Hate to say it, but people ghost because it’s the easiest thing to do. An easy way out. I’m not saying it’s the best or most mature thing to do, but it’s easy, plain and simple. You don’t have to deal with someone asking ‘Why?!?!?!’ (a girl actually texted that to me… repeatedly) or sending you a flurry of angry texts, ‘You didn’t even give me a chance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ and so on.” 22. Ryan, 25 “Especially with online dating, any one of us may be dating 10 people at once, and flirting with many more online that we haven’t had time to meet yet. So, if a date is so-so and another was out of the park, chances are I’ll ghost on the so-so one. Sometimes, not even on purpose but I just get distracted with all my new Tinder matches and other dates I have lined up. Ghosting is just part of dating today, that’s all there is to it.” 23. Maggie, 31 “I think people take ghosting too personally. With all the dating options out there these days—people we meet in person and on the 101 sites and apps we’re on—it’s impossible to keep track of everyone we chat with and go on dates with. Some are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Not getting back to someone, purposefully or accidentally, happens and is an effective way to weed people out. Obviously, we didn’t connect with them as well as we did with someone else and that’s that.” 24. Jeff, 29 “Ghosting gets a bad rap, but it shouldn’t. It’s efficient. I’m not proud when I do it, but it’s not like I do it to everyone. Obviously, the woman didn’t stick out in my mind too much if I let her slip my mind. If a guy doesn’t message you back, let him go. The guy who is really into you will, it’s really that easy.” 25. Isabelle, 23 “I hate to admit that I do it, but it’s become second-nature by now. Guys I’ve gone on dates with—even just one date—don’t seem to take it well when I give them any version of, ‘I’m just not that into you,’ so ghosting’s become my go-to. I feel guys do it to me a lot, so I’ve gotten used to it just being a part of the dating culture today.” 26. Blake, 35 “It really depends. Did you have a connection with the person, or just a generic date? The bad part about being honest and telling someone you’re not interested is that it sometimes keeps the communication going. If I tell someone I didn’t feel a spark or connection, end of story. I don’t want them to keep messaging me more and more questions about why I wasn’t feeling it. (How can one explain feelings?!) So, I used to not ghost, but these days I do more and more ghosting.” It Depends... 27. Kevin, 35 “I base ghosting on the level of the relationship. Are we one or two dates in, or several heavy-makeouts and talks about the future? If it’s the former, I think it’s OK to ghost—chances are, we were both dating a few people at once, anyway. If it’s the latter, not cool. I spent time with this person, as she did with me, and it’s the right thing to do to tell her I don’t see long-term potential with us.” 28. Molly, 38 “I think ghosting’s OK sometimes. I don’t think the concept of ghosting is new. It’s been around forever—it’s just new terminology now. After one date, especially an Internet date, do you really owe the person anything? I don’t think so. I think it’s okay to disappear. There’s lots of options out there, dating-wise! If I’ve gone out with someone 2-3 times and then decide I’m not into it, especially if we haven’t slept together, I tend to disappear; that’s also just normal dating. We like some people, but not everyone. If I’ve seen someone 4-6 times, then it’s rude to ghost. By that point, a bigger connection’s been made, sex or not. I think it’s a case-by-case basis for everyone.” 29. Sabrina, 23 “I've ghosted plenty of guys. Then when it happens to me, it's like, come on: just tell me you're not interested. It would take less than five seconds to tell me X, Y, or Z reason you're no longer interested. Ghosting also leads the party being ghosted to look needy when they are just looking for an answer. Ghosting is the ultimate power play for the disconnected generation.” 30. Erik Bowitz, 27, Editor of SkinnyYoked.com “I think ghosting is the natural evolution of rejection because it is more subtle and discreet than a straight up verbal rejection. Essentially, if you have a moderate level of intelligence you should be able to take the hint that when someone disappears, it means they are (politely) not interested. However, if you require things hitting you in the face to cause a reaction, then a direct verbal rejection is probably still best for you.” 31. Laura, 60s “It depends upon the situation. If I've been out with someone only a few times and I'm not sure how I feel about him, I'd prefer to be ghosted. On the other hand, if I've been out with someone a number of times and I've shown my interest in him, I'd rather be told why he isn't going to see me again. Even if someone tells you why he doesn't want to see you anymore, you are, frequently, not hearing the truth (and a person will tell a white lie to avoid hurting your feelings). Sometimes, someone doesn't even know why he doesn't want to see you again, so he can't explain it well to you. Other times, the reason bears no relationship to you, but is more about him or his history." “I have to admit, I’ve done it a few times. ‘Block caller’ is a beautiful invention. However, I am old-school in the sense that I would much rather be told someone isn’t interested. And for someone I somewhat respect, regardless of no romantic inclination, I would pay him the courtesy of telling him I’m not interested as opposed to ghosting and using ‘block caller.’” 33. Amber, 47 “I prefer to be told if there's no interest, provided that we've actually met. Many times the ghosting happens while you're still communicating before the meetup. In those cases, ghosting is fine because I haven't met them yet. I would ghost them, as well, if I haven't met them and I'm not feeling chemistry. But—if I have met you and you decide you're not interested, I'd rather know than have false hopes and wonder what I did wrong." 34. William, 31 “I’m not into it, but I get it. I think people ghost to avoid confrontation. Not saying that’s right, but that seems to be the trend. So, for the fear-of-conflict person, it’s great. Fight or flight, and flight is easier. I’ve only done it a couple times myself, and felt bad about it (and stopped), but lots of my buddies do it regularly. I’ll ask them about a girl they brought out with us last week, and they’ll say it’s over, they let it fade (and didn’t tell her). Often, they’re dating multiple people at once, so one told me it’s too much work to do all that breaking up.” 35. Meg, 25 “I definitely prefer for someone to tell me that they're not interested. It provides closure, especially when they give a specific reason. Here's an example. I hung out with a boy I met on Hinge for more than two months, and then he started being distant and not as responsive to texts. He called me a few days later. I was concerned, but reluctantly answered. He then told me he thought I was great and that this could turn into something serious... BUT he only seriously dates Jewish girls. I'm Catholic. I was disappointed, but understood. Unfortunately, I don't always follow the golden rule. I've definitely done a lot of ghosting myself—to avoid confrontation. I guess it's because I'm a typical Libra!” Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions for small penises: Images: william87/Fotolia ; YouTube (3, 39); Giphy (2, 4-39)