Let’s stop ghosting ourselves
Nobody likes to feel abandoned. This is especially true as the end of winter approaches, with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the current omicron surge combining to leave many people feeling increasingly isolated and lonely. Jan 2., or Dating Sunday, an unofficial holiday that sees the busiest activity across multiple dating app platforms, falls right in the middle of this. The explanation for the surge in dating app usage right now is that the day falls right after the holiday blues, when people have made New Year’s resolutions and are counting down the days until Saint’s Day. -Valentine. It also coincides with the end of handcuffing season, another boost in online dating activity.
Amid all of this, digital daters need to remember the basics of dating etiquette. This means communicating honestly and clearly with potential matches. Most importantly, commit to not ghosting someone if you’ve decided not to romantically pursue them anymore. While you may have found another person or want to avoid the embarrassment of breaking up, ghosting is something that should be avoided out of respect for the other person’s time and emotions.
Ghosting, despite being a newly coined term, has been a mainstay in the dating scene for decades. The tropes of people escaping a date by crawling out the bathroom window or disappearing without warning are well established. The act has normalized in a worrying way. Fifty percent of the people in the dating scene have been ghosted and almost the same number have been ghosted. This behavior was once reserved for the disrespectful. These days, ghosting is a common practice. It is alarming. What does he say about today’s dating culture when dumping your date abruptly is an accepted practice? Ghosting is now one of those things that comes with finding a romantic partner.
There needs to be a recalibration of dating culture. It is not healthy for the sudden loss of contact to be the status quo.
Ghosting may seem trivial. However, this has serious consequences for ghosts. Ghosting hurts because it kickstarts assumptions about how someone feels about you. To the ghosts, someone they thought was taking care of them abandoned them. A person with whom they were building a relationship of trust by suddenly disengaging from contact can feel like nothing less than a betrayal. Being the victim of ghosts can be painful. Studies have shown that social rejection activates the same neurological pathways as physical pain. Ghost images can trigger the cycle of grief when the ghost experiences an emotional concoction of embarrassment, anger, sadness, and loneliness. Although ghosting can be an easy way out of the relationship for the ghost, it can be extremely hurtful for the ghost.
Plucking up the courage to break off contact by sending a simple text “I’ve decided to take a break to meet new people” also feels good for the potential ghost. It promotes the growth of character. Admitting that you don’t want to connect with someone anymore means you’re being honest with yourself and building your communication skills and empathy. Not ghosting is a clear signal that you understand how your actions affect others. You acknowledge that you care about the person at least enough that you don’t want to hurt their feelings more than just a little disappointment.
Yes, ghosting is the easy way out. In theory, all bad feelings can be avoided by completely ignoring the situation. It’s not unreasonable to feel guilty for wasting the other person’s time now that the match is going nowhere. But you’re not a bad person to honestly communicate your feelings to others. A bad person, however, would ghost and leave the other person hurt and confused. By giving the other person some sort of closure, it can help them process their feelings and move on to other people. The absence of a ghost indicates your respect for the other person, and it’s a time of character growth that will benefit you in future romantic adventures.
I held both positions. Unfortunately, I ghosted someone in my past. Come to think of it, having now also inhabited the position of the ghost, I’m not proud to be someone’s ghost. It might have eased my shame or nervousness, but thinking about how my actions may have negatively affected the person I was talking to doesn’t do me any good. I now realize that it is better to have the courage to respectfully end communication with a potential romantic interest by clearly expressing your thoughts and feelings than to run away from the situation all together. Being ghosted is not a good thing to experience, and therefore, I have pledged to never ghost someone on a dating app again.
It’s rude to abruptly leave an in-person date without warning, so why would it be any different over text? Netiquette should be maintained when we connect with each other through dating apps. It is in the interest of both parties. Direct communication will always be superior to ghosting. While it can be difficult to sever the connection with someone over text, it’s better than the fallout that comes with ghosting. Ghosting can cause the ghost to feel lonely, hurt, and confused. For my part, I would not want the fact that I made someone feel this on my conscience. Vowing not to ignore future love interests requires being honest with yourself and not hurting others through abandonment. Let’s make ghosts uncool again. He was never cool in the first place.
Ben Davis is a Opinion Columnist and can be reached at [email protected]