We take for granted how much technology has changed the way we interact with people. We are humans first, but are we so connected to our devices that we’re forgetting the human connection?
I fear it is so. How about you?
To be frank: it is exceptionally easy to ghost someone who has no connection to your life previous to the one encounter. If you aren’t feeling it with this new person, and you don’t want to use the mental leaps it takes to articulate a rejection to a practical stranger, then more likely than not you won’t communicate at all.
Access to the ignore button has never been easier, and pressing “unmatch” on Tinder equates deleting the person from your headspace and your own personal universe. Here are five things to consider in the land of silence:
What do you really want from the person who’s ghosting you?
In the land where easy hookups are abundant, desire for intimate relationships with more than one partner is normal, and ethical non-monogamy sounds like something you’d see at a market, here we all are, trying to figure this new world of dating out. With each generation of dating (and dating apps), we are met with new terminology, new things to try on for ourselves, and we are re-focusing our energies on what we are really looking for.
I am a monogamous person. That doesn’t mean that in my first dates, I haven’t been able to recognize some of my own awful behaviour (long, dramatic paragraphs of anxiety-ridden texts to a new potential date, anyone?), so I’ve had to reexamine myself a multitude of times, take a major chill pill, and reorganize my needs and desires.
That being said, asking myself, “What am I really looking for?” after I get painfully ghosted is seemingly the best question to ask.
Why exactly was this painful (beyond it being inhuman and previously nonexistent before modern-day dating)? Did I just want acknowledgement of my humanity? Closure so I can focus on the next person? Did I even find this person particularly interesting? What other things are going on in the life that is causing me to react so strongly?
Yes, monogamy is important to me, but getting overly upset about a person who feels no attachment toward me is a new kind of character building experience. Ghosting is a reminder that life is unfair and often severe. Technology has made communicating with each other easier to access, and yet has created a strange isolating landscape in which we are all a part of.
This feeling of desertion still applies to people who have been ghosted after several dates, or friendships that have suddenly and painfully disappeared; it just becomes more painful and potent.
The sea of excuses doesn’t feel any better than being ghosted
I got on my Facebook account a couple of years after being off. Ironically, I saw a couple of high school friends that I had unbreakable bonds with. We were all in this together, apparently, like some sort of club no one signed up for.
Here we were, the friends that ghosted me and liked to me too much, and I didn’t feel the same. Somehow, after years we were all still here, and all using the same tired profile pictures.
After a few days, one messaged me a bland apology that she ghosted me as she was going through “some stuff” at the time. And with that, she walked back into the internet, never responding to my follow-up questions. Gee, thanks, I’m glad I could be a vessel in which you discharged yourself from your strange guilt.
Does it feel better that she weakly apologized and gave a vague excuse for her behaviour four years later? Not particularly. So, expecting any explanation at a later time isn’t helpful in this ghosting journey that we are all on.
More common than ghosting, here are some boring/obvious excuses I have heard instead of being ghosted, and they feel about the same as the disappearing act itself. In no particular order:
“Sorry, I’m not really looking for anything serious right now.” (This really seems like the most common, even though he/she is fully aware that you are a monogamous person looking for something serious before the meeting.)
“I didn’t sense a connection.”
“You’re too good for me.”
People are either desperate or not desperate enough. Protect your heart, date whoever you want, but know that you will eventually get your feelings hurt. Whether it’s half-baked excuses, or radio silence forever. You know the saying though: better to buy a ticket to the lottery than never to have played, right? RIGHT?
Know that you may ghost someone yourself
Even I, Queen of All Emotions, have accidentally and intentionally ghosted people before.
Have you ever met someone so unremarkable you just simply forgot about them? Every time such person texted or called, it stirred up unpleasant mixed feelings. You sat there during hangouts just being present without being actually present date.
At dates, such individually ends up staring at you blankly, asking “What’s wrong?” “Are you good?”…… and you eventually feel weird. As careful as I am, I ghosted someone and they were sad about it. I couldn’t even bring myself to apologize in fear I would open up the strange waves of communication with this person again.
It happens. I get it. It’s a two-way street and I’m human enough to realize my shortcomings.
You cannot educate a ghost
This may be the most important realization on my journey through ghost country: You simply cannot educate a ghost. There will always be people perpetuating this stereotype of non-consideration (maybe even you!).
These people are not in your control. Sending them a “wake up call” does not work. It’s not your job to educate them.
This idea has been the hardest thing for me to accept. I have sent paragraphs of texts to people who have ghosted me. This only solidifies the silence. Obviously, the person is not texting you back if you’re going to badger her/him on his shortcomings.
Maybe they’re going through something, you’re not on their mind, they don’t care in the slightest, or their phone was eaten by a cockroach. Whatever the case may be, they don’t care enough to contact you, so your novel of setting the balance right in the world will go to blind eyes. It will drive you insane if you allow it. Do not allow it.
As long as you’re honest with yourself about your needs, somewhat earnest in whatever you’re trying to accomplish dating-wise, then you can overcome this. It’s all you can do. Getting ghosted means actively becoming a stronger, wiser person. The alternative is bitterness and never ending frustration.
In other words, relax
Know that you’re putting in the effort. Know that if things are supposed to work out they will work out. Find a mantra, yoga, meditation technique, eat a giant plate of pancakes, do whatever makes you feel better to get over the first few hurdles of the unavoidable ghosting epidemic.
No one ever promised us that relationships were always going to be enjoyable. The funny anecdotes in romantic comedies make it look like a barrel of laughs, but sometimes it simply isn’t. Accepting that this is an unfortunate part of the trade off of putting yourself out there, is like learning a tedious aspect of your job. You’re going to hate it at first, but if you still want to maintain relationships, this is part of the job description.
In other words, be brave. Put yourself out there, but also send only one follow-up text, otherwise, you will drive yourself into certain madness.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime