GHOSTING: THE DATING NIGHTMARE
Definition of ghosting, from the Urban Dictionary: The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone.
Any brave single soul who’s ever dared to dip a toe into the murky waters of dating has come across ghosting before. Whether you have been ghosted or you were, in fact, the ghoster, I liken this unpleasant experience to a big lorry cutting you up on a motorway – the driver can see you are there, happily toddling along, but he chooses to ignore your very existence and drive right in front of you, leaving you feeling angry, ignored, invisible!
Two days ago I was ghosted. We matched on Tindr and spent 3 days sending hundreds of messages, we chatted on the phone and arranged to meet. We spent a pleasant evening chatting and getting to know each other over drinks – there was laughter, lots of eye contact and we both seemed very comfortable with each other. All very encouraging you might think – but, the following day my innocent message saying ‘Hi, how’s your day going? Was nice to meet you last night‘ was completely ignored. No response whatsoever. I waited and waited, thought up all the usual excuses; he must be busy at work, in the gym, maybe his battery ran out. Nothing. Then it dawned on me that this man is not only uninterested in seeing me again, but he regards me as nothing; I am invisible, I don’t exist to him. We are not talking merely disinterested, more contemptuous.
Of course my sorry tale is nothing unusual, ghosting is a common practise in the modern age and I can see how it may be aimed to avoid causing hurt and rejection but a simple few words such as ‘You’re a lovely person, but I don’t feel a spark’ would be much better. In fact, in this age of technology, why don’t Whatsapp and Grindr have a ‘Click here to send apology for not being interested‘ button? I am totally serious. The mature, worldly daters experience a pang of disappointment, dust themselves down and get back on Tindr. But for the more sensitive or newby daters, this could cause a collapse of self confidence or a fear of going on any more dates (quite apart from an expletive laden text to the ghoster ‘You ***** ****! How dare you just *******ignore me?) But, why should anyone have to put up with this treatment and why is ghosting acceptable?
It’s a good idea to text/ chat/ speak lots before arranging your first date, as you want to make sure you’re both compatible and looking for the same thing but, in today’s world the main reason is to avoid wasting precious time. During this period (no matter how well you think you are both getting on), you have to avoid projecting your fantasy or desires onto this person. Do not set expectations – stay neutral and just enjoy meeting this new person, knowing that it may be great or it may not be. This is the part where the person who did the ghosting trips up. They projected something onto this complete stranger, which ended in disappointment, but that is their fault – not their dates! For example, my date called me a ‘sweet puppy’ on Whatsapp before our date. I genuinely thought that was lovely and a good sign (however 3 hours later, he considered me more like puppy crap.) During our contact, he had built up an idea of me which would come crashing down when we met.
But the ghosted person is not completely right to cry victim after being blatantly ignored either. I’m not defending this nasty treatment, but if you are aware of body language, eye contact, what he is or is not saying during the date – then there will be no surprise (or disapointment) when you hear nothing from him afterwards. If I’m honest with myself, my date kept looking away from me; over my shoulder or out the window. When I innocently touched his hand (I noticed he bit his nails) he pulled his hand away in a millisecond. Instead of noticing the signs and realising this man is not completely interested in me, I was wrapped up in focusing on him, his nice eyes, his lovely suit, his funny jokes. Again, this was my fault for not being conscious of the situation – a lesson for me to learn for next time (and there will be a next time) I meet someone new. So my advice for eradicating this unpleasant cultural phenomenon from our society is to avoid placing expectations on someone before actually meeting them in real life, be aware of the signals you are getting during the date but above all, treat others how you would like to be treated. Ghosting is not acceptable so don’t do it and don’t accept it.