Why I Stopped Working With Ghosts
In the dating world, there is an impending presence that haunts us all: ghosts. I watched friends become ghosts, they are looked at, and I have even been a ghost many times. But I decided to stop. Not only because I realized how impolite I was, but also because I saw that disappearing on the air was a disservice to me.
What is a ghost
There are several definitions of a ghost , but I am talking about this strictly in the sense of dating. If you are not familiar with this practice, it is the process of stopping all communication with someone and ignoring their attempts to reconnect. It looks like peeling, but you don’t offer any explanation or even try to apologize. Here’s a very simple example:
Person 1: Nice to see you last night 🙂 We have to do it again next week.
Person 2: You too! Definitely yes 🙂
A few days later…
Person 1: Hey! So I’m free this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday? You? I thought we’d have lunch, if you’re interested!
There is no answer forever and ever, amen.
This has become a common practice these days, especially if you’ve ventured into online dating . I’m not proud of the times I’ve done it – maybe you did it too and feel the same way – but I knew I wanted to try and fix it.
Why are people a ghost
There are many reasons why people become ghosts. Some of them are quite clear, for example, women who are afraid of the words that they are not interested, will provoke an explosion stupid things or put their lives at risk. This is often their best option in a confused situation in a confused world. But some of the reasons are more minor. Maybe we are afraid of being disappointed and feeling guilty. Maybe we don’t like conflicts and avoid them at all costs. Or maybe, as Vanessa Marin , a licensed family therapist and Lifehacker contributor, suggests, we are uncomfortable with being vulnerable:
We are ghostly because we are too uncomfortable to openly and frankly talk about our feelings. There are many different shades of halos. Sometimes people are just rude and frivolous. But many people think that a ghost is a kinder option than honesty. They think it’s easier to slip away into the night than to tell someone, “I don’t think we’re a good fit.”
This is why I did it. That and the fact that it took no effort and other people did it to me. Our relationship with technology and social media is a big piece of the puzzle; the distance it offers enhances the halos. As Anna Sale, host of the Death, Sex & Money podcast , explains, avoidance is more likely now than ever:
“As people become less and less comfortable talking face-to-face about difficult things, it becomes easier to move on, let time pass and forget to tell the person you are breaking up with.”
I decided that the silence was a clear enough hint – one that no one would get hurt – so I didn’t feel the need to say anything. Silence, ghost – it’s simple. But I began to realize that what was easy for me at the moment could be confusing and difficult for others, and this was long-term, invisible negative consequences for me.
How a ghost haunts victims
When someone sees you as a ghost, you are often confused, frustrated, and looking for answers in a whirlwind of uncertainty. You may even start sinking into your deepest insecurities, clinging to what you think makes you unloved. The ghost evades conflict and confrontation, but is passed on to the victim. Suddenly you are in conflict with yourself, wondering what you did wrong.
Also, the silent treatment creates what Jennis Willhauer is Ph.D. in Psychology Today calls “the ultimate ambiguity scenario.” You don’t have any social cues to keep going, so you don’t know if you should be worried about the person ( are they hurt? ), Upset with the person ( are they really that rude? ), Upset with yourself ( did I screw up the dog again? ), Or if they are so busy, they haven’t had a chance to answer you for a week and a half ( okay, okay ). If you’ve ever been in this position, you know how maddening it can be.
“I need to feel something, but I don’t know what, so I just feel EVERYTHING!”
In a recent study published in the Journal of Research in Personality , researchers found that ghosting, or “avoidance,” was one of the worst ways to end a relationship. This led to intense anger, resentment and rejection of those on the recipient’s side. However, those who were thrown into open confrontation were less angry and resentful. I realized that I was not helping anyone, discarding all contacts. In fact, I probably made them feel worse. Most people deserve an explanation, or at least a completion.
Having been on the verge of ghosts, I can also say that it hardens you when it comes to the possibility of future relationships. You stop allowing yourself to be vulnerable because you are tired and expect it to happen over and over again. Explosive shields don’t go off, and everyone you talk to and meet is just another potential ghost. And you can’t afford to open up and fall in love with a ghost, unless it’s Patrick Swayze.
Like a ghost haunts ghosts
It was easy for me to do ghosts at that moment, but in the long run I did not do any favors for myself. Confrontation and conflict can be troubling to me, but the more I abandoned them, the more I wanted to avoid facing other problems. Think about it. Eventually, you have to deal with something – like relationship problems that you really want – and you want to be prepared for it. But you won’t be mentally prepared if all you can do is run.
If you find it difficult to be open and honest, a ghost will only strengthen you in that state of mind. If you can’t share your sincere feelings through a text message or phone call, how should you share them with someone in person? Vulnerability is good , especially when it comes to building healthy relationships.
“And the more you are a ghost, the more you lose sensitivity to it,” Wilhauer suggests . What seemed like an easy way out of the confrontation became my only way out. Instead of dealing with social consequences, I simply avoided them. Over time, I realized that I was harassing myself with ghosts as much as with others who harass me. I didn’t make things easier, I unconsciously changed my point of view to a robotic, inauthentic way of thinking. I was not myself.
How I stopped showing ghosts
As simple as it sounds, I just practiced empathy and put myself in other people’s shoes. I thought about what I would like if the situation changed, and made a conscious effort to state everything – the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I’ve found that being honest isn’t always easy or comfortable, but it still feels right.
Hosting has become a widely recognized flaw in the modern dating scene, but it doesn’t have to. Just say something, anything . You don’t have to fade into the air. No novel or explanatory speech needed. Something as simple as a text that says, “I don’t think this will work. [provide an optional reason here]. It was nice to meet you, though! Take care of yourself ”will help you both.
However, I understand that it is much easier for me to take this step as a man. As Marin points out, it’s perfectly acceptable to ignore people who are overly assertive or intimidating. No matter what, you never have to deal with people who are angry, rude, or too aggressive. If you really don’t feel safe saying “no thanks,” to someone, act like a ghost. Damn, turn on your “block all communications”. And you should always take some precautions and use the burner number for your dating , search for people online before meeting them in person, know what is fake and what is not , and know the red flags you should watch out for. Trying to be honest and straightforward with people should never mean putting up with assholes or putting yourself in danger.