Monday, March 23, 2015

The World of Ghosting

Have you ever heard of ghosting in reference to dating? I hadn’t until now, which is ironic considering I’ve been ghosted and maybe guilty of it myself at least once. What is ghosting? It’s simply vanishing into thin air with no explanation. It’s easy to do in this world of digital communication.

Phone dating apps along with online dating allows daters to keep a certain distance. Even though the idea is to bring people closer, it creates cyber walls to hide behind. The first instance of this is your matches on an app or an online service. Let’s face it, no one responds to all their matches, especially if you receive dozens. I’m not even sure the same people are matched, which makes you wonder. A woman could receive a match, which is far from her stated requirements. He could live across the country or be the wrong religion. Naturally, the person deletes the match. There could be someone wondering what why Cindy in Louisville didn’t like him. Sending a note that she’s not interested is more work than she wants to do. Besides, it seems more hurtful to say you’re not interested than to do nothing at all. By doing nothing, the person can assume your account is inactive. All is all it isn’t that bad.

The second level of ghosting happens after you establish contact. The people involved both liked what they saw on an app or a dating profile. They text back and forth, maybe even call, then one person cuts contact. No reason, no preamble, they stop calling. The other party waits, gets up courage, and sends a random text. Nothing. It is the cyber equivalent of being stood up. It is a common practice that most people don’t need spelled out. If the snubbed party continues to text, he may find himself blocked. Often if communication had moved to social media, the abandoned party can watch the various dating exploits of a potential beau. Not sure, if it’s more hurtful to be defriended than to be so unimportant that the ghoster is unaware you’re on his social media feed.

The third level happens after a date or two. We date to discover if we like people. However, many people don’t even want to take the time to do that. They insist on coffee dates that last mere minutes. A few even do covert drive-bys or walk-bys to decide if they even like the way a person looks before introducing themselves. It shouldn’t be too surprising that people go incommunicado after a date or dates. Somewhere along the line, they decided it wasn’t working rather than actually explain this in person on in a note; they vanish similar to an apparition.  While this is easy, it is incredibly inconsiderate. The ghosted individual could become frantic thinking an accident occurred.  Eventual sightings of the ghost leads to the realization of instead of being in intensive care, the former date is a member of the callous jerk club.

Ghosting can go to amazing heights too. A friend of mine had a long-term relationship with what I would term a needy man. One day he disappeared off the grid, she wasn’t even sure he was in the same country.  After weeks of no contact, she saw on social media he’d changed his status and was dating again.

The most famous example of this odd phenomenon is Olivia Newton John’s former boyfriend Patrick McDermott staging his own death. Thousands of dollars and countless tears went into the search for the man, who resurfaced years later in Mexico. He didn’t do breakups well. He proved ghosting can be done without using social media.

Blogger Taylor Davies in her dating manifesto declares she’s desensitized to the behavior since it happens so much.  Current dating is more of a game of hide and seek. Our reliance on technology is part of the issue along with distance. We meet people we never would have met if we dated only in our general neighborhood, school, or place of employment. Running into former dates isn’t an issue.

Ghosting says a great about the person who does it.  Once you’ve started communicating, a simple explanation is appropriate before disappearing. If the person continues to contact you, then it is okay to cut contact. If you dated and the other person thinks you’re in a relationship, then you definitely need to say something even if it is a text. Often people walk away from first dates with no plans to see each other. Should you make this clear? That’s a quandary.

I’ve heard of some people being very specific why they’d never date someone. That’s going overboard. If the person inquires, yes you should be clear as opposed to ignoring the message. By not being clear, the person builds up a pseudo relationship with a ghost.  It is as if the missing person is lost at sea, but could return at any moment. The ghoster might discover on social media he’s in a relationship with the woman he hasn’t talk to in weeks.

There’s always an exception to the rule. The person who doesn’t quite get that you no longer want to see him or her no matter what you do.  It reminds me of the Adele song where the left woman still shows up on the married guy’s doorstep demanding to know why he never thinks of her. Ghosting
would definitely makes sense in that case. Moving to a new zip code, changing your name, and dyeing your hair would work too.

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