It’s happened to most of us. Ghosting: it’s when someone seems interested in you and then suddenly goes as quiet as a corpse.
You meet a guy on an app or online, and he seems to be feverishly interested, at first. You’re getting several WhatsApps per day from him and maybe even the odd naughty pic. You try not to get your hopes up, but you find yourself getting excited despite yourself. He’s handsome, intelligent and funny and you hope that this might be what you’ve been waiting for. You agree to meet for coffee later in the week and sooner than you can prepare yourself for it the day dawns.
He’s every bit as attractive and appealing as you thought he would be and the coffee date seems to go extremely well. The conversation flows, you’re laughing and at the end of the date, you both agree that you’d like to do it again sometime.
And then, *crickets* (krr krr – krr krr)
You send a WhatsApp saying how good it was to meet him.
You send another one later on suggesting he sleep well.
Soon, you realise that he’s probably never going to respond to you and that the date didn’t go as well as you thought it did.
You’ve been dating a guy for a few weeks or months, and it’s been amazing. He seems as committed and intvested in the relationship as you are. One day you both happen to be in a prickly mood, and you have your first real lovers quarrel. It’s normal for this to eventually happen, so you don’t worry too much about it.
During your lunch break, you receive a text from him saying that the relationship no longer “works” for him. You try to reason with him but soon realise that this issue is not open for negotiation. By the time you get home from work, he has blocked you on all social media. You’re left staring at the toothbrush and few items of clothing he has left at your place, items that he will abandon and never reclaim, much like his relationship with you.
Sadly, there are many other scenarios I could provide you examples with.
When I’ve been ghosted, it has haunted me for months afterwards. I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out what I’d done wrong or what may be wrong with me. There’s been no closure, no feedback…nada! He’s just vanished…like a ghost.
At first, I thought it was just me, but I soon learned that this behaviour is as common as a muscle Mary in an A&F t-shirt (very common!)
At a movie night with some mates, the topic of ghosting came up, and a few of the guys admitted that they had been guilty of ghosting someone they were no longer interested in or had changed their minds about. Then, to my shame, I realised that I had done the same thing. I had also avoided someone to end things rather than manning up and telling him I no longer wanted to see him.
It’s cruel. It seems like you’re doing someone a favour by dodging them and not telling them that you’re no longer interested because you have a) changed your mind b) realised that the way they pick their nose is unbearable or c) because your gym crush just asked you for your number. But the truth is that ghosting is hurtful. You (we) leave the guy utterly clueless as to why you liked him yesterday and now won’t take his calls.
For me, it was because I failed to explain that I hate speaking on the phone and don’t enjoy WhatsApp banter during the day while I’m at work. I didn’t want to have to explain that my gut had said this was not the right choice for me. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I tried to slow fade myself out of his life. I realised that I hurt him more by doing that.
Whenever I was ghosted, I was left questioning my state of mind. ‘He seemed so into me yesterday! Was it all in my head?’ Strangely, it would have been easier if I had just been told: “Sorry, I’m just not that into you anymore.” Or “I like someone else now.” It still would’ve stung like hell, but I would’ve healed a lot faster. What do you think? Do you think ghosting is kinder than speaking the truth and ending things formally?
We’re not honest with each other, and we’re probably not being honest with ourselves either.
So, what would be the right thing to do? Tell the guy how you feel. It may be awkward and painful for him to hear in the short-term but in the long-term, you’re doing him and yourself a favour. If it is something that he has been doing wrong, then he could potentially work on improving this quality if he chooses to. And if it’s just because you’ve realised that you’re more into someone else he can at least know what the reason you want to end things is.
Knowledge is power. So, let’s instead choose to empower one another instead of causing one another to feel haunted by self-doubt and insecurity because we leave each other with no idea why someone has decided to shut us out of their lives.
I’ll do better. I hope you will too.
Bruce J. Little is the Content Creator for Anova Health Institute. For more, visit WeTheBrave.co.za.