Bad Dating Behavior: Ghosting

Dating is like trick or treating: choosing a persona to put forward, observing cultural traditions and roles, doing a lot of approaching, and ending up with a mixed bag.

So in honor of Halloween, we’re going to talk about one of the tricks you’ll encounter out in the dating world: a behavior known as “ghosting.”

Here’s how it can play out:

You meet someone new—through a dating site, through a mutual friend, through work, wherever, it’s just most likely to happen with someone you’ve just met. There’s enough of an initial connection to get a conversation and even a little flirtation going.

You exchange numbers and start texting, with lots of emoji and “lol’s,” and soon a first date is proposed and arranged. The date goes well, and you’re thinking you’re on the path to a second one.

Then, your new flame just… vanishes into the mists, leaving you with a fistful of questions.

ghosting-2Ghosts usually take one of three forms:

  • The Fader
    They don’t hate you or anything, they just kind of want you to forget this happened,
    but without having to feel bad for letting you down. So they become less responsive to communication and dodge any attempts to set up another date, and/or maneuver you into a “just friends” situation.
  • The Illusionist
    Now you see them, now you don’t! They just disappear without much warning, and you certainly won’t be getting an explanation.
  • The Poltergeist
    This ghost fades in and out of your life at their own whim, staying away just long enough that you give up on them, only to reappear with inconvenient timing to string you along again. They might be evil and delight in your confusion, or else just oblivious to how their actions impact others.

So what’s behind ghosting? The not-so-scary secret is that ghosts are more afraid of you than you need to be of them. All three of these personas are trying to avoid the same thing: directly communicating that they’re just not that into you.

It’s an understandable fear. I mean, no one really wants to have that conversation. But just imagine how much time, energy, and anguish could be spared if we could all just be up front with each other when we’re just not feelin’ it.


What do you do when someone ghosts you?

You consider it a bullet dodged, write them off, and go on your merry way.

Because here’s the truth: if this is how they act in the very earliest stages of a relationship, you probably don’t want to date them anyway.

Depending on how tied up you were with this person and how long it took them to reveal their ghoulish side, mourning this missed opportunity might take you longer. But ghosts only have power over you if you believe in them. Pay them no attention, and they really will disappear.

So don’t beat yourself up over it, because no good can come out of taking this personally. Don’t go seeking out answers, or start hyper-analyzing to see what went wrong. Don’t hold out on dating others in hopes that your ghost rematerializes. And don’t stoop to their level by taking revenge, blasting them (publicly or privately), or otherwise engaging in more games.

Finally, try to resist any temptation you feel to be a ghost. It may be one of the easier ways out of a young relationship, but unless the other person wound up being a total jerk to you, it’s seldom the right way. (If that is what happened, then yeah, you don’t really owe them much.)

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