What is Ghosting?
Though I don’t consider myself a millennial, I come from that generation that is on the ‘millennial cusp.’ I have adapted to millennial terminology and a few behaviors, like texting instead of picking up a phone and hearing a voice. Yes, kids, there were days when texting did not exist, when you had to hope someone was next to a phone and would answer when you needed them. Similarly, “ghosting” was never mentioned a few decades, or even a few years, ago. When I first heard the term, I had to research what it meant and how it is used!
A google search reveals that the term “ghosting” is related to an active dating situation or an emotional bond to another person. This means that you and at least one other individual formed a relationship. You and this person had an ongoing chat conversation where you looked forward to seeing that “Courtney sent you a message” notification on your phone. You and this person could have met once, a few times, or may even be actively seeing one another. Ghosting happens when, out
of the blue, this person completely ceases conversation or communication for unclear reasons.
Did He Just Ghost Me?!?!
Let’s take Mark, for example. Mark and I began chatting through a popular app. We began a great conversation (see exhibit A) about anything and everything other than sex. After a few days of chatting, I was thinking, “This dude is pretty cool. I need to meet him,” and determine if he’s a real life Dexter or not. Well, our conversation suddenly stopped, when unexpectedly, he stopped responding to my messages .
Was this ghosting? Heck yeah this was ghosting! Let me tell you how I felt about that. Even though I had never met this man or heard his voice, we had a great conversation that led me to think he was the ‘real deal.’ Then the dude just goes MIA with no forwarding address. WTH?? I needed emotional closure, so I told him how I felt about his behavior (see exhibit B). Now, you would think that would be the end of the chapter? He is too afraid to maturely end a conversation, I get it off my chest, and our lives go on. Nope. Mark hung around. (To find out what happened to Mark, subscribe to my blog and get updates sent straight to your mailbox.)
Ghosting is Not…
On the flip side, it is not ghosting if Mark sent an initial message and I decided, for whatever reason, not to respond. This is me deciding not to engage this man in conversation; similar to declining an invitation from someone at a bar to strike up a conversation. If you look back at my insults post, it appears “Heisaswellguy” might confuse my choosing not to respond to a complete stranger as
ghosting, which would create emotional turmoil for him. Now, it may seem rude not to provide a stranger a “Thanks, but no thanks” response, but it is not ghosting. You may spend more time saying, “Thanks, but no thanks”, or trying to be polite to any response a guy might send than focusing on a person of interest. The informality of dating apps means that they have some implicit norms of their own. One is that no one should be offended if you refuse an initial advance. But another is that “ghosting” after an extended conversation is genuinely offensive and hurtful. So, if your interest flags after those first pings, just have the courtesy to let the other person know you’ve moved on.