Ghosting: A Dating Man’s Latest, Lamest Enemy

Technology doesn’t always lead to progress. In many cases, it diminishes our humanity and our sense of decency — allowing us to hide behind distracted anonymity.

That’s the spirit behind “ghosting.” Put simply, it’s the action of ignoring a suitors communication attempts in the hope that he or she will “get the message.” There’s a lack of reciprocal interest, and the perpetrator wants to make that clear without having to say it directly.

The “ghoster” will ignore any mix of phone calls, text messages, emails and social messaging efforts to avoid the awkward and potentially painful moment when the pursued must tell the pursuer that love isn’t in the cards.

Ghosting usually happens early in a relationship, or it intercedes to prevent a more significant relationship from taking place. It’s safe to assume a closer relationship built up over a longer period would require direct communication to end — rather than die with the slow sad burn of silence.

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Ghosting would’ve been generally impossible 100, 50 or even 25 years ago because the majority of courting was done in person. Yes, love letters could be passed and avoided without response. Phone calls could be ignored. Still, at some point, the sender would wonder if the missives were getting through and would have to make first person contact. The unfortunate moment of truth would have to come sooner or later, and both man and woman would have to face it with some class and character (in a perfect world).

Now, we have more ways of getting in touch with each other than ever before — and, therefore, more channels of communication to avoid if giving someone the cold shoulder. If, over a course of days and weeks, emails and texts and Facebook messages and Tweets DMs and phone calls and semaphore flags and Morse code taps and smoke signals and graffiti tags and sky writing and airship banners were all ignored, ghosting is complete. The “ghostee” must take the hint.

Related: Dating: Letting a Lady Go – Constructively

We’re going to assume that a man should not ghost, and he’s not much of a man if he does. We’ll get to more of that later in the hope of making it true for as many males as possible. So, why would a woman ghost? There are four possible reasons, listed here in order of likelihood (highest to lowest):

  1. She doesn’t want you around, but she doesn’t want to hurt you either. This is the most likely, yet still misguided motivation for ghosting. Like many phenomena in our modern, PC society, it’s an ugly practice that grows from a positive intention. Rather than risk a sudden emotional kick in the teeth, the act of rejection is drawn out over a potentially humiliating course of days and weeks. Like Novocaine for a root canal, the pain is deferred, but not cancelled. Sadly, while the direct and honest rejection might’ve generated respect, the soft sell can encourage long term resentment because the ghoster kept the ghostee dangling for so long.
  2. She has a problem with confrontation. No matter how evolved we like to think we are in the 21st Century, women are still not encouraged — or, in some cases, allowed — to be direct, aggressive or confrontational. Some might be worried about remaining feminine or polite. Some might be afraid of how a man might react if his ego allows for excess temper. Regardless, the lady ghosts in an effort to avoid that awkward, eye to eye or ear to ear moment when a man hears “no.”
  3. She cares more about how she feels than how you feel. If you want to take a harsher view, this might be valid. If a potential relationship was in a fledgling stage, she really should be connected to you emotionally. A woman might ghost because her potential moment of awkwardness, embarrassment or guilt is more of a problem for her than the days or weeks of silent humiliation she might inflict on the ghostee. 
  4. She’s a stone cold narcissist and couldn’t care less. In the early, stinging heat of rejection, a guy might check this box — but it’s the least likely explanation. Think about it. If the woman in question was indeed such an insensitive witch, why would she care if direct rejection wounded a man? She wouldn’t ghost. She’d shoot you down.

Regardless of motivation, the sin of ghosting is a subtle one. And, (in the great scheme of life) it’s a fairly puny act of wrongdoing. No man in his right mind dies of rejection or lets it devastate his life over the long haul. So, the first course of action for the ghosted man is to keep perspective. She wasn’t into you. She has a right of refusal. You don’t want to pursue every woman you meet, so she’s allowed to put you in her no column. There are as many reasons for her to reject you as there are stars in the sky or fish in the sea. Pick your cliche.

The world will continue to spin. You will meet another woman who values you. Why one situation works and one does not is impossible to decode. Don’t bother trying. 

I’ve been ghosted. I survived. Looking back on it, the saddest aftereffect wasn’t the loss of a potential relationship, but rather the loss of respect for the woman on the other end. Maybe we’d be friends today, perhaps not. But, to let interaction fade away seemed so legitimately lame that could never again work up a sense of value for the ghoster. If that’s how business is done, I do business elsewhere happily.

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But, there’s a more vital strategy to use against the concept of ghosting — a step that not only makes it easier to rise above the practice, but also strengthens and verifies your character as a man. If we call ourselves men, we need to act as men — and a men should never “ghost.” Period. We should never allow ourselves to hide behind silence and anonymity just for comfort’s sake. There are many brands of fear to overcome, and the fear of being embarrassed or feeling uncomfortable is a particularly easy one to push aside. Be honest. Be direct. Be done with it.

This is not to say, in that moment of honesty, the very act of “anti-ghosting” when you express how you feel (or don’t feel), you need to be blunt or cruel. You can be honest, polite and sensitive at the same time. Don’t try to explain how you feel. Simply get it out in the open and behind you. Then, whether a friendship survives or not, both man and woman can move on in their lives to find another romantic relationship strong enough to bust any ghost.

All photos public domain.