WHAT CAN WE SAY INSTEAD OF GHOSTING?
Have you ever gone on a few dates and realised you're not feeling it? Maybe you're a few months deep but suddenly decided they're not quite the thing you're looking for. Unfortunately it happens, and understandably expressing your feelings about the relationship can be pretty damn awkward, especially when you know they're interested in you... which is why ghosting can seem like the better option.
REMIND ME... WHAT IS GHOSTING?
Ghosting is a modern dating term that refers to abruptly cutting off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so. Even when the person being ghosted reaches out to re-initiate contact or gain closure, they're met with radio silence. It's called ghosting because it involves disappearing on someone without a trace. While the term is generally used in reference to a romantic relationship, it can be applied to any scenario where contact unexpectedly ceases, including friendships and family relationships.
WHY GHOST SOMEONE?
There are a few reasons why someone would choose to ghost but the most common motivations (from what I've heard and read) include:
If it's early doors and super casual (ie. a one or two date thing). They don't think it's worth having a conversation about.
They're extremely uncomfortable with confrontation, or don't know how to handle it so they avoid it entirely.
They're afraid ending it would cause drama, ie. the ghoster senses the other person wasn't totally emotionally stable (via red flags).
We worry about how we might be perceived by the other party when we express our feelings. Are they going to think I'm an asshole? Will they be understanding? Is there a nice way to break the news without making them feel rejected? It's pretty hard to interpret ghosting as anything other than an indication of disinterest, but the problem with ghosting is that it can be really painful for the person on the receiving end; the situation can riddle someone with anxiety and make them feel powerless. As a way to cope with the unknown, many end up obsessively checking their phone for a message that will never come, to re-evaluating every little detail of the last few correspondences, blaming themselves for what happened, and consequently dwelling over the loss of a potential partner — ultimately it's about getting the closure they need.
WHAT TO SAY INSTEAD OF VANISHING?
I'm sure we've been tempted to ghost someone before... hell, a number of us probably even have 👀 but in a world where the act of being kind has been emphasised more than ever; and where dating and relationships are concerned, there are certainly ways to communicate what our true intentions are vs the coldness of cutting someone off. Here are some suggestions:
Hey, I think you're lovely, but I don't really see this progressing in the future. Thanks for your time and wish you all the best. A simple, straightforward statement to someone you've been on a couple dates with but just don't feel that spark. You might enjoy their company and their personality, but you don't want to pursue things on a romantic level. Hey, I'm not in a position in my life where I can be in a relationship right now. I've realised dating isn't a priority of mine at the moment. I've sent this one before it's the truth, and they fully understood. After a few dates, you recognise that it's a lot of time and effort (that you don't have). Occasionally in life you need to dip your toes in to see if something is actually for you... no big deal if you change your mind. This message is quick, easy and doesn't require a huge explanation. Besides, you're free to prioritise your life however you want. Hey, I really enjoyed getting to know you but if I'm honest I've decided to start seeing someone more seriously so no I'm longer casually dating. This is a great response if you get another request to hang out again. It honest, to the point, and closes the door for that person to reach out again. You win some, you lose some 🤷🏻♀️
Depending on the relationship investment levels I'd suggest talking face-to-face, but if you've just been on a few dates then it's probably acceptable to do the above by text. Sending a kind and clearly worded message will make you (and them) feel better in the long run. Try to keep the focus on you rather than putting any blame on the other person or picking out their faults. It's never a bad thing to be honest and take ownership; and I personally wouldn't suggest staying friends unless you're genuinely interested in a friendship with that person.
Dating can come with its difficulties but practicing courage and having these tough conversations will transform your future relationships in so many ways. Remember to keep having fun, and try your best to communicate your intentions and feelings with others.