All over the place, I am reading about this social phenomenon of “ghosting”. According to Urban Dictionary, ghosting is giving the “ultimate silent treatment”, and occurs when a dater, “suddenly [ceases] all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date”. And, all over the place, I am reading these heartbreaking articles, written by the victims of ghosting, discussing the pain and emotional turmoil the social phenomenon ensues, and all I can think about is, “Wow, that must be what it feels like to date me”. It would be incredibly hypocritical of me to say, “Oh my gosh that sounds awful”, because, I think at some point, we are all guilty of this as well.
If you have read Happily Never After, you will know that I am the QUEEN OF GHOSTING. I personally keep my boundaries very strict between people I date, and people who are my friends. I have never dated anyone who was my friend first, and I have never broken up with someone who became my friend later; if you are my boyfriend, you know certain things about me, and if you are my friend, you know other things. You are either my boyfriend, or my friend, and never both. To me, it doesn’t make sense to continue talking to each other if we know it’s not going to work. For example, I am apt to reject someone who asks me out via text message. I believe that, as a woman, I play certain roles in a relationship, and as a man, you play other roles, and one of those roles is to buck up, have confidence, and at least give me the courtesy of a phone call. I have a big personality, I am confident, fearless, and you asking me out via text message tells me you are unsure about the date, and therefore, I don’t think that relationship will work. So, my apologies to anyone I have ghosted in the past, but here is probably why I did it:
I am dating someone else: One of the worst parts about being in the beginning stages of dating is you never quite know who else they have up their sleeve. Of course, when you first start dating someone, you do not tell them about all your other suitors, in the event it does not work out–you want to make sure “its serious” and you have a back up plan just in case it doesn’t work out. However, my thoughts on Infidelity tell me, if I am dating someone else, I can’t be talking to you, because that is not fair (a) to you and (b) to them. I shouldn’t want to string people along “just in case it doesn’t work out”. I never want to get into a situation where my future husband learns I was two-timing him the first two months of our relationship. We have this misconception (probably from shows, like The Bachelor) that dating is a game, and there are winners. The fact that this suitor is picking me over someone else means I am “#winning”. But, it’s really not about “#winning”, and if someone chooses to date another girl over me, then that is fine; there is obviously something about their relationship that I don’t know about and I actually don’t want to be with someone who thinks of me secondly.
I went back to another boyfriend: Since love happens differently for everyone, I do believe that some of us meet our future spouses first, then we date around, and realize we actually want to be with them. This happened to Cory and Topanga, right? It was not until I met Simon that I realized I never romantically really loved my long term boyfriend. Sure, I cared about him, and he was a great friend, and I enjoyed hanging out with him, but that was it. So, sometimes we have to meet other people so that we can feel other relationships before we realize it was the first one that felt the most natural after all. And, I certainly do not want to stand in the way of true love, so if you want to be with someone else, so be it, and we should also not talk because of those same views on Infidelity.
I am not in a place to date: There are many reasons people just are not in places to date. Perhaps I know my life, right now, is just too busy to withstand a relationship, and I know I cannot give you any time. Perhaps I am just getting out of a break up, and emotionally, I cannot invest in you. Perhaps I have some family stuff going on. Perhaps I am traveling and know I will not be in town. Perhaps I am writing a book. Whatever the case be, I just know I am not in a place to date, and it is not fair to you, because what inevitably happens is, you text me, I can’t respond back, you text me again, I get annoyed and tell all my friends about it, defaming your reputation, and that just isn’t fair, because you are just trying to be nice and there’s actually nothing wrong with you; it’s me, and I am ghosting you because I don’t want to string you along and I hope you spend that energy contacting some other potential suitor who IS in a place to date.
I know you like me more than I like you: Perhaps my 18 year-old self would have kept you around in order to stroke my ego–I think in high school one time, I made a list of all the people I thought might “have a crush on me”, and the sole intention of that list was to make me feel better about myself; even if THIS date didn’t work out, I totally had another lined up. But, defining ourselves by other people, and lists of people, usually means there is some kind of void we are trying to fill in ourselves, and it’s never fair to use someone else’s disposition of liking me to make me feel better about myself. I run into this problem all the time; people just end up liking me more than I like them, and, again, it’s not fair for me to continue communicating with you, because the more I communicate with you, the more you end up liking me, the more of a chance you think we have together. I know we have NO chance, you ARE NOT my type, and therefore, I have to cut off communication.
I know talking to you will be too painful: If you have read up to Step Two in Happily Never After, you also know that I kept my cell phone in my car during the work day so I was not constantly checking it. And, each day, I would go to my car, hoping I would have some kind of “I screwed up” message. As the ghostee, it does not feel good because it makes you think you are not significant, and that, while you are sitting here, wallowing in yourself, it appears as though they have moved on without any second thought. However, I can tell you there is something universal about the human condition, and while they may have decided they don’t like you anymore, there is still some adjustment, reflecting, and emotional scarring they, too, will eventually have to consider. I choose to believe my long term boyfriend did NOT contact me after the break up, because (a) he knew how hard it would be for me and (b) he was actually feeling cowardly that he had to do it on the phone and was trying to avoid those guilty feelings. Whether those were the real intentions or not, I choose to believe them because it is less damaging to my ego, and makes me feel better about the whole situation; it really was not me, it was him.
It’s a late-night-phone call kind of situation: I don’t respond back to these because (a) makes the situation awkward because then you have to explain yourself the next morning and (b) it gives you hope and trains you the next time that you can contact me. I don’t know where I ever gave the impression I was a late-night-phone-call kind of girl but I am not.
I’ve tried to tell you it’s not working, and you aren’t listening: I try to be honest with people from the very beginning, and perhaps you just didn’t get the drift that it’s not working out, so I have to ghost you to noncommunicate that to you.
Sometimes cutting it cold turkey is the best way to resolve a situation. It’s painful, it burns, but sometimes, it’s most necessary.