Credit: AJ Duncan

I ain’t afraid of no ghost

By Marcus Hyka

As we continue to navigate the confusing world of online dating, Marcus Hyka discusses if it’s ever okay to ghost someone.

I believe it was the great American thinker Abigail Breslin who once said: “Ghosting is when you’ve been texting with a guy for a long time, and you know, things are going really, really well and you think that’s he’s really into you, and then all of a sudden, one day he just stops texting back because he finally saw what you look like, and so you just text him, and you’re like, ‘Hey sexy, where’d you go?’ And then he just doesn’t answer because he ghosted.”

The first time I ghosted someone was after a first date (to Subway, might I add), when this guy told me that he hexed his dad’s new girlfriend. The first time someone ghosted me was when I accidentally sent a message about him to him. As spooky as it sounds, ghosting is inevitably a standard component of romance in the age of the dating app. One study found that 82% of women and 71% of men have been involved in this paranormal phenomenon. The most common ghosting catalysts include avoiding confrontation, catfishing (when a person doesn’t particularly resemble their profile), and clingy people. Although ghosting is a relatively simple act to carry out, it can be a real knock to the confidence of those on the receiving end – but what are the rules?

Obviously, online dating involves an element of risk and mystery, with two possible outcomes. Outcome A is that your date is your soulmate, and you will one day reenact the opening scene from Up with them. In this case, congratulations. Pass go and collect $200 as a honeymoon gift. Outcome B involves your date being a lecherous sociopath in a manner similar to Jack the Ripper. When presented with this conclusion, it seems ghosting is the safest, most effective route to go down to avoid potential conflict and bathroom decomposition. In all seriousness, there are so many strange people out there. Ghosting can ensure you are not in danger by virtually disconnecting from a potential threat before the situation escalates. 

“Outcome B involves your date being a lecherous sociopath in a manner similar to Jack the Ripper. When presented with this conclusion, it seems ghosting is the safest, most effective route to go down…”

Even if your date doesn’t turn out to be Charles Manson, ghosting can still be the better route to travel down. They might not look like their photos, there simply may be no connection, or they have bad chat and/or breath. Ghosting ensures that your time isn’t over-invested in someone you don’t want to see again. It means that you can move on quickly to find who you would rather spend your energy on, meaning that you also won’t be leading any prospective beaus on. Ghosting and making someone go cold turkey from your contact should ensure they get the message (or lack thereof). In doing this, however, it is essential not to haunt. Don’t play with people’s feelings if you have no intentions of pursuing anything. If you poltergeist somebody with mixed messages after your initial ghosting stint, then be prepared to acknowledge that maybe you are problematic. But aren’t we all?

Ghosting as an act itself can potentially be destructive when it is carried out on somebody who shares a romantic connection with the ghoster. If you have been on multiple dates, and can even remember their name, then perhaps drop them a line that you don’t want to see them again. As tricky as this admission of “it’s not you, it’s me” can be, it appears to be the most courteous thing to do when an emotional or romantic bond is formed. I think we would all want that same baseline level of respect and honesty. Maybe consider how you would feel if you were the one being ghosted in the situation and go from there. 

The act of ghosting can interestingly perpetuate the cycle of ghosting: how often it is carried out, and its associated expectations. We all have a part to play. As with anything, if you feel like you should just be honest, just be honest. Sometimes, a quick text is more straightforward than ghosting in the first place and alleviates both feelings of guilt and the risk of the ghostee not quite taking the hint. But only we can gauge what the best fit is. Responsible ghosting can be a positive tool in the romantic confines of cyberspace. Remember, if you are going to be a ghost, be a friendly one.


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