Ghosting is definitely one trend in dating I will never understand, the fact that we have a universal definition of it is worrisome enough. To try and change this trend, at least in my own personal dating life, I've created a narrative when I first start seeing someone where I will simply invite them to be honest if they lose interest, to just say so which works most of the time. I think I was surprised that people over 40 would participate in this trend, but not showing up emotionally, seems to know no age limits.
Let's clarify first, what ghosting is and isn't.
What Ghosting is Not:
*Having some conversation with someone online and they either hide their profile or never respond to anymore messages.
*Meeting in person for one date and one date only (or a hookup) and not hearing from them again.
*Meeting someone in person and saying "we should get together some time" but never doing it.
What Ghosting IS--Stopping all communication after:
*You've been on more than one date, especially three or more.
*You've set up a first date (or any subsequent ones), with a time and place, then hear nothing again.
*You've been just Friends with Benefits and have decided to enter some monogamous relationship.
*You are in any semblance of an exclusive relationship be it weeks, months or years where you see each other often, refer to each other as BF/GF and such.
*You have ever talked about big commitments like marriage, creating a family, buying real estate together, are facebook-official, planning your next big vacation or holiday together, clearly indicating you see your future with this person.
Here's the things, friends...just say you stopped being interested. It's as simple as "Hi...really great meeting you, but I don't think we are a match after all." It doesn't need to be long and drawn out, it's just needs to be KIND.
If you've been in a longer relationship, and you really can't draw up the courage to sit face to face with someone and tell them you've changed your mind, then at least have the decency to answer their text when they are wondering why you've disappeared, for all they know, you've died.
The real question is...why are we so afraid to be kind?I f you feel like changing the communication pattern you have established or stop all communication with your person, then it is just time to say so instead of doing a slow fade out and hoping they don't notice. I mean, do you really think you matter so little to the other person that they won't realize you've disappeared?
Consider this...if you don't explain it, their mind is programmed to try and figure out reasons and those... those can hurt, they can leave a mark, they can cause someone to get stuck, and of course, they can get down-right sitcom-ish. We don't like uncertainty and even though at least ONE of the explanations your brain creates is likely true, it's not knowing which one that can drive us crazy.
I've been ghosted twice...last year being the most recent one. He and I had quite a great thing going for a few months...not perfect, not without its gaps, not without things I wanted to see improve, but a pretty easy, comfortable and intimate connection. Everything seemed to be moving in the right direction...we saw each other 3-5 times a week, we had met each other's kids, I had a key to his house and we were planning to meet each other's friends, as well. There were no missed signs, no rhyme or reason to explain why he would suddenly turn into a not-so-friendly ghost!
I'm a professional red-flag spotter...I tell clients each week that their objects of affection are giving them crumbs, not really into them, only after sex, have something they are hiding and on and on. How could I miss anything awry with my own relationship? The reality is that these great-people-turned-ghosts, whether in their 20s or 50s, are afraid to of their own shadows...and by shadows, I mean emotions. They don't want to deal with their own feelings, show up and do the right thing...its far less about you or your relationship...it's quite telling of their own character of lack, thereof.
I believe in "kind goodbyes" (I blogged about this here: ) but even in the midst of being ghosted, I know this isn't about me. If you are showing up emotionally in your relationships, letting your needs and wants be known while learning theirs, then you are communicating clearly and being authentic. At the end of the day, or the end of a relationship, I can say, "I am still me, and I'm an awesome girlfriend...and all attempts at a relationship or love are a risk worth taking!"
If you've been ghosted on, I'm truly sorry, but take solace in the reality that they ghosted on themselves...they chose not to show up, be heard, be an adult and just say "Hey ----, it's been good but I'm heading in a different direction."
If you've been tempted to ghost or are thinking about it, if you can't handle an in-person conversation, at least have the gumption to send a measly one-sentence text!!! Seriously, just show up, be seen, be heard, put out good Karma out into the dating pond and just send a damn text saying good luck and good night!