Who You Not Gonna Call?

As a teenager, I feared nothing more than being dumped by text. This was considered the ultimate embarrassment, and it seemed to become commonplace as everyone gained access to a Nokia 3410. But dating trends move on just as fast as technology, and my hours spent poring over Mizz magazine failed to prepared me for the cruelty of ‘ghosting’, a social faux pas of such a scale it’s earned its own Urban Dictionary definition.

Ghosting is less of a method of dumping someone, but rather the complete lack of it. Ghosters will cut off contact with the ghostee, hoping they’ll get tired of waiting for a response, to save them the uncomfortable act of dumping them. A quick Google search brings up countless tales of blossoming love cut short by unanswered texts and phone calls going straight to voicemail.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this cruel practice myself. After months of cute dates, constant texting and nights spent at his flat, I was suddenly met with radio silence. Cue weeks of increasingly frantic texts and phone calls. I became obsessed. Was it something I said? Was I not interesting or pretty enough? What was wrong with me?

It would be easy for me to paint myself as the innocent victim here, but the truth is I’m not. Prior to my own experience of ghosting, I went on 3 dates with a guy who was good looking, sweet and interesting – however, I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought our dates were a mess of awkward silences and clumsy attempts at affection, but he saw things differently. As the desperation of his messages increased, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth. So, I blocked him and moved on with my life.

The supposed increase in ghosting has been blamed on everything from dating apps to the selfish nature of millennials. But the truth is it’s nothing new. From Carrie Bradshaw’s post-it note, to Chandler “I’ll give you a call sometime” Bing’s dating prowess, ghosting has been depicted in pop culture for years, long before the rise of smart phones and Tinder. It may be a longstanding way of ending a relationship, but that doesn’t make it okay.

By refusing others the basic courtesy of letting them know we don’t want to see them again, we make things more difficult than they need to be. There’s only one thing that hurts more than rejection, and that’s uncertainty. It makes us obsess over a relationship we might not even have been that invested in in the first place. It causes us to question everything about ourselves, from our looks, to our wit and personality. In reality though, most of the time rejection is down to nothing more than a lack of chemistry.

Having “the conversation” is tough. At best it’s awkward, and at worst painful. However it is necessary. That conversation not only saves the rejected partner from a massive knock to their self-esteem, but it saves the ghoster from the annoying stream of unwanted “was it something I said?” texts. So let’s put an end to this cowardly act of ghosting. If we were all just a little bit braver, we could save ourselves and others a whole lot of pain.

[Jessica Shenton – @JessAlice1992]

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