Don’t judge a date by its exit.
Ah, ghosting. The buzzword that can be applied seemingly universally to imply you had a really, really bad date.
“Yeah she was okay, but she totally ghosted on me.”
“He was so gross, I’m kind of glad he ghosted anyway.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, ghosting is the act of spontaneously vanishing from the life of a person you’re dating without a single word of warning, or any communication, for that matter, ever again. There’s no breakup, no awkward “It’s not you, it’s me” conversation, no text; nothing. A ‘ghost’ will not return your calls or acknowledge your messages in any way after they exit your life. In essence, it’s as if they never even existed, which is why it’s considered the easiest, but also most intensely brutal way to ditch someone you’re no longer into.
I’ve had this happen to me before, and it absolutely sucks.
One minute things seem to be going just fine, the next you can’t get them to return your calls and have no idea why. I’ve gone through cycles of wondering if it’s something I’ve done, of hating myself because I saw it as a personal failure, and of feeling absolutely gutted by the sense of rejection it brought on – furious at the ‘ghost’ for being too cowardly to give me closure.
But I’ve also recently ghosted on a few dates of my own, so now I see it a little differently…
Sure, you’re going to have the jerks who want to use someone and take off because it’s easier than actually breaking things off or admitting it was always just about sex. But the times I’ve ghosted on people have been not only for my own good, but for my dates, too.
Sometimes we ghost on people for our own safety. Dating is difficult, and it’s always a calculated risk. You never know if the person you’re meeting with is safe or not. They might put something in your drink, stalk you, or pressure you to do something you aren’t comfortable doing. It’s why lots of people have escape plans, or make sure someone knows where they are and who they’re with before they go. Just in case the worst happens.
If I don’t feel safe with someone, or if someone has very pointedly made me feel not safe with them, I feel absolutely no guilt about ghosting on them. They don’t deserve an explanation, they don’t deserve another second of my time. End of story.
And sometimes it’s about my mental wellbeing. As someone who suffers from PTSD, once in a while I have to duck and cover. The things that trigger my trauma aren’t always obvious, and all of my instincts tell me to cut everyone off and hide.
I’m better now, I don’t cut everyone off. But if I’ve been dating someone new, odds are good that I’ll sever ties there. My brain is telling me I might get hurt here. It’s warning me that things will get worse if I continue contact. It plays back my long and weird history of strange dates that almost went terribly wrong, warning me that it absolutely could happen again.
This may or may not be true, but for the sake of my sanity, I usually cave to that baser instinct. Not only does it at least temporarily make me feel better, I like to think it’s a lot better for my would-be partner. And as much as I wish I was in a better mental place when I was dating these people, I absolutely do not regret ghosting on them. Continuing to date them the way I was would have been terrible for the both of us.
Ghosting can absolutely be a jerk move, but be careful before you paint everyone with the same brush. There may be more valid reasons than you realize for someone taking off without a word.
Featured image via unsplash.com