You think you like someone, go on a few dates, get excited about where things could be going and then . . . they gradually trickle out of your life—without explanation. We've all been the victim of it, and most of us have done it to others: "The Slow Fade," also known as "Ghosting."
It's an ambiguous, drawn-out, tortorous method of communicating, “I’m just not that into you.”
Here's an all-too-common scenario: You've gone on three or four dates with a new potential special-someone, maybe dinner, drinks and perhaps a movie. You may or may not have had sex yet. But, it’s been six days since your last date and that person hasn’t been in touch. So, you call and the following conversation takes place:
“Hey, what’s going on?"
“Nothing, I’m just super busy with work. The head of my department is coming next week and we have to finish this project.”
“That sounds so stressful. Let’s go see the new Seth Rogen flick on Friday night when you’re all done.”
“I can’t. I have plans.”
“I’m not sure, can I get back to you?”
Friday night comes, you call said lover, but the call goes to voice mail. Frustrated, you send a text:
“Hey, hope that project went well. Are we still on for the movies on Saturday? That Rogen flick had awesome reviews.”
You finally get a text back 20 hours (not minutes) later.
“I can’t. Maybe next week.”
“Or we could go to happy hour on Wednesday at that place where we had our second date?”
“Let me get back to you.”
Two weeks go by and you don’t hear back. You stalk the person’s Facebook and there have been no evident deaths in the family.
“Hey, how have you been?”
You never hear from that person again. Congrats, you were just ghosted.
Ghosting is a fucked up thing to do and have done to you. To paraphrase a certain television show’s opening credit, “When are we going to stop being polite and start getting real?”
Why do we avoid saying, “You’re just not the right person for me?”
While I’ve been ghosted my fair share of times, there was one instance, where I could have easily been ghosted and I wasn’t, which made life a whole lot easier. I had two dates with Jared.* He was cute, fun and polite. Jared appeared to be a nice guy. I didn’t really think I was going to be the future Mrs. Jared, but I was at the point in my dating life where I was trying to give people a chance. After I few dates, I didn’t hear from him. So, I sent a text to find out what was going on. He told me he had gotten back together with his ex-girlfriend. Maybe it was true. Maybe it wasn’t. We hadn’t slept together yet and maybe all he wanted was sex. Either way, it was good to know I could cross him off the list.
In an interview I did with the awesome Kira Sabin (an amazing life coach who works with singles), she made a really good point about men who ghost and how as women, we need to band together to stop this egregious behavior:
"As a gender, women need to help each other out. For example, nobody should fall off the face of the earth. If you can’t tell someone you aren’t interested after two dates or two months, you shouldn’t be dating. You need to check yourself. There are things women are doing that aren’t setting themselves up for success. And if we keep doing this, men are going to think it's OK."
However, as women, we know we ghost too—and we should think about this carefully. In all relationships, good, bad, romantic, platonic, familial and even professional, we need to make bold decisions—whether it’s telling a friend she’s made a bad wardrobe choice, creating boundaries with our families (“no mom, I can’t pick up your calls in the office”) or simply telling a co-worker “I’d rather drink cyanide that have lunch with you today” (okay, maybe you could tell your co-worker that in a nicer way). But the point is, we need to stop being afraid to speak up about our needs—in all aspects of our lives.
Logan Levkoff, the author of “Married At First Site,” also makes a very good point about ghosting in an interview with The Huffington Post:
"If your potentials keep disappearing, take a step back and look in the mirror (unless of course, you are the ghost, in which case, owning a mirror would be quite silly). Ask yourself these questions: "Is there something with the people you're meeting? What do they have in common? What are you looking for that's causing the same outcome over and over again?"
So, maybe if you keep getting ghosted, there’s a reason why. It could be that you have a huge personality flaw or you keep doing something that turns people off. Or maybe you’re picking the wrong people. Or maybe, at the core of it, we’re all just too fucking lazy to deal with our feelings. In a world of swiping right, communication via emails and texts, it’s just a whole lot easier to ignore a situation than to face it head on. But we shouldn't just ignore people. We need to pull off the ghosting bandaid and just be brutally honest with each other—for our relationships and for ourselves.
*Name has been changed.