MagazineNovember

Ghosting, a strategy most foul, strange, and unnatural

“To ghost, or not to ghost,” Hamlet contemplated, glaring at the piling notifications on his phone — an endless list of messages all from Ophelia and all left without a reply. Ding! It was her 24th text that morning. “I guess t’will beest a ghosting then,” Hamlet concluded, eventually leading to Ophelia drowning in a swamp.

Dating in today’s culture — where a millennial’s main form of communication is texting — chances are, you’ve ghosted someone or been ghosted yourself. Ghosting is the term given for cutting off all forms of communication with your temporal Tinder bae, hoping they will “get the hint” that he or she is no longer worthy of your 2 a.m. booty call. The spooky technique works well for those who quiver at the thought of confrontation and regard the silent treatment as a plan of action worthy of Zeus himself — who was infamous for his masterful juggling of mythical side chicks, be it Goddess, human, or rock. Though ghosting may seem like the easiest way to cut ties and end a relationship (I plead guilty), do you know who’s left without a proper explanation? The goddess, the human, and the rock.

“A relationship that was pretty insignificant to a person can take weeks to get over only because of the method of termination,” Dr. Alice Sohn, a clinical psychologist, told Bustle in an interview. “It’s not because the relationship itself was so fantastic and not even because the other person was very appealing, but just because people can’t tolerate being left without explanation.”

As a former ghostee, I can relate to the madness which results from being left without an explanation — “oh, woe is me, t’have been ghosted,” cries Ophelia. The tactic has made me lose a lot of respect for people I would have otherwise been able to regard warmly but still, it didn’t stop me from committing the act so foul and unfair. I once ghosted someone after a couple dates, deciding I saw no future with him. I began archiving any message he sent me, instead of telling him up front the harsh but honest truth. Life bit me in the ass when I realized he actually lived in the same apartment building as me. I maneuvered through the hallways with a constant sense of fear and guilt, praying not to encounter a problem I was too immature to handle — ghosting really does say a lot about someone’s maturity and communication skills. A quick conversation with someone, telling them the honest truth about your lack of interest can give closure to even the most undeserving of dates, rather than leaving them flailing helplessly in the deep end of your DM.

Asking some of my friends the reasons why they’ve ghosted others, some included: bad sex, a terrible date, incompatibility (when you realize you’re on a date with a full-blown racist), rising annoyance or just a general lack of interest. It’s hard not to take the easy way out by virtually disappearing. There’s even an app designed to ghost people for you — by turning on the ghosting feature on the Burner app, contacts will receive generic answers generated by the app that come off as dry, disengaged responses. This is perfect for all you lazy heartless bastards out there.

With ghosting becoming such a common method in terminating relationships, it’s unfair to peg everyone who ghosts as a bad person. Considering the possible effects it can have on the recipient, perhaps it would be best to let the poor sucker know your true colours — a.k.a. not responding to your next “where art thou?” inquiry with “new phone, who dis?”

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