Missing: Man of Finance who goes by the name of Jeremy. Late twenties, auburn hair, last seen in Chelsea in August 2009. The first man who ever “ghosted” me.
“Ghosting,” the act of disappearing in a phantom-like fashion from someone you are seeing, is prevalent in today’s dating culture and it is objectively terrible behavior. Ghosting can happen after a one-date rendezvous or months of seeing each other – no one is safe from this juvenile phenomenon. Take a horde of singles living in a big city, give them tech devices and dating apps, add a dash of childishness and you’ve got a recipe for relationship disaster stories. For Millennials, “and then I never heard from him again,” is one of the most common endings to great date stories. And we all deserve a happier, non-Sopranos-style ending.
“I think people have been ending relationships badly since the beginning of time,” says Dr. Nicole L. Cromer, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York City. But now that we can hide behind our phones and swipe right on Tinder to find our next date, it’s that much easier to be anonymous and to not take responsibility, explains Cromer, who specializes in relationship issues. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it isn’t gutless.
When I met Jeremy at a bar in Midtown on a random Wednesday night, I was incredibly naïve to the New York dating scene. He was genuinely interested in me – I thought. The idea of feigning attraction in an attempt to get someone in bed was nonsensical to me. He texted me nonstop and we met up twice within days of meeting. Soon after, the momentum of our communication came to a startling halt.
When I reached out, he made excuses about how work was keeping him from going out. He was a few years older and worked in banking, so this was plausible. A week later, I thoughtfully asked if he had time for lunch one day soon – a date with a built-in timetable for a busy trader. I blankly stared at my phone, awaiting his response, until eventually I blinked and realized what had happened: I had been ghosted.
Sure, he promised me nothing. I was the one who had the Pollyanna-ish expectation that a few fun nights out together meant he should, at the very least, digitally acknowledge my existence.
More than the difficulty of dealing with the loss of him, I struggle with stomaching the lack of human decency of ghosting. I understand that there’s no future for us, but a simple acknowledgment of an appreciation for the time we did spend together, “Hey, I had a fun few dates with you but I don’t think we’re right for each other beyond that,” would provide so much more closure. It’s always a blow, but you can get over it in a few days. When the ghost disappears, you spend the first few days wondering when you’re going to get a text back and then weeks trying to figure out what went wrong.
Jeremy might have been the first to pull a stunt like this on me – but his actions are certainly not unique.
“Whether you just go radio silent on them, or cancel on them, I definitely know a lot of guys who end things that way and are guilty of it,” explains one New Yorker, named Jimmy. “You had fun, they’re not Ms. Right but it was a good run and you just kind of fade it out.”
Jimmy, 25, says that men, too, are frequently on the receiving end of this. Because the likelihood of running into someone again is slim – and the probability of finding another date within the hour is high, thanks to an inundation of digital dating services – some find this to be a viable solution to ceasing contact with someone. More than simply being a symptom of living in a transient city, Jimmy believes that immaturity also plays a role, and agrees that ghosting hurts.
Confrontation in this instance is defined not by conflict, but by being upfront and letting the person know, “I’m just not that into you.”
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