The realm supernatural is mysterious and unknown. We turn towards it with curiosity, seeking to explain occurrences to which we cannot attribute any certain causation.
To our misfortune, “the other side” is not the only place which in we experience such an infinite inquiry. That’s right, the newest supernatural site happens to be taking place in front millennials very eyes: modern dating.
Since the fall of traditionalism and the rise of the internet, the new dating terrain is already disorienting.
It is riddled with ambiguous and differentiating practices that are guaranteed to explode in the face of anyone who misplaces step. There are no clear delineating lines of meaning or commitment.
This already confusing arena goes beyond the corporeal in the phenomenon known as “ghosting.” As I am sure many of you know, ghosting is when someone you have had a reasonable sense to believe reciprocates romantic interest in you, virtually disappears from your life without explanation.
This typically happens when they stop responding to your texts. Then that behaviour just continues ad infinitum.
The questions hit alongside their absence. What did I do? Is their phone broken? Stolen? Is it cause I squirted?
It is okay to send a check-up message.
Fuck it, even a civil yet confrontational message is okay as well. But leave it at that. If its been 4+ days, do not attempt any further seance.
Ghosting is quite easy to do for a couple of reasons.
When online, we are disconnected from others in a way that deprives them of their humanism. French philosopher Levinas says that the face of the other is a crucial reminder that there is something beyond our own sense of self. Their face calls upon us the responsibility to treat them respectfully because our face calls the same requirement upon them.
Someone’s dating or social media profile is not enough to stimulate sensory experience of the face. Therefore online, we lack the beckoning call of responsibility to other people.
Not only this, but our phones are also sites for things other than relationships so it is easy to make a decision to do something else instead of reply. Moreover, in the case of dating sites, there are many more options for connections to pursue than ripening or cutting off the ones we have made.
Ultimately there is diffusion of responsibility.
Couple that with someone who fears the inherent confrontation and uncomfortableness that accompanies rejecting someone, and you got yourself a ghost.
Our devices may inhibit us from the same compassion that is elicited around others in real life, but this doesn’t mean we can’t summon up decency in ourselves to end a relationship.
Just because it’s hard to break up, doesn’t mean we should stay in a relationship with them. It also doesn’t mean we should never reply to them again.
If you are concerned about the person’s feelings and this is why you ghost, this is just a rationalized contradiction to avoid your own discomfort. They will be hurt either way. It is our responsibility to mitigate a hurt if doing so is not a major inconvenience to our own welfare.
If you have a choice, you have a basic responsibility.
I will recognize that there is a wide range of relationships with varying degrees of responsibility. Obviously, not responding to Tinder messages from someone you have been talking to for a couple hours/days isn’t really ghosting.
So when is it warranted to use this term?
My criterion is this: you have to have been given sufficient reason to think that this relationship had some semblance of mutual understanding of connection and future planning.
In eHarmony’s guide to coping with ghosting, they claim ghosting can happen after more than one date: “as soon as you’ve been on more than one date with someone, if you don’t want to see them again, you owe them an explanation.”
Yet this seems vaguely arbitrary.
I think can ghost someone if there is sufficient reason for them to think you will have future plans be it in real-life or if you will continue messaging online.
In this way, you can ghost someone you have never even met.
However, if someone has been a complete utter wanker to you, you don’t owe them shit.
Lack of explanation is what makes being the ghostee so frustratingly disempowering.
Unlike your typical run-off the mill rejection to which I am no stranger (yet still fairly bad at receiving), ghosting is worse because not only are you left with the typical what-did-I-do-wrong questions but because this person denied you of basic respect.
As unsatisfying it is to hear “I’m sorry we are not going to work for X reason,” you at least get the finality in knowing that this connection is not mutually desired.
Without this rudimentary explanation, there is no closure. Ghosting is the lowest kind of rejection.
Your phone shapeshifts into a cemetery. You are haunted by absence and question, visiting their grave – social media – for some kind of answer. That is if they haven’t yet blocked you.
I cannot write this post and pretend that I have never participated in this supernatural asshole-ness. Perhaps you have too.
But think about that one person you liked. The one-that-got-away if you will. Someone you saw some kind of future hangout with. You talked about hanging out later. They were (apparently) sensitive, funny, charming, whatever.
Then just like that, they fucked-off into the ether.
That stings doesn’t it? Now next time you consider this unconfrontational rejection, assume that you are this kind of likeable person to the other, save them confusion, and just reject them like a human being.
I suppose we must get ghosted to learn not to ghost.
But one thing I am sure of is that it would be in the best interest of everyone to exorcise this commonplace practice from our social norms. In this way, we are encouraging the weaker links in ethics to keep up with our standard of toleration. This is how we make tangible changes to the unbalanced levels of emotional maturity in modern dating.