Ghosting: We Might All Do It, But We Can Do Better
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
Ahhh, good ole ghosting.
In simple terms, ghosting is disappearing from a conversation or a connection without telling the other person that you’re not going to respond or engage anymore. The other person is then left wondering if something tragic happened to you, if they said something wrong that you turned you off, or if you just got bored or emotionally unavailable and are not interested in communicating anymore. Ghosting is unfortunately a super common behavior we see with folks using dating apps. It’s confusing. It sucks. So many of us feel this...yet so many of us still do this to others, despite knowing it doesn’t feel great when it’s done to us. This is what I like to refer to as “the ghosting feedback loop from hell.”
We think to ourselves “Oh, it’s just one person. What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t respond? We’ve only been talking for 2 weeks, I don’t owe them anything, I am bored...etc” And although these things might be true in that moment with this particular person, when we all feel that way about most people we talk to and don’t immediately feel chemistry with, we are creating a dating culture that is simultaneously perpetrating and trying to heal from a social behavior that doesn’t serve us, and we ourselves have made normal. Ghosting was not a thing until many of us began to subscribe to the idea that we don’t owe anyone a departing statement or closure. We’ll tell ourselves there’s “plenty of other people they’re probably talking to,” but the compassionate piece of digital connections has been seriously impacted by, simply put, a plain lack of manners and vulnerability.
So what can we do about this?
I notice that a lot of well-intentioned folks become serial ghosters simply because they don’t have good app boundaries and wind up getting burnt out, deleting the apps, taking really long pauses, or just letting conversations expire because they don’t have it in them to keep engaging with many different people at once. This can easily be resolved by following 2 “rules.”
The first one is creating a swiping schedule that fits nicely into your routine. A generic one that I will recommend to my clients is Monday through Thursday you can use the apps for 20-30 minutes each day. Friday gets 10 minutes of your time, and then you take the weekend off and resume engagement on Monday.
The second rule is not entertaining more than 4 conversations at a time. I see a lot of folks struggle with this because if they get a match, they just want to start engaging at that very moment because they’re excited about the prospect of actually connecting with someone. The reality is it’s really hard to stay present with more than 4 conversations going on. As conversations end or maybe someone just stops answering you, you can unmatch them and swipe until you match with enough more folks to fill that limit of 4 people. This may look like swiping one person at a time--I know that might sound counterintuitive, but this method of intentional swiping is very effective in helping reduce app burn out.
So...how do you not ghost, then? Here’s a generic template that I use with my clients that works in most losing-interest situations. Whether it’s 100% truthful is less important to me, the main point here is that this person isn’t being left on read and they have closure. “Hey ___! Sorry for the delayed response, I don’t have app notifications on. Now that I think of it, it felt really nice to take a break from the [insert app name here] realm, and I’m feeling like I should lean into that. It was nice chatting with you though, and I’m wishing you so well! Hope you find what you’re looking for.” 99% of the time, this will be received well. They’ll thank you for letting them know, and then you can unmatch them and begin intentionally swiping again. Repeat this process until you find what you’re looking for. 😊
I’m rooting for you out there, wishing you the best, and if you’d like to chat more about anything I’ve written here or see what it can look like to work together, don’t be shy in reaching out. I would love to hear from you. 💓
About the Author
Marla Goldstein (she/her) is a white, cis, queer relationship coach residing on Abenaki land in Burlington, Vermont. For her day job, she is a dating violence prevention educator. Marla loves relationships so much that she decided to build an entire business dedicated to supporting folks within their own dynamics with the free time she has. G-Spot Relationship Coaching is a labor of love that Marla is very grateful to extend to our community. When she’s not wearing her coaching hat, Marla can be found practicing yoga, prancing around the woods, or talking on the phone with her friends and family.