Written By: Rebecca Hirsch, AMFT
Thanks to modern technology, it is easier than ever to find someone to go out with. Dating has never been more convenient, accessible, and normalized thanks to online dating and mobile dating apps. For better or for worse, you can have a new date in a matter of minutes after signing in to your favorite app and swiping right. More people getting married today have met through online or mobile dating more than through any other way, combined (including through friends, work, school, and so forth). This information tells us that most singles are online or mobile dating, and for many of them, it’s working! On the flip side, this also tells us that many people are going on a variety of dates with different people, which means there has to be a lot of “break-ups” or even “ghosting”. However, none of us are taught how to properly end a “relationship” or courtship that may have only been a handful of dates or several weeks. Ghosting is a form of passive or passive aggressive communication that can “haunt” you in relationships to come. It is always best to be assertive and communicate that you are not interested to your date to set yourself up for healthier communication down the road.
Ghosting is the term used for when you have been dating someone for a period of time, and instead of formally ending things, the person simply disappears, never to be heard from again. It is safe to say that most of us have been the perpetrator or the victim of the ghosting epidemic. Why tell someone you’re not interested and risk hurting their feelings when you can simply vanish? Ghosting has become even more popular since many people meeting through online and mobile apps do not run the usual risk of running into each other in a mutual group of friends or in the neighborhood. Let’s face it, ghosting is easier than telling the other person the truth; however, just because it’s easier does not make it the right thing to do. For those of you who have been ghosted on, you know first hand how disappointing, confusing, and hurtful it can be.
I often see singles who are in individual therapy and are having difficulty navigating all of the nuances and etiquette of online and mobile dating. While we may spend some of our session debriefing the latest bad date he or she had last weekend, we usually end up talking about next steps. Do you want to see them again? If it’s a no, we talk about which red flags they saw and what about this person rubbed them the wrong way. We have all been on bad dates, and most of the time, it is completely out of our control if we do not click with someone. What is in our control, however, is how we treat this other person who we did not click with. I always advocate that clients use the Golden Rule when dating: treat this person how you would want to be treated, even if you’re not into them romantically. Therefore, instead of simply dropping off the face of the earth and stop responding to their calls and texts, be honest and say how you feel.
Some of you may be asking yourself, what would I even say to someone I just started dating without hurting their feelings? There is a kind, compassionate, and respectful way of telling someone you are not romantically interested in them; however, we cannot control how this makes the other person feel. It may hurt their feelings, but at least it will give them closure. Saying something along the lines of, “I have had a nice time getting to know you, and I think you are a great person. I do not think we are a good fit romantically, and I do not want to waste your time. I wish you nothing but the best moving forward. Take care.” When you are honest and communicate in a kind and respectful way, the other person may be sad, but they will respect your honesty.
It is difficult to tell someone you are not interested in them, but it is an important skill to practice as you begin meeting more people. It teaches you to be respectful and honest as well as to speak up for how you are feeling, which is necessary as you enter more serious and long-term relationships. Ghosting only perpetuates passive aggressive and passive communication in relationships, which can potentially cause other issues down the road. So, please, let’s just all stop ghosting.
If you are interested in learning better communication skills in dating and relationships, contact Symmetry Counseling to set up an appointment with an individual or couples therapist.