Communication · Dating · relationships · Thoughts on... · Uncategorized

Ghost In The Cell(Phone)

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I may not be active on the dating scene, but I am aware that the times they are a-changing and these days it’s all about the swiping. I know that mirror selfies are a hard swipe left, and photos with dogs are a swipe right, and when I’m talking to friends who are users of Tinder, Bumble, or OKCupid, I’ve noticed something come up over and over and over (and over) again…

Ghosting.

I’m not talking about the Slow Fade. I’m not talking about slowly stretching out the time between unenthusiastic responses until they completely drop off into the void of forgettable connections. Last time I was single, the Slow Fade was considered the “kind” way to let people know you’d really rather not. The hint was subtle at first, but the process was drawn out and gradual and by the time the other person was taking four days to reply “Yeah lol,” you knew. You knew it wasn’t going anywhere. One last, “Okay let’s meet up soon!” (read: Never) and you were off the hook.

This ghosting business though, it’s different. It’s rough. The dates will go well, the texts will be promising, and then-

NOTHING.

One day they’ll be texting back within seconds, saying they see themselves with you and they’re a little worried they’re taking things too fast but they can’t help themselves, and the next they’ve vanished completely from this corporeal realm. Someone else will text deep into the night after your second date about how great a time they had with you, and how they can’t wait to see you again… and then they’re gone as if instantly vaporised by an alien weapon. Except that unfortunately, they haven’t vanished or been vaporised; thanks to the power of social media, you can see that they were last on Whatsapp two hours ago.

Three days later they’re sharing memes on Twitter like you never existed.

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Everything is so instant now. Push notifications on your phone tell you about likes and retweets and messages and statuses the minute they’re posted. Everything happens NOW.* Does the ghosting phenomenon mean that people are no longer willing to invest a little time in being kind to people they’re not interested in? Is it a case of, ‘Why bother?’ You’re not interested, it’s not going anywhere, why waste time writing back to them when you could be spending those valuable 30 seconds swiping right on someone you might actually connect with?

I don’t understand.

I’m trying to understand, but I’m failing miserably. I’ve tried to look at ghosting from the most sympathetic angle (they don’t want to hurt you by straight-up saying they’re not interested) but even that falls a bit flat. It is far more confusing and disorienting for someone to be unabashedly enthusiastic to the point of cringe and then drop off the face of the earth without so much as an adios, than it is to reply to a couple of questions with monosyllables before hitting them with a quick, ‘Hey, sorry but I’m just not feeling it. Was lovely to meet you though.’

In the first scenario, there are multiple things that can have happened. Maybe they were in some horrendous accident, or they dropped their phone in the toilet, or they were falsely accused of a heinous crime and are now in prison where they had to use their one phone call to ring their lawyer, or they’re in a monastic hut on a remote island somewhere with no reception, and they’ve been desperately trying to communicate with you via smoke signals, but since smoke signalling is a lost art you saw his, ‘I miss you and can’t wait to see you again, how about Friday?‘ wisps of smoke, and mistook them for nothing more than distant cloud.

I mean really, anything could have happened.

The second scenario is a lot more cut and dried. They’re just not that into you. It is what it is. It sucks, but there’s no ambiguity. There’s no need to expend valuable mental energy wondering what happened. It doesn’t feel like something potentially promising was cut short for reasons unknown. You just didn’t click and sometimes that happens.

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Maybe it’s because I don’t use Tinder or Bumble (unless I’m using them on the behalf of close friends, which is great fun and highly recommended), but it really bothers me that ghosting is so common. I heard the other day that ghosting is “common after the second date.” What? Why are people putting the effort into pretending to be interested, rather than putting that same amount of effort into slowly stepping back in a gentle way?

Absorb the fact that at least one person out there thinks it’s a reasonable move to text someone about having kids… and then never text again. Just sit with that for a moment. What is that about? Am I the only one that feels like the leap between those two actions (the text about kids and the ghosting) is a bit like the leap between two four-storey buildings? Like, sure, you can do it, but I wouldn’t advise it and I definitely don’t think it’s healthy.

I think certain things are getting lost in our instantaneous culture; I think some kindness is slipping through the cracks in communication.

Have you ghosted or been ghosted before? Can you explain the thought process? I’m feeling very old and out of the loop here. There’s enough to be confused and worried about in the world than why your Tinder date hasn’t whatsapped you back even though they’re online and you know they’re online and they know you know they’re online…

Can’t we just bring back the Slow Fade? Is it retro enough yet to be cool again?

*I’ve disabled pretty much all push notifications on my phone for the last while. Other than Whatsapp and Snapchat, nothing gets through instantly anymore. It’s actually been pretty great! If you have a lot of social media accounts I definitely recommend trying it for a week.

 

0 thoughts on “Ghost In The Cell(Phone)

  1. The idea that a direct message is necessary to cement a relationship’s end is yet another obfuscation Quinn. When it comes to modern digital relationships, the rhythm of the exchange tells us as much as its literal content, and it doesn’t take any specialized skill to read between the lines. If you’re initiating all the texts in the relationship, the recipient just isn’t that into you; if you’re not getting any texts back, the recipient isn’t into you at all.

    By the way, Loved the word flow 🙂

    1. Oh yeah, I definitely agree – it’s the weird excessive enthusiasm followed by abrupt disappearance that baffles me! I would consider what you’re referring to as the Slow Fade. It’s easy to take the hint if the hint is given over the course of a couple of “Yes,” “No,” “LOL”s, but when the last message is “I can’t wait to teach our kids Disney songs together!” and then they vanish into thin air I think it’s… bizarre, to say the least.

      1. Yup true. I guess 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.

        1. Yeah, it’s just puzzling. Seems like it would be less effort to gradually drift off in one word answers than pretending to be really interested and then *POOF!* disappear in a cloud of confusion and mixed messages.

  2. I have been away from the dating world for over four years so this is all really confusing to me. You just wait until the second date to vanish? Why bother? I think I’m getting old. I see myself as that old lady who doesn’t understand internet meme lol

  3. You and I seem to share the same quality: we care too much. I think that’s what it all boils down to; that people like you and me who prefer to cut ties in a clear and concise way care for people they become involved with, even if its just a little bit. I also think it goes back to the golden rule. Given the situation, I would prefer someone to be straight with me and tell me out right, ‘this isn’t working for me,’ than for them to avoid me altogether and leave me wondering.

    When I was doing my research on dating terms for my post a few weeks ago, I read up on ghosting, but I guess I never gave it much thought. It really is a horrible way to ‘end it’ with someone…

      1. And I don’t know about you, but I can be a full blown worrier. Like getting the cops involved because I could almost certainly guarantee that they must have been kidnapped or stuck in a well somewhere and Lassie is no where to be found… kind of worrier.

        1. Ha! Luckily my google fu is usually good enough to determine that they have actually had access to the internet and are, in fact, just not interested. Not sure if that’s better or worse!

          1. I’ve never used Whatapp (I think that’s how you spell it) and I’m not even sure what its used for…. man I sound ancient! I just turned 25 last Sunday. You’d think I turned 75 from this comment!!

          2. Haha it’s just for text messages really, people here use it instead of sending normal texts! Maybe it’s not as big in America?

          3. I’ve heard of it before here, I just never cared what it was for. I have facebook and was talked into getting Snapchat and that’s it for me. No Twitter. No Instagram. I would probably chose to shoot myself in the face before ever turning to a dating app. I’m going to stop now as I don’t want to sound any more prehistoric as I have already.

          4. Hahaha you’re on the slippery slope to old age! Once you start saying “BACK IN MY DAY” you should worry!

          5. I haven’t quite made it there, though I have caught myself saying, “I remember when…” that’s not so bad, right?? Oh who am I kidding. I should just retire now and enjoy what few years I have left.

          6. Agreed! The mere thought of dating apps make me want to stab myself in the eye. That right…. I would rather lose a damn eye than resort to this nonsense!

            All my friends have suggested that I set one up because “Mr Right isn’t just going to show up at my door.”

            Pfftt. It will happen when it’s supposed to… Without the worry of swiping pictures of the lunatics!

  4. The first guy I ever connected with via a dating app was just the cutest towards me- We’d swap “Good morning” texts, “Hope you’re having a good day” texts, and “Sweet dreams” texts while we were getting to know each other (read: “determining whether the other was a serial killer or not before deciding to meet up in person”). Well one day, my “Good morning” text went unanswered, as did my “Hope you had a good day” text that I tentatively sent in the evening. Shit, was I being ghosted by the very first guy I talked to on a dating app? Nope. The next day he apologized for ignoring me and told me that he had to take the previous day to think over a few things and that he didn’t think we’d work out (I guess his ex was coming back into the picture). I had so much respect for him and his honesty that I vowed to never ghost anyone. And I never did! Sure it got me screamed at a few times (men and their egos) but at least I went to bed with a clear conscience every night.

    I’m all for being honest and ripping that damn bandaid off. Just tell someone that you don’t see it going anywhere and let them off the hook to go find someone who just wants to relationship them up!

  5. I like the idea of dating apps because meeting people/dating is HARD nowadays but I dread to think what would happen if I ended up back in the dating game, I’m so out of touch lol!
    We were discussing this the other night with Kevins friend, who is currently a serial Tinder dater and admits he does that to girls all the time, I felt like he didnt appreciate there was an actual person with feelings on the recieving end, could it be the lack of face to face interaction?
    My run buddy Emma is only 20 and quite a young 20 at that, she had been messaging a guy on FB and arranged to go bowling, he stood her up – i could have cried for her, she was so excited about the date- I kid you not, he messaged her a whole 2 MONTHS later saying ‘sorry about the bowling night, I broke my leg’ WHAT?!

    1. I have a friend who got stood up as well and I swear I was so angry on her behalf I was like that scene in Family Guy where Stewie travels a million miles just to pull out a step ladder and punch Will Ferrell in the face.

      Like that, except with the stander-upper. Not Will Ferrell. To be clear.

      1. Hahahaha! Yeah I felt the same, Emma is so sweet i would have gotten my step ladder out too if I’d known where to find him. I like Will Ferrell, but sometimes I could punch him in the face too…I’m not a violent person, honest!

  6. The problem is that some people have not got the courage to say, I enjoyed meeting you but I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere, they could text that if they did not have the guts to say it to someone’s face.

    When I was working in a selling role, I would quote someone for the business and then be waiting for a decision. I would try to ring them but they were never available. So in the end I would say to their secretary or whoever. It’s not a problem, I just need to know if he is interested. Please can you ask him and next time I ring you can tell me. Then we will both stop wasting our time. That always worked.

    Where do these people on dating apps get off hurting and stringing people along. 😳 argh 😤 rant over.

      1. Seriously though would you want to be with a person like that! I found the best dating sites were the one that you paid for. The people on those sites were more serious about finding the right person. Don’t get me wrong , you get players on their too, but not as many. 😉

  7. Not to be a shameless self-promoter, but if you check out Day 192, I actually talked about ghosting as well. I can’t stand the concept. I think the whole concept of dating got thrown out of wack when we gave people too much power in their thumbs.

  8. Really great piece, dating apps seem to have corrupted us in a sense; the instantaneous nature of them (which you mentioned) means that there is always the possibility that somebody more interesting is out there. The people who created these sites are definitely sadists for presenting humanity this headache haha.

  9. I’ve never heard of ghosting before, but sadly I know of it’s existence. I don’t understand either why people suddenly stop messaging when the conversation has been going well and long paragraphs are exchanged… it’s frustrating even before a date, when you’re just in the chatting stage :/
    The other thing I don’t understand with apps like tinder is why bother swiping right and then never talking? I know for some it’s just a game, but surely not for everyone?! Even when I make the effort to start a conversation, hardly anyone replies.. if you’re not interested in getting to know people why swipe right? dating apps are hardly confidence boosters aha…

  10. It’s awful it’s like they disappeared from the face of the earth. It’s worse when you haven’t met them . I was struggling bad.
    Anyhow all good now. We still keep in touch. Thinking back now it happened for a good reason it opened new doors for me. It made me try harder at living life.

  11. I have a theory — and I guess several sub-theories — on electronic dating sites/apps. I’ve been single now since late 2001; divorced since 2002. I’ve tried just about every possible site/app out there, especially the big ones, the mega popular ones. I’ve personally concluded any combination of three things (hahaha):

    A) I’m very (too?) cerebral for all the hyped “features” dating sites/apps advertise to attract paying members…there’s a business agenda and it is not the condition of MY love life. 😛 Those sites/apps are NOT in the business of quickly losing members to monogamous romance and marriage. That would be a waste of time and money. They are in the business of finding (marketing to) searching lonely singles and keeping them, even (possibly? probably?) subtly manipulating an ongoing paying membership… of staying single for a profitable period. Many ways to do that. 😉

    B) The site/app controls much/most/all of your and other interested singles’ methods of communication, at least at the (critical) beginning which does not necessarily reflect how I would communicate! 😮

    and C) any internet/electronic “connection” is open to WIDE interpretation of self and other singles. What do I mean exactly? People portray themselves in a kaleidoscope of ways. They communicate that kaleidoscope of personal & physical traits in a kaleidoscope of ways, not necessarily how… say 100 other singles would describe you. Bottom-line? The internet offers an endless medium for self-portrayal and wild imagination, accurate, inaccurate, and anything in between. Thus, in the end it is hit or miss, but MORE SO when not in person face-to-face. Hahahaha!

    Me? I’d much rather just do it all on my own, in person, for free while being very careful not to allow “falling in love with love,” rather than an actual person — make that imperfect person with baggage like me! Hahahahaha!

    In the meantime, I’m having a BLAST!!! 😀

    Great thought-provoking post Quinn! <3

  12. Reading this makes me feel like I am a billion years old and living on another planet. I have never heard of this, haha! Plus, I was married long before the whole tinder swipe thing started. Thank God! But even if I was dating during all of this, I would not do it over the phone! I am a technology hater and am a firm believer in face to face communication in life! People deserved to be “ghosted” if they are going to rely on an app to rule their love life. haha

    1. Ha! I’m just relieved I haven’t had to deal with any of it! I think it’s really hard out there now for people… whole new world!

  13. I am right there with you girl! I have heard of the ghosting and I just cannot wrap my head around it either. I feel old most days as well, especially when I focus on the dating game again. The thought of dating these days… Whew. With all the apps (that I refuse to use)…. And how unkind people are getting as well (you hit this right on the head).

    It is sad and unfortunate 🙁 what is an old soul to do!? We will figure this out ❤️😂

    Also… Pretty confident that I’ve missed some smoke signals, it’s the only thing that makes sense!!

  14. I am starting to feel that the very many choices that dating apps and sites provide is actually diluting the intent of genuine people. Obviously every great girl/guy out there is getting many messages to chose from and if I were to hypothesize the probability of two good people to meet, it would be pretty bleak. Either people choose the first flower at the edge of the garden or keep venturing further and further into the bushes searching for the ever elusive perfection.

    Ahem, if the above paragraph did not tell you in vivid colors, how successful I have been with my online dating endeavors, I believe nothing will 🙂

    Again, a great post Quinn. I cannot imagine you are still single (or did I misread an observatory post as a journal entry?) but here is my share of rhetoric (it sucks, I know) – there is someone out there specially for you…(yawn!)…

  15. I so agree! I don’t understand those kind of people. Like when a guy texts you every day and gets all…poetic then disappears entirely (of course not from his other social media…) only to text you a year later AT his wedding day to inform you that he, indeed, is getting married that day!

    + The being ghosted flowchart is so true it hurts! Love your post! 🙂

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