The colloquialism “ghosting” refers to the action of severing all communication with another person without warning or explanation, indefinitely. All attempts to reconnect with the person who ghosted you will be in vain and met only with a cold silence. When we get ghosted, we are left looking at our empty, upturned palms, asking ourselves, what have I done to deserve this?
Dating apps makes us feel like we have hundreds of people available to us at any given time. Swiping right feels transactional, like add to cart. This de-incentivises actually getting to know someone, or overlooking someone’s perceived flaws. As soon as we see something in someone we do not like, ghosting them and moving onto the next match seems like the easiest option. It’s also easy to delete numbers and block users on social media without any sort of face to face confrontation.
The idea that this person was trying to avoid hurting you seems counterintuitive because ghosting, like breaking up with someone over text, is clearly an unkind and uncouth thing to do. Often though, the case is that people would rather just disappear rather than have a hard conversation about why they aren’t interested in the connection anymore. A ghoster may believe that ending things abruptly is kinder than wasting each other’s time dragging out a situation that isn’t going anywhere.
People with high emotional intelligence are able to understand and manage their own emotions and those of others. They are able to express how they feel in conversation, and listen to the emotions of others apathetically. People who don’t have these aptitudes might become overwhelmed or afraid in vulnerable situations and opt to just disappear rather than to face them.
In the digital age, it’s easy to forget that behind every screen and profile is a real human person. To sever a connection with another person with no warning or explanation is a hurtful thing to do, so try to avoid it at all costs.
Jackie Donaldson is an American writer and teacher. Her work has been published in Loud Coffee Press, The Vehicle, Across the Margin and others.