Being ‘dumped’ in a relationship is a fate akin to hell on Earth. Being unceremoniously dumped on the dating game can be nearly as bad. It can make a person feel absolutely awful. That is why being ‘ghosted’ is the scourge of modern dating.
The Huffington Post describes ‘ghosting’ thus: “Ghosting refers to the anecdotally pervasive act where one dater ends a relationship by simply disappearing. The ghost does not give an explanation of any sort, leaving the ghosted wondering where he or she went wrong”. Yip, that sounds far too familiar for too many of us. The same website and many others have gone into great detail about the horrors of ghosting in a number of different articles. No surprise – it really does warrant so much attention.
And why so much attention? Because ghosting, also known as ‘the slow fade,’ has proliferated in this technological age. Search for the words ‘ghosting’ or ‘ghosted’ and just wait for the gazillions of articles and posts and threads to come tumbling out at you. It’s little wonder. It has never been easier to hook up, play around and then just push off into the sunset, without even a tra-la-la to the person left behind.
Deb Besinger wrote a superb blog piece titled ‘The Art of a Kind Goodbye’ in which she writes about striving to be kind in both dating and in life generally. I like her emphasis on kindness and the need to be kind in all your goodbyes, however hard they may be, and to even those in whom you are no longer interested or never were. She is completely right. It may sound melodramatic to say, but we live in an emotionally brutal word – one could even call it ‘brutalist’. Too many people are too quick to discard emotions and, therefore, people, as if clicking a bothersome pop-up on a screen. Well, neither you nor I should feel like pop-ups in anyone’s life.
And, no, the cliché of ‘being unkind to be kind’ is just a pile of modern Me-Myself-and-I psychobabble claptrap. People just say nonsense like that to salve their (very small) consciences. Worse still, such behaviour has become very pervasive. It is far more acceptable to be downright dismissive of even those we are actively dating than it once was. Of course people have been doing it for eons. I am sure there were Romans in togas ghosting other Romans in togas in Pompeii the very day in 79AD that Mt. Vesuvius decided to lose its temper. I am equally sure that ancient Egyptians got ghosted left and right and even vented their frustrations in hieroglyphics. It’s just that today it has become so much more normative, even acceptable, to a most disconcerting degree.
I declare it to be disconcerting because I declare ghosting as we know it today to be unacceptable. It is unacceptable behaviour because being validated as a person is one of the things most innate for all humans. You validate a person by respecting them and acknowledging them as a human being, even if you wish to no longer date them. Being ghosted invalidates the wronged person, dehumanizes them. It is unacceptable because it too often attempts to justify itself by hiding behind technology and a facade of being flippant and loose with people’s emotions. And that is why the ghosted can feel so hurt, feel so wronged and even want to slash tyres. Because for any rational person it’s not about being dumped – it’s about being shown just a modicum of respect.
There is nothing glib or cute or remotely acceptable about ghosting someone, anyone. Ultimately, ghosting is unacceptable because it is emotionally and morally weak and is the very antithesis of what makes us human and civilized. As the American actress Laura Linney said, “Doing the right thing has power”. Ghosting is wrong on every level. So, have you just been ghosted for no sane reason? Have a sudden urge to slash some tyres? I understand – I’ll supply the knife.