The definition of ghosting is ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly withdrawing communication...
As you probably know, dating is not easy. Plus, when it comes to telling a date you’re not interested in seeing them again, it’s sometimes a case of “easier said than done.”
Sure, dating can be fun and exciting, but after a string of dates where you don’t feel there’s chemistry or you and your date don’t have as much common as you appeared to have online, it’s easy to become disheartened. Along with dating comes the question: When you’re not interested in someone, do you tell them? Maybe you thought the date went poorly, but your date had no clue. Then, when they write you a follow-up text or email and ask you out again, are you honest with them… or do you ghost?
Lately, I’ve tried going the honest route, saying something like “It was great to meet you, but I didn’t feel a romantic connection/didn’t feel we matched,” but with bad results: While I expected messages like “Thank you for your honesty,” instead, my dates have gotten very defensive, writing messages that could be considered verbal (well, written) abuse. So right now, I’m on the fence about what to tell someone if it happens again…
Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, licensed psychologist and executive director and co-founder of the Triune Therapy Group, weighs in. “As a psychologist who works with people around communication and dating issues frequently, I think it’s important to break the trend of ghosting or not being accountable for how we feel,” she said. “It is cruel to leave someone hanging, if you suspect they like you, and more often than not, hurt feelings are better than being ignored, as it provides the other person the opportunity to move on in a clean fashion.”
However, like me, Dr. Balestrieri has also found that being straightforward does not always work. “In general, when I am not interested in a man, I don’t pursue him, but I don’t ghost him either,” she said. “If he reaches out to me, I’ll tell him I don’t think we’re a good fit and thank him for the chance to get to know him. There have been a few instances where the rejection was not taken well, so at that point, I have to block or ghost them, but I usually tell them I won’t be responding to them anymore and to please refrain from contacting me.”
To solve this be-upfront-or-not mystery, we decided to ask other women, too, what they do if they’re not interested in somebody who’s interested in them. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Jennifer, 45
“I wouldn’t tell them on a date, but if they had a good time and asked me out again and I didn’t feel the same, I’d probably just write a text or message back and say, ‘Thanks so much, but unfortunately, I didn’t feel like we were a match on my end’ — or something to that effect.”
2. Missy, 39
“Honesty is always best, but it’s tough! I’ve tried a version of, ‘It’s not you, it’s me (and I didn’t feel a connection, or something like that),’ but it doesn’t usually work well, so then I delay sending that message so long that I ghost more often than not.”
3. Lizbeth, 53
“When I was younger and sweeter, I would not say anything. With time, I asserted myself and said, ‘Let’s be friends.’ With more time, I got real and started to say, ‘Thank you for making the effort today. Let’s not pretend we’ll be friends, but I appreciated your time.’ And on a particularly bad date, I told him, ‘This was a date I’ll never forget… no matter how hard I try.’”
4. Stacy, 26
“If it is a first date, then I usually just don’t contact them again. I realize that might constitute ‘ghosting,’ but I think it would be worse to tell them you don’t like them after only one date than just to move forward with things. If it’s a longer type of relationship, then I would say something out of respect. In this instance, I would rather be friends instead of explicitly saying I’m not interested.”
5. Regina, 37
“These days, I’m only online dating, mostly through Tinder. If a guy wants to see me again and I felt nothing, which happens 99 percent of the time, I just tell him it was nice to meet him, but I’m not interested or that I felt a stronger spark with someone else. Sure, some write back and they’re angry, but I just then unmatch them and move on. That’s that. Remember: Make the ‘unmatch’ or ‘block’ buttons your friends!”
6. Heather, 33
“For all the online and app dates that people go on in this day and age, I don’t think I owe it to every date to tell them I don’t want to see them again. Often, they ask why or try to convince me for a second date, and I give in, and then it’s not fun just like the first one, so I find it’s better to just ignore them.”
7. Gina, 56
“I’m in a relationship now, but I dated for quite a long time before meeting my partner. If I wasn’t interested, I used to tell my dates right on the spot at the end of a date, but then someone got aggressive with me and I stopped doing that. It is my preferred method, but it stopped feeling safe, so I switched to a slightly different approach: After a date ended and he said, ‘Do you want to go out again?’ I’d look him straight in the eyes and say something like, ‘I had a very nice time and I’m open to considering that.’ Then we’d say goodnight. If he reached out, I then said, ‘Thank you for connecting with me. I’ve thought it over and I think I’m going to stay on my own for a while; I’m not ready to date yet.’ Again, I would much rather say, ‘Get lost, Charlie,’ but as a woman, I’m much more conscious of making sure I don’t get into an awkward and potentially physical altercation.”
8. Shyna, 25
“Do I ghost dates? No. Have I? Yes. In the past, if I went out with someone and didn’t feel a connection, I would let it be and assume they could take a hint. However, over time, tables turned. I went out on dates that I felt went well, but never received responses to my texts attempting to hang out again. Since I’ve experienced ghosting first-hand, I’ve made it a priority to ensure that any person I date realizes my reasoning for not wanting to go any further. Honesty really is the best policy, just not always the easiest route to take.”