Things were looking promising for fellow dating blogger Anna Hopeful. She’d been on three good dates with a guy, all pretty close together, and they were in the process of arranging a fourth. Until all of a sudden, he blocked her on WhatsApp and unmatched her on the app they met on with no explanation.
After some discussion on Twitter, another blogger decided to set up an account called “Ghost Buster”, to name and shame ghosters. Pretty soon, people were sending in their ghosting stories, which were then published along with the guys’ names and pictures.
I was uneasy about this to begin with. I’m not a huge fan of internet vigilante “justice”. Over time, I’ve learnt to be more mindful of what I post online, because I’ve seen how easily something can get out of hand. An ill-advised tweet posted in the heat of the moment can be screenshotted and sent viral. Even something that happened offline can be posted online, shared thousands of times, and result in that person getting mobbed with abuse before they’ve had a chance to share their side of the story. What if this Ghost Buster account really took off, gained a huge following, got covered be the mainstream press, and these guys’ pictures were included in the coverage, with potentially career-ruining consequences? While ghosting is not OK, is it fair that something that happened outside work should impact someone’s job, possibly even years after the offence occurs? Is it OK that someone could be in a position where they can’t work and support themselves, or even their families?
But then I thought, perhaps that’s the case, in every situation… apart from this one.
Bad behaviour in dating doesn’t get the blowback it deserves. Sure, if someone ghosts you, people will think that’s a dick move. But then it’s usually met with a shrugging sigh, and a “that’s how things are nowadays”. You’re expected to just suck it up and be OK with it. And then, there are the people who think that it’s not such a bad thing. That if it wasn’t Facebook official, you don’t really deserve an explanation. That if you slept with him, you kinda brought it on yourself by being too “easy”. I mean, what man would want a relationship with a girl like THAT? But if you didn’t sleep with him, they might throw a strop, and then apparently that’s your fault too, because, well, no in-demand guy is going to wait.
A friend once told me a story about a guy she went to university with. He was seeing a girl, going towards a relationship. She went back home for the holidays, but they were still in contact. However in her absence, he ended up getting with someone else. Then they started going on dates (the original girl had no idea). The second girl then asked him out. So when the original girl returned, he had to explain that he was actually now going out with someone else. “It’s all part of the game”, my friend said.
Except, it’s not part of the game. Well it is. But it shouldn’t be. Rejection is part of the game. We like people who don’t like us back. People we don’t like like us. If you’re meeting people via an app, the first few dates are about figuring out whether you like each other. Sometimes you’re keen but they’re not, and vice versa. And that’s life. But it’s not OK to start another romance behind the back of the person you’re seeing. It’s not OK to ghost after multiple dates when you connected. It’s not OK to keep seeing someone until they sleep with you, then ghost or 180. It’s not OK to turn nasty if someone doesn’t sleep with you.
The problem is, bad dating behaviour happens so often that it becomes normalized. Then, because it’s normalised, it happens more. People blame dating apps, but the truth is that it was around before the apps. However, cyber dating probably doesn’t help, as the lack of having to face those people again means people get ruder. But that doesn’t make it any easier for those on the receiving end. Feelings aren’t restricted to Facebook official relationships, and just like the times you click with someone and after a few meetups just know you’re going to be besties, you know know pretty sharpish when you’ve met someone you feel strongly for. However unlike with friendships, there’s high investment early on. When you find that elusive spark, it’s entirely feasible to develop strong feelings after a couple of dates. Although it sucks when you get friend-ghosted, particularly after multiple meetups, it doesn’t cut you up the way that romantic ghosting does. Unofficial breakups aren’t given the same sympathy as official ones but they hurt just as much, and the worst thing of all is when you didn’t even merit a breakup.
So let’s stop doing it. If you behave like this, stop. Make a pact to treat others with kindness. Do the Anti-Ghosting Challenge, even if it’s just one date. Stop putting up with crap. If someone treats you badly, don’t date them. If someone ghosts you and then submarines, block them. Call out friends who behave like this. If they continue, cut them off. If someone confesses to behaving like this, or expresses some shitty view like how they “lost respect” for someone because they slept together too soon or they’re annoyed because someone didn’t want to sleep with them quickly enough, tell them they’re out of order. And you know what? Submit your ghosts to Ghost Buster. Let actions have consequences. Because if they do, people might think twice before committing them.
You can follow the Ghost Buster Twitter account here.