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Dear Fifi: Why do I keep on getting ghosted?

Every Tuesday, Dear Fifi answers one of your questions. This week: ghosting. Not the spooky kind, don’t worry.

dearfifiheader

Stuck for a pick-up line for this weekend’s club crawling and carousing? Look, I’m very much of the opinion that “grand stretch” is still admissible. 

If you’ve got problems that don’t include what ice-breaker to employ over your Bulmers in Coppers, then I’m also here for you. Hit me up confidentially and anonymously. No problem too big, no grievance too small

dearfifibar

Why do people ghost? I know I can’t expect you to know the answer to that question but I am a single woman in her mid-twenties who is feeling increasingly frustrated by how pervasive this phenomenon is. I’ve been on single dates that seemed to go well and end in a ghosting. I’ve gone on strings of dates that ended in a ghosting. I’ve also experienced that heady rush of the intoxicating first few weeks of a new relationship that has ended abruptly in a ghosting.

It seems incessant and, while I’m self-confident enough to realize these are just probably shitty people with baggage I don’t need and it likely isn’t me, it’s making me very jaded about dating and to an extent people in general. Is there ever any excuse to ghost? Or even insight into why everyone seems to have experienced it to some degree and how one is supposed to consistently pull oneself back up by their bootstraps and not feel humiliated by such normalised, horrid behaviour?

Ghosting is cowardly. It’s the slippery wriggle-out that doesn’t involve a difficult conversation, or even a difficult text. And yet ghosting is now a fact in the dating game, because let’s face it: we’re all cowards who are fond of the easy way out.

It’s the new norm. While you might always have needed a thick skin to get out dating, now you’re looking at a rhino hide. That’s the unfortunate reality. Thanks a lot Zuck, and so on.

For good and bad, the internet has devalued the importance we place on dates. There’s no context, few mutual friends, no investment in people beyond introductory conversation and passing meet-ups. The person you’re meeting in good faith could well be meeting two or three people that week and just be dating for fun or to meet new people.

Protect yourself by keeping expectations low, for as long as possible. Don’t become jaded, but also don’t invest too much – train yourself into putting a date right out of your mind the moment it has ended, no matter how fun it was. Consider anything else as a bonus. This isn’t cynical, just realistic, especially based on your experiences.

Plus, what’s your level here? Do you consider a phasing out of contact to be ghosting? Or are we only counting an abrupt, unexplained severance of contact? Or simply not getting in touch again to arrange a second or third date? There are many, many shades of grey here.

I feel it’s borderline permissible after one date, no matter how well it went- in my view that’s not true ghosting, that’s simply not getting in touch to arrange a second meet-up. In these cases, it could be argued that not sending a message is the message. I mean do you really want a text breaking it off when it hasn’t even gotten started? (Plus, who’s to say they aren’t waiting for your text?)

And so it goes. The difficulty I’m having defining or explaining ghosting gives you an idea of the problem: people have vastly different expectations around communication and transparency – and the compatibility of these points of view is a common stumbling block to starting a good relationship. It probably always has been, but now we’re seeing it through the magnifying glass of smartphones.

Expectations, your own level of contact or lack thereof, and (yes here it is) the sex issue are all going to come into play. That’s without going into what’s going on behind the scenes that you can’t ever know about – maybe they met someone else, maybe they got back with an ex, their work got on top of them, maybe they’re dating to get over a break-up, maybe they emigrated to Yemen or fell down a well (often the secret hope, I know).

Maybe they’re just not that into you, but maybe it’s something else. Who cares? The outcome is the same for you. Don’t drive yourself mad guessing – just know that it’s almost certainly more about where they’re at than anything to do with you personally.

The only thing you can do is set your expectations low, be honest and upfront yourself, and take everyone as they come. Hope for the best, expect the worst – always.

I’m afraid the next thing I have to say here you may find difficult to take, but I think it would be remiss of me not to raise it. The common denominator to all of these ghostings is you. This isn’t a dig, as I don’t know you or the details. But the sheer amount of ghosting you’re dealing with is potentially an indicator something is amiss in your dating style or subsequent contact approach. This is worth a step back to examine.

At the very least, you’re misguided about how well all these dates are going. That requires some reflection. Can all these ghosters really just be “shitty people with baggage”? And if the answer is yes, well then: why are you exclusively selecting “shitty people with baggage” to date?

Look, I’m certainly not saying it’s you. Regardless of your dating style, ghosting is bad manners and you dodged a bullet with these sleeveens. But while you’re cultivating your new air of imperviousness before the next round of dates, take a look at how you’re handling them – how they’re set up, how they go, how the contact goes after, the signs and signals.

If you’re not getting a second date, you might as well learn something about yourself and what you want while you’re out there. Good luck – and by the way? It’s their loss. Fuck ‘em.

dearfifibar

 Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always. 

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