A millennial matter: The phenomena of ‘ghosting’
An attractive young woman strolls through campus, her dark hair catches in the wind behind her. The faces of her classmates blur together around her. Suddenly, she stops mid-step and wide-eyed. It’s that guy she went on an amazing date with, the one from Tinder. He is intently speaking to another woman. Then, he glances up and locks eyes with her as she stares. Her lightly freckled cheeks turn vermillion. She whirls around, mortified, nearly running into a barrage of other students.
“I liked him,” she thinks sullenly as she makes her escape from the potentially humiliating situation. “But he never texted me back.”
Ghosting is a phenomenon in the dating world that has been around for a very, very long time. Only now, perhaps, it emerges with a new name.
As defined by Urban Dictionary, the slang term ghosting is, “the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghost-ee will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.”
Ghosting, as unfortunate as it is, seems to be gaining momentum as a means of solving problems. Social media and its little red block buttons provide a seemingly easier way to end a relationship.
Surveying a classroom full of college students whether or not they had ever been involved in the ghosting phenomenon produces staggering results. It is so common that in a class of 20, 19 students raise their hands to affirm that they had been involved in a situation resulting in some form of ghosting. Ninety-five percent is a rather hefty number when considering the hurt that accompanies it.
People ghost each other for many different reasons. Sometimes they find a quirk about the other person particularly unsavory. Other times they are adamant that the other person is too boring or bland. Even other times one person may want something that the other is unwilling to give.
According to Psychology Today, “people who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they aren’t thinking about how it makes the other person feel… The more it happens, either to themselves or their friends, the more people become desensitized to it and the more likely they are to do it to someone else.”
Ghosting seems to many like a luxury of modern dating. It is so much easier to just disappear without a trace if all it takes is a quick click of a button.
Nhi Vuong, 25, says she doesn’t understand the practice. “In all seriousness, I have no idea why people ghost each other,” Vuong said.
“I can only assume the one guy that ghosted me was because he was just looking for a quick lay,” Vuong said. “And I didn’t give that to him, so he didn’t reply to my messages.”
While some find ghosting offensive, others use it for defense. Ashle Lopez, 21, ended up ghosting out of what felt like necessity.
“The guy that I just ghosted was on Facebook,” Lopez said. “I ghosted him because I felt catfished. I had no idea who this guy was, but I had broken up with my boyfriend of 2 years and was looking for friends. He friended me on Facebook, and after viewing his profile, I decided to add him. We started talking, he’s actually very nice, but I noticed that he knew more about me than I did of him and that he looked older than stated.”
The man’s profile said he was a 23-year-old with no kids, living in the Tampa Bay area. As it turned out, all but the last part was a lie.
“Well, when I asked him, he told me that he lives in the area, is 32-years-old, has 2 kids, and has been in prison for over half of his life,” Lopez said. “I don’t want that.”
Although more common in the world of dating, ghosting also occurs between friends or former friends for that matter.
Laura Pfefferle, 21, has been ghosted on by friends and has ghosted them in return.
“Eight of my friends threw a party and kept it a secret from me. When I showed up anyway, they acted like I was the police and locked me out of their place. A day later, a few of them tried to hit me up and apologize, but after that, I deleted them all. It hurt a lot to feel so unwanted. I guess ghosting occurred on both sides.”
Back on campus, the young woman who ran from the man who ghosted her sits rigidly on her bed in her dorm room, scanning his Instagram page. Her dark hair cascades over her shoulders and falls into her no-longer red face. Her lightly freckled brow is furrowed as she scrolls furiously down the feed, searching for something. She finds what she is looking for, the block button. Her finger hovers momentarily above the icon, as she considers herself first, then the page in front of her.
“I am better than this guy. Why am I moping?” She says to herself, grimacing at her cracked iPhone screen. She taps the block button decidedly and re-opens her Tinder app to try her luck once more.
Information for this article gathered from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ghosting, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much