Reading about ghosting made Jennifer McShane mull over all the other modern dating tactics that need to be banished forever...
Ending a relationship isn’t what it used to be now that online dating has promptly taken over. Between swiping left or right, having an Insta-stalk before you reply to their message we have plenty of choices when it comes to seeking a relationship.
This is, in part, thanks to the thousands of apps trying to take over our lives, but we also have plenty of ways to end relationships too. No longer is a quiet drink in a pub corner necessary to break a heart – now we barely tell the person it’s over. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a text, or you might not hear anything at all.
You know how it goes. Weeks of daily chatting and texting with a few dates, communication suddenly stops altogether. They stopped answering messages or any social media or taking calls, out of the blue. Known as ghosting, the person suddenly vanishes from sight without a word, ever again, leaving you to get the message that things are not as they once were.
The New York Times coined the term way back when, when they referred to the split of Charlize Theron and Sean Penn, claiming that it was Theron who had ended the relationship by imposing the ultimate silent treatment on her former partner and it has stuck around, ending relationships and friendships with nothing but digital tumbleweeds blowing in the wind.
And we don’t just stop there. Today’s online daters have somehow drummed up a bizarre How To Be A Heartbreaker 101 range of methods for waving adieu to someone – without actually doing much at all. We now end up breaking things off with a significant other by:
Named after the fictional child phantom, it’s a friendly alternative to ghosting. Instead of ignoring someone, you’re honest about how you feel, and let them down gently before disappearing from their lives.
This is when you manufacture a reason to suspend the relationship – while never officially ending it – saying, “I’m too busy” etc. so that that person will linger in the background, in case you change your mind.
You reduce the number of dates and communication gradually because you’re not sure how into them you really are but you like the security and companionship of that person and want other options.
When an ex gets in touch with you at Christmas out of nowhere but then vanishes once New Year hits. This one is particularly cruel.
Leading someone on with no intention of getting serious.
This is ghosting someone – before messaging weeks later as if nothing has happened. As if it’s going to work.
The right way to do it…
This is the way to break it off. There is zero ambiguity and no room for “maybe down the line.” So saying you’ve enjoyed the time but it’s not working out and you wish them the best – yep, this is the right way. You know it’s over and, most importantly, so do they.
So yes, breaking up is hard to do, but if you must do it, try to be kind and think before you choose a method with which to strike. Silence is never the answer – it’s cowardly – but nor is choosing a busy restaurant if you know they’d rather die than deal with that humiliation in public.
So, choose wisely.
This article was originally published in July 2022.