dating

'When it comes to dating apps, I honestly think there is nothing wrong with ghosting someone.'

I was with a bunch of friends and we were all talking about using dating apps. I pulled out my phone and started showing them some of the people I’d been chatting to and checked to see who was new in the area too. While the app was open I started to do my usual cleanout and deleted the conversations I no longer felt like continuing.

As I deleted a few, one of my friends asked me, “Are you deleting those without saying goodbye or anything?” and I answered, “Yeah, why?” The whole group ganged up on me and told me I was a ‘Ghoster!’

FYI this is how you date, depending on your horoscope. Post continues below. 

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I was a bit confused at the time thinking ‘doesn’t everyone do this?’ In fact, it seems like the polite way to move on now, compared to the ‘big conversation’ about not being fully into someone, or making fake excuses like ‘the time isn’t right’ or that you ‘don’t feel ready to date after all’. In my experience, the-quietly-disappearing-out-of-the-app seems the more acceptable way to go.

After having a date that didn’t feel like it would go anywhere, it always follows with a respectful ‘thank you’, possibly even a comment like ‘we should catch up again’ said without too much passion and conviction. Pretty much they just fizzle away quietly instead and it seems like a peaceful way to go. However, if one has more expectation than the other, then it can be trickier – actually, uncomfortable and even weird sometimes.

The only time I come across anyone nowadays who isn’t a ‘Ghoster’ is when I end up dating someone who is super serious about being in a relationship and any meet-up is like some big job interview about how right or wrong I might be for the lifelong commitment they’re looking for, or when they are new to dating or first time on an app.

Someone once asked for ‘feedback’ about the date, to review whether he had done all the appropriate date-worthy things, timed the activities appropriately, bought the right wine, and at the end asked for a commitment from me whether we’d be seeing each other again. He waited patiently on the end of the phone line for me to respond with a polite, “Thanks for the invitation. I’m flattered but I don’t feel it will work out.”  Then he wanted all the reasons why so he could negotiate his way into changing my mind, as if relationships are a business deal and not some inexplicable and illogical mix of chemistry.

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These types of over-thinkers are annoying and their demands for a response make it so uncomfortable for other people.

It seems only a small number of people don’t take a hint with a polite slip away. I still cringe if I have to have that overt ‘I’m just not that into you’ type conversation as I certainly don’t like hurting anyone’s feelings.

The rest of us connect up and, if it goes well, we see each other again; if it isn’t feeling right, it just fizzles without a big serious discussion.

Sometimes when on a chat thread on an app the odd person gets totally freaked out if the conversation doesn’t continue immediately. Some of us have lives to lead and texting fits around real life. Some people obviously sit there expecting people to respond instantly, like the old-fashioned phone call when you schedule a mutually agreeable time slot to sit and chat uninterrupted, or like in a support forum online.

Sorry, that’s a bit of a ‘newbie’ behaviour on dating apps. I remember once I had a call for work which I answered and then came back to the chat on the app about 10 minutes later. My inbox was filled with grey text bubbles filled with abuse because he thought he’d been ‘ghosted’. He couldn’t wait even 10 minutes.

“Are you still there?

“Hello?

“????

“Hey… all Ok there?

“!!!

“So, what the hell!?

“[Swearing deleted from here]

“What kind of person are you to leave me here sitting around waiting for you?

“Don’t count on me to be your next date if you can’t even have a decent conversation!”

I thought ‘What a psycho!’ If we wanted to have a timed discussion we’d have a phone call or meet up. Delay between messages for the rest of us can be a day or two, even a week. Some never get picked up again at all (yes, get ghosted). That impatient guy got ‘block and delete’!

I’d never leave a conversation open like this in person, of course. It would be like walking off mid-sentence. But on apps, this is the way it is done, I see.

There is an abundance of people available on these apps, so you don’t have to debrief everyone about where you are at, you just do what you want to do and if someone works out it is obvious because both stick at it.

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Like in the HR recruitment world these days, no one hardly responds to your job applications if you’re not the right fit because the digital world has made it so accessible for so many people to apply for every role. The recruiter can’t keep up. Recruiters just don’t respond any more unless they want to see you or they set an auto-responder to send a response for them.

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It doesn’t really seem that there is one set of rules that makes any one way of doing things right or wrong. My girlfriends were mostly married or in long-term relationships and they don’t know a world with an abundance of options like this and still think like ‘old-school’ dating.

The worst thing to happen in the modern dating world would be for both parties to be waiting for the other to make a move and then no one ended up doing anything.

The best people to date are the ones who tell you how wonderful you are and that they would love to see you again; but that it is entirely up to you to reach out if it feels right. The trick with this is to respect that should the other person decide not to contact the other then let them go without having to explain themselves or to wrap up with a big justification — and definitely don’t go crazy because they don’t.

Move onto the next. See ghosting as a polite no, or not right now, rather than some personal attack or make it mean some kind of broken code of manners that isn’t current any more with a change of media.

I think where the etiquette line lies and you need to be doing some kind of big closure discussion is where you’ve been on more than a few dates or when someone is obviously way more invested in it than the other and you want to move on without leading them on.

This is especially true if one or both are clearly monogamous. Don’t assume everyone is monogamous, because a large number are not, so best to have that chat before getting too involved or there could be surprises.

I don’t think any kind of ghosting after giving someone a decent go at dating over a month or two would be acceptable. I may be a ‘Ghoster’ but surely have current etiquette.

What do you think about ghosting people on dating apps? Let us know in the comments.

Feature image: Getty.

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