The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Ghosting

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So, there’s this thing that’s been happening in relationships since the dawn of time, but now it has a name. “Ghosting” is when you break it off with someone with no contact or explanation. Have you ever been ghosted by someone, or have you ghosted someone else?

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Valerie Anne: I’ve never ghosted or been ghosted, but I’ve had the opposite happen. I’ve had to to literally tell someone to please stop contacting me because she’d obviously moved on but I hadn’t and every time I saw her name on my phone notifications it was like a tiny knife to my heart and she STILL didn’t go away. What’s that called? Haunting? 

Grace Chu: Unless you are ghosting to escape an abusive relationship in which you are fearing for your safety, ghosting is an act of cowardice. Guess what, folks? We have text messaging now. You can even break it off in 140 characters or less! If you don’t have the cojones and the common human decency to do even that, you are a waste of space and probably shouldn’t date anyone, period.

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Ali Davis: I mostly agree with Grace. Ghosting shouldn’t happen unless what you’re actually doing is shunning someone for doing something truly heinous or breaking off contact to ensure your safety. Part of dating is agreeing to be adult enough to think about another human being’s feelings. That includes signing on for the awful chore of hurting someone you care about and doing so as kindly as possible if it’s time to leave the relationship.

I think a text is OK if you’ve only been out once or twice, but if you’ve made it to the gerund form of “dating,” at least a phone call is in order. (Though breaking up with someone in a restaurant in the hopes that she won’t make a scene and you can thus escape without having to deal with any sad feelings is a viciously cowardly move. I had someone try to pull that on me, and thank goddess I spotted it in the parking lot and forced the breakup before we went in. No, you don’t get any guacamole if you’re pulling that nonsense and yes, I will ugly cry the entire way back.)
 
I haven’t been ghosted, but I have been haunted. Solidarity fist, Punky!

Miranda Meyer: Is it ghosting if you avoid returning contact and pretend not to notice it because you’re trying to avoid starting a relationship rather than ending it? Asking for a friend. Not relevant to my life at all.

Elaine Atwell: Well, I guess I’m a waste of space because I am motherfucking Casper the friendly ghost. Granted, I haven’t done it in a while, but back in they day I was just so afraid of confrontation, I would just disappear. Sorry to every girl I did that to. It wasn’t you, it was me.

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Kim Hoffman: Ghosting me would mean I come home from work and they’ve split up our vinyls, books and bathroom toiletries, taken the animals and left. That would be 10000% crazy and devastating but, hey, I wouldn’t put it past some lesbians out there to do just that.

I almost did that years and years ago when my girlfriend at the time wasn’t even helping me split rent and was prone to 2am breakdowns in which she said cried over missing her ex (“not romantically, professionally!”) (Umm, okay…). But, finally, one Sunday morning, the breakup conversation happened and didn’t happen all at the same time. She just took one look at me and asked, “Do you want me to just leave?” Here it was. My moment of opportunity. I barely nodded my head. “You can’t even say it,” she muttered back. And it was entirely true. Because sometimes shit is so bad, you can’t even bring an ending to it. You don’t know how there was a beginning, a middle—and the idea of tying it up in a bow and sending it on its way gives IT, the fucked up mess you’re in, entirely too much of you. It was a verbally abusive relationship that put me in a corner, so if she called me a coward for being unable to stand up straight and say, “Yes, please leave—it’s over,” I was willing to take one more shitty cutdown, knowing I was just minutes away from free-feeling ecstasy.

But remaining ghost-like seems highly improbable, because the world is small and funny things happen. I saw this ex we speak of at Seattle Pride last month, for the first time since that morning five years ago—she crossed my path like a black cat, came out of nowhere. She didn’t see me, but I saw her. And in so many ways, it was exactly like seeing a ghost. 

Chelsea Steiner: When I was young and dumb and irresponsible with people’s feelings, I ghosted the shit out of everyone all the time. I’m pretty averse to confrontation, so this always seemed to be the “easy” way out. I’ve also been ghosted/the ghostee(?) on several occasions, so I think the moral of the story is that dating in your 20s is the absolute worst. 

Dana Piccoli: Yes, unfortunately I have ghosted a couple people in the distant past. Like Chelsea says, I think it was mostly about being just young and immature. However, it definitely came back to me big time when I went on a few dates with a girl I really liked and who I had crazy chemistry with. I thought we were going to do some serious dating, but then she went away for the weekend with friends and I never heard from her again. Welp, so, yeah—don’t ghost.

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Bridget McManus: OMG, do people seriously do this? That’s insane! I have no “ghosting” experience, but I did try to break up with someone and they responded by telling me, “What are you talking about? We broke up a year ago!” I had no idea. We were still “seeing” each other but they are seeing other people because, in their mind, we had broken up. 

Erin Faith Wilson: Oh, perfect—now we have titles for all the different ways to break up with someone. Pretty soon there will be abbreviated hashtags to determine the type of breakup. I just thought this was called, “Dicking someone over.” Why does it need its own name? In any case, I don’t recall this ever happening to me, nor me breaking up with someone in this fashion. It seems like something a 12-year-old would do. Stay tuned for “101 different names for breaking up,”  by the writers of AfterEllen.

Trish Bendix: I went on two dates with someone who I met through a friend. She was so sweet and did everything right—made the effort to take me to a romantic place with great drinks, told me I looked beautiful, asked me the right questions. I just didn’t feel the spark, especially compared to another person I was dating at the same time. After the second date was over—fine, judge me, I stayed the night—I tried to be polite and say I had a nice time and we’d be in touch, knowing she was much more excited about our future than I was, because hooking up had solidified that I was not interested in pursuing things further. We just weren’t compatible. I wasn’t trying to ghost her, but she began to text and call a lot—like, non-stop and all hours of the night, drunk even, calling to say there was no one else she felt like she could talk to and she felt like I was the only one who would understand. It was very intense. She then started a Facebook profile and didn’t know how it worked so updated her statuses to say things like, “I THOUGHT WE HAD A GOOD TIME. I WANT ANOTHER CHANCE.” Thankfully, I was one of her only friends on there so far, so she wasn’t publicly embarrassed.

I honestly cannot remember how it ended—if she got the hint or if I ended up telling her I was sorry but I didn’t feel like we were a match, but it was the only time I feel like I kind of ghosted. We’re still Facebook friends, though, and right after we stopped seeing each other, she met this babe who she’s now married to and it looks like they have a lovely life so basically she should thank me. (JK—kind of.)

Fess up! Have you been the ghoster or ghostee?

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