CW: focus on heterosexuality
We’ve all been there. You’re dating someone, you’re talking, it’s fun and exciting and suddenly… it’s quiet. Maybe they’re busy, you think. Or they’re just bad at texting. If you’re willing, you can think of a thousand reasons for the radiosilence.
A couple days later you decide to send them a message. After all, if you’re thinking about them, why pretend that you’re not and wait for them to text you? Now I know what you’re thinking. If you have doubts about whether someone’s into you, you can just assume they’re not. If they don’t text you or initiate seeing you, just take the fucking hint and move on.
Yeah, I don’t do that. You see, even when I already know the answer I’m going to get, I still send the “hey are we going to see each other again or what”-text. Not because I like having my ego bruised, but because I want clarity. Ghosting* is a way of keeping people on stand-by; if you don’t actually reject someone, you might have a chance with them in the future. I don’t want to be anyone’s stand-by. If you’re not interested, let me know, so I can move on. You’re holding up the line, dude.
More importantly, I don’t want people to get away with this type of behavior. If I pretend that this didn’t faze me at all, then I’m normalizing it. I know, it’s easy to avoid confrontation and just stop talking to someone (I’m guilty of it, too), but is this really the way we want to be communicating with each other?
Especially when it comes to dating, communication is pretty intricate. It’s a real skill, knowing what to text and when. It becomes a game and it’s something we overthink so much. But in the end it’s still human-to-human. It’s a connection between two people and I think those should always be genuine and honest – and hopefully somewhat spontaneous, too.
Ghosting is interesting because there are, inevitably, way worse things someone could do. If your partner cheats on you, I think we can all agree that that’s a fucked up thing to do and we can call them out on it. But these little things, these little disappointments, like ghosting, do hurt you but it’s hard to admit it. It’s even harder to confront the person about it – often someone you barely know. It’s easier to just let it go by.
But I think if you’re hurt, even just a little bit, or disappointed or confused by the situation, you shouldn’t just let that go. If you pretend you don’t care when you do, in some way, you’re lying to yourself. Telling people how you feel is a form of release. So speak your truth, even if just for your own peace of mind.
Whiney bitch & proud of it
I have definitely been afraid of being that girl who’s too clingy, too emotional, too much. Until I realized that this stereotype only exists to keep femmes quiet. Truthfully, most of the time this is self-censorship. I will hold back, not say what I really feel because I assume it’s too intense and will scare someone off. Even if what I have to say is perfectly reasonable (e.g.: Hey, why did you propose we go on another date only to disappear off the face of the earth? Just wondering!).
If speaking my mind makes me a whiney bitch (in other words, a pisswife) then I’ll take on the label with pride.
Dating nowadays, and communication in general, is largely based on assumptions. “They didn’t say anything, so they must not be interested”. Or: “They tagged me in this meme, so I guess they are!” Why not be real with each other and say what we’re actually thinking?
I think we’re losing a lot of our ability to say what we really feel, to be honest, to be vulnerable, because we’re communicating via screens so much. It’s sad, and I think it’s going to harm us in the long run. I notice it and it makes me want to throw my phone in the canal and dramatically tell all my friends to just ‘rock up at my house when you need me’. Not a solution, I know.
However, we can break this cycle by starting small and calling people out on their shitty behavior. By not pretending we don’t care, when we do. We could pick up the phone and call someone, instead of relying on ambiguous texts. Or simply spend more time together in ‘real life’.
*For those of you who don’t know what ghosting is (you’re the lucky ones!), Urban Dictionairy defines it as:
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 ghostee 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 is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.
Carmen: How was your second date with Kyle?
Beth: I thought it went well, but I’ve texted him a couple of times since then and he’s been ghosting me.
Carmen: What? I thought he was more mature than that.
Text: Charlotte Nijhuis
Drawing: Tessel ten Zweege