Disclaimer: very opinionated
As a 21-year-old in my physical prime and mental rock bottom, my ego could not handle being unwanted. So, I got a little passive-aggressive, neglected my social reputation and structured out a self-deprecating survey to send out to a handful of men who’ve ghosted me.
This is not the first time I’ve tried contacting the ‘dead’. I have double and triple texted, and even sent out a satirical ‘ghosting’ playlist to the men who’ve ghosted me.
To top off my tragic predicament, I’ve even practised the art of manifesting contact inspired by incredibly vague tarot card readings I’ve come across on TikTok (a scam!).
As the injured party in this scenario, I was so deeply aggrieved over the sudden disappearance of these men, that I could not bring myself to just drown in irrelevance. Thus, my feminine urge to know why I got left on “seen”, “open”, or “delivered” motivated my unhinged ‘ghostbusting’ pursuit.
It all started with a swipe…
…, and very anti-climatically ended simply with a disappearing.
It was so nonchalant of them to just pull a disappearing act, to refuse to communicate how they were no longer interested, but to instead leave me completely anxiety ridden, distracted, compulsively checking my notifications for a sign of contact.
After having spent a year on dating applications, participating in endless cycles of conversations, my terrible luck would ensure that they would all eventually end up nicely tucked in a virtual grave, one that I itched to dig up.
My inability to accept this inevitable cultural zeitgeist, due to the desire for closure, an explanation as to why my virtual relationships had so abruptly halted, impelled me to capitalise on my impulsive nature and confront my ghosts.
It was so blatantly obvious that the lack of reply was a reply in itself, but the spectre of these men incessantly haunted me. I perceived the act of being ‘ghosted’ as a reflection of my weaknesses, my inability to come off as authentic or interesting enough over text.
Was I overly vulnerable and overshared too much too soon, or was I fictionalising these men, creating plots in my head of what we could be, placing them on a pedestal, perceiving them to be something they were not?
Either way, such emotional cruelty really only resulted in my detriment, that is until I would find someone new to obsess over, jinx getting ghosted, and look forward to a new run of this toxic cycle.
No, I was not bored, and no, I did not want to get laid but my absolute clusterf*ck of a personality needed to exploit this situation. Supernatural times and the helplessness to accept that they just don’t like me prompted my investigation.
Here’s how my survey went…
(i) Am I the problem? I can’t be the problem.
A prominent question posed in my survey was the explanation as to why I had been ghosted, and to my disappointment, other than one person having started dating someone else, all the other respondents just blamed their lousy communication skills.
To quote, they were either a “bad texter”, “felt lazy”, couldn’t keep up with the energy I projected in conversations and hence called me “intimidating”.
I couldn’t help but feel slighted that an explicit reason as to why they weren’t into me wasn’t given.
I wished that the responses to this question had been more confrontational. Nonetheless, the realisation that hit me was that other than being completely insignificant, the act of ghosting, especially one that stems off from a virtual relationship, is almost always not a conscious thing.
I may have presumed the conversational chemistry I had with these men as good, but to them I suppose, it certainly was not memorable enough.
However, despite ghosting me, one respondent did say he found me “pretty interesting”, so yay for me!
(ii) It’s not you, it’s me.
No, it really is a ‘me’ thing.
I say this because based on my survey, despite 80% of my respondents confirming that they too have experienced being ghosted, unlike me, they weren’t as petty about it.
To quote, one very bluntly stated that they “didn’t care at all”, while the rest expressed that sometimes people just “fall out of contact”, or have “their own thing going on”, as well as the notion that ghosting is something that usually occurs at the “very beginning of getting to know someone”.
I suppose the pace of modern life does make it impossible to ever properly form genuine connections with individuals virtually.
You really can’t simpatico with everyone you meet online. Similarly, with potential romantic interests, the ever-so-present paradox of choice on dating applications would always make someone feel that they could do better, that they should not settle for this one person they’re currently talking too.
It is a depressingly undeniable fact that there is always going to be someone who’s better looking and a lot more compelling, and when you get ghosted, you can’t help but feel that you’ll never be good enough for people you actually want.
It’s the gamification of dating applications and the cruelty of such unwanted honesty that left me hurting in a way I shouldn’t have. When I think back about it, each individual conversation I had before getting ghosted was really not that deep, but it was coming to terms with the fact that I viewed these abrupt endings as a reflection of myself as a person that provoked my desire for closure.
A majority of the respondents also didn’t reach out to the people who’ve ghosted them, confirming that the dead should really be left to rest in peace. This is a skill I have yet to master.
(iii) It’s just plain dickishness
It caught me by surprise to learn that all my survey respondents have ghosted anywhere in between five to ‘too many to count’ people in their lives.
Contradictingly however, they all then proceeded to explain why ghosting should never be an acceptable way to end things with someone.
To paraphrase the responses, it was highlighted that disinterest in someone should be communicated and that the online dating sphere enables an easy exit from actually having to let someone down. There never is a satisfactory explanation but any closure is certainly better than no closure at all.
One respondent did say that “if I don’t block you, it means I might strike up a convo in the future”. I initially found this rather flattering but then I realised the ambiguity of this made me extremely uncomfortable. I sent him a text, very subtly asking him out, to then get ghosted again. Sometimes I just completely miss the mark, but at least I’m not plagued with ambiguity anymore.
He really is just not that into me.
It would be a colossal understatement to say that being vulnerable virtually is not hard, because having gone through it personally, the amount of overthinking it takes to try to reconnect with someone you’ve ghosted is scarily hard.
Even so, explicitly rejecting someone would always be the less dickish move as opposed to leaving them in limbo.
My dating life is a disaster…
…but I don’t hate it. If anything, the responses to this survey, and my overall virtual communicative experiences in the last year have made me feel equal parts wistful and vindicated.
Despite not entirely receiving the responses I wanted, to quote the Dalai Lama, “not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck”.
Getting ghosted sucks but the experience of it helped me overcome my fear of confrontation, and to never try to change what is so incredibly inherently within me.
I may love dick but that’s sure as hell not my only option.
Article by Shabnam Sidhu
- Given, Florence (2020). Women don’t owe you pretty. Octopus Publishing Group.