June 28, 2015

Why “Ghosting” is just Another Word for Bad Manners.

Despite the fact I am hardly old, by most people’s standards, I am nevertheless at an age where I am starting to be “behind” when it comes to the current trends and lingo.

Case in point: ghosting.

Until last night, I had absolutely no idea what that meant. I had stumbled across it a few times on social media and chat boards and (falsely) assumed that it had something to do with deleting one’s social media accounts.

Turns out that I was wrong.

For those who don’t know, ghosting refers to the phenomenon of  “ending a romantic relationship, by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.”

Per one poll, at least 11 percent of adults, surveyed last fall, admitting to doing it. Recently, the actress Charlize Theron, who was reportedly engaged to fellow actor Sean Penn, was said to have ended their relationship via this method.

As I read The New York Times article explaining all the above all I could think was, “Really? You have to be kidding me?”

Again, at the risk of showing my age, it makes that celebrated Sex and The City episode—where one of Carrie Bradshaw’s beaus breaks up with her via a message on a Post-It note—look down right classy and grown up by comparison.

Likewise, it makes breaking up via a text or email look like proper closure by comparison.

To be fair, ghosting existed well before 2015. I have my own story…

My freshman year in college I went out with a guy on a few dates, and even attended a formal dance with him, only to have him never return my calls and—most puzzling of all—go so far as to deny that we ever dated. At the time, my friends and I didn’t call it “ghosting.” Instead, we called it what it was—bad manners.

Being in adult relationships—whether they last for one week or several years—means we have an obligation to act like adults.

While ideally a break-up should occur in person, even an email, voicemail—or any of the things mentioned above, including a Post-It—is better than simply nothing at all. While there are some reasons to cut off all contact with a person—say in cases of abuse or stalking—the majority of the time, there is absolutely no excuse not to tell someone we are no longer interested in them.

Going back to my own story for a moment—the worst wasn’t being dumped.

Rather, it was not knowing that I had been dumped. For a week or so, I truly believed that my “boyfriend” had merely been busy with school—hence the reason for his silence. It wasn’t until two weeks later, the day I had received my pictures back from the dance (back in the days before digital photos), and showed them to my friends, that a hall-mate took me aside and told me that she had seen him at a frat party the night before, with another girl.

As upset as I was about that, the humiliation I felt was eclipsed by my confusion over the following: Why didn’t he simply tell me this himself? 

In my case, I never got an answer to my question.

However, when the subjects of the aforementioned article were asked, most responded that they thought it was an easier way out or some variation of that. (It’s probably worth noting they were all 25.)

Well, speaking as someone who is older, and perhaps a touch wiser, I can say that it is not.

Instead, it just makes it much more likely that one will gain an enemy or will create the very sort of drama that one was hoping to avoid.

The truth is, by the time that we are of a certain age, usually in our mid-20s, we will have been through a few break ups. They need not all be bad or dramatic. Sometimes we are simply not compatible with someone, or perhaps circumstances prevent us from being able to pursue things further.

However, at the very least, we need to be able to express that.

If we cannot, then that may be a sign that we are not ready to be in a relationship with anyone.

If there’s any truth to the claims that this happened in the relationship of Charlize Theron and Sean Penn, both of whom are well into adulthood, then those of us of a certain age need to remind ourselves that just because “the kids are doing it,” doesn’t mean that it’s a behavior we should emulate or condone.


Relephant Reads:.

Terrorized by Tinder: Breaking the Online Dating Code.

Breaking Up: When You’re The Bad Guy. .

Do this when things get tough:

This is a new kind of relationship that’s truly sustainable, passionate and fun:


Author: Kimberly Lo

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Unsplash






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Jennifer Feb 4, 2016 8:51am

Ghosted by the man I spent 2.5 years with and we were planned a future together. Granted, we had some significant ups and downs but it ended very tumultuously (no cheating or violence) and he has refused to acknowledge my existence for the last 4 months and has prevented me from being able to have any contact with him at all. I no longer exist in his world. There was no explanation or closure and never will be because of his ghosting approach. It is quite possibly the most hurtful and inhumane way to end a relationship. One day you mean the world to someone and the next they vanish, leaving you trying to let go of your feelings and dreams while adding insecurities that never existed before.

carlalouise89 Dec 20, 2015 11:43pm

Ghosting is so painful. The author is right – it’s just bad manners. I wasn’t ghosted by an ex-boyfriend, but I was ghosted by my so-called friends when they decided that they no longer wanted to be my friend. Except they didn’t tell me. They lied to me for a year, drove me crazy, and then blocked and deleted me from their lives without another word.
It also didn’t help that one of those girls was a work colleague I sat next to every day for a year.

Katheren Dec 19, 2015 1:45am

This is such devastating behavior. My boyfriend of 5 months got promoted to a job about 5 hours away and he asked me if I would move with him in the new year. He invited me to visit and then helped me find a job that same weekend. I quit my job and moved up with him only to find the job had fallen through, so I came back home until I could find another job. During the following two months, he slowly reduced contact and then around Thanksgiving just cut off contact entirely. So, now I'm unemployed and brokenhearted. I can't believe that people would rather be that cruel and selfish than to just say, "hey, this isn't working for me anymore, I'm sorry." Anyway, I hope this awfulness ends and people gain back some decency.

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Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.