Ghosting for Self-Care
Usually when you hear about ghosting (cutting off communication with no warning), it’s in reference to dating and in a negative light, such as in this article about its psychological effects. However, sometimes there’s no other way around it, and to ghost would be taking the nicest way out. I ghost to save my time and my sanity. Now, I’m not talking about ignoring people you’re in a close relationship with (e.g. friends, lovers, family) You probably care about their feelings or see them often, so ignoring them with no explanation would be just plain rude.
No, this is about ghosting when you’re in what one of my friends calls the pre-investment stage. The pre-investment stage is when you don’t yet care about the other person and you haven’t been dealing with the person long enough for them to expect you to care. I’m not emotionally invested in keeping someone around (whether to date or be friends) unless I’ve hung out with the person in real life, and I actually enjoyed doing so. However, I’ve had Tinder matches I never met and toxic acquaintances that just had to be dropped.
We’ve talked about how to respond to problematic dating questions, but what do you do if you can’t even get past the “hello” stage? Here are some ways to let down whoever’s wasting your data with texts that are drier than the Sahara:
1. Tell the person
I admit I tried this with a guy who had the nerve to ask why I was responding to his daily “good morning” or “how are you” messages with one-word answers. The long answer was that though I started out asking him questions and making conversation, he belittled my business, didn’t initiate interesting conversation, and slipped into repetitive small talk. But my blunt side came out, and I told him my introvert truth: “I get bored with small talk.” His response: “Are you calling me boring?” (I mean...if the shoe fits…) Then he suggested that we meet up for conversation. I thought: Why? So I can take time out of my schedule to be bored in public?
There are other ways to get the truth across. You could try “Sorry, I’m no longer interested.” or “You’re not talking about anything.” (The latter option allows the person to come back with conversational heat.) It’s still rejection, but at least the person knows what the deal is.
2. Slowly back off
Not everybody can take the truth. With some people you just need to fall back. Stop responding as quickly. Give short responses. Don’t initiate texts—reply only. For most people, this should work. The person will detect your losing interest and eventually stop engaging.
If you’re like me, however, you attract very persistent people who don’t pick up on the hint that you never text them first, and you respond to their texts or DMs with mostly one-word answers. If you come across someone who can’t take a hint, ditch the one-word answers and stop responding altogether. Rude? Maybe. But how dare the person text you yet have nothing to say. If ignoring the person doesn’t work, you’re getting harassed, or even seeing the person’s number annoys you, it’s time for option three.
This is the drastic option. I had to use it on boring text message guy because his texts had taken on a harassing, insulting tone. When you block someone, you no longer see that they have texted, called, or DM’ed you. You can forget the person exists. I once had to block an acquaintance that couldn’t accept the truth when I told her I could no longer hang out with her (because I felt she was using me, we never talked about anything other than her problems, and she had problematic ideas about racism and sexism). Slowly phasing our communication didn’t work either, so I had to block her. There were levels to this. First came putting her on do not disturb in my phone. Then I adjusted my Facebook privacy settings, so she was excluded from seeing my posts. Last came blocking her from Instagram. Talking to her was stressing me out, so I ghosted for self-care. The blocked function is a blessing from the cellphone and social media gods, so use it when necessary.
It would be great if everyone was a great conversationalist, but that’s not real life. When communication fails, and you no longer want your time wasted or emotional well-being disrupted, channel your inner Casper and go ghost.
Have you had to ghost someone? Tell us about it in the comments.