You get home from a lovely night out, and you smile as you recall the night’s events. Maybe, just maybe, you found someone who could end up being the One.
A few days later, you send a text so he or she knows you were thinking of them.
“Hey, you. I had a great time the other night. Would you like to go out again sometime?”
Simple, right? No strings attached. No expectations. Just an innocent desire to connect to another soul. Anyone in a getting-to-know-each-other or dating relationship is familiar with this message.
But it goes unanswered. What the heck?! Everything went fine! I mean, he or she seemed nice… Not the type to disappear. What happened??? …They could’ve said something.
The sad truth is this is all too common in the 21st century as technology becomes more commonplace. Online dating service PlentyofFish released a shocking survey in 2016 highlighting the millennial’s struggle with ghosting. Of 800 single users aged 18-33, 78 percent reported they were a ghosting victim at least once by “someone they were dating (who) suddenly ceased all communication without an explanation.”
Additionally, a 2014 investigation from Elle found equally surprising data. A poll of 185 young daters’ dating habits (65 percent of which were female) showed both men and women were just as likely to be the cowardly culprits.
Sarah Braun, an MSW student at California State University, Long Beach, and past victim, believes ghosting emerged as the popularity of online dating increased and meeting people in public settings decreased. The dynamic between the two created a lapse in social responsibility, making avoidance, and consequently hurting feelings, much easier.
“Those who ghost tend to do so to avoid confrontation, feeling negative emotions, or causing another person emotional pain,” Braun said. “Everyone is affected differently. Common feelings victims experience are confusion, uncertainty, hurt, and anger. Those who are ghosted lack closure and are often left with many unanswered questions.”
At a time in history when technology is more advanced than ever, today’s generation has an astronomical amount of information at its fingertips. As millennials, we can find solutions to today’s problems and build connections to places and people, many of which our parents and grandparents never dreamt possible. So, it begs the question: why do we, as enlightened and mindful and capable of greatness as we are, find such a damaging and viral phenomenon like ghosting even mildly acceptable?
“Such behaviour leads to the objectivization and even harsher behaviours toward others,” said Michael Southerland, MS, LMFT. “Also, it leads to avoidance of simple courtesy that is so lacking in many areas. Breaking up with someone face to face helps accept responsibility for ourselves and our relationships.”
So, how do we proceed, if we are to end this phenomenon once and for all?
“Communication is key,” Braun said. “Being honest and direct about your interest and intentions is the best way to combat (ghosting). Having this conversation may be uncomfortable, but this momentary discomfort is an act of respect for the person. It provides the person with the closure needed to let go and move on.”
But what about the rest of society, not just with you and me and the people with whom we come into contact?
“If I were treating someone who engages in ghosting, I would do my best to help them see the consequences of their behavior has on others,” Southerland said. “Acceptance of responsibility for them is the key to stopping the behavior and making them more responsible and their relationships. Thus, they would become happier individuals.”
Andrea Bolduc, another ghosting victim and a health services professional in Orange County, Calif., believes going back to more traditional dating methods would erase the stain ghosting has on dating in today’s generation. Being honest and upfront, she says, isn’t enough because honesty isn’t always objective through a digital medium.
“You can be anyone you want on online dating,” Bolduc said. “Both men and women can say whatever the other person wants to hear. We should go back to meeting in coffee shops or in public places than being behind a screen.”
New research from POF backs up her premise. A poll of 3,000 users aged 21 to 65 found that weddings might be the answer for many not having luck with online dating. Nearly 52% said weddings are great for hooking up because “it’s easy to start a conversation” while 7.8 percent said “there’s no commitment required.”
Additionally, while only 18 percent said they had hooked up at a wedding, nearly 88 percent of those respondents said it was at a wedding for a friend or relative. What seems hopeful is 15.7 percent of hookup respondents said they’d gone on to have a relationship.
Millennials, this is your personal service announcement: if you’re single and thinking about or participating in online dating, consider deleting your apps and meeting people organically when you’re not at home. Look for mixers or meetups based around hobbies or interests. Go out to your favorite place and scout for someone who catches your eye. Or better yet, dust off your dress or suit and attend a wedding. Be the real you, and you might meet someone worth your time and feelings.
HOW TO GIVE UP THE GHOSTING GAMBIT
- If you have any remote interest in someone, give them a chance and go out with them. Nobody suffers from some extra practice.
- After a date, if you don’t have a desire to get to know them, let them know. You might think it’s harmless, but omitting the truth to spare someone’s feelings does more damage than being straightforward. But do it tactfully – how you craft your message makes a world of difference.
- Only when the other person doesn’t accept the truth or becomes irrational should you consider blocking them.
- Be mindful of what you’re looking for. If there’s something specific that doesn’t catch your interest, don’t continue to seek it out in others.
- If you know someone who is a ghosting perpetrator, encourage them to change their ways. As the adage goes, united we stand, but divided we fall. If we are to end this phenomenon, we must do it together.
The dating scene after a bad breakup or long-term relationship can be a daunting task for anyone, especially if you identify as a highly sensitive person. It might seem nearly impossible to find the right person. But there’s hope! As you learn to live in a world without stress, you can meet new people with ease while maintaining a low stress level.
A highly sensitive person is defined as someone who has a heightened awareness and high sensory processing sensitivity which includes loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, social interactions and deep-felt feelings. Sound like you? For more information, or to take a self-assessment quiz, visit hsperson.com.
The following tips are designed to help you eliminate common stressors to keep in mind while dating, from one HSP to another:
1. Know your personality type or astrological sign or love language
Many companies today rely on having employees and job candidates take assessment tests to determine their strengths, weaknesses and personality traits, which help their teams become more unified and aware of each member’s core abilities. Knowing your type, astrological sign or love language is a great way to help you understand how your mind works, how you see the world and what you need to feel loved and care for. It may also help you find the types or signs that are best suited for you.
2. Be ready for rejection
Only 15-20% of the general population identifies as an HSP, according to hsperson.com, so there is a high chance that not just any one person will understand how you process external stimuli. Rejection can be excruciating for the HSP. You may feel ashamed or disappointed in yourself, as if you are responsible for the relationship’s demise, or you might feel hurt and fight to cope with the sudden loss. As a result, it may take significant time for you to overcome your feelings and feel like you’re back to normal. As a good rule of thumb, do your best to prepare yourself in case the person you’re interested in isn’t mutually interested in you.
3. Look for similar values
Finding common ground is a component dating services like eHarmony and Match function on, which matches users based on levels of compatibility. Per WebMD’s Health & Sex Center, “understanding your core values is at the heart of truly knowing your needs.” If you and your date enjoy similar hobbies, like similar movies or have the same religious principles, you’re more likely to find long-term success and avoid heartache, which will only empower and strengthen you.
4. Have a friend introduce you
Sometimes, friends know who’s better suited for us than we do. Since they have a more objective view of your character and needs, they may see where problems lie and know who’s compatible with you. A second date isn’t necessary if you don’t hit it off, but be careful of damaging your friendship if the relationship fizzles.
5. Be cautious with online dating
For many HSPs, it’s difficult to not be ruled by your desire to be liked or know how others think of you. Therefore, the online dating landscape can be brutal, especially in the gay community on dating apps Grindr and Scruff, which usually consist of being judged by your appearance or having fake conversations with people only looking for sex. Stick to meeting in person. Seeing how they interact with you says more than what you see on an online profile. If you make a date, meet in a public place where there are others present.
Not every dating website fits the above, but each HSP will have some idea of what he or she can handle. If you insist on dating online because it’s easier to introduce yourself to others, or if your schedule doesn’t allow enough time to date organically, consider having a Skype date over dinner. It’ll feel more like a real date, and what the two of you both made for dinner can be a nice icebreaker as you get to know each other.
6. No sex on the first date
While sex may be one of your top priorities when looking for a love interest, nothing’s more embarrassing than getting into a physical relationship but not being prepared for the awkwardness that could follow. Talk about an overwhelming feeling! If you’re interested in going to a new level with your date, don’t have sex after just meeting them. You might find that, after a few days, you aren’t into them like you thought you were. Waiting ensures your judgment is clear, and it allows you to get to know who they are before you bare it all. It also puts the relationship at a higher priority.
7. Communication is key
As an HSP, communication can be a scary, but it’s a vital component of a relationship. Acceptance and finding understanding in another person holds a major component of attraction to a significant other. If something bothers you, or if you feel overwhelmed by something, whether your date is responsible for it or not, you’ll need to be able to express that. Any solid relationship is built on open communication, which only makes the two of you stronger and makes you less likely to get hurt. The right person will do what they can to try to eliminate the stress from your mind. Doing so only allows you to enjoy your time with them more.
8. Avoid activities and environments that overwhelm you
Whether it’s a loud concert, a roller coaster or large groups of people, if it stresses you out, do what you can to avoid it. As an HSP, your energy can be compromised by stress, so it is your responsibility to protect your energy so you have it for where it counts. Make sure you share the activities that trigger your stress with your potential prospect.
9. Take time for yourself
It’s not selfish to take time for yourself. If you spend all of your time and energy on another person, you will burn yourself out and won’t be able to care for yourself. It’s normal to need time to recharge, so take the time that you need. If you’re dating the right person, they’ll understand.
10. Don’t let anyone ridicule you
Only you know what will make you happy. When it comes to dating, nobody should have to settle, and the HSP’s sensitivity is a precious gift to the person who understands its worth. Be strong in your resolve to be with someone who not only makes you happy but also strives to make you, and themselves, better people.
11. Run as fast as you can from abuse
Sadly, not every person understands the HSP mindset. For those who refuse to acknowledge that you are wired differently, there is a greater potential for heartache and abuse, as it cuts deeper for the HSP. If your significant other deals by punishing you for it, don’t torture yourself by staying with them. Do what you can to get out of the situation and cut your losses. Your well-being and happiness are not worth the pain and long-term side-effects.