How to deal with someone who ghosts you
This week, our sexpert Olivia Petter tackles the cruellest dating trend and how to navigate it
Friday 9 December 2022 By Olivia Petter Illustration by Jack Forrest
He was the first person I matched with on Bumble. Tall, light eyes, and a very pleasing jawline, Jim-Bob (not his real name) seemed like one of the good ones. God, he was hot. But beyond that, he was funny. Clever. Interesting. He even liked cats.
The messages started off slow. A bit of idle chatter about our jobs here, some standard housemate horror stories there. It was exciting. After about a week, we moved onto WhatsApp and, shortly after, he asked if I’d like to meet for a drink. We made a plan to meet in a pub in central London after work.
The night before, he cancelled because of a bad cough (‘No worries. Totally fine!’). We rearranged for the following week. Again, the night before, a last-minute work thing. (‘That’s cool. Ha ha!’). I asked when he was next free to meet. No reply – five days passed (‘Just checking you’re still alive? Hahaha!’). Still nothing for another week (‘Did you die?’).
The guy didn’t even have the guts to block me – just a straight up ghosting. Worse still, he had his ‘last active’ feature switched on, so I could literally see when he had been online, actively ignoring me. It was brutal. And yet, I know I got off relatively easy in the grand scheme of dating app ghost stories.
I have friends who have been stood up by dates only to never hear from them again. Ones who have been randomly blocked by people they’ve been on several dates with. Even those who have become ‘exclusive’ with someone they’re seeing, then have suddenly vanished into thin air.
I don’t know your story. But I do know that whatever happened, you will be hurting from it. And rightly so. Ghosting is one of the cruellest so-called dating trends that has come to define modern romance. But it’s depressingly common – one study found that 74% of people think ghosting is an appropriate way to end a relationship.
Usually, when something causes you pain, it can help to try and understand how it happened. But with ghosting, this is virtually impossible. Because the reasons why people choose to ghost never make much sense. You met someone else? Tell me. You couldn’t be bothered? That’s lazy. You were worried about what I’d say? Grow up. Your wife found your dating app profile? Delete it. You forgot? See your GP.
There’s never a good excuse to ghost someone. Whenever I’ve lost interest in someone I’m dating, I tell them the truth. I won’t necessarily send them a 500-word essay on why they gave me the ick, but I’ll be honest that I’m not that interested in seeing them anymore and that I wish them the best. We’re all adults here, why are we so afraid to behave like them?
It’s cruel to be so reckless with someone else’s feelings, leaving them to agonise over all of the reasons why you’ve gone AWOL. Given how much bad press ghosting tends to get nowadays, I didn’t actually think people still did it. But I was proven wrong as recently as September when I started texting someone I matched with on Hinge only for them to mysteriously disappear into the ether.
I’m sorry it has happened to you, too. But I would count yourself lucky to be free from this person. Because the kind of people who ghost are, generally speaking, cowards. Or narcissists. Perhaps both. You’re much better off without them. Consider it the next step that’s getting you closer to finding someone who is right for you. You deserve so much more than this.
The quick-fire round
Is CBD any good for sexual wellness?
It can be – depends on what you’re using it for. I wouldn’t rush to spend your money on any so-called sexual wellness products, though. Unless it’s a sex toy, chances are these companies are just trying to commodify things your body does on its own. Enjoy with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Does long distance really work?
Absolutely. But it’s not easy and will completely depend on communication compatibility – and how much effort you’re both willing to put into the relationship to make it work. Give it a few months and see how it goes. But if you’re finding it tough, don’t waste your time flogging a dead horse.
If you want to get in touch, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions will remain anonymous.
Olivia Petter is the relationships writer at The Independent and author of Millennial Love, which is out now in paperback with 4th Estate