The Anti-Ghosting Trend Makes Dating A Little Less Scary

Since online dating went mainstream, it's easier than ever to skip the common courtesy of letting a first date know when you aren't looking for a second. Though there's always been some form of ghosting — or disappearing on a romantic interest without warning — it seems that giving someone a heads up should be easier than ever in the age of texts. 

A 2022 study on the psychological ramifications of ghosting revealed that it left those who were ghosted with primary reactions including confusion, efforts to justify or explain why they were ghosted, and a reduced ability to open up in future potentially vulnerable situations. Technology and apps have had an impact on users' overall dating experience, and the seemingly endless pool of options can decrease our empathy toward the people we interact with online. 

The dating app Bumble has launched its own anti-ghosting campaign, according to Bustle, conducting a survey that found 69% of users could use advice on how to break things off. There's even a trend of TikTok users sending out ghosting surveys asking their departed dates for reasons why they never followed up.

Still, how can we keep ourselves from ghosting if it seems like everyone else is taking the easy way out of their romantic entanglements? 

Lead with respect

Showing respect for another person can make all the difference in how you both come away from your romantic interaction. In possible ghosting scenarios, it's typically best to lead with the golden rule: treat others the way you'd want to be treated. However, if you have already been mistreated or disrespected by a date, they may have forfeited their right to your time and energy, and an anti-ghosting technique may not be your best move.

Ultimately, ghosting should be reserved for situations where cutting off contact is necessary for your wellbeing. However, if you think someone deserves answers as to why things didn't work out, they probably do. 

Cosmopolitan's expert dating coach Tenesha Wood confirms that leaving someone wondering what happened between you is worse than letting someone know you aren't interested. Both ultimately result in rejection, but one leaves the person to ruminate on what they did wrong or think they aren't enough for you.

You may want to keep things vague when you're giving reasons why you and your date aren't a match, so it's fine to cite a lack of shared interests, incompatible personalities, or chalk it up to an overall lack of connection. The important ingredient in the anti-ghosting formula, however, is giving your date a real answer.

Honesty is the best policy

Dating coach Tenesha Woods warns against making excuses, like saying you're too busy, since your date might see through them and feel even worse. 

Some advice on anti-ghosting techniques offers solutions that are less than truthful in order to avoid any discomfort. However, the problem with white lie solutions is the potential fallout. What happens when you say you aren't ready to date anyone or things are getting serious with another relationship, but your date sees that you're active on a dating app the next week? 

Creating a mystery around your failed date will only leave the other person more confused and wondering why you felt the need to make something up. To help, Bumble offers a formula for the ideal break-up text, though they advise you to meet in person if you've been on four-plus dates or things have gotten somewhat serious. Start with a salutation and provide your reason for stepping away, then make sure not to leave them with hope for romance in the future. However, you can offer friendship if that's something you'd like to try.

Ultimately, the more up front and kind you are to someone you don't want to date, the better you'll both understand what you want in a partner and, hopefully, be another step closer to finding whatever you're both looking for.