I recently read your article about ghosting, and it gave me great perspective. However, what if I'm the serial ghoster? I know ghosting is not fair to anyone, but I don't know what I should do to prevent it. Once I lose interest or I see red flags I stop responding. Help, please!
Thanks for asking! I commend you for striving to be a kinder dater. The world could use more people like you in it.
So, the answer is really simple — but it might not be easy.
When you see the red flags or lose interest and they reach out, what you do is you respond.
You do so because you know how much it sucks when you really like someone, you pin your hopes on them, and then they disappear and leave you hanging.
Just Do it
I know, I know; one of the hardest parts of dating is rejecting someone. That part is never easy. Not only do you have to let someone down, but you run the risk of having to deal with their emotional fallout when you’re completely uninvested, so kudos to you for being a gracious person and wanting to try harder here. I’ll try and make your options as quick and painless as possible — for you and for them — in my examples below.
A Rejection via Text
When you respond, try some version of this:
“Thanks for reaching out, (name). I had a really nice time getting to know you, but I can see we’re not quite a fit, so I’m going to pass on another date. Good luck out there!”
Depending on the connection, this option is good up to about the fourth date. After that level of involvement, you might offer up a little more.
A Rejection After Multiple Dates
You could start with…
“Hi (name). I like dating you, but I can see we aren’t quite a match. If you want to talk about it I’m open to jumping on the phone, but if you prefer, we can just text goodbye now. What works best for you?”
If they take the text ending, you’re golden.
If they want to jump on the phone, then have a short conversation to conclude your connection planned — or at least your end of it. If you feel compelled, you can share how they keep talking about wanting ten children and you don’t want any, or how they want to live on a farm someday and they totally should, but you’re a city person. Whatever the red flag is should be fair game, as long as it’s a lifestyle mismatch or something innocuous and not personal to them.
When It’s Them — Not You — In a Big Way
Now, if the “why” is because they’re boring, or erratic, or embarrassing or comfortable, then Sarah, I’m trusting you to be creative here. Come up with a good “we’re not a fit” reason that’s gonna let them down easy and get you out of not one but two unsatisfactory situations: ghosting and getting stuck with someone you’re not into. You’ve got this.
Finally, there are two types of people:
1) “You’re done with me? Cool, I’m out.”
2) “But why?”
The majority of daters are very okay with “you’re done, I’m done.” Luckily.
The but-why’s are rare, but they do happen.
If a “but why” is asking this question, they’re only doing so to either talk you out of your decision or to inform you that they’ll change whatever it was in the reason you gave for calling it off.
This is a no-win situation.
If you encounter a “but why” person, do not take the bait.
As graciously as you can, repeat, “You’re not quite a fit for me,” and if you need to draw a boundary, you can do it with, “That’s all I have to say.”
Most people won’t go this route because they understand that digging deep into the reason you don’t want them is a Trojan horse of trouble and that getting the hell off the call/text or date is the priority.
Leave No Trace
All this is to say, well, be kind. Honor people’s time and feelings, including the time some will inevitably spend daydreaming they’re in a relationship with you.
When in doubt, use the old camping rule: Leave people in the same or better shape than when you found them.
Take care and happy dating!
Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.
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