It’s recently been reported that Charlize Theron dumped Sean Penn by way of ghosting, which is a breakup tactic in which the dumper falls off the face of the planet never to be heard from again by the dumpee. We know a little about that here. The New York Times was so intrigued by this seemingly new concept called ghosting that they dug around a little and found actual people who had been ghosted, and some who had done the ghosting, to explain what it is and why someone would use such a tactic to end a relationship.
Take Elena Scotti, 27, for example. Elena is a photo editor for a media company in New York and had fallen in love with a guy she met while studying abroad. “We were inseparable,” she said. “I was talking to him every day and sleeping in the same bed with him for six months.” After they returned to their respective homes, Elena flew to Chicago to visit him and attend Lollapalooza. After one date together in Chicago, “He fell off the face of the planet,” Elena said, and she “didn’t see him again until he moved into her building in Brooklyn with his girlfriend three years later. The silent treatment continued, Ms. Scotti’s former flame ignoring her even as they passed each other in the hallway.” Oh, snap.
WHY would someone behave that way? Well, we can’t know why Elena’s Chicago dude acted like a turd, but Joe Stahl, some other dude, explains why he ghosted his boyfriend, totally cutting off contact, blocking him on his phone, and un-following him on social media: “I knew that there were things that I couldn’t fix about myself that were making him angry. I felt like I was powerless and ashamed that I couldn’t be this person I wanted to be for him, which is why I deserted.” Um, lame.
No, I’m sorry. It’s one thing to ghost someone you’ve been out with once or even twice. Or someone you connected with online but decided, for whatever reason, you didn’t want to meet in person (like, maybe you Googled him and learned he’s Republican or something–or, fine, a Democrat). But I agree with Anna Sale, the host and managing editor of the WNYC podcast “Death, Sex & Money,” who says: “If you go on more than three dates, you’ve indicated you’re interested. To disappear after that is confusing.” And rude and lame and plain old weak.
Unsurprisingly, the Times article about people explaining why they ghosted others garnered a lot of feedback. Readers left comments describing their own ghosting experiences and the Times rounded up some of the best responses, which you can read here. One person was even ghosted by a spouse who just upped and left her and pretended not to know her when they crossed paths within inches of each other. Wha??
Back in my single days, I was ghosted a few times, but none of the experiences really stick out in my memory as traumatizing or terribly dramatic or anything. There was one guy I met on OKCupid and went out with four times who simply stopped returning my emails and I never saw him again. No biggie — we didn’t have much chemistry anyway. There was another guy I went out with maybe three times who faded away (but I think it was a mutual fade-out, like maybe after the third date, when neither one of us contacted the other, if I remember right, or maybe there were a couple of short email exchanges that didn’t really go anywhere). And then there was a guy I dated for a year, and we actually broke up in person but then tried to remain friends too soon after the breakup and got into a big fight one day while hanging out. He called me a week or two after our fight to check in with me and confirm that he graduated from med school and would be moving in a couple of weeks. “I’ll call you soon,” he said as he hung up, and I never heard from him again. Which was fine. The relationship was over and I needed to move on. (I met Drew a year later).
So, what about you? Have you ever been ghosted or ghosted someone else? If you did the ghosting, what was your reason?