One of the biggest issues people complain about in the modern world of dating is ghosting. You have a first date, and the conversation appears to go well. You inquire about a second date, and the response is silence. Why does this happen?
Ghosting is when someone doesn’t return texts, emails, voicemails, or internal messages on dating websites or apps. We’re all guilty of ghosting in the online dating world to some degree. We start conversations only to watch them die after a couple of exchanges. While this is frustrating, it’s part of the online dating dance. These conversations die for various reasons, most of them not having anything to do with you personally.
Ghosting does give you candid feedback about the interest level the other person has in you. If they don’t reply to your message, it’s probably due to one of two reasons. Either they have not had a chance to get back to you, or they’re caught in the Candy Store pursuing more immediately intriguing dating options. Once a conversation stalls, you need to move on. You can wait a week and re-message to see if you get a response, but you’re likely not to.
In a future blog post, I’ll discuss some techniques for laying the groundwork to restart a conversation. For now, you should know there is an unwritten dating rule that women stay pretty true to, and it’s this: A man is penalized quickly when a conversation stalls due to his lack of response. You get one chance to push the conversation forward. If you don’t correspond in a timely manner, you’re toast.
Because of my active lifestyle, I’ve been personally responsible for many conversations stalling. It’s not uncommon for three or four days to pass, where I have absolutely no time to manage my online dating account(s). My days at work can get busy with engineering duties that barely leave me time for a lunch break. In the pre-COVID days, you tack on commuting time, a dance lesson on Monday, band rehearsal on Tuesday, a first date meetup on Wednesday, a class on Thursday, and the next thing you know, four days have evaporated. There is simply no time to get online and maintain a conversation.
I can hear it now. This must mean you don’t have time to date! Nonsense. You set aside time for that, but you also need to have other activities in your life that you’re passionate about. If dating is your only passion, that’s a recipe for disaster and disappointment. When you find someone who looks like a fit, you’ll be able to adjust your schedule. Time is a precious commodity to a 50 Dater!
There is a valid argument for ghosting being the least negative way to let someone down. Sending someone a text letting them know you’re not interested is definitely not a positive message. We’ll go into why you NEVER send negative text messages or emails in a later blog post.
As mentioned earlier, it’s very common for daters to get caught up in the online Candy Store. The Candy Store gives most people a false sense of missing out, otherwise known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). This is the misleading perception that “The One” could be the next profile they see online. This is where you can get “Soft-Ghosted” and put on the back burner. Examples of “Soft-Ghosting” include responses to your messages with “Likes” or a “Smiley Emoji” but not sending an actual message. “Soft-Ghosting” allows the one who is doing the ghosting to pick things back up with you if the new flame doesn’t meet their expectations. If they drop the conversation and cross paths with you again, they can say they never really stopped messaging you. “Soft-Ghosting” is actually pretty insidious in that it puts the ghostee in a double-texting or double-messaging position. This is where you end up sending two or more messages in a row trying to get a response. Double or triple messaging makes you look needy and desperate: a Catch-22, if you will. You look desperate if you double or triple message them trying to get an answer, but if you don’t message them, they can say you stopped the conversation.
The reality is that after a first date, you don’t owe the other person an explanation if you don’t want to continue. The proper thing to do is to let them know you’re not interested, of course, but as many of you have learned, no good deed goes unpunished. It’s not uncommon for the one who is getting dumped to lash out when you give them the news. (Which is a good indicator you made the right decision to end it in the first place.) Women who date textbook “Nice Guys” learn quickly that these types behave unpredictably. In this case, ghosting actually makes sense. The movie “Gloria Bell” does a great job of showing why women should never date a “Nice Guy” to start with.
If you get around three dates in and it’s not working, you do owe them the common courtesy of letting them know it’s not going to work. There is a predictable story on having that conversation in this Swipe Life post from Tinder: “How To Break Up With Someone You Aren’t Actually Dating”. You can tell it’s written for the millennial crowd. The author tells the story of her learning experience, hanging out at her apartment for a third date with the intent of letting the guy down easy. (50 Daters don’t “hang out.” We instead do activity dates at the beginning of any dating interaction.) She discusses how to let someone down by text, which fits the early dating premise.
When talking about this, let’s not forget about Ghosting Karma. If you ghost someone, it’s entirely possible you’ll cross paths with them again down the road. This has the potential for some embarrassment, and your credibility will take a hit with anyone they know. Sometimes it’s worth getting snapped at by the person you’re dumping to avoid the Ghosting Karma.
Ghosting can sometimes be confused with Going Silent, which is creating a healthy space between yourself and someone you have a dating interest. That’s a subject for a future blog post.
All in all, I don’t condone ghosting here at 50 Dates at 50. It does have its place, but if you’re dealing with a mature person, letting them know you’re not interested is the respectful thing to do. Part of being a good dater is learning how to end things properly. If you’ve only been on a handful of dates and it’s going nowhere, you don’t need a precise reason. Stick to the “Two-Sentence Rule.” This rule is outlined in the website glossary. Proper application of the “Two-Sentence Rule” will be described in a future blog post.
To summarize, if you do get ghosted, you’ve been sent a passive message that lets you know the other person is not interested in dating you. Failure to understand this, especially for men, means your ego is getting in the way. Often, a person being cut loose wants to know why they were let go, which can be valuable feedback. The trouble is many people don’t have the maturity level to handle rejection or critique. You have to take things on a case-by-case basis. Never be a “Soft Ghoster.”