By Joe Jones
I’d like, if I may, to tell you a ghost story, but not the one you might be expecting. But, this isn’t your typical ghost story of the paranormal kind. No, this ghost tale is less fictional, but just as terrifying. This is the story of when I was “ghosted” by someone I thought I could fall in love with.
Before I begin, I would like to explain what ghosting is for those who may not be aware, ghosting is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.” The person essentially vanishes from your life without a trace, as if they were an apparition here today and gone tomorrow. And just like a specter you would see in a typical horror film like The Conjuring, this ghost haunts you with the memory of your time together.
To protect the identity of my “ghost” I shall refer to him as Casper, the not-so-friendly ghost. Casper and I met the way I meet most of the men who will grow to disappoint me, Grindr. At the start of our chance encounter, my conversations with Casper were few and far between, but as we chatted more and found similarities, such as attending the same school, shared musical tastes, and our love for RuPaul’s Drag Race, those conversations became more frequent, and the beginnings of a special bond began to form.
Soon those conversations on Grindr transitioned to texting, calling, and video chatting. I found myself being swept up in my admiration of his passion for his work, his charismatic nature, and his ability to always make me laugh and bring a smile to my face. The more intimate in nature our conversations became, the more I began to believe that our friendship could bloom into something more, something romantic.
Eventually Casper said to me the sentence I had been waiting for him to ask me since our early days of communicating with each other, “Would you like to go on a date with me?” I was ecstatic, and enthusiastically agreed.
Finally, the day of our date arrived, and it was everything I hoped it would be. The way he looked at me, the way he touched me, the way he kissed me, I was falling over and over again for him. On the drive home from our first date, I anticipated a second date, then a third and the possibility of being his boyfriend. The thought of having someone to spend time with, hold hands with, and share my world with filled me a kind of warmth and happiness that I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
After our date, I waited a couple hours to text Casper. Even though I wanted to text him the second I returned home, I waited so as not to seem too eager. “Hey, I had a good time with you today. I hope you enjoy your night out ☺”. That was the message I sent, and then waited for a response.
And I waited, and waited, and the more I waited the more concerned I became that there would be no response at all and I had done something wrong to make him no longer interested in me. At first I tried to rationalize why after talking every single day, he completely ceased communicating with me. I assumed he was consumed with work and simply forgot or didn’t have time to text me back.
But, after 24 hours with still no response, worry started to set in, and the overthinking process began to start.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“Was I too eager to kiss him?”
“Did I kiss him too many times?”
“Did he not like me laugh?”
“Was he only looking to hook up?”
“Was he not as attracted to me in person as he was over text?”
Eventually, I was forced to come to realization that I had been ghosted by someone I cared immensely about and thought I could have a meaningful relationship with.
After being ghosted by Casper, I felt empty, hollow, worthless, and betrayed. I believed all the cutesy things he said to me, and all the plans we talked about making was just lies and deception. At the advice of my friends, I made the difficult decision to unfriend and unfollow him on social media and to delete his number from my phone. Although I could erase any trace of him from my life, I could not erase the pain he caused me in the brief amount of the time I spent with him.
This wasn’t the first time I had ever been ghosted by someone, but this incident with Casper hurt more than the others because he made me believe that he was different than those other guys and would treat me the way I deserve. But, in the end he was no different, but also a bigger offender than those past ghosters, because he convinced me of the possibility I could be loved by someone. After all of those past failures, I became jaded and thought I would never be good enough to meet anybody’s standards. He made me think I deserved his love, but when he ghosted me, he made me think otherwise.
But, after venting to close friends about what happened, they made me realized that it wasn’t me who didn’t deserve Casper’s love, but it was him who didn’t deserve my love. My friends made me realize there are plenty of other people who will recognize my worth and what makes me special, and that I don’t need him to feel loved, appreciated, and validated.
After putting the incident with Casper aside I began to ponder on the practice of ghosting as a large issue. I contemplated on the reasoning of why we can’t be more honest with each other and when we are no longer interested in someone we just be clear and direct with them and tell them “I’m just not into you.”
While I spent days harboring resentment over Casper for the heartbreak he inflicted on me, I knew that I was not so innocent myself. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I shamefully admit that in the past, I too had ghosted someone I was no longer interested. I went on a date with someone and we didn’t click, had zero chemistry, and rather than waste my time going on a second date, I decide to nip it in the bud. But, instead of telling him I didn’t want to pursue anything anymore with him, I thought I might spare him his feelings and refrain from texting him and failing to schedule another date.
Perhaps Casper also believed he was sparing my feelings by not confronting his incompatibility with me, but my feelings were hurt, and most likely the unfortunate soul who I ghosted also had his feelings hurt when I rejected him. He deserved better than the way I treated him and if I could go back in time I would have been honest with him, the way that I wish Casper would have been honest with me when he decided he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.
The practice of ghosting needs to come to an end because it’s dishonest, deceitful, and disrespectful. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way we would want to be treated, and I think most of us would agree that we would prefer to have our relationships end with a mutual understanding of why the relationship is ending, rather than one party left confused and unaware of why the connection is being suddenly and untimely cut off. It’s time to make ghosting a thing of the past, and if we do, we will have more respect for each other and ultimately have better relationships as a result.