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The Anatomy Of A Ghost

It’s spooky season, so let’s talk about the living ghosts among us.


The title of this blog post may be a tad misleading. I don’t plan to walk you through the physical anatomy of an actual ghost. I don’t know anything about those sometimes friendly, sometimes evil spectres that haunt us living humans from time to time. I mind my business.

What I do know about, however, is the concept of “ghosting” when it comes to dating.


Ghosting is a term Millennials made up, I think, because we love to make things up. It refers to the action of someone completely disappearing in the midst of a burgeoning romance. These disappearances are often inexplicable and have no rhyme or reason behind them - at least not for the person who was ghosted.


So, the person who left becomes, well… a ghost. And the person left behind becomes haunted by the mystery of their disappearance.


I have, much more often than not, been the person who was ghosted rather than the person doing the ghosting. But I plan to use this blog post to infiltrate the minds of those who ghost, in a potentially futile attempt to understand them. Why do they do it? What are their motives? And, short of actually dying, where do they go?


First, let’s address the fact that ghosting has probably been going on for ages. I picture a man in 1923 disconnecting his phone after a date with a woman, who tries to call him for days and weeks, in pure agony that he isn’t responding and that his phone isn’t even ringing. She writes him passionate love letters, but he throws them into the fire at his hearth, reveling in the heart he has broken.


While the man in the above scenario is almost certainly a dick, it wasn’t until the dawn of the digital age that the concept of ghosting became so prevalent. In the era of texting, the internet, and social media, we’re all connected to one another in more ways than ever before. We all have dozens of channels in which we can contact one another. Suddenly, ghosting became much more difficult to do - but also much easier, depending on how you look at it.


Think about it - romance blooms in many different ways these days. People meet on dating apps, people meet on Instagram, people meet on Facebook or Twitter or even Pinterest if they’re crafty (I don’t know what people get up to in their spare time). Surely some people (cough straight people cough) still meet at random in places like the grocery store, but most new relationships in 2018 probably begin online.


When a relationship begins online, it becomes very easy to end it early. I think online ghosting is a ghoster’s favorite sport, simply because of how little energy you have to invest in hurting someone. I’ve been ghosted on Tinder more than anywhere else.


This is how it happens: you match, you start chatting, things are going well, you’re enjoying talking to each other, the conversation spans several days, you begin talking about making plans for a date, you may even schedule said date, and then suddenly… nothing. The other person completely disappears. You may message a few more times in the coming days and weeks to see if maybe they just didn’t get your message, because there’s really no obvious reason as to why they’ve disappeared.


But alas, they are gone.


You, almost always, never hear from that person again. They’ve become another ghost to haunt the graveyard of your dating life. Boo, bitch!


Most of us can handle being ignored on dating apps, no matter how well the conversation was going. But what about those times when you’ve actually met the person - maybe even met them a few times - and then they disappear?


These are the ghosts who haunt you for the longest period of time and refuse to let you live in peace. From the perspective of the person who’s been ghosted, there’s no real reason for it. I’ve had a few situations in which I thought the person must surely have been hit by a truck whilst crossing the street because they clearly had to have feelings back… right?


Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! *read in big baby Trump voice*


Some people really do just disappear after a few good dates. Here’s the only thing I can think of that can explain such behavior: they’re cowards. Yes, I said it. Cowards! Because, let’s face it - these people are disappearing because they don’t care enough about you to maintain the relationship. That fact - the not caring part - is perfectly understandable. Sometimes things don’t work out. But a good person, a person who actually cares about other people, communicates that sentiment to the other party.


Ghosting really just comes down to a lack of mature communication (mic drop).


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that being honest and telling people how you really feel is the best, most mature way to handle any situation - particularly when it comes to navigating the dating minefield. It’s definitely not the easiest way out. In fact, it’s probably the hardest. But if you lose feelings for someone in the midst of getting to know them, I’ve found that it’s best to just… tell them.


*Cue gasps from the crowd*


Telling someone that you don’t want to continue getting to know them is the best way to end it. There’s no ambiguity, there’s no wondering why, and there are no ghosts. Just two living, breathing human beings who weren’t meant to be together.


But as you tell them, tell them nicely. Don’t be mean about it - don’t call them ugly, don’t call them uninteresting, don’t give them a detailed list of reasons why you don’t find them attractive anymore. Let them know it isn’t working out, say you wish them the best, and move on with your life.


I can literally hear some of you thinking I don’t owe anything to anyone. And, okay Hubert, maybe you don’t - but is it really that difficult to be a decent human being? You don’t always have to owe something to someone to treat them well. If you are the type of person who operates in a world of tit for tat, maybe you should think about doing the good thing first and asking questions later.


After dissecting ghosts from all angles in my personal life, I’ve discovered that communication is the sole cure for ghosting. Communicate, people. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.


Let’s leave the ghosts in the graveyard. We’re all humans - so act like it.


This post was brought to you by Ghost by Frankie and Scott Hoying, not only because it’s about the very topic of this blog post but also because it’s an absolute bop. And the music video is cute. It’s been added to my blog playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.


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© 2018 by Evan McCoy