I don't know about you, but there are days when I just need to vent. And, much to the chagrin of my sister, Black, she's the one who gets to hear it. A few years ago, given my tendency to blah-blah-blah, she asked me to let her know right up front whether I'm looking for advice or merely letting off steam. When I questioned (with some annoyance) what difference did it make, she pragmatically explained it impacts whether she has to listen carefully, or even comment (although she'll throw in questions like, "Really?" or, "And then what?" to make me feel like she's paying attention). Bottom line: she knows that once I've had my vent, I'm good. It's out of my system and I'm (usually) ready to move on.
But occasionally there are times when I still need to talk to her, and although I'm looking for advice it's similar to a vent in that I don't really need her to listen. But, unlike a vent, ironically enough, this is when I need to listen to myself.
Confused? Well, at first, so was I. It started when I found myself not knowing what to do about something (the particulars aren't important), so I called her looking for advice. But as I started talking, I heard myself answering her questions before she even asked them. I was explaining my thought process, going through the pros and cons of the situation, and even running through the various scenarios that might happen based on what I decided. Of course, Black would occasionally throw in a "Why?" (her favorite question), but by the time I finally stopped talking, I had my answer.
Over time, I found this situation repeating itself – sometimes related to our mother or my daughters, a high dollar purchase, or sometimes just a small decision I was struggling with (they often seem the hardest to make) – with me often prefacing the conversation by admitting,
I've found that saying things out loud usually helps me figure things out. So, although it sounds counterintuitive, this is one of those times when I need someone to talk to, but the good news is I'm not expecting you to do anything more than that.
Well, not only does Black appreciate the heads-up, but the first time I said it, it provided the perfect opportunity for one of her smart-ass comments,
In other words, you do not want me to interrupt you while you are talking to yourself.
Exactly! Because sometimes you don't need advice as much as you just need a sounding board.
Everyone laughs and wants to hear the story when I mention that I was recently "ghosted" by someone I had dated. What I find interesting is that ghosting has become so prevalent in today's society (and is not restricted to dating) that there is a term to describe the sudden "disappearance" of someone who wants to avoid all future contact with you.
Going back decades, I know there have been first dates that, at the time, I thought went well. But, after getting the "I'll call you" line … I never did. As a teenager, I can remember anxiously waiting for the phone (a landline tethered to the wall – and yes, I am that old) to ring, not wanting to go out and possibly miss the call. And, being very disappointed by the silence. Now, I cannot even remember who they were.
Over time, especially once women's lib made it more acceptable for women to take the initiative when dating, I came to appreciate that it was easier not to call than to tell someone face-to-face that you did not want another date. But, it did not change the inevitable, and ghosting can be more painful than politely telling the truth. Meanwhile, given how outspoken and opinionated I was (I still am), I think they could always sense where they stood and whether our personalities were compatible.
I never intentionally misled anyone, as that is not my style. Plus, it is inefficient as it creates more work down the road to try and reverse the situation. Of course, when you get past the initial dates and learn more about each other, you may realize that you are not compatible. Then, you want to cut your losses and move on, so would break up. It did not require long conversations or detailed relationship analysis. Merely, the common courtesy to be honest.
I know that Red would try and make me understand that "mere mortals" (as she refers to herself and most people, accusing me of being a Vulcan) prefer to avoid these situations – finding them not only uncomfortable and difficult, but thinking they require full explanations. However, I am not questioning "why" people ghost.
Yes, there can be legitimate reasons for ghosting someone, although often there are not. The specific details of my situation are not relevant, but the fact we went on six or seven dates, and he made it very clear that he thought our relationship could be a long-term one (I thought it had potential but was concerned about emotional compatibility) made being ghosted very unexpected. And disappointing. Not to mention,
Ghosting is flat-out rude and shows a lack of manners. If you no longer want to date someone, tell them. Plus, it is an excellent way to practice having difficult conversations, especially as there is no downside risk. But, there can be upside potential … Besides improving your communication skills, you may realize that your decision to stop seeing them is based on a misunderstanding or extenuating circumstances.