The Healthy Alternative to Ghosting
So you’ve recently re-entered the dating world. Or maybe you’ve been dating for a while now with the goal of finding a relationship that aligns with who you are. Hope and new dating energy fill the air as you open a new door and take a chance. You’ve done the work, and you’re ready to meet someone.
But after that first date, you may start realizing they’re not a good fit. The chemistry may be off, or completely absent altogether. Although this can be disappointing, trusting your intuition means you’re being honest and true to yourself.
Whatever the case may be, you’re just not feeling it. So what should you do?
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Give it Thought
Before you make your decision, take some time to think about it. This is especially important if you are someone who has been in unhealthy relationships in the past and is just starting to get out there again. Investigate if you truly believe this person is not a fit for you and why, or if your fear may be blocking you from a new adventure. Just remember, everyone is different and some people need more time than others to know what their decision is.
Writing through what you’re feeling, or consulting with trusted friends, family, or even your counselor may help you get the clarity you need.
You’ve thought things through, or maybe you knew right off the bat. You don’t want to continue seeing this person, but you don’t know how to end it. You may be afraid of hurting their feelings, and the idea of simply disappearing into thin air is tempting.
Technically, ghosting is always a choice you can make. But, before you slowly back into the bushes like Homer Simpson, it’s important to reacquaint yourself with your goals. A healthy relationship requires honesty, kindness, and taking responsibility.
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Ghosting Doesn’t Get You What You Want
So, before you let the allure of avoidance dictate your actions, let’s break down the harmful side effects of ghosting.
When you decide to ghost someone, you are running away from communication
Healthy communication is an essential skill for a relationship to flourish. Remember that a healthy relationship is a partnership, and anyone who is looking to be in one needs to be able to work through life’s difficulties together.
If you think you’re protecting the other person’s feelings — think again.
You’re not the only person putting themselves out there by dating. It’s important to remember there’s a whole other person involved in this, with their own feelings and hopes. Although you are not responsible for how they handle rejection, you are responsible for being clear with them. Avoidance does not show the other person respect. In fact, it may make them feel angry, hurt, or confused. Empathizing and showing kindness can help override your fear in this situation.
Hindering your own growth.
By avoiding an uncomfortable conversation, you’re dodging an opportunity for self-growth. Stepping up and communicating with honesty, respect, and kindness will make you feel proud of yourself in the end. Remember that you get what you give, and if you want a healthy relationship, you also need to act in a healthy way.
How to End Things Respectfully
By this point, I hope you’ve made the brave decision not to ghost. If you have, here’s how to go about it.
- Keep it simple. You may feel the need to go into detail, or even blame it all on yourself. Remember the goal here is to be direct, honest, and honor your values and decisions.
- Be assertive, direct, and kind. We are all human and we deserve respect and kindness. They don’t need to know all the reasons why you made your choice, but simply that you’ve made it. Be direct and wish them well. Something like: “I enjoyed meeting you the other night, but after giving it thought I don’t think we will make a good fit. Best of luck!” can suffice.
- Rip the bandaid off. You may need some time to think about your decision, but be careful not to overanalyze here. Once you’ve made a choice that brings you peace, it’s best to have the conversation so that you both can move forward.
- Reach out for support if needed. If you’re having an especially difficult time with this, reaching out to a trusted support system or counselor is a good idea. You may even want to run your message by them for constructive feedback or just have them with you as your cheerleader.
- Healthy distractions. Once the deed is done, it’s helpful to have a healthy distraction planned for right after. Treating yourself to a fun dinner with friends, an uplifting movie, or even just a long walk with some good music can help you self-soothe and lift your spirits.
- Be proud of yourself. This may just be the most important. You don’t need to handle this perfectly, but you did something most people run away from and you’re on your path to becoming a healthier version of yourself.
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Check out the 10 signs of a healthy relationship and keep these tips in mind as you navigate the dating world.