You see them once, you think it’s going great.
You exchange smiles, you ask curious questions about each other, they appear interested in what you have to say.
He buys you a drink; you get the next round.
It’s looking good. The energy is there. You might even begin noticing small quirks about him that are uniquely charming. You wonder who this person really is deep down. After all, you’re just getting an outward glimpse of who this person is when you meet them the first time.
He walks you home; you leave having hopes that maybe the connection will build and you’ll get to know each other more.
But…you never do.
And they never let you know.
This is ghosting. If you aren’t familiar with the term ghosting, it’s when someone disappears without the courtesy of letting you know why. Just poof. Gone.
Ester Perel, a relationship expert, describes these acts (along with icing and simmering) as a decline in empathy in modern dating.
We’re supposed to be okay with it now, because well, that’s what happens when social trends become normalised—we are expected to understand “that’s just the way it is.”
What’s worse is when society goes even further and makes you feel insecure or weak for not just “getting on with it.”
No, our hearts get broken. Bit by bit, date after date, when we are shown we aren’t worthy of a simple acknowledgement. It builds. It’s one thing when it’s a one-off situation, but when it slowly wears your soul and starts to make you question whether you are coming up short somehow—that’s when you know dating is reaching new heights of insensitivity.
To the person who ghosts: you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life and what hardships they may be going through. To be brave enough to go out and open our hearts again to someone is no small feat. So, to be ghosted, after bringing our best energy forward and building our confidence and healing our wounds, really stings.
Also, for some, disappearing like that may trigger an abandonment wound from childhood trauma. It may bring up overwhelmingly difficult emotions that the person has to deal with in the aftermath. We could all use a little compassion and kindness. It goes a long way.
Yes, you might think, “Oh, it’s only one or two dates,” but even then—why can’t we honour interactions any more? Why can’t our connections with people become more sacred? Oftentimes, before that first date, there’s a long string of messages where you get to know someone (if you’re using dating apps). This adds to the feeling of knowing them. Outwardly, it looks like a first date, but inwardly, it feels like you’ve already developed a sense of who this person is from their temperament and their texting personality. Yes, that’s a thing.
Well, what can you do if you’re in a situation where you didn’t click with someone you’ve just met?
Here are my suggestions:
1. Try Texting
It doesn’t have to be an in-the-moment conversation. Sometimes it takes a while to wrap our heads around how we feel about someone. It can be a simple text after the date, or a day after, saying something like:
“I had a really lovely time, but I just wanted to be honest and say I don’t think we would be a good match. I felt like we had different values/beliefs. I hope you can receive this with the best intentions. Good luck with your project! I think it’s really cool.”
2. Try Friendship
This is optional. You might genuinely feel like this person is someone you would like to stay in touch with or even collaborate on a project with if you have similar interests. But there’s, of course, no need to throw in the F word if you don’t mean it.
Say something like:
“Thanks for a great time. I enjoyed getting to know you. I just have to be honest and say I feel like we would be better suited as friends. Do you feel the same? I’m open to talking about it if you’d like to.”
3. Try Sunsetting
Sunsetting is when you meet someone, usually in a public park, and you tell them what you appreciate about them and that you’ve enjoyed their time. You’re letting someone down easy and respecting them enough to have the courage to say it face-to-face. This might sound scary, but you’d be surprised how it’s often well-received, and they admire you for your ability to have an open dialogue. My favourite thing about sunsetting is how human it is. Even if you are on the receiving end, there’s something about being respected that triumphs feeling loved or chosen sometimes.
4. Try another chance
Unless you sensed immediate red flags or obvious incompatibility, maybe consider that seeing someone once doesn’t give you the full picture of who they are. That maybe, in this day and age, with fast technology, fast fashion, and fast food, we are used to getting things quickly. Patience isn’t our strongest virtue.
I remember once thinking there wouldn’t be a second date with a guy because I didn’t feel like he was interested enough. Later on, he asked me out again, and that second date was the beginning of our relationship. I spent more time getting to know him, and it resulted in something quite beautiful.
Whether you decide to completely cut the connection, become friends, sunset, or go on a second date and it still doesn’t work out—remember to be firm but kind. Remember that it’s as simple as, “You’re awesome and deserve someone great. I just don’t think I’m that guy or girl.” Have a no ghosting policy, and watch how it shifts your relationships.
No one likes to be in limbo, so treat others how you would want to be treated.