Sad Millennial Dating: Ghosting

A few weeks back, I went out to dinner with some friends. Ever since society at large began treating COVID-19 as nothing more than a bygone nightmare that we all finally woke up from (*Kisses forehead gently and buries death toll statistics under pillow*), I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. This dinner was to be an opportunity to go out into the world, have a few drinks, and enjoy a meal that *for once* would be largely lacking in the requisite shredded cheese and pretzels. And at first, it seemed like it would be just that! When we arrived, we were seated at our table and introduced to our waiter, Allen. Now, I like to think Allen and I really hit it off. He was noticeably impressed by my drink order (*Put bourbon in glass, I drink*), and hung on my every word as I detailed in exquisite prose the meal that I would be consuming that evening (“Yes, when the menu says “Extra” bacon bits, what are we really talking here…ah, okay, great. So, then I’ll have the Confit de Canard with “Extra” bacon bits (*chuckles at his own daring*) and, oh, just one more question – I know mayonnaise isn’t *explicitly* on the menu, but I’m going to need it for my French fries. Can I inquire after a bottle? Oh, lovely. La joie! Yes, that’ll be all, Allen. Thank you.”) This instant rapport then continued throughout the first leg of our meal. My water was consistently filled *far more frequently than my friends’ were* and our back-and-forth banter began to draw a few stares from fellow diners:

“No sir, I’m not actually allowed to provide your table with any more dinner rolls without charging you. I’ll see what I can do about some extra mayonnaise though…I mean really, the whole bottle gone already, huh? Sure, I’ll be right back.”

“Oh, Allen – you spoil me so!” *Blushes bashfully*

But then something strange happened: Allen never came back with that extra mayonnaise. In fact, he never actually came back at all. For the rest of the meal. My friends and I sat there for an hour waiting for condiments that would never come, for plates to be cleared that would remain at our table, and for a bill that would never ultimately be charged to us. When we asked another waiter what was going on, she avoided eye contact and just kept walking. In desperation, we grabbed the manager and inquired into Allen’s whereabouts. We were met with silence and an open invitation to exit the front door. So, in confusion and mild consternation we left the restaurant and went about our lives.

Shockingly, I then had a similar experience the following week at my doctor’s office. My doctor and I have always had something of a loving yet contentious relationship. He would never be overwhelmingly thrilled with my weight, sleep schedule, and general hypochondria, but when push came to shove, he was always there to give me some pills, a pick-me-up, and a referral to a nice nutritionist. Our conversations may have always been a little forced, but I can honestly say that I’ve never had another man touch my naked body even *half* the number of times he has. But last week, when I went in for my scheduled physical, he just never showed up. Confused, I went out to reception to inquire as to his ETA or current whereabouts. I was then informed that the doctor would not be able to see me today. Or tomorrow. Or, er, ever really. Yeah, sorry about that. I think he’s taking a little time for himself, you know? Oh, no, he’ll still be seeing other patients. Yeah, the time he’s taking back for himself is really just this literal hour every 12 months with you. Sooooo anyways, here are your medical records and some cab fare. He will not be seeing you around. Byeee.

I mean, a little unorthodox, and I wish he could have told me that himself. But admittedly, going to the doctor was always a misguided attempt at self-improvement and keeping myself alive long past the point where the world tired of my presence, so it’s not too big of a loss, I guess. Self-medication may not be held in the highest esteem in the scientific journals, but it should be good enough for this ol’ meat husk.

But I finally had to throw up my hands in defeat when *the very same thing* happened to me at work just a few days ago. Every week for the last 2 months, I’ve met for an hour with Carol in marketing on a big project. Big, of course, is a relative term limited to the impact of resin prices on can liners and *not at all* indicative of such truly large global issues like climate change or the fast-food chicken sandwich wars. I wouldn’t say Carol and I were the “bestest of friends”, but we had a relatively effective and amicable working relationship. We would occasionally bring in lunch, and *Be Bad* together, choosing to bring in pizza or Chinese food instead of salads or veggie wraps (*giggles guiltily*). You know, just to *spoil ourselves*. We chatted politely over coffee and carefully crafted slide decks. I even remembered the name of her kid! Jason, or something. But then this Tuesday, she never showed up in our conference room. I checked the Google hangout link in case she chose to work virtually that day, and just forgot to tell me. But the line was completely silent. So, I shot her an office IM to see where she was at. No reply. I sent her an email asking if she wanted to reschedule. No reply. I shot her a text, asking if everything was okay. No reply. The next morning when I asked her manager if something was wrong with her, I was simply informed that I would now be working with Karol instead of Carol. Because *there is no war in Ba Sing Se* and don’t you worry your pretty little head about what happened to…who was it? Kristy? Anyway, we still on for happy hour next week?

Now obviously these three stories are completely and totally made up. They are wildly absurd scenarios that would never actually happen in real life, and any actual waiter, doctor, or co-worker who proliferates such behavior would clearly *and instantaneously* be seen as insane and sociopathic. Which is why it’s so amazing to me that this *exact same thing* happens every day in the dating world.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Ghosting”, it is a word used to describe a scenario in which one dating party totally and abruptly cuts off communication with the other party. No warning or explanation is given and attempts by the “Ghosted” party to reach back out to the “Ghosting” party are met with utter silence. How absolutely deranged is that? What weird, twisted Twilight Zone bullshit. Please don’t get me wrong – there *are* exceptions to this. If two dating enthusiasts happen to meet up and decide mutually and independently just not to talk to one another again, that’s really not ghosting. It was an implicitly agreed upon decision to not take this further. Moreover, if one of the two parties is making you wildly uncomfortable, and is simply *not taking no for an answer*, the moral justification for choosing to cut off contact with that person raises tenfold. That being said, I’m inclined to believe that the primary driver to ghosting is simply human psychopathy.

To this day, I don’t know how otherwise normal and allegedly decent people are comfortable with this behavior. It is a horrible thing to do to another person. If you are a self-identified well-meaning human who engages in such activity to “spare the feelings” of the other person, then you are as delusional as you are *emphatically* not a good person. This is clearly more about sparing your own feelings and avoiding something uncomfortable than it is about sparing the other person. If knowing that, you still want to engage in this sort of conduct, knock yourself out. Just don’t convince yourself in the process *That I’m a good person who really deserves to find somebody!” I have certainly done bad things in my life that I don’t feel great about, but you will also never hear me trying to convince myself and others that I have the innocence of a newborn fawn singing hymnals to a baby koala bear and the general countenance of Mother Teresa. My God, I have a literal blog that details in *excruciating* detail all of my personal and moral shortcomings. And if you’re somebody who truly doesn’t see the inherent issue in Irish Goodbye-ing a relationship, then you clearly have the moral compass of a regular Hannibal Lecter or a particularly seedy used-car salesman.

I would hazard that almost everyone whose dated in the last 5 years has been ghosted on at least one occasion. And the experience is about as much fun as watching a parade (which loosely means as exciting as breaking a whiskey glass in your hand, gripping the shards in your palm, and driving them point first into your eagerly awaiting eye holes). And as I don’t predict human morality to improve noticeably in the coming years, I would encourage all of you to prepare for it to happen again. But also, to remember – while the experience may have hurt, you also got out of dating a literal psychopath. So, enjoy still having all the skin on your face and an intact set of fingers and toes.

And in closing, I will once more leave you with a fun Hinge screenshot. Given the absurdity of the content, it clearly did not lead to a ghosting scenario, as no person would have even remotely considered engaging with it in the first place.

Enjoy.

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