[Pre]Ghosted!

Boo!

We had started a back-and-forth email conversation on Kasidie with a super hot couple who had ‘liked’ several of our photos and had sent us a ‘flirt’ via the popular swinger dating website. ‘Backstage Pass’ photos were mutually opened so that we all saw each others’ faces and more of our bodies. The conversation moved to Kik. Yes! They want to meet us, they said. We tossed a couple of possible dates their way…and didn’t hear back.

Ever.

We checked politely, twice — a week or so in-between — in case we had just gotten lost in the shuffle of their correspondence and daily life. It happens. Best to give folks the benefit of the doubt.

Nothing. **Crickets chirping**

We could see they were still active on the dating site, they just weren’t communicating with us anymore. Clearly, they did NOT want to meet, and we now feel a little foolish for checking in more than once after the conversation unceremoniously dropped.

Were we giving the benefit of the doubt or just being pests who can’t take a hint?!

Were we just ghosted?!

An article on Vice argues that it doesn’t count as ‘ghosting’ when this happens to us before we ever meet in person. And, really, author Hannah Ewens has a solid point when she writes, “[This phenomena] is not ‘ghosting,’ [which is] where two people have started some kind of IRL relationship, and all of a sudden one person seemingly decides to throw their phone in a well and live the rest of their life off-grid.” Yeah. OK. We get that.

But it still stings, and when we talk or write about it, what should we call it?

Brande Victorian, on Hinge’s blog IRL, uses the term ‘pre-ghosting’ for this common online dating phenomena. It occurs when you think you’re making a connection through a dating site, texting, or chat app…and then the conversation ends abruptly. Pre-ghosting, as a descriptive term, works as far as we’re concerned.

For the record, we don’t think it’s either if you’ve sent an initial signal or note of interest that just doesn’t get any reply. We may not love it when someone doesn’t respond to an expression of interest, but that’s really all it is.

ghost
Boo who? photo | Freepik

Pre-ghosting can leave us confused and hurt. When everything seems to be going so well and then it’s suddenly not — that’s frustrating, at the very least.

We are pretty sure there’s no particularly valid study of how many people have been dropped like a hot potato after establishing what seemed like mutual interest online and/or through texting or chat apps, but we’ve heard enough anecdotal evidence to realize it’s a thing that pretty routinely happens, so we’re not alone in experiencing it.

We’ve heard enough anecdotal evidence to realize it’s a thing that pretty routinely happens, so we’re not alone in experiencing it.

That leaves the question of what to do about it.

The thing is, we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we opt to react to it. And we don’t need to give away ownership of our well-being to others by letting their decisions and actions unduly impact us.

At this stage in our lives, we’re not interested in generating or participating in emotional drama, so for us “what to do about it” has to do with minimizing that — which means opting to decide a few things:

1 | Deciding not to be angry and judgmental. If someone pre-ghosts — whatever their reason — it felt valid to them. We may never know what it was, and that is OK.

2 | Deciding not to be offended or take it personally. Maybe it has to do with us — something we said or didn’t say, or photos we shared — but more likely it has to do with them — wherever they are personally and in terms of their relationship. For sure, their decision to cut bait and run without a word of explanation reflects on them, not us.

And, perhaps most importantly…

3 | Deciding not to do that to other people.

couple texting
It is possible to be both honest and kind. photo | Shawn Fields

Just like every other experience in the LS, being pre-ghosted offers us an opportunity to grow. We can use this as a chance to learn more about being good communicators in the digital world, about how we choose to conduct ourselves.

Even if it’s a hard conversation, we will take the time to tell others that we’ve changed our minds, or that we have issues between us that cause us to want/need to step back, or that we don’t seem to be as well-suited to them as we had originally thought. You know, pull on the big-boy and big-girl panties and have an honest-but-kind conversation before ending communication.

In the end, the Golden Rule is pretty helpful here.

We’ve decided that our M.O. will be to treat other people the way we want to be treated, including trying not to judge harshly (them or ourselves) when things don’t go the way we’d hoped they would.

fish kiss
Oh look! More fish in the sea! photo | Johny Vino

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