Last summer, the New York Times covered the break-up of Sean Penn and Charlize Theron and the circumstances under which it happened. Unlike many other Hollywood splits before it, it didn’t end with a physical fight or one walking in on the other cheating. Much worse. She ghosted him. This public recognition of something so commonplace (yet hush-hush) in mainstream single-person society made the act all too real.
For those outside the dating scene, being ghosted is the slang term used when someone vanishes into thin air after an intimate encounter – dating or hookup – never to be heard from again. For those inside the dating scene, you know this term all too well and how awful it feels regardless of the role you play in the scenario. Whether you’re the one scared of bumping into your former suitor on the street or the one left wondering what you did wrong to repel them, it’s hard to deny that this kind of behaviour has become protocol after a first date.
Recently, I sat next to a couple on their first Tinder date. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation and how awkward it was. About twenty minutes in, I noticed the man come back from the bathroom. He didn’t get back on his chair. Instead, he stood a cool distance from his date, arms crossed, proclaiming that he was going to grab the check. The girl seemed confused and he just rationally explained that he just didn’t think this was going to work out. The girl handled it with dignity – no tears shed or curse words said – saying something about how she’s been on a million Tinder dates and they don’t even matter. (They don’t, that’s the saddest part :/)
I’m not quite sure how I would have handled that situation, personally. Because, if you’ve been on one date, you’ve been on a million. Just as the girl said. Everyone follows the same – Meet. Have a drink. Hug goodbye. See you soon. – format. So, when something so jarring happens who even knows how to react?
While the reality of the situation was definitely harsh, it made me think – is it better to get dumped on the spot and go home knowing that you will never hear from that person again or let the person fade away as you silently pray that the next time your phone buzzes it’s them?