Dating Chronicles of a Mid-30 Year Old: Ghosting, Caspering, Zombieing, Haunting...

I'm a bit obsessed with the concept of ghosting and the psychology behind it. This goes for ghosting in relationships and friendships. Having been badly ghosted in 2017, it left a deep scar.

At the end of 2017, I found myself suddenly single at 34 years old. My boyfriend of three years ghosted me. The month before the breakup, we were talking about marriage during a vacation in Spain. It's crazy to think how quickly life can change. But first, let's define some of these terms...

  • Ghosting is when someone suddenly stops all communication. No explanation given, just disappears.

  • Caspering is when someone gently lets the other person down before ghosting. Casper the friendly ghost.

  • Zombieing is when someone communicates out of the blue months after ghosting the other person.

  • Haunting is when someone stalks an ex's social media.

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After my last long term relationship, I took a year off to heal. The following year, I decided to move across the country to San Diego from the East Coast.

Quit Corporate, sold my condo, gave everything away. In that order. Just shipped the car. New start, new beginnings.

I decided to try online dating for the first time a few months after I moved. I know, I've always been a late bloomer to things.

I started off with Match, then quickly gave up. I found Coffee Meets Bagel to be a lot better. A month after, I decided to try out Hinge too.

During the time I signed up for Hinge, California enforced a Covid quarantine. During lockdown, the only "safe" option was to conduct FaceTime calls.

Meeting virtually over FaceTime had a lot of benefits. I got to vet these men...make sure they didn't have a wife walking around or kids running around (if they said they didn't have kids). I also got a glimpse of their home. Where they slobs? Were they living in their parent's garage when they said they were home owners?

It was actually fun to have deep conversations without the pressure of meeting in-person. These long FaceTime calls brought me back to the good ol' days of long phone calls in junior high and high schools...before texting and emailing.

In all my relationships, I am usually not the one to end things. What can I say, I'm pretty much a ride or die type of gal. Whether that is a good thing or not is another story.

As I was connecting with different men online, I could tell pretty early on if there was no compatibility. Usually after the first or second FaceTime call.

I soon learned what it was like to be in the position to ghost someone.

In some ways, this helped me gain closure in my past relationships (and friendships). I better understood how difficult it was to tell someone I was no longer interested.

While some people do prefer to be ghosted rather than directly rejected, I take the "treat others how you would like to be treated" approach. There are tactful ways to be kind and direct at the same time.

For instance, if you simply need space and are unsure about the person try a text message like: I have too much going on right now. Can I reach out when I'm in a better space to date?

If you are really not interested, then make it firm, friendly and final. Try communicating something along the lines of this: I think you are a genuine person. However, I don't feel we are compatible. I wish you all the best.

To each his own.

Once I was on the fence about a guy that I went out with a handful of times. He reached out to see if I would be up for a FaceTime call during the lockdown.

I was less and less interested in him but needed space to process if what I disliked about him were really deal breakers. This included wondering if he was more responsive during lockdown because he was just bored.

To buy myself some time to think things over, I responded saying "let's play it by ear because it's a busy week." It honestly was a busy week but I still could've made time for a call.

He immediately responded with "No worries, it's ok. I get it." I didn't reach out and neither did he. Wow, some people are just good at reading between the lines...or very sensitive to when they are about to be rejected?

Another time I was on the fence about a guy after one FaceTime call. Deep down, I knew we were just not going to be a good fit on so many levels. However, he didn't see it that way.

When he reached out via text the next day, I tried to buy myself time to think things over. I gave it a try to be firm, friendly and final. But the firm part needed more work.

I told him I thought he was a nice person but I didn't have the bandwidth to date right now. He knew that I was in the middle of moving to another apartment in the middle of quarantine

FYI: Very stressful and extremely frustrating to coordinate a move during lockdown!

He continued to reach out every day to keep in touch until I was in a better space to date. So I took it up a notch. I told him I would reach out if I was ready. He understood.

When it comes to communicating, sometimes it takes several reiterations while other times it just takes one shot. It's never black or white and there's really no right or wrong either.

Bottom line:

Do you best to be firm, friendly and final. You can't control how others will perceive your words. So just focus on what you can control and let the rest go.

Interested in reading more about the good, bad and the ugly? Continue reading my other dating chronicles!

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