With all of the recent buzz around benching and ghosting, I had high hopes when I saw an Elite Daily article called, “4 Ways To Reject Someone That Are Morally Above Ghosting.”
I thought this would be a piece about how we all need to grow up and tell people how we feel and what we want, if we ever want a shot at a successful relationship, or how its time to make ghosting, benching or any other form of ambivalence things of the past. But instead I was presented with four equally immature ways of being vague and indirect in today's already confusing world of love and dating.
The four methods that the author considers “morally above ghosting” include: 1. If you meet for a date, don't order anything; 2. If you meet out at a bar, or somewhere else, don't let him walk you home; 3. Be on your phone while in conversation and 4. Fizzle Out the texting.
I can't say for certain where each of these actions fall on the morality scale -- and I certainly don't get to dictate which of these is more or less moral than the next. But what I do know is that when it comes to morality, almost doesn't count.
Doing something that is mean, but less mean than ghosting, still doesn't make you a good person. So, if its morality we're aiming for, then let's not treat it like a game that we can manipulate in our favor. When it comes to a topic as sensitive as love, instead of constantly trying to stage-manage situations, why don't we try to actually be genuine and just do the right thing?
What bothers me most about the piece is that each of these tactics are just as cowardly, indirect and easily misconstrued as ghosting is. So, since the article didn't say what I was hoping it would, I'll say it myself: If you are not interested in someone, the best way to reject him or her is to tell him or her how you feel, honestly. Shocking, I know.
I've been on the dating scene for a while now. I've been on my fair share of first, second, third and even fourth dates. I know it's hard to tell if you like someone at first. I understand wanting to be careful when walking the fine line between not settling and not having unrealistic expectations. I understand that getting to know someone takes time. In fact, that is the point of dating, to get to know someone well enough to be able to make a decision on whether you see a future with them or not.
Sometimes you can tell on the first date, sometimes even in the first 10 minutes. And other times it takes a bit longer. You deserve the time you need to make a decision that will impact your future, and you deserve to walk away from relationships that don't make you happy.
But when you realize that you don't see a future with someone, you owe it to that person to tell him or her. I've been on both sides of the rejection coin, and I understand as well as the next single, NYC Millennial that neither side is easy. But I can also tell you that the only moral way of letting someone down is to make sure there is no confusion. Stringing someone along so that you don't have to feel bad isn't fair, and it flat out isn't nice.
As a person who has had to face the difficult reality of rejecting someone and actually owning it, I understand the allure of ghosting. Hurting someone is hard, especially if you genuinely care about that person. It takes emotional energy, and your counterpart's reaction is often unpredictable. I too fear the unknown. I too hate confrontation. I too want to avoid hurting others.
But the truth is, ghosting someone doesn't circumvent any pain you might cause. And neither does benching, or not letting someone walk you home and hoping they get the message, or being a rude date who's more interested in your phone than the other person.
All these tactics do is allow you to avoid taking responsibility for your feelings, and the effect that they might have on other people. And if you're not mature enough to own your feelings, than are you really mature enough to be dating in the first place?
And what's more (and I'm willing to bet that anyone who has taken the high road of owning their feelings can attest to), most of the time when I openly tell people that I am not interested, the reaction that I get is not anger, pettiness or even sadness. Usually, the only reaction I get is appreciation for the honesty.
So next time you're looking for a moral way to reject someone, try this, “You're a great guy/girl, but I'm looking for a connection that I just don't feel with you. I'm sorry,” and save both yourself and your counterpart the wasted time and energy of playing games.