Ghouls, zombies, and hungry trick or treaters aren’t the only thing you should fear this Halloween: as the holiday season ramps up, you never know when you might encounter a ghost. And we’re not talking about the spectral kind.
Online dating isn’t easy and it gets even harder when you get ghosted. Whether you’re newly divorced or you’ve been single for a while, there’s nothing sweet about this trick. This unfortunately common occurrence happens when the person you’re talking to drops off the face of the earth without a word to reveal the cause of their disappearance.
A recent study performed by the Dating.com Group sought to understand why ghosting occurs in the first place. While the answer differs for just about everyone, up to 75% of online daters admitted to ghosting while 92% of dating app users claimed to have been ghosted.
Worst of all? The study revealed that almost half of all users never found out why they were ghosted to begin with. While this horrifying act isn’t illegal, it can still be draining to the many people who never get an answer. Even though 10-week-old puppies can sleep through the night, you may be stuck lying awake as you wonder what could have been. In the name of puppy love, you deserve answers.
So, why does ghosting happen? According to Dating.com, the majority of ghosters simply lost interest in the conversation.
Dating apps are built around the idea that there are countless options available. This can cause daters to feel like there is always something better out there, even if a great option is right in front of them. Just about everyone has a phone today, which contributes to the growing $300 billion consumer electronic industry. It’s the ghoster’s idea that a better match could be one swipe away. Because our dates live in our phones instead of right in front of us, it can be easy to ignore engaging in a conversation.
Psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula surmises the ghosting phenomenon in simple terms:
“In the fear of ‘offending’ or hurting someone, people are instead choosing to confuse them. I’m not sure what’s worse,” she explains. “If you are going to ghost in a friendly manner, the best way to do that is to simply say one last time, ‘It was good to meet you. Hope life treats you well,’ or something like that. Make sure it has a finality to it and does not invite further engagement.”
While there’s no fool-proof way to avoid getting ghosted this spooky season, there are some helpful ways to prevent it.
Try to meet sooner than later
The whole point of dating apps is to introduce two people: if you don’t make it off the dating app in a decent amount of time, it’s only natural that interest can fizzle to nothing.
“To avoid being ghosted, avoid too much pre-talk, which can get boring. Instead, dive straight into coffee or drinks in person,” explains Elite Daily writer Alison Segel. “When you chat IRL, you can at least tell if you have chemistry or if you feel attraction — something that isn’t necessarily decipherable on your phone.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ask someone to meet your dog as soon as you match online. See if the two of you click over text and then ask to meet up in a public place. Keeping yourself safe is more important than preventing a would-be ghost this Halloween.
Leave your baggage at the door
When you feel an instant connection with someone, it can be tempting to tell them every aspect about yourself. After all, the two of you are on the same page, right?
Oversharing can be another common reason behind ghosting. There’s that joke that every relationship needs a little mystery to keep the love alive; if you share too much too quickly, you can come across as overbearing.
Anything from talking about past relationships, heavy political talk, and or intimate personal issues can be off-putting for a first date. We all know that up to 50% of first marriages end in divorce. While this information is good to bring up, going into detail about the events leading up to the divorce can seem like you’re not over your ex. Keep conversation light as you get to know someone to keep them coming back for more.
Reach out one last time
If you’ve been ghosted before, it can be tempting to accuse your ghoster of engaging in this exhausting behavior. But if you think you truly had a connection with someone online, it might be worth reaching out one last time.
Forget the accusations and don’t be afraid to give the person the benefit of the doubt. You never know how busy someone else’s schedule might be. After all, research has shown that the brain loses interest in digital tasks in under 40 seconds. There’s no harm in reaching out one last time and ask if the person wants to meet up for coffee or another date. By keeping it light-hearted and casual, they won’t feel like you’re guilt-tripping them into a date.
If they still fail to respond, consider that ghoster invisible. You don’t need people online draining your energy, anyway.