Thursday, April 4, 2013


The Atlantic recently devoted an entire channel to "The Sexes," that houses articles and op-eds about, well, the sexes. While some of the posts are a little too too for me, some of them really tap into what it's like to be a woman / millennial / 20 something / single person in a substantial, factual way that Thought Catalog cannot. Tuesday night, I found myself in a never-ending click spiral that lead me to an article from February that hit home on a commonality between my friends and I that I hadn't seen written about before: nicknaming the guys we date.

The article gives anecdotal and researched evidence of the trend, and delves into whether it's partially done as a defense mechanism. You know, like, if you don't give the guy the honor of using his proper name and he ends up being a loser, well - that's okay because he didn't have a name (or a place in your heart) anyway. 

While I enjoyed and absolutely related to the main theme of the article (and have assigned many a nickname myself, from The Doctor to Tim Surf Lodge, The Undergrad, and Ruschmeyer's Guy... just to name a few), I was much more enamored with the author's description of the term ghosting:
"'Ghosting' is the term for those who abruptly disappear without a trace. It's a sudden end in communication that is unforeseen—and almost always unwarranted. Three great dates and you think you've established some sort of connection and you'd like to continue seeing the person when suddenly, an "I'll see you this week!" turns into never hearing from the person again. When you text or call them to make sure they weren't just waiting for you to reach out, and get no response. No texts, no calls, nothing."
Sound familiar? Click through to keep reading...

I mean, right?? How many of us have experienced this exact thing, this ghosting she speaks of? I hadn't put a specific term to the phenomenon (that's actually not phenomenal at all), but my roommate puts her hand in the air says, "RIP" in remembrance of these brief, once-promising failed romances that just sort of, vanish. Myself, I always envision it like this: 
A cartoon version of me and the guy are standing in an art gallery. We're looking at a painting or something, standing side-by-side. Just as I start to say something insightful, the guy starts backing away slowly on his tip-toes very quietly. (Like Elmer Fudd creeping up on Bugs Bunny -- in reverse.) Then, when he's close enough to the door he turns and suddenly his legs become screeching tires kicking up a cloud of dust and he's outta there. By the time I turn around all that's left is a floating black-and-white graphic: "Poof!"
The term ghosting is much more succinct.

While we can all reason that anyone who behaves in such a way isn't worth a nickel and dime of our time anyway, it's still annoying because like -- homeboy/girl doesn't even give you a chance to figure that out for yourself. Like, hold on a minute dude/ette, you're the one who is clearly terrible, and I should be the one to figure this out and ditch you.

In a way though, are these ghosts saving us from a more
 painful burn down the line? 

Maybe. When you realize it's not a match, why not just flee the scene before anyone cares too much or gets invested. I think it's an incredibly rude way to behave, but I can't say I haven't done a little ghosting myself. (I must and always will remind you that bad dating behavior is a two-way street...) Cowardice is mostly to blame, I believe. I hate to lead someone on, but what's more? I hate uncomfortable conversations. It's easier to cut and run and save everyone some time -- even if they're left feeling slightly bewildered in the aftermath.

I can't say for sure (and I'd love your input, readers) but I feel like ghosting is much more common in big, urban cities -- places built for disappearing. My friends and I do frequent the same bars, beer gardens, and brunch spots from time to time, but not with any predictable regularity. Our dating peers are doing the same thing -- and so we can slip back into each others' background noise as easily as we came into focus in the first place. 

Recently and against all odds, I was confronted with a ghost from my past -- and it was truly frightening. In an apartment with less than a dozen other people, we didn't speak or make eye contact for an entire evening. Yes, he was there with his girlfriend. Yes, I whispered to my friend behind his back about how terrible he looked. But what's more frightening to me than being spooked, is that two people who once found each other pretty great (albeit briefly and long ago) could put so much painfully obvious effort into totally and completely avoiding each other. God forbid someone shows any emotion or laughs off an awkward situation with a friendly salutation. That would be outrageous, right?

Again, what's obvious is cowardice from both parties. I mean, come on! We dated for five minutes years ago. Who cares?! From what I've seen and experienced, it seems like my peers and myself have become conditioned to be perpetually afraid. Afraid of being the one who feels more. Or the one who is left. Or the one who has to actually say something that means something. We want the power. It's that "whoever cares less, wins" attitude. We've done this to ourselves (through ghosting and other bad behaviors), and it sucks.

We seem determined to preserve our coolness at all costs, even if we're slowly and deliberately squashing our humanity 
in the process.

This isn't to say we're all lost. As my friends showed in this post, there are plenty of good men and women working against the trends and stereotypes. Most of us believe that for the right person we'll change. Suddenly and inexplicably, we become brave, openly loving; full of happy and sexy emotions that we cannot and do not wish to hide. That's yet to happen to me or towards me on any real level -- so I suppose I have a hard time quantifying that idea. But, like Jon Snow said in the season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones, "I want to fight for the side that fights for the living." 

Listen, fear is hard to conquer, but let's quit it with the ghosting, shall we? Pour one out for this terrible behavior. RIP to the nonsense. If you can't man (or woman) up to make a call or meet in person, at least shoot that text to say "Peace out, we are not right for each other," (or something). We all deserve better than how we're acting. We can all be better, too, I just know it.

Why do you think we are we ghosting? 
What awesome nicknames are in your contacts? 
Will winter ever come?!

[Read the whole article from The Atlantic here.]


  1. oh man. i couldn't handle quick disappearances - i always had to have closure.

    do you think the nickname thing stemmed from sex and the city? i've always wondered....

  2. This hits the nail on the head. I was recently going through my phone contacts and came across "Drunk Guy 1", "Drunk Guy 2", "Drunk Guy 3". You guessed it, drunk guys from parties who handed out their numbers.

    Aside from that, my friends and I tend to attached boyfriend or BF to each nickname. We have "Spike BF", "Polish BF", "Attorney BF", etc. Girls are hilarious.

  3. I saw you mention ghosting on twitter yesterday and immediately had to google the term! Now I know how to reference all those guys who disappear...oh wait I need to actually start going on dates first ;)

    Thanks for turning me onto the Atlantic section! And for the Jon Snow reference!

  4. I think that awkward moment applies to other situations too - not just romantically. That person you defriended from Facebook, or stopped replying to texts and phone calls. Ghosting doesn't just happen in romantic relationships. It happens all the time. I think because that 'we're not right for each other' can be taken too personally, just like defriending on Facebook is taken so personally.

  5. Okay Taylor, have you heard on "Tinder"....its a app that allows you to "like" someones profile picture (in your zip code or around) an if they "like" your picture back you are set up to chat....well I am pretty sure those are the basics! Its so so odd and weirdly popular (to make fun of )...this may be TMI but no one reads my comments so I had someone go "ghost" bc they met someone on this app.......double low blow in one!

    Happy weekend and wishing us all luck to meeting a cute guy who doesnt ghost out.

  6. Love this post and your blog!