Thanks to lockdown, ghosting is here to stay

No matter who you are, rejection hurts. Especially the silent, icy type of rejection that is ghosting: when the delivered timestamp ticks forward from minutes to hours and then into weeks with no response.

For Amelia Cuff, 23, it’s a feeling that’s become all too familiar since lockdown began.

In March, just before the national lockdown was introduced, Amelia was ghosted by her Hinge match Ralph after their first date in London.

‘It was a really good date,’ she tells Metro.co.uk, ‘he was talking about the second date and texted me when he got back that he’d had a lovely time, all the nice things.’

But their chance to meet up for the following time was dashed by the first wave of restrictions. They carried on chatting for almost a month, with plans to hang out in a safe and socially distanced manner when the rules eventually changed… until Ralph ghosted her out of nowhere.

Amelia tells us: ‘We’d gone from speaking every day and him being like “Don’t worry about it. Don’t stress about lockdown. We’ll see each other when we get back. Just look after yourself” to it just stopping mid conversation.’

According to Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist, couples counsellor and author of The Phone Addiction Workbook, ghosting could come more naturally to those of an avoidant-attachment style.

‘It’s particularly people who fear meeting up or focusing on one person rather than keeping their options open,’ Burke tells Metro.co.uk, ‘it can be a convenient card to play.’

Charlotte Rawlings, a 22 year-old from Bromley, says her dating life is ‘virtually non-existent’ thanks to lockdown.

Charlotte had already been using Hinge for seven months by the time coronavirus hit the UK in March, but felt a shift in the attitudes of those she spoke to once restrictions started to take effect.

‘I was talking to people and I just found them dropping off the grid a bit more,’ she says. ‘I actually deleted Hinge midway through that lockdown because it was frustrating.’

Amelia moved to Italy last month and continued to use dating apps both for romance and as a tool to make friends. She set up several dates that were cancelled as Italy imposed a new regional curfew that affected her city.

As the dates disappeared, so did the conversation. ‘I think the last message [one date] sent was like, “This f***ing COVID”,’ Amelia says. ‘And then he never replied. That was a couple of weeks ago. So I don’t know if that will pick up again in December because we’re hopefully coming out of the red zone in a week.’

Although there are plenty of genuine reasons to skip dating altogether right now, Burke agrees that lockdown has provided the perfect get-out clause for the less committed members of the dating community.

‘If people really want to meet or are curious there are still ways to go for a walk or to meet for a takeaway coffee,’ she tells us. ‘When there is a will there is a way, but it’s when the will is kind of weak or wavering [that ghosting happens].’

Living in isolation and having fewer social interactions, as many of us have experienced in lockdown, could normalise ghosting.

‘I think it can facilitate that behaviour in a way.’ says Burke. ‘If [a date] knows someone through work or through the gym or through an interest, it’s very hard to cut off without seeing the other person or being in some way responsible for giving them a reason, or concluding the relationship in a kinder way.’

Burke believes online dating is a more detached, ‘transactional’ way of meeting potential partners than in real life. The pandemic, and the physical segregation that comes with it, might have thrown that transaction off kilter for some.

‘There’s that element of having to wait around to actually meet up with each other,’ agrees Charlotte, ‘and people just aren’t in it for the long term like that.’

After everything, Amelia doesn’t feel bitter. ‘I think it’s so much easier to justify ghosting at the moment because you do have to put your family and yourselves first,’ she says.

But for Charlotte, it’s still a painful experience.

‘Ghosting can just really wreck your self esteem,’ she explains, ‘because there’s no closure there. You have no idea if it was something you said or something you did or if that was their intention.’

If ghosting was a social faux pas before lockdown, it’s now a permanent fixture of modern dating.

Will we ever live in a ghost-less society? Burke is doubtful.

‘It’s been around longer than pandemic and it seems to endure,’ she notes. ‘Certainly at the moment it is very easy to just cut off, unmatch and sever any digital ties. If there are no real world connection then it can be quite clean and clinical.’

Dating terms and trends, defined

Blue-stalling: When two people are dating and acting like a couple, but one person in the partnership states they’re unready for any sort of label or commitment (despite acting in a different manner).

Breadcrumbing: Leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ of interest – random noncommittal messages and notifications that seem to lead on forever, but don’t actually end up taking you anywhere worthwhile Breadcrumbing is all about piquing someone’s interest without the payoff of a date or a relationship.

Caspering: Being a friendly ghost – meaning yes, you ghost, but you offer an explanation beforehand. Caspering is all about being a nice human being with common decency. A novel idea.

Catfish: Someone who uses a fake identity to lure dates online.

Clearing: Clearing season happens in January. It’s when we’re so miserable thanks to Christmas being over, the cold weather, and general seasonal dreariness, that we will hook up with anyone just so we don’t feel completely unattractive. You might bang an ex, or give that creepy guy who you don’t really fancy a chance, or put up with truly awful sex just so you can feel human touch. It’s a tough time. Stay strong.

Cloutlighting: Cloutlighting is the combo of gaslighting and chasing social media clout. Someone will bait the person they’re dating on camera with the intention of getting them upset or angry, or making them look stupid, then share the video for everyone to laugh at.

Cockfishing: Also known as catcocking. When someone sending dick pics uses photo editing software or other methods to change the look of their penis, usually making it look bigger than it really is.

Cuffing season: The chilly autumn and winter months when you are struck by a desire to be coupled up, or cuffed.

Firedooring: Being firedoored is when the access is entirely on one side, so you’re always waiting for them to call or text and your efforts are shot down.

Fishing: When someone will send out messages to a bunch of people to see who’d be interested in hooking up, wait to see who responds, then take their pick of who they want to get with. It’s called fishing because the fisher loads up on bait, waits for one fish to bite, then ignores all the others.

Flashpanner: Someone who’s addicted to that warm, fuzzy, and exciting start bit of a relationship, but can’t handle the hard bits that might come after – such as having to make a firm commitment, or meeting their parents, or posting an Instagram photo with them captioned as ‘this one’.

Freckling: Freckling is when someone pops into your dating life when the weather’s nice… and then vanishes once it’s a little chillier.

Gatsbying: To post a video, picture or selfie to public social media purely for a love interest to see it.

Ghosting: Cutting off all communication without explanation.

Grande-ing: Being grateful, rather than resentful, for your exes, just like Ariana Grande.

Hatfishing: When someone who looks better when wearing a hat has pics on their dating profile that exclusively show them wearing hats.

Kittenfishing: Using images that are of you, but are flattering to a point that it might be deceptive. So using really old or heavily edited photos, for example. Kittenfishes can also wildly exaggerate their height, age, interests, or accomplishments.

Lovebombing: Showering someone with attention, gifts, gestures of affection, and promises for your future relationship, only to distract them from your not-so-great bits. In extreme cases this can form the basis for an abusive relationship.

Microcheating: Cheating without physically crossing the line. So stuff like emotional cheating, sexting, confiding in someone other than your partner, that sort of thing.

Mountaineering: Reaching for people who might be out of your league, or reaching for the absolute top of the mountain.

Obligaswiping: The act of endlessly swiping on dating apps and flirt-chatting away with no legitimate intention of meeting up, so you can tell yourself you’re doing *something* to put yourself out there.

Orbiting: The act of watching someone’s Instagram stories or liking their tweets or generally staying in their ‘orbit’ after a breakup.

Paperclipping: When someone sporadically pops up to remind you of their existence, to prevent you from ever fully moving on.

Preating: Pre-cheating – laying the groundwork and putting out feelers for cheating, by sending flirty messages or getting closer to a work crush.

Prowling: Going hot and cold when it comes to expressing romantic interest.

R-bombing: Not responding to your messages but reading them all, so you see the ‘delivered’ and ‘read’ signs and feel like throwing your phone across the room.

Scroogeing: Dumping someone right before Christmas so you don’t have to buy them a present.

Shadowing: Posing with a hot friend in all your dating app photos, knowing people will assume you’re the attractive one and will be too polite to ask.

Shaveducking: Feeling deeply confused over whether you’re really attracted to a person or if they just have great facial hair.

Sneating:When you go on dates just for a free meal.

Stashing: The act of hiding someone you’re dating from your friends, family, and social media.

Submarineing: When someone ghosts, then suddenly returns and acts like nothing happened.

V-lationshipping:When someone you used to date reappears just around Valentine’s Day, usually out of loneliness and desperation.

You-turning: Falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind and dip.

Zombieing: Ghosting then returning from the dead. Different from submarineing because at least a zombie will acknowledge their distance.

 

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