Ghosting – is this just real life, or should it be fantasy?

Boo it’s a ghost, and not even a cute Casper-like cartoon ghost we know and love, I’m talking about the ghosts in your closet. And tbh, however much we wish they would stay there, this closet doesn’t have a lock, and anyway – ghosts can walk through walls remember? They can’t be trapped away by measly bricks and plaster. But there is a decision to be made, do you let their ghoulish misty whiteness haunt you, or do you become friends with the friendly ghost?

So I invite you to join me for this séance, a Ouija board with the sole purpose of contacting your exes, which is arguably scarier than trying to contact the dead.

Ex-partners as ghosts is an idea joined to the hip of the term ghosting. A word which has had genuine definitions in genuine dictionaries since last year. Defined by as , “The practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation, especially a romantic relationship”. Ghosting has had hot take after hot take written around it with people exploring, ‘Why people ghost, including me’, ‘Why it hurts so much getting ghosted’, and even, ‘How seen messages can mess with you mental health’. 

I took to Instagram to ask people: “Is ghosting ‘harsh as fuck’ or just the ‘easiest way out’?” It was a tough competition for a while, with many preferring to ghost and get out, but people’s moral compasses pointed north in the end with 64% of people who voted thinking ghosting was ‘harsh as fuck’. 

But why are people so fixated in associating the word and the act with such negative connotations? Can we not do like Blazin’ Sqaud and flip reverse it? From here on in, ghosting is okay. 

Stating ghosting as an acceptable activity is pretty rich coming from me. I can hear my friends huffing and puffing, and this is because when I get ghosted, I become a lady of mourning. I question what I’ve done wrong, saunter around with a blanket cape and jump to conclusions with despair. But in reality, no matter what you do, ghosting can occur. After one date together or one month together, whether you’ve had sex or not, if you’ve bombarded them with several meme tags every day or none at all, your messages could be met by white noise. As we established, ghosts know no boundaries when it comes to staying within constrained parameters. Their water is leaving you on read, and trust me, they’re thirsty. 

When writing about the art of ignoring, I had to reach out to my best friend – she loves ghosting. She’s an advocate, a supporter, an enthusiast and ally. I asked her,

“but why do you love ghosting?”

to which she replied,

“It’s like you’re not that far in that you owe them anything. If they did it to you, it would be cool too. Also, it’s an easy way out when you’re not really into something but you can’t pin it on anything in particular, because really it stems back to your deep insecurities and fear of commitment which you can’t admit looool.” 

Maybe we are a generation of commitmentphobes who ghost instead of saying ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. Or maybe we see each other as disposable. Not even worth taking the time to recycle and keep on the books for future horny moments. But if we are to make our dating lives consist of such disposable themes then we must not complain when, after three average dates, we stop getting a reply. You get ignored whilst ignoring someone else you ghosted after two mediocre dates, it’s the circle of life. 

“If you don’t meet the person in real life it’s easy to get bored quickly and move on,” another person said. Not only do we see potential partners as disposable, but because of the whole living online thing, we also differentiate between a real-life real-person, and the same individual online. Ignoring someone’s DMs is one hundred per cent easier than ignoring them face-to-face.

If we boil it down, ghosting is a simple way of avoiding telling someone you don’t fancy them. The final goodbye being the two blue ticks next to your double-texted WhatsApp message. The question I ask myself is would I rather someone ignore me, or tell me outright that they don’t like my fringe, I laugh like a piglet, or they don’t find my jokes funny? And really, I’d take ghosting pretty much every time. 

So, to have a moment to channel Carrie Bradshaw – as I sit here at the start of a new year, wishing to leave my ghosts where ghosts belong (as the ghosts of Christmas past) I couldn’t help but wonder, what if all the ghosts and ghouls weren’t as bad as we thought? If only we took a minute to accept them for what they are, and then maybe – just maybe – we could become friends with our ghosts. 

Words by Eliza Frost

Illustration by Nina Fromal