This is crazy. I am reading repeatedly about how badly people are treating each other in dating situations just because they do not want to be honest with each other. Ghosting? Rebating? What?? You can speak honestly and tell the other person that you do not want to continue dating. Yes, you can and you should unless you do not care about being in an emotionally mature relationship someday.
Ghosting. S and J have had one or two dates. Things went okay but nobody was excited. Now, one of them sends the other a text proposing another date. The receiving person sees the text and, in fact, was anticipating getting a new invitation. S sees the text, considers it for a few seconds and ignores it. Days pass. J is sure that S got the text so why has there been no reply. S is deliberately saying nothing. The absence of communication in this case is intended to signal a silent, unilateral withdrawal from dating the other person. S failed to tell J that dating was over. J was left hanging out there alone. Whatever J is feeling is just too bad, right?
S knew before s/he received the next text invitation that they did not want to date J any more. Why didn’t she say so? It was just too hard to look at the other person and tell the truth. Where were the words to say that dating was at an end?
Rebating. Crazy. Angry. Crazy angry. Resentful. This is a heterosexual thing. Some guys today are sending the woman they were dating a bill for the amount of money that he laid out for their date if the woman ghosted them afterward.
The details of rebating might look like dating up to the point of perhaps sexual relations might have happened and that’s when the woman cuts him off. She disappears. No more communication. His texts are met with silence. He’s angry and wants her to know it. He feels used and that might be accurate. Or, he doesn’t really care about the money as such. He is reacting to having been ghosted. He needs to say something because of how he feels. Feelings. What to do with all those feelings?
Consider S’s feelings when he/she disappeared and cut off the dating buddy. They may have thought that the one or two or three dates were fine/okay/all right. They may have been reacting to something that happened or didn’t happen during the date. They may have seen enough to know that there was not enough friend energy between them to build on so good idea to stop dating. If any of these were the truth then one or both needed to have said so. I am pretty sure that S knows how rude and obnoxious that ghosting is. I really don’t think that any individual would have the nerve to do such a thing if it weren’t an already existing behavior in our society. In other words, if you ghost someone you must know that you are simply following the herd. No points for that. How does it feel if someone does it to you? Not good. You would likely make a different decision if you had the right words and you’d practiced what to say when the need arises.
Look at J’s position. He or she has been ghosted. The smartphone in their hands isn’t dinging with new texts from you. Two days pass. A week passes. Nothing. J’s imagination is frantically trying to fill in all that noisy empty space created by ghosting: did S get into a car accident or fall down the stairs or have a family emergency that took them out of town or was kidnapped? Or, was it me? Is this just because I said I think hiking is stupid?
If J is a male then these days I’m told that he might express his feelings in the ghoster’s direction in the form of rebating. PayPal can use the other person’s cellphone number for billing. Or, if a man has a woman’s street address he might mail a bill for the expense of the date to her to make a point. What is he thinking? Well, we can imagine that the male might feel used if he was footing the bill for three or four dates and then was cut off without a word.
In some cases the dating thing may have abruptly stopped right at the bedroom door when both parties were flirting with sexual energy and it looked like sex was imminent. She simply stopped everything in the worse possible way. She ghosted him. No more communication when communication had been going along and was expected. From his point of view it’s foul play. From hers it’s better than what might have happened next. She may be uncaring about his feelings but it is also possible that for her it’s a survival tactic. Getting in his face to say “bye” might seem like the same as getting in his face and saying “no” to sex. Then, what happens? She does not want to risk finding out.
Did you fail to say something when you knew very well that you did not want to see them again? It’s okay but I bet that you’d do better if only you knew how.
“I’ve enjoyed our evening together, George. Now, I really need to get going. I want to thank you for our dinner. Our conversations were good. I particularly liked hearing about your beehives. I’m choosing to make this our only date so thanks again.
“No, thanks for offering to walk me to my car. I’ll be fine. Good night.”
“Well, I better stop myself from laughing so much and get going. I really could laugh all night. Time to go home. It was good meeting you. You’re a darn good conversationalist. I just want you to know that I prefer to not go any further with dating. But again I have to say that I genuinely had a good time. I appreciate how attentive you were, such a good listener. Anyway, let me get going. Thank you. Good night.”
“It’s getting late and I have to work in the morning. How about you? Oh, really? That’s great that you have such flexible hours. I enjoyed our date tonight. It was fun, especially the walk to the restaurant. Why? Because we got to share opinions about the film. We have interesting opposite views, don’t you think? So, anyway, let’s make tonight our only date. I really enjoyed meeting you. It was fun. Remember what I said about yoga and melons!”
Practice at home. Get comfortable with the idea of communicating well, most especially when you need to say “thank you for the lovely date and let’s not go further. Nice meeting you.”
If someone politely but clearly said that they chose not to date further then you would be gracious. “Well, thank you for tonight. It was very nice. Nice meeting you, too.”
Challenge yourself to have a positive shift in consciousness regarding dating. Focus on the present dating moment. Set an intention of enjoying the evening and communing positively with your stranger friend. Aim for high enjoyment of the first date for its own sake. This is a different mental mode than holding the first date as a crucial module in your grand plan to be married or landing your soul mate or to stop being alone.
Wish that person well even before you meet them. Think about acceptance about how things roll out with that other person before you leave your house. Want somethin’ good for your dating friend. What the other person does or doesn’t do is okay. Remember, you gain nothing except unhappiness by holding a judgment against some stranger.
Think about self-acceptance and self-love now as you gaze at yourself in the mirror. You do not need the other person’s approval. Picture yourself as full, as already having everything that you need before going on a date. The date is for kicks. It’s an extra set of experiences for your entertainment. Have no thoughts of disrespecting anyone by ghosting or rebating. Instead, practice using your words to very simply tell the truth.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my three examples and will think about them further. Find your own words. Just be polite and respectful, the same as you want for yourself when someone tells you that dating is over.
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