Pulling a Houdini

By Amanda Tonoli

One minute they are there; they are texting you back in a timely manner, calling you late at night and goofily smiling at you from across the room. The next minute? Nothing. Literally, not figuratively, nothing. There is no goodbye and there is no this-isn’t-working-out line. They’ve disappeared. They have pulled a complete Houdini.

A few months ago I was pretty content hanging out with a friend of mine. We texted often and hung out on the weekends. Then it happened, along with a blow to my ego. He disappeared, seemingly, off the face of the Earth. My texts went unanswered; I didn’t see him when I went out anymore. I was ghosted.

“‘Ghosting,’ the act of disappearing in a phantom-like fashion from someone you are seeing, is prevalent in today’s dating culture,” Sara O’Brien said in “And Then I Never Heard From Him Again: The Awful Rise of Ghosting,” published on March 24, 2014 on thedatereport.com.

If you have been ghosted you know how annoying it is to have someone stop speaking to you out of nowhere — and with no explanation. And if you are the person doing it to someone else? I hate you. O’Brien described this act in today’s society as “juvenile,” and “objectively terrible behavior.”
My ghost came back six months later, with the sorry excuse and apologetic tone that he was just “busy with work.”

“Oh? For five months?” I responded. I laughed him off, what a joke that was. I would’ve appreciated an adult explanation because that’s what we all are anyways, right? Adults?

Beyond this childish act — not being brave enough to explain why you’re going to not talk to someone anymore — it is important to remember that ghosting can happen at any point within the relationship — time is not a factor.

“Ghosting can happen after a one-date rendezvous or months of seeing each other — no one is safe from this juvenile phenomenon,” O’Brien said.

In “In Defense of Ghosting” published on The Wire, also in March 2014, Alexander Abad-Santos critiques those who seem to be surprised in any way by ghosting.

“No person who has gone on dates in the last six years is genuinely confused about the message that ghosting sends,” Abad-Santos said. “We live [in] an age where we can listen to whatever songs we want at any moment, get in touch with anyone at any second. … If someone you’re interested in isn’t answering your texts within five minutes, they are either dead, at a movie (and still have manners), or just don’t want to date you.”

This instant form of communication and contact we are in with one another is taken for granted. I broke my phone and had to wait two days to be in constant, instant contact with my friends, and it was absolute torture. However, just as convenient as this quick form of communicating with one another is, it is just as easy to stop the communication abruptly and, because of the dependency on constant contact, it is all the more shocking.

Often we say that we just want a reason for the sudden cut of communication. But is that really why we are upset? How upset can you really be from being ghosted by someone you weren’t even entirely in a relationship with?

“At the heart of it, ghosting is as clear as any other form of rejection,” Abad-Santos said. “The reason we complain about it is because we wanted a different outcome.”

It’s not the fact that we got no explanation, but that we are let down by the game we venture into when we show interest in someone. It’s sad, and it’s infuriating. Certainly the ghoster doesn’t come out looking great in the process, but it is a risk we take — and perhaps karma for never texting your disaster date back.