Busting ghosting culture at Queen’s

There's nothing scary about giving potential partners proper closure

Ghosting has become a particularly common practice for university students.
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It’s safe to bet most Queen’s students have had at least one experience with a ghost—just not the paranormal kind.

A ghost in this context is a person who suddenly cuts off all communication with a romantic interest they’ve been talking to, typically without any explanation. Someone can 'ghost' at any point in their relationship, whether before the first date, or after weeks or months of seeing the other person.

Ghosting can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, or sexual preference, but the practice has become a particularly common one for university students—including those at Queen’s.

It’s possible that ghosting culture is largely caused by the rise of dating apps in the Queen’s community. Tinder, Bumble, and other similar apps have revolutionized dating by allowing us to browse potential partners and talk to them in a low-commitment way, moving on whenever we get bored. While dating apps can help us find a romantic match, the problem arises when we take the behaviours we learn from dating apps and apply them to real-life dating.

With so many people available on dating apps, it’s easy to talk to a lot of people at once, making us less attached to any one person. The volume of people on the apps means that for everyone who unmatches us, a new conversation begins with someone else, which makes us immune to the loss of a potential romantic interest. Therefore, it’s easy to adopt a mindset that the people we talk to on dating apps are transient. After all, there will always be others to replace them.

Our attachment to people we speak to on dating apps is also diminished by the fact that people aren’t necessarily themselves on these platforms. Rather than experiencing real chemistry or bonding over a shared interest, dating apps are all about catching someone’s attention with a funny pick-up line or a pun. When every Tinder or Bumble conversation begins this way, everyone starts to sound the same.

In most cases, communicating through the interface of a text conversation, rather than face-to-face, eliminates the chance to perceive the other person’s true personality and body language, both of which are important to establishing a connection with someone.

Ghosting on dating apps can be justified—after all, each person on the app has different goals for the type of person and relationship they’re seeking, and the apps are designed to allow people to move on quickly in order to find what they are looking for. The fast-paced nature of the app means that no one becomes too attached to anyone they talk to, so no one gets too hurt if the conversation stops. 

However, the mindset that we can easily move on if we realize someone doesn’t match our ideals can make us prone to ghosting outside the context of dating apps: people we’ve met outside of these apps, gone on dates with, or even been seeing for longer periods of time.  Getting used to dating on platforms that don’t always encourage real connections may reduce our sense of empathy.

There are no rules for when ghosting is acceptable and when it isn’t, but when ending a relationship, even a casual one, it’s always more considerate of the other person’s feelings to let them down nicely and give them closure. 

Dating apps aren’t all bad: they provide an approach to finding people with similar interests as us that hasn’t been available in the past.

However, we should take care to remember that the impersonal nature of digital dating shouldn’t leave the apps.

 

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