Has Dating Always Been This Difficult?
A lot has happened to me in 2018. I was evicted from my home in Germany while on Erasmus. I discovered that Mcdonald’s Germany does not do hash browns at breakfast time to my utter dismay. It’s okay to cry at Dublin Airport when flying home to make the most important vote of your life. But what has been perhaps the most significant event that has happened to me in 2018, is that I was ghosted. Not once, not twice, BUT THREE TIMES.
Ghosting, according to Urban Dictionary, is when a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they are dating, with zero warning or notice beforehand. And in the first six months of 2018, that happened to me three times, by three different men. To say, I’ve not been taking the rejection well is a slight understatement. Any number of drinks in me will amount to me discussing a bit too loudly how these men cutting off all communication with me with no warning is a cowardly thing to do and how men truly are the lesser of the sexes.
And while I may hold some bitterness towards the situation (I don’t actually believe men are the lesser of the sexes) some Googling into the situation allowed me to discover there is a whole subset of words and vocabulary for things people do to one another in relationships in these modern times. For instance, there is breadcrumbing, which is one step shy of ghosting, is the process of when someone is occasionally dropping you a message at random times. An example can be they could message you every day with timid signals about how ‘down they are feeling’ at the minute but yet won’t agree to see you in person or another example is where the message you six months after they ghosted you, asking how you are keeping these days. While breadcrumbing comes in many shapes and sizes, it means one thing, that it’s never going anywhere.
Then there is orbiting which is when the person who ghosted you, continues to linger in your life by watching every single one of Instagram stories and liking/commenting on your social media posts. This one is annoying and has happened to me and the only solution I have found for it is to block them from your Insta (not Facebook, we’re not petty) because while you originally think it would be great idea to let them see what they are missing, in fact, it will make you insane and wonder why they watched Monday’s lunch Instagram story and not your ‘last minute’ pints Instagram stories on Thursday night with possible mystery date. If they have ghosted you, they are no longer worthy of your excellent, curated Instagram content.
There is a theory in sociology called the theory of Symbolic Interactionism. It believes that people make sense of the world when we put a name on things. For instance, that until the 1970s when we put a name on sexual harassment, we didn’t understand it. And perhaps that is why there is now a huge influx of strange modern dating terms because we are trying to make sense of the hurt perhaps we are feeling when these things happen to us. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference and we seem to face more of in these modern dating times.
Being non-committed to someone is not a new phenomenon. And being a dick isn’t new either. Look at Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. But we now live in an era where being casual with someone is socially acceptable. And having sex with someone isn’t as big of a deal as it once was. We now live a technological era where meeting someone is as simple as swiping right. And yet perhaps that is where part of the issue lies. We don’t have to communicate or be committed. It is perhaps why the modern love column does so well in the NY Times because the younger writers of the column have an understanding of dating in this modern world more than any recent romantic novel or movie. The most recent of the column, He Asked Permission to Touch, but Not to Ghost by Courtney Sender talked about consent, that ‘culture of consent should be a culture of care for the other person, of seeing and honouring another’s humanity and finding ways to engage in sex while keeping our humanity intact. Consent doesn’t work if we relegate it exclusively to the sexual realm. Our bodies are only one part of the complex constellation of who we are. To base our culture of consent on the body alone is to expect that caretaking involves only the physical’.
And yet I think I have found a solution, other than blocking the person currently orbiting your Instagram story. My friend recently attempted the fade out, which is when you slowly stop hanging out and messaging someone you’re seeing, with the intent of never speaking to them again. She tried to do this with a guy she was seeing and ever so slightly backfired when he messaged her saying how bad he felt for not messaging her back the last few weeks and hoping he can make it up to her even though she had been the one doing the fade out. But then she did something that perhaps we can learn from. Instead of just dragging out the process and making more hurt feelings, she used her words and ended it with the guy. And while he was sad, he was happy about her being honest with him about her feelings. They ended things quite well and they may actually be friends. So perhaps what we can learn from this is that if we could use our words and be honest about what we truly want from people, then maybe we would have less silly vocabulary in our language.
By Ailbhe Longmore – Arts Editor