Ghosting is horrible. Here's how to let people down gently
I find it very hard to tell people that I don't want to see them anymore, so I end up ghosting a lot. How do I stop doing that? And more importantly, how do I tell someone that I don't want to date them without making them feel bad about themselves?
This post was contributed by dating coach Rishma Petraglia (@rishma_petraglia). She has a podcast called You Are Worthy of Love, which talks about dating, relationships, love, and heartbreak. Listen to it on Spotify here.
First off, I just want you to know that you're a lovely and empathetic person because it's difficult to be genuinely reflective about these tricky situations. In this day and age, many people don't really think twice about ghosting because it's become such a normal part of dating.
Before I give you tips on how to tell someone you don't want to date them anymore, we need to understand why people ghost in the first place:
- They don't have compassion or empathy for the person
- They are afraid of confrontation or conflict
- It's more often than not, the path of least resistance
Before mobile phones and online dating, you couldn't really get away with ghosting someone.
You had to have that conversation, if not the other party might just keep ringing you till they get an answer.
Things have completely changed since.
People don't even use the phone part of their phone anymore. The irony is that even though we are more visible than ever through social media; simply disappearing when we are no longer interested has become the norm. Unlimited access has made us irrelevant and impersonal.
So why is it important to let the person know you don't want to date them anymore?
Have you ever been ghosted before? How did that make you feel? Before you disappear with a poof, ask yourself: do they deserve closure, or do they deserve to be ghosted?
Telling someone face-to-face that you don't want to date them anymore shows integrity, respect, and reverence for another human being. Here's how you can go about it without hurting their feelings.
DON'T: TEXT THEM THAT YOU'D LIKE TO STOP SEEING THEM
Research done by UCLA psychology professor Emertitus Albert Mehrabian revealed that 7 per cent of communication is derived from the words, 38 per cent from the intonation (inflection & tone) and 55 per cent from the person's facial expression or body language.
People don't necessarily process written messages the same as spoken communication. It's hard to convey tone over text.
Knowing this, try your best to opt for a phone call or a sit-down. This will help the other person to not overanalyse what happened and create unnecessary stories of why it ended.
DO: TAKE SIX DEEP BREATHS
Try taking some deep breaths before the meeting. Studies have also shown that counting breaths taps into the brain's emotional control regions, which can be beneficial if you're feeling anxious before having difficult conversations.
DO: USE "I FEEL..." STATEMENTS
"I feel…" statements are the best way to prevent the person from feeling defensive or angry with what is being said. For example:
"I feel like things are not going so well in our relationship and I feel it would be better if we ended things."
The person hearing this might ask you why. It's better to give them an answer for closure, and help them to see that this is an end. Try being as gentle as possible, to help them move past the initial blow.
DO: END WITH SOMETHING NICE
Lastly, end things by saying something nice to the person like: "I know you will find someone amazing."
I hope these tips will help you with those tough conversations. Know it's not easy to take the high road, but in doing so, you are showing respect not only for yourself, but the other party involved.
This article was first published in CLEO Singapore.