I don’t recall “ghosting” being a part of the lexicon when I was in college. First, because I am getting old and my memory fails me regularly. Second, because I am getting old and the admittedly-clever-but-mostly-overrated term was born more recently than my year of graduation. (2010, whatevs.) To me, ghosting in a city with millions of people in it, while sheepish, makes perfect sense. You’ll probably never see each other again. But ghosting someone in college? What if you run into each other on the way to Intermediate Microeconomics? (Double nightmare.)
The thought of a sweet little college freshman running into their ghoster in the 30-minute long line at the dining hall with the bomb sandwiches gives me secondhand anxiety. I don’t want my much-anticipated gooey Turkey Brie panini ruined by a dude who never texted me back. (Shout out to Hillside, and all of the Boston College Eagles who know what’s up.)
That said, I’m sure ghosting happened when I was in college, but we just called it: “I was done hooking up with him at 2 a.m., so I ignored him in Gasson Hall.” I’m a firm believer that the reason “ghosting” as a behavior prevails over sending a three word “it’s over sry” texts these days is because of the internet’s weird fascination with the term (and memes). It sounds more funny than rude.
Ghosting someone in college is at least a little better than ghosting someone at the ripe, old age of 28, because #growth. So if you have to bail on someone you’re stuck on the same campus with, here are the dos and don’ts of college ghosting. (I sort of still can’t believe this is a thing.)
Do: Think About How You’d Like To Be Treated
The goddamn golden rule, guys. First, take stock of your situation: Are you and this person hookups who have had a pretty regular rotation for a few months now? Sure, you could ghost them. Or, you could make your on campus run-in with them less awkward by letting them know you’re over it.
Next time you get a late night text from said undergrad, reply gently (and soberly), giving them a vague excuse as to why you’d prefer to spend the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. with pizza dipped in ranch than forking them from now on. (Thank you for letting me have this continued college food nostalgia. Yum.)
If you’re actually dating this person — which usually means full relaysh when you’re on a college campus — and if you would be crushed if this person ghosted you, definitely grow a pair of ovaries and use your words to break up.
Don’t: Be A Jerk
As with any text that you receive in any relationship, serious or not, you should probably respond. That’s just basic manners. As a terrible texter, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you forget to respond to the first text a person you have been intimate sends you, because it was a “you up?” text. That’s fine; that’s not ghosting.
If this person sends you a more meaningful, worried text, or a follow-up text asking for some clarity, do them a solid and give a reply. Make up an excuse if you have to. It’s not ideal, but it might keep them from being tormented over your abrupt ending.
Being straightforward is really, really mature. It can be difficult to do, but I promise you’ll feel better about things than had you simply ignored them forever and forever until you were alphabetically next to each other in line to graduate. (Hey, it could happen.)
Do: Think About If You Will See This Person Again
Yes, you should think about if you are going to see the person you are considering ghosting again, mainly because it’s considerate and you are a decent person. Don’t ghost someone in your friend group who you are going to see every weekend for the rest of the semester.
Secondly, you should think about if you are going to see your smash-buddy, three-date fling, or boyfriend on campus again for your own sanity. You don’t have time for that kind of anxiety. If you ghost someone and then worry daily about running into them, you’re not going to be the happiest human. It sucks, but getting the breakup over with will let you roam the quad without stress beyond that of finals.
I feel pretty strongly about this. Ghosting isn’t a good look for you, or anyone. I completely empathize with the fact that not all college hookups warrant weird faux break-up conversations. However, if someone you’ve been whatever-ing with for a while is clearly upset with you or your lack of response to them, even if they are bonkers out of their mind obsessed with you, do them a solid and give them one, clear “no thank you”-type text. You’ll feel better, they’ll feel better, and everyone can move the F on.
At the end of the day, “ghosting” is just a word someone on the internet made up to make millennial dating seem even more monstrous than it already is. There have always been people who have simply dropped off the face of the earth rather than speak their feelings out loud, and those people have always been the jerks. People who do the scary thing and express that they want to break up on the phone, in a letter, in smoke signals, or whatever, have always been the more evolved, cool people. Be one of the cool people.
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