“Ghosting” aka the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication was first entered into UrbanDictionary in 2013, but the word took off and became commonplace in our colloquial language — unfortunately.

Welcome to the current terrible age of dating. Hopefully, as we mature, we become more adept at ending relationships, but even if it feels too difficult, I’m here to say that ghosting is not the answer.

Ignoring someone is not okay.

Case in point: I am currently a victim of ghosting. I met Brad* while visiting my parents for the weekend.

He was charming, funny, and we immediately hit it off. We exchanged numbers and started texting. We went from casually texting as we got to know each other over the span of a week to talking every day, chatting on the phone, and FaceTiming.

This went on for a total of two weeks. Then it suddenly ended. We had plans one day to FaceTime — we lived in different states — and he just never showed up. I never heard from him again. I texted him a few times over the next two days, trying to see if he was alright, trying to figure out what happened.

Finally, I called him, and got his voicemail. I left a message wishing him well but firmly stating that he should have talked to me, that ignoring me was not acceptable. Ghosting is not okay.

Ghosting is not the answer.

I was once a ghoster. Let me back track a little bit.

A couple of years ago, after a few Tinder dates with a really nice guy, I realized I wasn’t into him and didn’t know how to tell him. I was much younger, more immature, and generally inexperienced in the whole “dating game.” I turned to my roommates and foolishly took their misguided but well-meaning advice. I stopped answering the Tinder guy.

Luckily, for me, he called me out. He texted me asking what happened and explained his feelings about this situation in a way that opened my eyes.

Telling someone that you don’t want what they want is scary. Disappointing people is scary, especially for me.

He helped me realize that there is a better way to go about breaking things off than the way I did it. I responded to his text, apologizing and thanking him for speaking up.

That incident was the first and only time I ghosted someone, so when it happened to me almost four years later, I couldn’t help but think about that guy who did me a favor by taking the time to explain his hurt feelings. I tried to do the same as I reached out to Brad. I was hurt and disappointed, but I genuinely liked this guy and thought he was a good person. He just made a dumb move, and I hope he grows from it like I did then and even now.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Dear Dater, ghosting is not the answer. Here’s what we need to do instead:” quote=”Dear Dater, ghosting is not the answer. Here’s what we need to do instead:”]

Talking about the good and the bad takes work.

I am not good at confrontation. Anyone who knows me well knows that I tend to bottle up my feelings when I’m upset at someone. Then I just either blow up or go of the grid for a few days until I feel better. I actively practice confrontation — which I don’t think is a bad thing at all.

Confrontation sounds like a scary word, especially if you think of it in a “physical confrontation in the schoolyard” way, but expressing your frustration, anger, or disappointment should be easy. Maybe it will never be easy exactly, but if you want to be your best, truest, most honest self, you have to be able to talk about the good and the bad. I’m working on that.

When it comes to dating, just know that honesty is the best policy. Obviously there are certain situations when silence is appropriate, such as a stalking situation, harassment, etc. If you are experiencing anything like that, please reach out to someone you trust immediately to get help.

If you’re dating someone who you’re just not that into, do yourself and the other person a favor and talk about it.

Even if you have to spit it out in a text, it’s better than silence.

Side note: If you’ve been dating someone for a long while or are in a committed relationship, please have a conversation that is more than a few texts long. Breaking up an engagement, marriage, or 5-year-long-relationship is probably best discussed face to face. But that’s a topic for another day.

*names have been changed to protect the silent