Is ‘Ghosting’ Men Better for Women’s Mental Health?

Written by Stephanie Kleanthous

Illustrated by Bethan Cooke

For those who are unaware, ‘ghosting’ is “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.

Many believe it to be a millennial and Gen Z concept but let’s not forget those 90s and 00s bops about ‘screening calls’. No Doubt’s Spiderwebs told us the tale perfectly 24 years ago, before Gen Z were even born.

Now, in 2019, ghosting is still highly discussed. Bobo and Flex are two women with a thought provoking sex and lifestyle podcast. Upon listening to their ‘Breakups, Heartbreak & Platonic Exes‘, something Flex said sparked a new conversation in my mind:

“I will ghost. I’m not paying for an extra $100 and something a week in therapy because I told some man after 12 minutes I don’t want to engage with him and he called me a f*cking witch.”

Flex on Breakups, Heartbreak & Platonic Exes
Bobo and Flex podcast.

As I’ve gotten older and more confident within myself, being ghosted is something that wouldn’t effect me in the same way it would have years ago. If someone isn’t interested, I’m no longer looking inwards and at minor things I did or didn’t say. We just weren’t compatible.

Sure, I’m not perfect, but there’s no way I’m going to lay awake at night over a guy who uses a 3-in-1 (shampoo, conditioner and shower gel), hand soap as a skin routine and obtains the communication skills of a fish. I’d rather be ghosted than deal with stuff like this:

Source: Instagram

However, the more anxiously attached of us are deeply impacted by being ghosted, therefore, this isn’t a piece to legitimise the act, but simply explore it and start a conversation. You can read more about attachment styles here.

What Flex stated in the podcast about not wanting to spend x amount of money on more time in therapy because of a man’s hurt ego is something I can identify with.

We’ve all been there when a man is flirting and complimenting us but the second we reject their advances, we’re all of a sudden “not that pretty anyway”. How dare we not be interested?

Although we shouldn’t then doubt ourselves, it can still effect us and change the way we reject (or don’t) in the future.

Disclaimer: I know not all men are like this, but enough men are.

So I asked a group of women their experiences with rejecting men and how their responses effected their mental health. While the results are relatable, they show us a harsh reality. (Trigger warning: rape).

“I’ve been called a slut for not wanting to sleep with someone. This, along with other encounters, has really impacted my mental health. I’m scared of saying no to men when I want to. When I do, I end up feeling guilty like I’ve let them down. It makes me feel anxious.”

Anonymous 1, 22 years old

For anonymous number 2, she no longer wanted to have sex with her ‘friend with benefits’ because she wanted more. He didn’t want more and proceeded to send her this:

Anonymous woman 3 stated:

“I got raped by another guy and therefore didn’t want to date him/anyone anymore and he said that he was glad it happened, I deserved it and that my grandma would’ve been glad she was dead so that she wouldn’t have to deal with me anymore. After this, my attraction to men was non-existent for years.”

Anonymous 3, 23 years old

I then asked if these women would be more inclined to ‘ghost’ after these experiences.

“I ghost all the time! I used to sleep with boys in secondary school because I felt like I couldn’t say no, like I owed them. So now, because I’m so scared of finding myself in a similar position, it’s just easier to ghost. I don’t know how to tell them I’m not interested.”

Anonymous 1, 22 years old
Source: The Guardian

“I just tend to not let people in as easily and I really can’t be bothered to date anybody new anymore.”

Anonymous 2, 22 years old

“I think I would still try and explain because I’m someone who constantly needs to explain themselves. I like to think I can try and make others understand.”

Anonymous 3. 23 years old

It seems that as women, we’ve been socialised to feel like we ‘owe’ people despite their actions towards us and their disregard for what we actually want. It’s no wonder some of us are unsure how to say no or struggle with anxiety when we do.

Therefore, is the act of ghosting better for our mental state? Do we really have to give every person the benefit of the doubt despite our past experiences? We’re stuck with the anxiety of potentially worsening our own mental health to help be sure theirs doesn’t hang in the balance, or ghost and look after ourselves.

Source: Instagram

Stephanie has recently completed an English degree and is now focusing on reciting spoken word over tracks she co-produces. She enjoys writing scripts and short stories as well as discussing issues related to mental health, underrepresented voices and feminism.

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