I tried and (sort of) failed at ghosting someone and now I feel really weird about it

For the record, let me state that for a while, I did really like this dude in question. Let’s call him Ted.

But the thing with Ted is that I didn’t want to date him. We were friends, and then we got friendlier, and then suddenly I was staring down the barrel of a relationship gun and I was like “OH NOOOOooooOOoooo.” I told him upfront that I wasn’t looking for a relationship, let alone a serious relationship. Meanwhile he started planning out the rest of our lives together, and I was like, “But Ted, I’m still telling everyone I’m single.”

Then he took me out on the second worst date of my life (you know what you did, Ted) and I realized that whatever I had with Ted needed to end. Since we weren’t really dating, and we were by no means a couple, I figured the easiest way to let Ted down was to do the tried and true practice of “ghosting.” Or, for those not versed in ghosting lingo, the art of basically ignoring someone until they get the hint that you’re no longer interested. I figured this would work.

Well, guess what! I was wrong! It didn’t work! The second Ted felt even the slightest bit that I was pulling away from him, I felt even more weighed down my his presence. Ted was very clingy, that’s one of the reasons I knew we wouldn’t work. So hey, heads up friends, trying to ghost a clingy human being is HARD WORK.

I decided to ease into this ghosting adventure. We’ll call this “slow ghosting.” The first week of this ghosting project, I just stopped immediately replying to his texts. I’d let it go like two or three hours before I’d respond, and Ted took this to mean that I had fallen into some well and I needed help ASAP. Me ignoring one text from him quickly turned into fifteen text from him asking me if I was okay — and not just like if I was okay, but was my whole family, and also all my friends, and the dog, and did I need to talk? One quick reply back would cause a stream of even more texts to come in. It was a never ending cycle.

And yes, I realize I could have just been like, “Hey, Ted, I think we’re done here,” and cut all ties completely. But, I really wanted to still be friends with him. I was hoping I could slowly wean him off of this ~relationship~ and we could still text and stuff, like we had been, but not ALL THE TIME, like we were doing. After two weeks of these sporadic texts, I figured he had sort of gotten the hint, and in my mind this master plan was working — I had successfully ghosted him! In Ted’s mind, this was the perfect time to invite me to be his date for a friend’s wedding.

Just like…how? What? The more I pulled away from him it was like the closer he (metaphorically) held me tighter, in some “I’ll never let go!” situation. This is when I started to feel bad that I was trying to ghost him. Like, really bad. I still enjoyed talking to him, and I (probably) still would have enjoyed spending time with him in a non-romantic way. However, I knew that’s not what he was hoping for, and my time with him would have turned into that classic rom-com trope of: We’re just friends, but one of us still secretly really likes the other, and hopes that one day they’ll see what’s been right in front of them all along!

This is why I kept ghosting him. He’d text me, I’d ignore it. Not just a little bit, but completely ignore it. Part of me felt like I owed Ted an explanation for why I was doing this, but the other part of me did not. He wasn’t explaining the reasoning behind him planning out literally the rest of our lives together, so why did I need to tell him why I was stopping it? I also knew, from being with him for a little bit, that if I told him why I was ending things, he would try to change himself 100%. I’m not into that. I wasn’t about to change for him, so I should never expect him to adhere to me.

For me, looking at this entire situation, the only way was to ghost.

The messages kept coming. Along with inviting me to a wedding, he invited me to a concert, a museum outing, and oh, also to meet his parents. In this time, I sent him maybe six short and quick messages, that gave no indication that I was still looking to hang out — remember SLOW GHOST. I wasn’t trying to cease all communication right away. Even still, with these short and quick messages, he sent me back 6×10002 . I remember thinking to myself, “does telling someone I’m ghosting them defeat the purpose of ghosting them?”

Looking back, yeah, I should have just told him my ghosting plan, and ripped the relationship bandaid off super fast, because the texts from him continued on for three months.

In truth, I didn’t want to hurt him. I wanted him to come to the realization that I just wasn’t that into him all by himself. For me, that would have made us okay to still be friendly acquaintances. There are a ton of people I used to be really good friends with, and then we faded away, but still every now and then we text back and forth and meet up for coffee. That’s what I was looking for from Ted, and he still took it as, “I should ask Rachel to do a thousand more things so she realizes I’m still interested in her!” This is why I felt bad. This is why I felt weird. It wasn’t so much like I had ghosted a guy I was dating, it was like I let a friend slip away.

There is no happy ending to this story. There’s not even a moral here. I ghosted a guy that I liked once upon a time, and it was kind of a struggle. I felt weird, and I felt like a bad person for doing it, but I kept doing it. Now we no longer talk, but every now and then he likes a picture of mine on Instagram. Isn’t modern love fun?

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