About five weeks ago, I left school to head back to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. As I speed-packed my whole room up, I tried to come up with a list of positives about this situation. The one silver lining I could think of was that we would be removed from f*ckboys. In fact, maybe f*ckboys would spend this time recovering, and just like nature, they too could begin the process of healing. They are the virus.
Fast forward five weeks and I swear to God, every fifth text I get from one of my friends is bitching about f*ckboys. Some have even gone as far as to pitch their stories to me as ideas for another article (and while I appreciate the help, I sadly have enough content from my day-to-day interactions). It seems like f*ckboys have taken quarantine not as a time to better themselves, but as a time to strengthen their ability to be the absolute worst.
Not to rip off Carrie Bradshaw, but all of these stories had me thinking, have the f*ckboys gotten stronger and bolder in the Q? Or, have they been like this all along and we are just now beginning to notice it?
Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Five F*ckboys of Quarantine have come riding in on pale horses, ushering in a new period of sh*ttiness in dating. But I would never dream of leaving you unprepared for navigating f*ckboys in these trying times, so here’s my guide to the five f*ckboys of quarantine.
The Ghost: Quarantine Edition
Definition: We all know what ghosting is, so you shouldn’t really need an explanation. The CDC is learning more about COVID-19 every day, and your f*ckboy expert (me) had the privilege of learning first-hand about how much of a blow to the ego it is to get ghosted while social distancing. Ghosting right now should be a felony—like, honestly it might be on par with murder. Here’s the thing, even f*ckboys know this, so ghosting in quarantine looks a little bit different than in real life.
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How to spot them: Unlike a guy who ghosts you like, in normal conditions, this guy is more of a flake than a straight-up Ghost. We all need attention, he just likes to float around and get this attention from different girls. Babes, I’m sorry to say this: but he isn’t too busy, he isn’t “bad at Snapchat,” and he certainly just “didn’t see your text.” Like all of us, he has nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. You know you’re being ghosted (quarantine edition) if:
⭐︎ Your snap is left on delivered or open for 20+ hours—he got the notification and is waiting for you to get the hint.
⭐︎Every few days, he comes back around. We call this haunting. You’ll exchange a few vague snaps back and forth. It’s because he wants to keep his options open. (I fall for this often, please be better than me.)
⭐︎If/when quarantine ends, he’ll probably try to resume his normal schedule of contacting you, as if he wasn’t shady for the entirety of this crisis, especially if you were talking before.
How to deal with them: As smart, self-sufficient, and socially distant betches, we have no time for being ghosted. As hot as he is, and as much as you enjoy texting him, all you’re doing by trying to keep the Snap streak alive is hurting yourself. It’s sad but very, very true. You’re locked inside and there’s no reason to make yourself more miserable than necessary. If you think you’re stuck in this pattern but can’t tell, stop initiating conversations and see what happens. You may not get the answer you want, but at least you know not to waste your precious emotional energy.
Definition: Quarantine has given us all a little bit of time to think about our behavior—even I have recently come to question some of the actions I have taken over the last few months. As someone prone to overthinking in normal circumstances, I know that the combination of stress + a lot of time alone can lead to regret and the urgent desire to make amends for past behavior. Adding in the fact that we are almost all drinking alone right now means that even f*ckboys (whom we previously thought incapable of remorse) want to repair what they have already broken. Enter: The Boomerang.
How to spot them: You know the guy who fell off the face of the planet and killed your Snap streak, but continues to watch your Insta story? This is him. All of a sudden, Mr. Disappeared-Into-Thin-Air is back, and more interested than ever—but don’t get used to his presence. You’ll know he’s a Boomerang if:
⭐︎ He sends you a text that says, “How’s your quarantine…” followed by one that says “I probably owe you an explanation” or any variation of that.
⭐︎ While initially it seemed like he was all in and willing to give round two a ton of effort (i.e., FaceTime dates, responding to you right away, ensuring that he is definitely not Snapchatting other girls), this behavior will change after a few days.
⭐︎ After about a week, the slow fade you’re familiar with may start, and this is how we know the cycle of ghosting is beginning yet again.
How to deal with them: Boomerangs are meant for mind games, and they absolutely aren’t meant to be around for a long time—that’s, like, the whole point of them. If this guy is someone who completely f*cked you over in the past, and you’re looking to start a little drama or you need some excitement, literally ask him why he ghosted you. Show him the receipts. Go the whole nine f*cking yards (and please send me screenshots). If he ghosted you and you didn’t really care, enjoy some light flirting, but as soon as you start developing feelings or this goes too far, send him on his way.
The Fake Boyfriend
Definition: As excited as I am for all of the rom-coms about our time in quarantine to be made next winter, we have to remember that our daydreams about meeting a boy over Ship in quarantine and falling in love are fiction. As lovely as it may be to have a pen pal or two while you’re stuck in the Q, there’s a slim chance that your new love connection will survive more than a week in the real world.
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How to spot them: A Fake Boyfriend goes way too deep way too soon, and maybe this is because we legit have no choice but to get to know each other for our personality but also, like, maybe not? You know you’ve got yourself a Fake Boyfriend if:
⭐︎ Like a Boomerang, he jumps right in with the FaceTime dates, virtual happy hours, and, if he happens to be quarantined at home, you may even be ~lucky~ enough to meet his family. However, all of this will probably happen at a way faster rate than normal, because like, what else is there to do?
⭐︎ He ensures you that you’re the only girl who is getting the girlfriend treatment, and there’s a chance he’s not lying, but you never know.
⭐︎ We are nowhere near this yet, but as soon as quarantine ends, you’ll get an “I’m just not ready for anything serious right now” text. Shocker.
How to deal with them: Listen, none of us are in the position to be rejecting attention right now, especially if you’re as bored as I am. However, I don’t advise investing a lot of emotional energy in a fake boyfriend. Talking is fun, especially in times like these, but don’t put too high of a premium on his behavior. If this does happen to be a guy you think you can have a real connection with and you grow to really like, maybe try to go out together one or two times once we are allowed to, like, be around each other again and see if your relationship can withstand the test of human interaction.
The One Who Doesn’t Understand Social Distancing
Definition: We always knew that some f*ckboys were not as smart as the rest of us, but this guy takes the cake. He may acknowledge the severity of the situation, but he without a doubt thinks he is immune to COVID, is treating this as an extended vacation, and “is really excited about being back with the boys” when he returns home. Dude, no.
How to spot them: On the surface, you can tell he might be, like, kinda trying to practice effective social distancing. He sure is all about it on Insta stories, which we love to see. However, he doesn’t fully understand that now is not the time to drink with your friends in person, even from six feet away in your backyard, and especially not if you are doing this with a different group of people every night. Example behaviors are:
⭐︎ Posting a picture of him holding a Corona on his story, because he is really witty, and captions it, “day four of quarantine.” As a bonus, this picture got posted on April 15th which is, like, five weeks after your state enacted stay at home orders.
⭐︎ Even more bonus points if the previous slide on his story is a picture of him and his bros, and they definitely are less than six feet apart.
⭐︎ When he starts to talk to you it might just seem like the normal quarantine flirting… until he asks you to come over… and is serious… and doesn’t get the problem with the request.
How to deal with them: In the immortal words of Meghan Trainor, “My name is no, my sign is no, my number is no, you need to let it go.” Every time he invites you over, respond with an emphatic no and send a link explaining the benefits of social distancing. If this behavior continues, you may want to explain to him—very slowly—why he is part of the problem and how social distancing works. IDC how good the sex is, if you’re reading this you are way too smart to put yourself at risk over (admit it) a mediocre-looking f*ckboy.
The Aspiring Influencer
Definition: I get it, when the only other people you interact with are your siblings it’s easy to think like you really have your sh*t together, but this doesn’t make you an influencer. I honestly thought that only basic girls (myself included—I’m not not wearing a tie-dye set rn) and the boys who take mirror selfies at the gym would fall into internet traps during quarantine, but I was wrong. Guys who seemed relatively normal before this started are acting like they think they’re influencers. And, if there’s one thing our society does not need right now, it’s a ton of frat guys with Dad bods promoting their TikTok-inspired SoundCloud remixes.
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How to spot them: It starts with that Bill Clinton record challenge exposing their super basic music tastes, maybe they even do a push-up challenge (not complaining about that one), but all of a sudden their social media usage has spiraled out of control. Weird, he didn’t post a picture of you together from your last date party because he “doesn’t really use social media,” but all of a sudden he is the most active user you follow. You’ve got an Aspiring Influencer on your hands if:
⭐︎ He started posting lame oversexualized attempts at doing TikTok dances and challenges. Guys, if any of you see this, I need you to know that it’s an app made for 15-year-olds. Please stop thrusting your hips and commenting on underaged girls throwing it back. It’s creepy and problematic. Thanks.
⭐︎ He genuinely thinks his vlog-style Snapchat story bitching about how he doesn’t have lukewarm beer/Vat/or pot at home is the height of comedy. However, these posts would only be funny if he was being sarcastic and that’s just not something that’s in reach of his mental capacity.
⭐︎ He’s posting more thirst traps than a girl who got really hot after a breakup. No shade, I just want to know where these guys’ ability to look normal/hot in pictures was when I was trying to show their instas to my friends and the best option I had was a picture of them from 2017 holding a fish.
How to deal with them: These f*ckboys are blatantly on the hunt for attention in these trying times, and, honestly, aren’t we all? While they are ultimately pretty harmless and funny to sh*t-talk with your friends, if you’re talking to an Aspiring Influencer, know that they are likely talking to other girls and that this new persona they have adopted will probably live on past quarantine. There’s really no harm in continuing to talk to them, but just remember that their ability to be genuine is comparable to their ability to do the Renegade dance: abysmal.
These behaviors could all be adapted to the real world. However, the constant ability for f*ckboys to surprise us just confirmed what we already knew: the devil works hard, but f*ckboys work harder… that is, when it comes to screwing girls over.
In any other situation, I would advise against engaging with f*ckboys. However, these are not usual times and we all deserve a little bit of excitement and drama in our lives. Especially when we have run out of trashy dating shows to live vicariously through. As always, I am here to empower and validate your actions while still providing you with the information that will help you make smarter choices when it comes to f*ckboys.
Everyone is super #stressed right now, and honestly, we don’t need the added hassle of toxic d*ck. Have fun, but remember to avoid the f*ckboys who make you feel sh*tty. Just because your ex is hitting you up doesn’t mean that you’ll feel good after talking to him. And of course, under NO circumstances am I giving you permission to violate social distancing in order to see a f*ckboy!
Images: Thom Holmes / Unsplash
So you’re seeing someone. Getting yourself a little on the side. I see you. And this guy is pretty cool, right? He’s cute, he’s not too shabby in bed, he’s easy to hang out with. Checks off a lot of boxes. A few weeks pass happily enough, then a month or two goes by. Suddenly you’re wondering when this guy became your boyfriend without being your boyfriend. You’re not totally exclusive, but sleeping together semi-regularly, and in frequent contact. It’s hookup quicksand—and you find yourself considering the possibility of taking things to a more serious horizon. This is a good time to ask yourself some hard questions, if there is such a thing as a good time to emotionally torture yourself. But before you start your pro-con list, Rory Gilmore style, keep an eye out for some red flags that what you’re getting from this guy might be all he’s prepared to give.
There’s a good chance that part of what intrigued you about this guy in the first place is his unpredictability. He’s just available enough to make you feel safe, and just unavailable enough to keep you wanting more. But now, his inability to be nailed down or tell you what tf he’s doing a week from now is less exciting than it used to be. It’s hard to move forward with someone if he makes it so you can’t let go, but you also can’t get any closer. Here are some more signs that this is going to be a guy who’s always the hookup, never the boyfriend.
He Never Makes Plans That Don’t Involve Sex
He brings food over to your place, but is noncommittal when you suggest grabbing dinner out sometime. A simple question about what he has planned for the weekend can send him into a tailspin since he tends to prefer making last-minute plans. Maybe he acts like he’d be down to see a movie or grab drinks at a normal time instead of around 1am, but he never follows through. The sex in general really seems to be enough for him. He’s content with the physical connection you’re sharing and isn’t acting like an emotional one is missing.
He’s Making You Work Way Too Hard
Dating guys in their 20s is an unpaid internship
— cecilia (@waple_cyrup) November 28, 2018
This is the kind of guy who keeps you in a perpetual attention tug-of-war. For every bit of effort you put in, he puts in half as much, so it takes more of your energy and time to coordinate with him than it should. When he does respond, he’s great, but the rest of the time you’re forced to debate a dreaded triple text just to get a simple answer. Plain and simple, this just makes your pseudo-relationship easier on him. The more effort you put in, the less he has to do, and he wants to keep the balance of power in his favor.
He Gives You Just Enough To Keep You Interested, But Never Enough To Actually Rely On Him
Just when you’re ready to write him off, he’ll call you or send a sweet text, and you’re reeled right back in. It’s hard not to respond to him when he’s being charming or asking if he can stop by later, and you always seem to give him another chance to prove himself. But then you wake up and he’s gone again, even though last night he swore you guys would grab breakfast, and you’re back to square one. He never fully ghosts you, but he’s not the first person you’d call if you got a flat tire on the freeway, either. He’s not interested in being the first one you call with your problems, because then you seem less like the girl he’s just sleeping with and more like a girlfriend.
He Doesn’t Ask You About Yourself
He doesn’t text back.
He breaks promises.
He doesn’t instigate conversation or check on you.
He only messages when he needs something.
— Tolly (@tolly_t) September 24, 2017
You know his siblings’ names, where he was born, and the sport he played growing up. Meanwhile, he still acts surprised when he brings over takeout and you have to remind him you’re allergic to onions. Again. He doesn’t seem to have any issue answering questions about himself, but he doesn’t really reciprocate—and if he does, he’s likely to forget what you told him the next day. The fewer personal things he knows about you, the easier it is for him to stay detached and keep things casual.
He Wants To See Zero Emotions From You
sex is cool but have you ever had someone give you so much emotional safety that you were able to break down & process trauma right in front of them without fear of being judged or ridiculed?
— Bruna, CPC & ELI-MP (@brunanessif) August 22, 2018
This is no Victoria F. on The Bachelor situation; if you cry on a date with this guy, he’ll send you home
in a limo stat. He wants you to be the cool, chill girl he hooks up with, and the rest is just “drama”. When you do get emotional, even if it’s as simple as you tearing up in the scene where Warner breaks up with Elle, he’s likely to bail or put up walls without seeming to be affected by the way you’re feeling. Your emotions are really seen as complications to him that get in the way of you two having a good time together, which at the end of the day, is a bigger priority to him.
All of these characteristics don’t necessarily add up to this guy being a bad person—for the most part, you probably enjoy yourself around him, and he’s not hard to be around. And as long as the two of you are on the same page with that, it’s all good. But the key thing to remember about his actions is that they don’t indicate he’s feeling any of the necessary things that normally work to move a relationship forward. And this is a situation where actions really do speak louder than words. Especially if he’s a sweet talker, ignore what he’s saying and look at what he’s doing. If he wanted more with you, it would be pretty clear and straightforward. He’d make it easy for you to reach him; he’d make plans further in advance than one night; he’d remember the little things you tell him about yourself. (Granted, he’d still probably get freaked out by how easily you cry at commercials with dogs in them, but chances are he’d think it was endearing or at least handle it with a reaction other than panic.)
Bottom line is there’s nothing wrong with wanting more, Anastasia Steele, and there are guys out there who genuinely want to get to know all of you, even the version of you who consistently blacks out on bottomless mimosas. This particular person, on the other hand, is keeping a certain amount of emotional distance between you two. It could have nothing to do with you at all. He could have hangups from an old relationship, or just be skittish about the commitment game. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, necessarily. It just makes him a bad guy to try to turn into a boyfriend. So, be honest with yourself, and make the decision to do to him the same thing he does to you: take him as he is, at face value, or not at all.
Images: Brooke Cagle / Unsplash, Giphy; @brunanessif, @tolly_t, @waple_cyrup / Twitter
If you’ve ever been ghosted after hooking up with someone, then you know just how f*cked up it can feel. This happened to me for the first time (not a brag) not that long ago, and my ego was literally shattered, especially because I tripped over his foot and headbutted him when I went to kiss him goodbye. RIP. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to blame yourself and overthink about WTF could’ve happened—and that’s totally normal. Or you might blame the person who ghosted you for being a player. Chances are it’s not your fault, but FWIW, it’s not always because they’re a jerk either. That’s obviously a strong possibility, but there are actually a million other reasons why someone might disappear after you hook up with them that don’t automatically mean they’re a terrible person.
We’re definitely not defending their actions, because ghosting is a p*ssy move and you should be able to communicate your feelings with someone you had no problem banging. Like, it’s 2020. Grow up. But here are five scenarios why people might ghost after a hookup, aside from just being an asshole:
1. Commitment Issues
“People typically ghost because they aren’t able to offer the level of commitment they think they’re expected to give, whether that’s communication over text, another hookup, or a relationship,” explains Hannah Orenstein, senior dating editor at Elite Daily, author of Playing with Matches and Love at First Like, and former matchmaker. She believes this could stem from a bunch of reasons, like not being ready to date, anxiety about dating, or a lack of confidence in their communication skills. As scary as it can be, she encourages communicating honestly about how you’re feeling. “It’s normal to feel anxious about telling someone that you’d like to hear from them more often or that you weren’t sure where you stood after your last hookup. But avoiding these conversations can be nerve-wracking, too,” she adds.
Personally? I prefer to die in silence until they naturally come crawling back with a “hey stranger” text at 11pm six months later. “You deserve relationships that are based in thoughtful consideration and clear communication. Sometimes, the first step to getting there is to initiate the tough conversation.” Wait, on second thought, I like this approach better. No more wondering what if. In 2020, we’re accusing our ghosts even when we can’t see them. “HEY STRANGER…”
2. Deep-Rooted Anxiety, Shame, Or Guilt
Tim is an admitted serial ghoster who spoke to me about his past habits blames “typical boy sh*t” (like, actual issues from childhood) as the reason why he ghosted so many people. “When I lost my virginity, I felt like I wasn’t a ‘man’ because I didn’t bang the girl for over an hour like the dudes I watched on late night TV porn as a kid (which I assumed to be 100% real in my young naïveté), and that made me feel anxious.” From that point on until his late 20s, he’d immediately feel an overwhelming sense of guilt every single time he had sex. “I’d subconsciously go back to the moment after my first time. It would make me DESPISE the women I’d be with, and I’d be so uncomfortable that I wouldn’t want to speak to or hear from them again. None of that is an excuse, and I was an ignorant dickhead, but that’s why.” Cheers to brutal honesty. Kudos to you, Tim.
Best part of his story? “The first night after I had sex with a woman who was my friend for years, I got up and went outside because those anxious feelings toward myself still existed. She realized it and let it go. The next night, she told me she needed me to stay with her because she was scared of the storm. My need to be protective overtook any past BS and alleviated the stress. She spent months doing this until me staying around her after sex became normal and we were able to really unpack the reasoning behind how I was.” AND NOW THEY’RE MARRIED! Maybe pretending to be scared of the weather every single night for months is the key to a ghost’s heart. Imma try this out.
3. Maybe You Got Too Clingy
Ever think that maybe you started sending 10 texts too many or called too many times after you guys hooked up? Because that could totally scare some people off, especially if all they wanted was something casual. “This chick kept barraging me, asking me to FaceTime her when I was busy getting drunk,” Jimmy, 27 from NY, recalls. “Then she started sending me pictures of herself holding a baby that wasn’t even hers when I was hungover the next day.” YIKES. That’s actually terrifying. Nothing screams “
please knock me up look at how wifey material I am!” like sending selfies holding random babies to the person you just had sex with yesterday. Hard pass.
4. You Were Rude Or Inconsiderate
Sorry to break this to you, but maybe you weren’t the most thoughtful host? Take it from Mitchell, who literally blocked someone on Bumble and immediately unfollowed him on all social media on the elevator down from a hookup. “I brought over a bottle of wine (sauv blanc that he likes and I didn’t). After we hooked up and got dressed, I was like ‘how about some more wine or something?’ and he said ‘I have some work to do so maybe another time’ and KEPT THE F*CKING WINE. I was in such a state of shock I had to ghost him. There was no other option.” TBH, totally understandable. That guy definitely deserved to be blocked and ghosted and maybe even reported on the dating app for inappropriate conduct. If you’re hooking up with someone, the least you can do is respect them, their time, and their effort… or offer them to take back the wine they bought you took three sips of?
5. The Sex Was Bad
“While it’s certainly possible to be ghosted by someone who didn’t enjoy the experience, I wouldn’t necessarily assume that’s always the reason,” says Orenstein. But… sometimes it is. “When I finally hooked up with my secret crush for months, his dick was SO small and he lasted about four pumps,” Kayla, 28, remembers. “After, he gave me his number about 7 times and told me to hit him up, but I really just pretended to put it in my phone while calling an Uber at 6am.” SAVAGE. On another note, Nick, 31, ghosted a chick he met off Tinder after they went on a proper date. “The next time we hung out, she invited me over to her parents’ house (I could hear her parents talking the whole time). She made me watch a sh*tty romance movie then gave me a handjob while staring in my eyes the whole time. I was so freaked out. I was like, 26 years old and the girl gave me a handy and never took her eyes off me. So awkward.” LOL. 1) do people really give handjobs anymore? and 2) she probably read too many sex tip articles that suggested making more eye contact. Poor sis. Fatal mistake in this case.
To Reach Out Or Not To Reach Out…
You’re over debating what happened and you want the truth. Do you send them a text seeking closure? Or let it go and wonder WTF happened for the rest of forever? “As personal as it can feel, getting ghosted rarely has anything to do with you and everything to do with them. While there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to seek closure or understand why someone ghosted, consider that this person may not be able to provide you with a satisfactory answer,” says Orenstein. That said, if you’re dead set on reaching out to them, she recommends sending a simple message that asks for clarity surrounding the situation. But before you decide to reach out, wait until it’s clear that you’ve actually been ghosted, “meaning they ignored a few texts in a row or they stood you up on a date.”
OK, But I Still Feel Like Sh*t. Now What?
“There’s no shame in feeling upset, angry, or rejected by this — getting ghosted, especially after being physically and/or emotionally intimate with someone, is a jarring, blindsiding experience,” says Orenstein. But in the end, do you really want to date or hook up with a person who can’t maturely and respectfully communicate with you? “If you’re the kind of person who finds ghosting to be frustrating or rude, this person likely wouldn’t be a compatible match for you, anyway,” reminds Orenstein.
No matter why they did what they did (aka disappeared), all you can do is take care of yourself. She suggests letting yourself feel your feelings, journaling, going to therapy, practicing self-care, engaging in fun distractions with friends/family/hobbies, or whatever else works for you. “And when you’re ready, putting yourself back out in the dating world can remind you that there are so many exciting possibilities out there in the world for you, including good people who won’t ghost you.” Cute, empowering, solid advice. Love it. Where TF are these “good people,” though? Asking for myself. SOS.
Images: HBRH / Shutterstock.com, GIPHY (5)
All of my friends who’ve been dating their significant other for five or more years always say to me, “Being a twentysomething single girl in New York must be so fun!” I’m sorry, but why does everyone think that being single in New York is like being in Sex and the City, running around on a writer’s salary in my brand new Manolos trying not to spill my $17 cosmopolitan? I have more in common with Tony Soprano than I do with Carrie Bradshaw. The only SATC episode that my single New York life is kind of similar to is that one where Carrie makes dinner plans with her infamous f*ck buddy, full-well knowing she’ll never speak to him again. In other words, ghosting. This, married friends, is what being single is nowadays.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a big believer in breaking up with somebody using your words, but honestly, sometimes these clowns don’t even deserve that. For instance, a few years ago my boyfriend of two years (repeat, two years) broke up with me via Facebook Messenger. WHAT?! I was so mad that I didn’t even respond and we literally just never spoke again. Two years! Anyway, technically he broke up with me, but I guess you could say I ghosted him and, guess what, I didn’t feel bad about it. So, even though conventional wisdom says ghosting is always bad, there are plenty of times where it’s actually okay to just stop responding to their texts, and doing so doesn’t make you the asshole. Let’s talk about times it’s okay to ghost someone.
1. It Feels Creepy
I mean, this should go without saying, but if you’re ever in a situation that makes you feel either unsafe or uncomfortable (the two usually go hand in hand), you can safely fade away into the night guilt-free. Maybe you gave him your number off a dating app and now he won’t stop texting you sexually explicit things, or you went on a date with him and he kept aggressively trying to get you to come back to his place even though you gently tried to turn him down a few times, or he is calling you nonstop even though he knows you are working. Whatever the case may be, if this is a person whose behavior is ringing alarm bells, you do not owe them a response. And, in my opinion, the types of people who repeatedly stomp all over your boundaries are the same kind of people who take any response, even an explicit “I’m not interested”, as encouragement to continue. In cases like these, the best thing to say is often nothing.
2. They Only Reach Out After 2am
This should also be obvious, but in case it’s not, keep reading. You should not feel obligated to respond to a late night “u up?” text unless you’re down to meet up. If you aren’t, just don’t respond. I feel like people, myself included, think it’s such bad form to just ignore a text, but if that text is a booty call at 2am or later, do not feel guilty for not answering it. The dudes sending you those texts aren’t looking for witty banter, they’re looking for a yes or no. They don’t care about you not courteously texting back to let them know that, while you are in fact up, you’re quite tired and are going to have to politely decline. None of that sh*t is necessary. So if a guy you aren’t into texts you after you’re already in bed, feel free to not respond without any pangs of guilt.
3. They Ghosted You First
You went on a few dates with someone who, out of nowhere, disappeared from your life…like a ghost. Ya hate to see it. You may text him a few days later to check in or put a dinner on the calendar, but he doesn’t respond
because he’s an asshole so you kind of give up and move on. Then, like a Dementor coming down from Azkaban, he hits you up. He was 110% seeing another girl when he was also seeing you, but then he decided he wanted to focus on her, so he ghosts you. Then things with her don’t work out so he comes crawling back to you as if five months of silence didn’t just go by. Yeaaaaah, no.
If this sounds familiar, please ghost this arrogant prick. Does he think he’s being subtle when he pulls sh*t like this? Are we expected to just respond as if we didn’t just fully get ignored for half a year? Please, someone tell me. You have permission from everyone to ignore him.
4. They’re In A Monogamous Relationship
I know this sounds beyond f*cked up, but I have been propositioned by not one, but two men in serious relationships within the past six months *throws up*. They both texted me later in the evening to meet up for a drink, which I didn’t think was a big issue until they said, “don’t tell anyone.” And then I obviously told all of my friends. I don’t owe them discretion when they are clearly asswipes who don’t deserve their girlfriends. Anyway, after I realized I was being hit on, I just stopped answering their texts. Again, I don’t give a sh*t about ghosting them—if anything, I feel gross for being the object of their attempted infidelity, even though it wasn’t my fault. If gross guys in relationships prove that they are, in fact, skeazy, it definitely qualifies as one of those times it’s okay to ghost their ass.
Images: Shutterstock.com; Giphy (4)
It’s no secret that people, especially millennials, suck at dating. I’m not a Baby Boomer, and while I can certainly acknowledge that people have always done sh*tty things to each other (I’m currently reading a book about women in the 1950s-70s who would get pregnant and abandoned by their boyfriends, so they’d get sent to a home for unwed mothers—it’s called The Girl In The Letter, in case you’re interested), I feel like the more into our technology we get, the more inventive and evasive we get with our sh*ttiness. Whereas in previous generations, you would likely run the risk of bumping into the person you went on one date with and never spoke to again, nowadays you can delete an app and fade into obscurity, relying on the relative anonymity of living in a huge city to protect you from ever having to face the consequences of your actions (and by that I mean, the person you abruptly stopped talking to).
When I spoke to Dr. Jenny Taitz, clinical psychologist and author of How To Be Single And Happy, about ghosting, she said, “I think it’s just we’re less accountable.” With online dating, “you’re not gonna have to report back to your cousin or best friend like ‘Oh, this guy I went out with never called me back.’” So even if dating apps are not making people into worse people, they can enable bad dating behavior. And we have all sorts of terms for the punk-ass maneuvers people tend to pull when they just can’t muster up the courage to be straightforward and direct: ghosting, which has firmly lodged its way into the lexicon; breadcrumbing, where you leave little hints of vague interest so you can keep someone on the back burner; cushioning, being in a relationship but keeping a few people around to cushion the fall if your relationship ends, the list goes on and on. It seems like every few months, some magazine comes forward with a new term to describe some “new” dating phenomenon. This month’s edition comes straight from Cosmo, and it’s a term that’s probably not unfamiliar to you: it’s called zombie-ing, and it’s when someone “ghosts you, and then, after some time has passed, ‘rises from the dead’ and hits you up again”.
If you’re thinking, “what?” just know I had that thought too. I actually did a double-take on the publish date of this article. Nope, September 24, 2019, just as I thought it said. And here’s the thing: I don’t disagree with zombie-ing as a concept. I have both been the zombie-er and the zombied, if we’re going to use the term. From mine and my friends’ experiences, it’s a very common tactic. I’m not here to defend the behavior, or really offer any kind of character judgment at all about it. I’m just here to pose the question: Haven’t we been here before? Is any of this new?
A May 2016 Urban Dictionary definition for “haunting” describes the practice as, “When someone tries to hit you up after ghosting you.” The practice of ignoring someone’s attempts at communication is hardly new, even if the ubiquitous term for it is relatively recent, so it stands to reason that trying to get back into contact with someone you previously cut off is not a novel behavior.
It’s not new to the media, either. You might not remember much of the spring of 2017 (it was a simpler time), but that’s when the concept of “haunting” hit the mainstream media. There were explainers and opinion pieces. In fact, Cosmo even wrote about it! Their article was titled, “Haunting’ Is the Horrific New Dating Trend That’s Even Worse Than Ghosting”. Ooo, scary! “Horrific new dating trend”—they’re making it sound like millennials are out here murdering each other for sport. When in reality, Cosmo themselves defines haunting as, “haunting is when someone from your romantic past lingers in your digital present by occasionally watching your Instagram or Snapchat story, or sporadically liking your posts.” Okay, so this is not the exact definition of “haunting” that Urban Dictionary put forth, but still, it’s the same concept: someone ghosted you, but then is still attempting to keep into contact with you. Whether that be by liking your IG posts or DMing you, or just sending you a “hey stranger” text, the end result is the same: the person who was previously ghosted is left confused, questioning WTF is going on.
Ghosting. Benching. Subwaying. Zombieing. Breadcrumbing. Orbiting. Stashing. Cushioning. They all = that other human isn’t fuckin interested in you.
— Jody Whitesides (@jodywhitesides) September 18, 2019
“Zombie-ing” or “haunting” (the more accurate term, in my opinion) is not the first or last iteration of this concept. Remember “benching”? To stay consistent with the Urban Dictionary definition, it’s when “you start dating someone you think is nice and who has potential, but you’re not crazy about them. You don’t know whether to keep dating them, or dump them and move on to the next one. This is where benching happens; instead of going for either of the above polarized options, you put your date in your mental ‘maybe’ folder and ‘bench them’ so you date around to see what else is out there.” It’s a bit more involved of a concept, but the gist is that you’ve kind of stopped seeing someone (like ghosting, but not as harsh), who you then maintain contact with (by keeping them on the bench and not booting them from the roster altogether).
Benching is a little more recent of a phenomenon, with (you guessed it) Cosmo covering it in January 2019. They basically just expanded on the Urban Dictionary definition over the course of a few hundred words. So I turned to another millennial-speaking outlet, Elite Daily, who explained benching as, “essentially, someone doesn’t commit to you, but instead, ignores you until it’s convenient for them.” Ignores you! Interesting word choice. The article then goes on to explain why benching is even worse than ghosting. I can get behind the idea that firmly and decisively cutting off contact gives someone a way better chance at closure and moving on than popping up on their radar every so often just because you’re feeling lonely/needy/attention-seeking/whatever. But how is this really any different than any of the other so-called “new dating trends” above? You may be tweaking the exact particulars, but the effect of the behavior is still the same.
But the best part about all of this is that even if you think haunting is different than benching which is different than zombie-ing, zombie-ing itself is not even a new phrase. Guess the f*ck what? It’s been around since 2017 or earlier.
Is he ghosting you (or setting you up for zombie-ing) or is he actually busy? Here’s how to tell. https://t.co/R4xiNCjLt6 pic.twitter.com/jL2MpSv3Qg
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 24, 2017
How you gonna declare a new trend that’s already two years old?
Here’s the annoying part. Each time some outlet tries to coin a new re-brand of the same sh*tty behavior people have been doing probably since dating became a convention, it follows the same predictable pattern. Introduce the new dating trend plaguing millennials. Relate it to ghosting. Affirm that it’s terrible. Dredge up a few first-person anecdotes to make it seem relatable, like this is happening to everyone. Cue spin-off articles and think pieces (hi). The thing is, each time an outlet does this, it makes it seem like they are introducing a totally new behavior that’s never been done before. They position it like, “ahhh, dating is so terrible because millennials are thinking up all these crazy new ways to treat everyone poorly!” In the zombie-ing article, Gabi Conti writes, “Donna Sozio, author of
So can we stop doing this? The making up terms. The panic and outrage. The implicit assertion that millennials are ruining dating. It’s neither accurate nor useful. At the end of the day, as Dr. Taitz said, these behaviors boil down to one question: “what kind of person do I want to be in this world, and am I willing to feel a little uncomfortable to be more considerate?” Instead of ascribing every avoidance tactic with a new undead-related name, the emphasis should be on 1) figuring out what the f*ck you want in a relationship, 2) not accepting anything that isn’t what you want, including and especially wishy-washy behavior, and 3) recognizing when you yourself exhibit those wishy-washy behaviors and nip that sh*t in the bud. Yeah, it’s a lot less cute and catchy, but I think it will get us further (read: closer to healthy, fulfilling, committed relationships) in the long run.
Images: Unsplash; jodywhitesides, betchesluvthis / Twitter
If you’ve ever played the dating field at all, you’ve probably been ghosted before. Or ghosted someone. Or both, because ghosting doesn’t discriminate based on gender. This article isn’t here to sh*t on ghosting or call you a horrible person because everyone (*cough cough* me) has done it at some point, and sometimes it’s justifiable to switch out of your classes and, um, order Seamless for a month to avoid all possible contact with a guy you no longer want to see. Right. Moving on.
Let’s be real though, ghosting is kind of a coward’s way out. It feels pretty awful to get excited about a guy and then suddenly realize that when he said “let’s definitely do this again sometime!” that was a total lie, because you’re never going to see him again, because suddenly he’s busy with “work” aka hitting random girls on Instagram and matching with your friends on dating apps, where he’s still active.
If you’re like me and have to find an explanation for LITERALLY everything, then you probably lie in bed at night and think wtf what wrong. Because I was curious, I asked a bunch of my guy friends about why they ghosted girls. So here are your answers, ladies! *Spoiler alert* it’s definitely not you.
“I Didn’t Even Know I Ghosted”
“I don’t want to close the door but I also don’t feel like texting her every day so…I kinda just stopped texting her. I mean I didn’t even realize I was “ghosting” her per se, but later I found out this girl was kinda pissed…So then I wished her happy birthday. Which made her more angry, weirdly…” –Just-Trying-To-Keep-Things-Casual Bro
“She didn’t smell good. And it was awkward to talk about. So I just kept inviting her over until finally I had to block her on my story and hide from her.” –TMI Bro
“We Weren’t Dating”
“If you actually have a conversation it admits that the hookup was significant enough to warrant a discussion, instead of a casual “thing” that can eventually end when you stop talking.” – Facts-Are-Facts Bro
“It Wasn’t Really Ghosting”
“It was only partial ghosting!!! I mean I’d still text her like Thursday through Sunday…yeah, so like a booty call.” –In-Denial-He’s-An-Ass Bro
“I’m An Athlete”
“You have too many options so why bother committing to one.” –God-Complex-Athlete Bro
“They Were All Annoying”
“I went on like a million coffee dates before my last ex-girlfriend and every girl would only talk about herself or how much she hated one of her best friends, and I just couldn’t deal with that level of craziness.” –Overly Charming Bro
“IDK What You’re Talking About”
“I would never do that.” –I’m-Dating-Your-Best-Friend Bro
“Like On Snapchat?”
“I just OBNR her on Snapchat. Why? Um, because I’m bored?” –Still-In-High-School bro
If you didn’t get the last one, you’re probably too old and yeah, the way the teens use social media these days makes no sense to me either. (ONBR means “open but not respond.) So long and short, guys are cowards and like to play the field too much. Shocker, boys are scared man-sluts. Great. It’s not a news flash that ~ millennials ~ hate confrontation, but it’s still kind of sad no one’s able to have serious conversations anymore.
It’s an odd feeling, when a person who ghosted you tries to creep back into your life through social media. Maybe it’s a Facebook friend request, or a ” just added you on Snapchat!” or a mysterious “like” on your latest bikini pic. Your heartbeat picks up speed. You’re suddenly very aware of the precise volume of sweat your armpits are producing. “Could this be it?” you think. “It” being the moment you’ve been fantasizing about for months. The moment the person who f*cked you over—romantically speaking—finally comes slinking back, giving you the coveted opportunity to tell them off. You’ve rehearsed this exact scene in the shower, run through different outcomes before drifting off to sleep at night, smiled to yourself on the subway when your fictional self tells that person exactly what’s on your mind.
Mine came in the form of a Facebook request from a guy I had been seeing for a few months before he promptly went Casper. Actually, Casper is friendly. This guy was frigid silence and indifference. It stung. We’d been going on dates for, probably, a handful of weeks—spring into summer. Then, slowly, almost imperceptibly, I could feel a bit of distance. I tried to put it out of my mind—”I’m probably overreacting, he’s still responding to my texts”, “Maybe he just thinks I’m not interested and I need to put in more effort”—but eventually the plans were cancelled, the apologies were infrequent, and eventually, communication stopped altogether. And then, close to a year later, a Facebook friend request popped up. I accepted, standing at the ready for an apology, or even an explanation. None came. Then came the Instagram follow. Again, I braced myself for the onslaught of DMs. No such DM ever slid through. But every so often, when I’d check who watched my Instagram stories, I’d see a familiar name. Just watching. Lurking. Not interacting, but viewing passively from the sidelines.
It’s a tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme: guy who ghosts you but watches all your Insta stories. Okay, so it’s not exactly a tale as old as time—more like, tale as old as November 2016, when Instagram stories were introduced. But ever since I casually mentioned it in an article about a week ago, I feel like this phenomenon has been all over the internet. On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not the only victim of this baffling behavior. So I gathered up a few guys I know and asked them why guys ghost but watch your Instagram stories. Some names have been changed to protect the guilty, but I left their responses as-is, in their full glory.
“Because they want to see if they made a mistake ghosting you or if they can dip back in for a quick smash.”
Jared Freid, 33
“I think we need to separate the ghosting from the story watching. We all ghost because we are afraid of telling a perfectly good person that we want to keep searching. ‘I will f*ck you but I think I could find someone that’s better for the long term’ is very difficult to tell someone you just saw naked. But most people don’t want to be mean, so the easy thing to do is to just drift away like a ghost.
But, to me, the question should be, ‘Why are we still following the people we ghost?’ The answer to that, is that we want to make sure we weren’t wrong. We dispose of people so quickly. Meeting someone on an app, going on a date or two, hooking up, then saying ‘I’m going to keep looking for better’ is too quick an interview process, but the alternative is closing off and saying that ‘perfect for us’ person that may not exist. So the ghoster keeps following, watching, and sometimes liking to keep any eye on the stock he didn’t invest in. It’s creepy and awful and human all at once. If you don’t think the person who said ‘Bitcoin is stupid’ doesn’t check how Bitcoin is doing, then you’re nuts. And this is honestly the same thing.”
“Most of the time—accidental. Since your phone knows EVERYTHING, it puts the people you want to see most and least in line for Instagram stories. Also an attempt to be relevant or in the head of women you’ve decided to stop talking to. Mind games.”
“Because maybe you’re posting thot pics in your story. Gotta commit to texting, don’t have to commit to thot pics. Can’t know until you look at it.”
Stephen McGee, 28
“When I have ghosted someone it was probably because I knew that, for whatever reason, I would definitely ruin the relationship at the time but didn’t want to completely destroy the potential. I’m sure there are a few guys who roll there eyes every time they see me lurking watching their stories or whatever… but it’s just me trying to break the ice to come back. Cut a guy a break if he is lurking—he *might* have good intentions. Probably not, though, so don’t @ me.
On the other hand, my last boyfriend broke up with me after three months. Then we reconnected after a month or so for like two weeks and then he straight-up disappeared on me too. Not a word. I blocked him on Instagram like two weeks after he ghosted and have been so good and not looked at his profile through one of my three fake accounts or contacted him in any way (although obviously I’ve hung out with his friends and made them post us on Instagram). It’s not a solution to stop people from ghosting, but it will definitely make you feel better if you can flip their ghost on them and haunt their ass for a while.”
As for the guy who ghosted me but then added me on every form of social media I have? He declined to comment for this article.
Since it’s still 2017 and everything is trash (especially the new tax bill), it’s highly likely that the guy you’re seeing/currently chatting with on whatever fucking dating app is hot right now (I can’t keep up) is a complete and total fuckboy. If you need a refresher on the telltale signs of fuckboy-ery please read here, and if you remember what dating was like in a pre-fuckboy world, please hit me up with your stories of a better time. The horrors of dating over the past few years have wiped all my memories and forced me into a state of being that’s kind of like having a never-ending cold: like, I know there was once a time where I could breathe through my nose find a nice guy, but now I can’t remember what it felt like and damn was I an asshole for not appreciating the times when I could take a deep breath without coughing had options.
By now, we should all know better than to spend time on a guy that texts only after 9pm, has never introduced you to his friends, or is “morally opposed” to being in photographs (that’s some class-A bullshit). But just as technology has advanced, so has the fuckboy. So it’s time my friends, that we look beyond the obvious Dean Unglert-like moves, and watch out for these three more advanced fuckboy tactics: because if they’re getting smarter, we’d better start getting more suspicious.
1. Following Up On Old Leads
If he slow-faded you months ago but resurfaced on a random Wednesday night because he was “thinking about you” and was “wondering how you’ve been,” it’s not because he missed you. It’s because he just finished watching Sportscenter, is tired of swiping, and decided to browse through his contacts hoping to bring an old lead back to life (for like two dates, max). Hopefully you read his text while lying in bed with your fabulous new bf and you can respond with a quick couples selfie and say “‘I’ve been great, thanks for asking!”, but if not, just block his number and find your own new lead.
2. The String Along
Avoiding making actual hangout plans is classic fuckyboy, but the true artistry is when they catch you just as you are about to give up—and give you just enough slack to real you back in. Maybe it’s been a week, or maybe you’re a true sucker and have been holding out for like a month, but it’s in our nature to get excited when a guy we thought had lost interest pops back up. It’s always the day after you stopped hoping it was him, and it’s always, ALWAYS the sign of an advanced fuckboy. Don’t give in to the string along: if he doesn’t straight-up make plans, call his ass out and block his damn number.
3. The Casual Party Invite
It can be v exciting when a new boy invites you to a party. Obviously your mind will go somewhere like, “his friends are going to be there, omg he wants me to meet his friends,” or “he wants to be seen with me in public, he must be marriage material!” But since it’s 2017 (where all dreams go to die), I’m about to ruin that one for you as well: Beware of the party invite, because if he’s a class-A fuckboy (which, let’s be honest, he probably is) he definitely sent that exact same text to his last five Tinder matches.
Tbh, if you have to ask if he’s a fuckboy, he probably is. Unless you’re like me and you just assume all men are fuckboys until they prove to you otherwise. Anyway, hope this helped.