[Two Pronged] Should you apologize over ghosting?

Myrna's ghosted hookups in the past. Should she say sorry?

 

 Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.


Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer:


When I was in college, I was really sexually active. I would see multiple people at the same time, and didn’t feel guilty because I wasn’t committed to anyone. I met them all either through dating apps or through drinking sessions. We would flirt, and then take it to bed. But what I felt guilty about was ghosting them.

Well, at that time, I wasn’t feeling guilty at all. I felt like I did the right thing. And I would ghost them for different reasons.

One time I hooked up with a guy with a really bad breath. Of course I didn’t want to see him again. Who wants a guy a with bad breath? It was so awful. I just gave him a blowjob for it to be over. When he offered to eat me out, I refused aggressively. Haha! He continued to ask me out after that, but I never texted him again.

I met another guy who looked nothing like his picture on Tinder. I was so surprised when I saw him. I just gave him what he wanted that night. But I never texted him again after that. There was also a guy who came agad even when we were just making out. Of course, I ghosted him because of that.

I feel so guilty now. Should I go back to each person ghosted to apologize for doing this like they suggest in AA?

But I do not want to stop any behavior (like alcohol dependence, sex dependence. I am happy with my sex life). Thank you.

Myrna


Dear Myrna,

Thank you for your email.

Ghosting has been with us since time immemorial, albeit masquerading under different names. Friendships mysteriously wither away, lovers disappear, even relatives no longer make contact. And all this happens for a vast array of reasons, sometimes self-evident, sometimes not.

It is human nature when ghosted to want to understand why it happened. If you can think of a reason that makes sense, well and good. If not, perhaps circumstances warrant a discussion if that is possible. However, by not giving you a reason, then there may be no closure and therefore a sense of unfinished business.

We have to accept that human relationships are imperfect and to expect some sort of beautiful symmetry in all of them is an illusion which if pursued will lead to inevitable disappointment. Also, not all relationships have equal importance and the difference between ghosting after a one night stand and say a 12 month romance has to be recognized.

Turning to your feelings of guilt and desire to embrace an AA style program of seeking forgiveness, by all means go ahead if it will make you feel better. Just make sure that 1) your actions will actually make a positive impact on the other person’s life and 2) distinguish between minor and major ghostings and thus not cast your net too wide.

Best of luck,

JAF Baer


Dear Myrna,

Thank you very much for your letter. Ghosting used to be considered very bad form and I would agree.

However, with the advent of social media where you can meet 3 people in one night, it seems an inordinate amount of time would be spent explaining things to each person you ghosted. I would think – and be pilloried for saying this – that everyone who joined an easy come, easy go sort of dating site would be prepared for an easy come, easy go sort of relationship. In an ideal world, perhaps one would be, but it seems too much to ask of a then college girl who on the one hand, like all ghosters are contrite, citing their own fear, insecurity and immaturity, but on the other, perhaps feel: “Hey, you’re on this app that never promised love everlasting, so perhaps you should be more cognizant of that fact. Is it my responsibility for point this out to everyone I have a one night stand with?!?”

In my opinion, absolutely not. Not even Ms. Anna Sale, the host of the WNYC podcast Death, Sex & Money, who believes a long-term relationship requires certain standards of decorum. “If you go on more than three dates, you’ve indicated you’re interested,” she said. “To disappear after that is confusing.” She added, aptly, “Breakups can haunt you.” 

Gili Freedman, who studies the language of rejections at St. Mary’s College of Maryland offered a tip when you’ve ghosted someone and that is to NOT say “Sorry…It only makes the injured party feel more aggrieved (and leads the way to a conversation you didn’t want in first place).” 

In my opinion, if your relationships were “see(ing) multiple people at the same time…(cos) I wasn’t committed to anyone. I met them all either through dating apps or through drinking sessions. We would flirt, and then take it to bed,” then anyone who presumed these one night stands were more than that perhaps needs a lesson in reality testing and no, it is not your responsibility to give him that lesson.

Yes, being ghosted is not a fun experience – for some it can even be devastating – but hey! You win some, you lose some, especially when using apps that clearly make hook ups possible but do not promise love everlasting. 

PLUS… there are more mature ways a person can deal with ghosting, even learning more about himself and how he can be less of a candidate for being ghosted.

In other words, under the circumstances, you gave it the best you had at that moment (which I guess means you are behaving more responsibly currently). But even in your distant (ok, ok, slightly immature past) you did not purposely hurt them and you did not lie to them.

This is why I feel no apologies are needed now for your behavior then…unless you see them quite often in other circumstances, that is.

All the best,

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.