If you’ve been around the dating world for longer than five minutes, you’ve more than likely had to deal with your fair share of ghosting. Now you have to worry about microghosting (but we’ll get to that).
Whether your experience had been because you’ve found ghosting is an easy way out of a relationship, especially one that wasn’t that serious to begin with, or you’ve been ghosted yourself, nearly everyone in the modern dating world has had their own personal run-in with this toxic dating trend.
Ghosting is a trend that has only escalated in the past few years because of the rise of dating apps. Although we love dating apps and we’re huge fans of all of the ease and benefits that these apps have provided for us, there is something to be said about the casual nature that many people approach dating with now.
The bad news is that you’re more likely to deal with some form of ghosting when you’re on a dating app, rather than when you’re dating someone you have a history with or that you’re meeting in person.
The good news is that you don’t owe anyone anything on dating apps and you shouldn’t expect them to owe you anything either. While this dog-eat-dog mentality might not be the healthiest way to prop yourself up for success when it comes to online dating, it is a great way for you to manage your expectations for others on the apps.
However, if you’re feeling as though someone is simultaneously leading you on while also making it very clear that they’re not invested in you or in the possibility of pursuing a relationship with you, you’re falling a victim to the toxic psychological trend that is microghosting.
Microghosting is a more realistic and typical way that people are ghosting one another on and offline and it’s time that we all learned about all that this toxic trend entails.
What is Microghosting?
Although ghosting is a terribly toxic trend that affects millions of people in their romantic lives, sometimes, it isn’t as obvious to people when they’ve been ghosted.
Microghosting happens when there are many little clues that are sprinkled throughout your every single interaction that you have with someone, leading you to believe that they’re just not that into you. This might be because they don’t respond to your texts for hours or even days. They might not seem too interested in getting to know you and they’re not invested in you when the two of you go out. You might also not be able to get a hold of them to plan a date that y’all have been putting a ‘rain check’ on your time together for a while.
The hard part about this is that it’s very rare for someone who is engaging in these patterns to come out and say that they’re not interested in pursuing a relationship with you or that they want to end things.
Ghosting, and especially microghosting, is often used as the easy way out for the person who is doing it. They don’t want to have a confrontational conversation, so they don’t and they just leave.
So how can you tell if you’re being micro-ghosted or if the person is just genuinely busy or overwhelmed? While we will always suggest having an open and honest conversation with them as the key to understanding their intentions, if they’re impossible to get a hold of, you might want just to decide if they show any of the signs below.
1. They Don’t Respond to You in Time
This is the first sign that someone is microghosting you. While there might be some days when the two of you are busy and you’re playing phone tag, it shouldn’t take hours for them to respond to a simple text every time you try to establish some form of communication.
If you notice a pattern beginning and you realize that you have sent the last few texts and follow-up texts and gotten a very lackluster response back, then you might want to raise a little red flag up and start examining their behavior in other aspects of your relationship as well.
2. When They do Respond, it’s Short and Not Thought Out
We’ve all probably had our own personal experiences with some pretty terrible texters and it’s completely understandable for someone to just not be very good at that form of communication.
But when the person you’re trying to form a relationship with takes hours or days to text you back and they respond with a ‘yea’ or a ‘haha,’ get out of there.
It’s also very telling whether their response halts the conversation or if it continues the conversation and allows you to join in and discuss your thoughts and feelings as well. In short, you can probably tell relatively easily whether or not they’re responding to just check something off of their list and keep you slightly interested and hopeful in whatever the relationship might be, or if they’re actually invested and interested in what you might want to say to them.
And even if they respond in a lengthy and thoughtful manner, but you’re not really excited about the prospect of having to wait days to get that response, we understand that too and you’re allowed to jump ship at any point with no guilt or pressure to stay.
3. You Feel Like They’re Stringing You Along to Mess With You
Let’s call microghosting what it is: emotional abuse. While there are various forms and levels of emotional abuse, abuse is still abuse and it should never be excused or brushed off.
Mandy Mee, an established dating coach, talks about the lasting effects that microghosting can have on a person’s psyche.
She says, “Full-blown ghosting is uncivil, but at least the ghoster shows a level of immaturity by taking the easy way out and never returning.” She differentiates that from microghosting, saying “There’s an element of narcissism [with microghosting]: it’s as though the ghoster has mixed intentions and wants control over the type of relationship they have with you instead of having the courage to express how they genuinely feel.”
When you’re being micro-ghosted, you’re being manipulated over a long period of time because the person who is leading you on doesn’t have enough courage to just end the relationship for whatever reason.
While some people are perfectly okay with being in these kinds of relationships and they have an agreement with each other, it’s an emotionally taxing and frankly very unhealthy trap that we can often fall into, especially when we really like the person and want to be with them.
We understand that it’s easier said than done, but if you find yourself in this kind of unhealthy pattern, you might want to start to think about what it is that you really want to get out of the relationship that you’re in and if the person you’re currently talking to will provide that for you, or if you’ll just continue to be strung along if you continue to date them.
Can You Ever Come Back from Microghosting?
If you’re currently dealing with someone who micro-ghosted you in the past and you’re wondering if you should invest in a relationship with them now, we would advise you to look at the patterns and efforts that they’ve shown you as of late in order to properly assess if they’ve changed their ways.
Relationships are all about growth and change and it’s good to grow from your past, but it’s also good to put boundaries in your life if you don’t think that the person you’re talking to will be good for you in the long run.
It’s up to your discretion whether or not you think being in a relationship with that person will benefit you, but it is always okay and even necessary sometimes to walk away from relationships that cause more harm than good.