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What Do We Owe Each Other?

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve ghosted people. I’ve exchanged messages with men on online dating sites only to let their communications go unanswered when I realized we weren’t a match. I’ve been ghosted, too. It seems to be part of the modern online dating experience.

It’s as if society has arrived in a place where, by tacit mutual agreement, we’ve decided that we don’t owe anyone anything. At the same time, there seems to be a universal hunger for connection, a desire to breach the social media chasm and be in the company of someone who loves us.

It’s lonely and disconnected to ghost and be ghosted. So why do it? I’ve taken an informal poll and it seems that this practice of disappearing before and/or after dates is seen as a way to “spare one another’s feelings.” I don’t think feelings should be spared. I think we should have the courage to tell the truth.

A couple weeks ago, I went on a date. (I know, a few months ago, I had a boyfriend, but I ended things with him after realizing that we were incompatible). This new guy and I went mini-golfing. I knew about 15 minutes into it that I had no intention of seeing him again. Nevertheless, we played the requisite 18-holes, made the obligatory small-talk, and hugged goodbye when it was over. The next day, he texted to ask me out again. I replied, telling him that I enjoyed meeting him but didn’t feel a connection. We had an adult exchange. It was both uncomfortable and authentic.

So why am I writing about this? The mini-golf experience prompted me to rethink conventional dating philosophy. It’s not that I’ve been going around regularly ghosting people, but nor have I always dealt directly. I’ve let things peter out when I could’ve been upfront. I’ve opted for wishy-washy, ambiguous language and vague denials, as opposed to direct communication. No more! I’ve realized that “being nice” can actually be mean. From here on out, I’m going to be an unfiltered dater. I’m not suggesting that I’m planning on navigating the dating experience telling people exactly what I think and being brutal about it, but I do believe that dating has been an area of my life in which I haven’t been completely authentic and that I owe it to myself and the man I hope to meet and marry to be as transparent there as I strive to be everywhere else. So I’m taking on a challenge. From here on out, I am going to practice authenticity in the realm of love and romance. I’m gonna say what I mean and mean what I say. Who’s with me?

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