Sliding Out of the DMs
When a polite decline doesn’t work, it’s time for the big guns.
By Flavia Martinez, Amherst College
In an era of constant virtual communication, it’s only natural that ghosting has come into existence.
The guy from that one party two weeks ago who now has your number and won’t stop messaging? No thanks.
Maybe some time passes, and it’s hard to bluntly communicate that you’re not interested. When sending messages few and far between hasn’t worked, and a dwindling number of emojis simply aren’t getting the message across, it becomes time to take action by doing nothing.
On a small college campus, not replying can be a problem, because the chances of seeing the person in question are quite high. Not replying means risking an encounter with that person on campus and having to explain your radio silence, so ghosting entails a small roll of the dice.
For the person on the other end, non-response can hurt, but when it comes to someone whose relation to you is so minimal (i.e. the random guy from the bar), it’s not always worth the effort to tell that person that you’re not interested. Ghosting can be uncomfortable, but sometimes, it’s a move that’s necessary, especially when the sender of the message isn’t backing down.
Not responding is an empowering tool. Women should know that they don’t have to respond to aggressive messages or justify a continued response.
When it comes to ghosting, it’s important to evaluate the situation and the dynamic. Sure, everyone gets bored sometimes and might be inclined to reply, but feigning enthusiastic replies to someone you’re not interested in getting to know further, either personally or romantically, might lead them on.
Some people may feel the need to respond out of courtesy, but you’re not doing that person a favor. Responding when you have no desire to meet up with that person is a waste of everyone’s time. Do not feel the need to develop a topic of conversation out of politeness. Everyone loses.
In other cases, however, a woman may want to back out of the conversation and try to convey this politely to discourage further messages. When the other person is unrelenting, it becomes high time to ghost.
When it comes down to it, messaging takes up time, and time is precious. Especially when messaging a potential romantic interest, conversations can drag on and on, and no one dares to break a chain of messaging. To not reply is rude. Exchanging messages with friends or in group chats can become tiring, but it’s generally acceptable, and silencing notifications every once in a while to tune out is natural.
Sending messages and expecting a reply communicates that you want someone’s time, and when it comes to courting someone, time must be earned. If someone is aggressively sending you messages, you have the right to stop responding.
Aggressive courters need to know to back off, and sometimes, the only way to let them know is to simply stop replying. Women’s time is their time, and messaging someone, especially multiple messages at once, and expecting a reply, is a virtual way of asserting your presence in someone’s life.
Studies have found that men tend to take up more space than women. What is jokingly referred to as manspreading is quite real, and it relates to men’s authority of power and presence in a given space. Virtual manspreading is also quite real, with men dominating the comments section on virtual spaces as they would a classroom setting.
Men shouldn’t expect to take up women’s mental space, in the form of constant messaging, in the way they might inhabit a physical space. Men should understand when they’re encroaching on a woman’s personal mental space; they need to recognize when they’re manspreading their way into a woman’s piece of mind and her personal time.
Being direct and telling someone to give you space, to stop taking up mental space, is important, but oftentimes difficult.
When the first unwanted message slides into your inbox, it’s important to shut it down right from the start. Sometimes, people get your number when you don’t want them to. They ask and the situation is uncomfortable, and saying no seems impossible.
Saying no is the next step to feeling empowered, but sometimes, saying no comes with risks. The person could become increasingly aggressive or keep up an unwanted stream of questions about whether you have a boyfriend or not or other personal questions. No woman should have to give in to this, and if the person in question messages you, you have the right to not respond.
That person doesn’t understand the value of your time, and if they can’t understand that you’re uninterested, they don’t deserve to message you.
Ladies, cut the cord. It’s your time, and you don’t have to give someone your time so easily. Again, time must be earned. For someone to so frequently assert their virtual presence in your life requires that they have an actual, physical presence in your life. Boys from the bar don’t deserve your time.
And, furthermore, when it comes to ghosting an aggressive messager, hurt feelings sometimes don’t matter, because if a person can so aggressively message you, then they should easily be able to find someone else to aggressively message, right?
Ladies, don’t be afraid to ghost someone. Ghosting can be brutal, but sometimes it’s necessary.
For more interesting facts about male and female interaction, take the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity’s gender communications quiz.