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Written by Lucy O'Brien
Born on TikTok, a new anti-ghosting movement is encouraging women to ask for post-date feedback from their previous flames in the form of a survey.
Ghosting, breadcrumbing, gaslighting, orbiting: if you’ve used apps at all over the past few years, then you’ll be well-acquainted with these dating terms. The endless anonymity offered to us when dating online has created something of a love-seekers minefield; it allows us to make instant, distance-defying connections one minute and get left on read with no explanation the next. It can be a disheartening reality, but it isn’t going anywhere. Recent research by Imperial College London even predicted that by 2035, more people will meet their partner(s) online than offline.
For many people navigating the apps, it inevitably leads to a whole lot of ghosting at some point – being left with no closure, no explanation and sometimes even without the “sorry, have a nice life” break-up text after spending time together. In fact, according to a 2020 study, this will be an experience familiar to over 61% of female online daters. It can send the mind spiralling: was it something I did? What turned them off? Given the chance, though, would you want to ask your ghoster these questions?
Well, a growing number of women are doing just that. Born on TikTok, a new anti-ghosting movement is encouraging women to ask for post-date feedback from their previous flames in the form of sending multiple choice forms, questionnaires or even a simple text asking for formal, business-like feedback on why the date didn’t work out and why they chose to ghost. “Please check all the reasons why you ghosted me,” wrote one user to a guy she hadn’t heard from since their first date after matching on Tinder. “What was the moment you realised we weren’t a match?” another poses on their Google form.
This was the case for 27-year-old Stef Dag, whose post-date feedback survey went viral on TikTok after sharing that she was ghosted by the same guy twice and wanted to do something about it. “Rather than do my usual breakup routine (wallow, create a false narrative in my head, publicly post his name and address online), I decided to take back some control and just go straight to the perpetrator for answers. I had nothing to lose,” Stef recalls.
While her survey asked for self-reflective feedback such as: “Please provide a sentence on why you did it [ghost],” she also provided sarcastic, flippant answer prompts like: “You were intimidated by my beauty,” or “I’m too good for you.” Comedic and contemptuous in nature as it may be, the prompts aimed to embarrass the respondent and remind him that people are worth more than being ghosted with no explanation.
“I think the girlies are absolutely fed up with non-committal, wishy-washy men. More importantly, we’re bored with the behaviour. It’s not exciting, it’s not mysterious, it’s not hot: it’s actually a huge ick. I think these call-outs and surveys are a way for us to remind everyone that we’re not the punchline here,” Stef adds.
And she’s not the only one who feels this way. The TikTok post now stands at over 580,000 views, and the hashtag #PostDateSurvey has attracted over 769,000 visitors on the app. Not to mention #AntiGhosting, which has racked up a huge 4.9 million views.
“I first saw the idea on TikTok, which planted the seed, as I would never have thought of it,” says 30-year-old Kristina Asdis. “I guess it came from [a place of] annoyance and frustration as to why someone’s just stopped talking to me. I was hoping I would learn a bit about myself and how I’m perceived by others.”
But like Stef, it was also a way to teach her recipients that their words (or lack thereof) can cause real emotional damage: “It was a way to speak up and indirectly show them that their behaviour wasn’t great,” says Kristina. “If we voice it to them calmly and rationally then it can help them see that their actions can hurt and confuse others. It actually felt kind of freeing and therapeutic.”
In both cases, neither managed to tempt responses out of their ghosters – a silent reaction that, funnily enough, they did not seem shocked to receive. Nonetheless, both Stef and Kristina felt it was making the point that mattered, not the feedback.
There are, of course, also downsides to this trend. “Asking for feedback is courageous and shows a willingness to face issues, so I applaud the bold request,” psychotherapist Charlotte Fox Weber tells Stylist. “There are situations that justify ghosting – when there’s abuse or communication of any sort that feels truly dangerous,” she reminds us. While these feedback surveys are a fun and cathartic way to cleanse our hearts from unrequited flames, they’re not an excuse to emotionally blackmail or guilt someone that doesn’t feel the same.
For participants in the trend, it seems that they learned more from the experience itself than from the answers they set out to receive from the surveys. This is certainly the case for Stef, who reflects that “this trend has resonated with so many people because it’s a way for us to find commonality in the experience of dating in an age where so many people are seemingly emotionally stunted and terrible at communication.
“That being said, I don’t think it’s our job to figure it out. [It’s better to] train yourself to be turned off by that behaviour,” Stef adds. Kristina agrees. While the experience is empowering, it is not one that she feels the need to repeat. “I’ve learned that it’s better to try to find ways to forget someone who ghosts. It’s easy to dwell on all the reasons why they ghosted you, but I think it’s healthier to let them go.”
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