Heart in a Blender

The Eve 6 Guy explains why ghosting gets a bad rap

Plus, ’90s rocker Max Collins offers advice on what to do when your ex starts getting friendly with your Twitter mutuals.

Eve 6 Max Collins Heart in a Blender column illustration
Jack Koloskus

Greetings, keyboard warriors! Some stuff has happened since I wrote the last piece, huh? This is a fun, lighthearted advice column, but I’m hoping my editor will let me get away with smuggling in a quick “Fuck the Supreme Court.”

Anyway, in this installment, we explore whether or not ghosting is good and fine, actually, and what to do when your ex starts to get friendly with your Twitter mutuals. Let’s get into it.

Mr. Poet Dude

Dear Eve 6 Guy,

I recently swiped right on a dude, which was probably my first mistake. We were a match and instantly started having great conversation. We moved it off the app and on to texting. He was really interested when I told him about my Texas drawl, so I thought it’d be fun to start leaving in-text voice messages for him.

This led to a whole new level of conversation where we’d leave 10- to 20-minute voice messages for each other. We’d really dig in deep without having to actually speak in a back-and-forth conversation. I got to know quite a lot about him, him about me.

We built great intimacy, but the more I got to know about him, the less I liked him. The more he read his poetry to me, the more I found myself fast-forwarding through it because his voice sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard.

But I kept trying, because his first words to me were “Be careful, I’m fragile.” I wanted to honor that and give him a shot. Then, when he’d start asking me questions about whether I liked being kissed and if I wanted to be held, all I could think about was if he had halitosis.

Now, I get it, dating is rough. It’s like scraping-your-ass-with-a-cactus kind of rough.

For some dumb reason, I felt responsible for his feelings because he kept dumping stories about past traumas on me. I felt overwhelmed and somehow sucked into his drama. He kept making the excuse that he was intense because he’s a writer. I want to scream, “Bitch, I’m a writer, too, and I’m not half this dramatic!” I just never do.

Now, I get it, dating is rough. It’s like scraping-your-ass-with-a-cactus kind of rough. And I’ve built a fortress around me that even my Rapunzel-like hair cannot help a would-be suitor climb over. But it just seems that I find myself in these situations quite often. I’ve stopped ghosting people because I realized that it is too mean, to me and to them. I simply give a “No thank you,” wait to be yelled at, then say something sassy, block them, and move on.

But I’m not doing that with Mr. Poet Dude. I offered him friendship after clearly stating I wasn’t attracted to him. I had hoped he’d yeet himself from my life, but instead he keeps sending me voice messages that are over 10 minutes long in response to my two- to three-minute replies. And all his messages are about him. He makes everything about him!

I have a therapist who thinks I should give people a better chance to know me. She thinks that I shoot myself in the foot before I even make it to the coffee date. Perhaps I do. However, I think that I am a magnet for mediocre men who initially look promising. And I’m not a beauty queen — hell, I’m not even five feet tall.

I’ve deleted my dating apps a hundred times over, but I do not want to die alone and eaten by my cat. I’ll work on lowering my walls, but not my standards. How should I approach dating now? And what should I do about the voice-message poet?

—Distressed Damsel in Boston

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Hi Distressed Damsel in Boston,

You know when you’re at an airport and there’s an inexplicable high-pitched beeping sound that lasts for like 10 minutes and at first you wonder if you’re crazy because no one else seems to notice or care and then after a few minutes go by you stop paying attention to it, too, and only notice it again when the ringing inexplicably stops? That sound approximates the background dread I feel when I write these columns.

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy doing this. The dread is only moderately intrusive. The fear is that I will give what someone considers to be bad advice, they will write a 60-part thread about it, and I will be summarily main-charactered to death. Yes, this fear is all about me.

This might be that column, because despite the risks, I am duty-bound to tell you the truth as I see it, and I think ghosting gets a bad rap. Yes, there are many situations where it can be cruel or worse. In the first column, we discussed one such situation. The letter writer was ghosted after her suitor got what he wanted, which was, you guessed it: sex. This guy misrepresented himself to achieve an end, and that end involved the dispassionate use of the letter writer’s body. Not good. Not okay. Never okay.

He has decided that instead of reading the room he’s gonna set up furniture in it.

But this is not the dilemma you find yourself in, is it? No, your situation is very different — but also similar, if we apply some scrutiny. The way I see it, your voice-message pal is also employing his powers of manipulation. He is trying to make it as difficult as possible for you to stop talking to him. Whether he is aware of it or not, he is activating your perfectly human and even laudable sense of guilt. You don’t want to hurt his feelings. He knows that. And he has become the punisher.

You don’t owe this guy any more than you’ve already given him in the way of your time and your emotional energy. You have been pretty honest with him about your feelings toward him, and he has decided that instead of reading the room he’s gonna set up furniture in it. No. No way. Not every relationship, romantic or platonic, needs to last forever. People come into our lives; sometimes we’re glad they did, sometimes we’re not. Hopefully we learn something when we’re not, but there’s certainly no rule that says you have to martyr yourself for a person with whom you have zero chemistry.

Now up until this point, I’ve let you off pretty easy. I have, in fact, given you all the credit and the benefit of the doubt. That’s about to change. I hate to harsh your mellow, but I think you need to be really honest with yourself about what you might secretly be getting out of this relationship and why you haven’t in fact ghosted him. Does it feel good having someone around? Someone who’s more into you than you are them? Someone who poses zero risk to your sense of emotional security?

I don’t see this as a case of not giving an eligible suitor a chance but more of possibly giving an ineligible suitor a chance (i.e., time and attention) because you perceive them to be risk-free. This is worth looking at — and not just cursorily either, but deeply. Because if there is any truth to this, then you are in fact leading him on, even if you’ve been honest with him to a point. Assess this possibility with rigor but without self-flagellation. Just try to appraise it as objectively as possible.

Sometimes it is good and reasonable to ghost, both for you and for the ghostee.

In closing, sometimes it is good and reasonable to ghost, both for you and for the ghostee. The nature of social media and texting allows people pretty unnatural access to our time and energy. Boundaries are important! Once you’ve looked inward and done the work prescribed above, I feel you can send this guy one more message wherein you communicate your sentiments as candidly as possible without being cruel.

If he continues to message you — and I have a feeling he might — then I, the Eve 6 Guy, give you full permission to leave this dude on read. Do it with aplomb. Embrace your inner apparition and go forth in peace.


The Eve 6 Guy

Twitter weirdness

Dear Eve 6 Guy,

I was dating a nice lady for about five months. Not sure if it matters in the grand scheme of things, but I was the one to end the relationship, which she was more invested in than I was. The breakup was amicable and all, but then things got... weird.

I am terminally online, and since we broke up, she started following some of my close Twitter mutuals — none of whom I’ve met face-to-face — and interacting with them a bunch. When we were dating, she always said she didn't want me to tell my moderately large Twitter following who she was, so none of them knows that this is my ex.

This all feels weird and bad and like I’m being quietly cornered. But maybe I’m overreacting?

Do I DM these Twitter mutuals — whom I consider friends, despite never having actually met them — and be like, “Hey, this is my ex being weird?” Do I DM her — I’ve had very little contact with her since the breakup — and ask why she’s being weird? Do I just mute my ex and try to achieve peace with her being weird?

Or do I retreat to the mountains, where I won’t get internet, and become a complete hermit?

—Feeling Cornered

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Dear Feeling Cornered,

I can see where you’re coming from. This situation is a bit weird and pretty clearly retribution on her part for you ending the relationship. I feel like the question you should ask yourself is this: Why do you care? I don’t mean that flippantly. I mean really examine for a second why this bothers you.

You clearly weren’t that into this person when you were together. It doesn’t sound like she was particularly terrible or anything, but just that she wasn’t for you. Apply some scrutiny to your reasons for being upset: Is it because you feel like you have some claim on her? Is it because her behavior embarrasses you? Only the ego can be embarrassed, buddy. I’m not saying any of this from up on high. I would probably react the same way, because I also have an ego, and it can be a real motherfucker sometimes.

The way I see it, if this person didn’t harm you in any way, there’s no reason to issue a warning to your mutuals. Her behavior now may be petty, but it’s pretty easy to forgive and consequently overlook. I mean that literally: Look over it. Look above her inadequacies and above your own egoic response and find the high ground. There’s peace up there.

Muting people on Twitter is a consequence-free action, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

That said, if one of your mutuals starts to get flirtatious with your ex, I don’t think there’s harm in telling a person you consider to be a friend that you dated this woman. I could see it being strange not to. I would just caution against painting her in a bad light to mitigate your own hurt feelings or whatever. Just check your intent and say it with love. Emphasis on say it with love.

Don’t be like the guy from Third Eye Blind who, when he found out I was with someone he’d briefly dated, told me, “You know I fucked her, right?” Just say, “FYI, I see you’re getting close with this person, and I just wanted to let you know we dated because it sorta feels weird to withhold that. But go in peace; I have no issue with your having a friendship or relationship with her.”

It’s fine if the last part is a white lie. It falls into the category of aspirationally “acting as if,” which is a fundamentally loving exercise. Lastly, muting people on Twitter is a consequence-free action, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You’re not hurting anyone’s feelings, and you get to enjoy the sweet relief of out of sight, out of mind.

So look inward, examine your reasons for being upset, place loving intent behind any action you take, and last but not least, mute away.


The Eve 6 Guy

Read previous Heart in a Blender columns here. Have a question for the Eve 6 Guy that’s tech- or internet-related (Grindr woes, Twitter drama, etc.)? Send it to Eve6guy@inputmag.com.

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