Illustrated by Beatriz Espinoza, animated by Alexandra S. Badiu

As we leave the restaurant from our second date, he tells me he had an awesome time and that he’s glad I messaged him on Bumble. He walks me to my car, hugs me and says, “Let me know that you get home safely.” I respond with a simple, “OK, I will,” trying to remain cool, calm and collected as I internally freak out. Driving away, all I can think is what a great night I just had. He is so cute and really sweet, and I think this could really turn into something.

I rush home, anxiously awaiting his response to my text that I got back safely.

15 minutes go by, then 30, then an hour. Nothing. Maybe he just fell asleep? I mean, it’s only 8:45 but he did mention how much he sleeps … I’m sure he’ll respond in the morning.

But the next two days go by and NOTHING. Nada, zip, zilch.

A million thoughts are running through my mind. Did I do something wrong? Did he get in a car accident on his way home and I just don’t know and he’s in some hospital somewhere dying? I feel like such an idiot … is he playing hard to get? Why isn’t he texting me? I thought things were going so well. Ugh, these dating apps are stupid, I’m deleting them.

Ten minutes later, however, I’m pulling up Bumble and Tinder once again and even downloading Hinge.

I never heard from this guy again and sadly, it haunted me for about two and a half weeks. I didn’t do anything wrong though, right?

You might be thinking, “Wow, this girl is lame, telling us about her sad dating life while also trying to promote dating apps.” Unfortunately, this is neither a sad story or an advertisement (I suppose you’re still allowed to think my dating life is lame though.)

The real issue is with “ghosting.” If you don’t already know what “ghosting” is, Urban Dictionary defines it as the “act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date”.

Basically, it’s when everything seems to be going fine with someone until, suddenly and without warning, they just stop talking to you. It’s as if they’ve died, and you’re left with the ghost of them to keep you company as you try and figure out what the hell happened.

The sad truth is this experience doesn’t just happen to a few people, it happens A LOT (raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a ghost, insert hand-raising emoji here).

We’ve all been there. You go on a first or second or even third date, you have great conversation, he opens the door for you, you offer to pay the tip, and you leave the date feeling “all the feels.” But for some reason that you are left unaware of, he just stops talking to you.

I suppose there are multiple levels of this “ghosting” process though. If you’re dealing with a stage five clinger or stalker, ditching that person is the natural choice. On the other hand, if that person is generally kind and shows interest in you, doesn’t it make you feel guilty leaving them clueless and upset?

Is there a certain line you don’t cross when ghosting someone? Is it acceptable if you’ve never actually met that person, or is it still rude to cut someone off without reasoning or notice?

Mackenzie Lachey, a graduate luxury and fashion management student, admitted that she has been guilty of “ghosting” before, but never to someone she had a date with or expected to ever see again.

“I have definitely gotten someone’s number or given mine to someone and later changed my mind, so I don’t text or call back,” said Lachey. “I think once you have established meaningful contact with someone, however, like going on a date, you owe that person the decency and respect to tell them you’re not interested rather than just disappear on them.”

Whether you’ve been the “ghoster” or the “ghostee,” the situation, as a whole, royally blows.

Our generation turns to these outlets like Bumble and Tinder to find dates, meet friends and now even to find jobs. With human interaction being such a delicate and sought-after experience, why are we treating people like “just a Bumble girl” or “just a Tinder date?”

As you can probably already tell, I’ve been ghosted a time or two, or three … but I have never just stopped communication with someone else without any reasoning or contact. If I go on a date and just don’t feel the connection, I straight up tell that person it’s just not going to work out.

The art of expressing your feelings and confrontation has died out, and it’s a shame. Speaking your mind and letting others know how you feel is a way to ease tension and settle confusion. It can even relieve stress if you’re in a situation dealing with work or school. The interactions you have every day with your peers, professors and family members are no different than the interactions you have with someone you may decide to date.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the person you’re dating simply told you how they felt, instead of stringing you along for an endless ride of the “what did I do wrong” saga? Life would be much simpler if we all learned how to communicate with each other. Confrontation is a hard skill to master, and no one does it perfectly, but we all know practice makes perfect. The more one-on-one, in-person communication you have with others, the better. You’ll feel more natural and those tough conversations will become easier.

Next time you use Bumble or Tinder, I challenge you to call the person you’re messaging. All too often do we find ourselves messaging someone on these apps and end up meeting them for the first time without ever hearing their voice. You can gain a lot of information and insight on a person based on the way they talk. Get to know them on a conversation based platform before you jump into anything too serious. This way, even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel more connected, and comfortable speaking on the matter.

Most of all, if you’ve been on a few dates with someone and you’ve lost interest, got too busy for a relationship, reconciled with your ex or some other specific circumstance that prevents you from talking to this person anymore, have the courage to say so. Spare them the haunting agony of wondering if they did something to drive you away. Instead of wasting time over a ghost, they can move on to the living and find someone worth their time.