How can I ditch thee? Let me count the ways

10 years ago

Let’s see, a couple of years ago there was the about to be divorced friend of a friend who had dinner with me one evening, proclaimed his interest in doing all sorts of things together in the future, and then didn't email or call; behaviors, that, at the time left me totally shocked (I thought that if someone said they wanted to see you and then changed their mind, they’d pass that knowledge on.)

Last week, there was my friend G, who had been dating my friend Y, and when I asked how things were going, said casually, “Oh, I got ditched.” Ditched? I queried, and found out that after a weekend together, G had become a non-person to Y, left off the twitter list, the email thread, and the phone dialer.

Then, a couple days ago, there was my friend Aurina (not her real name), who went to the trouble to write me a long email explaining that she’d made the decision, 18 months ago, to banish me from her life, but now, after some reflection (and her acquiring a dog) I was welcome back. How had she communicated our friendship moving to the non-friendship stage? Simple—she’d stopped responding to my emails.

In the days of social networks, always-on PDAs, real time tweets and FriendFeed links that update at the speed of light—and are visible to every Looky Lou perusing your account, deleting friends when things cool off can be a highly visible activity (as Xeni Jardin and Violet Blue each discovered when Xeni deleted 60+ posts and comments off her personal blog BoingBoing after the two apparently had a falling out). Therefore, the more politic of us now seem to do what corporate cowards have managed so adroitly for a long time—avoid any dramatic breaks in public contact, but in private, cut the sucker off, perfecting, if you will, the art of being ditched.

Obviously, if you’re dating someone regularly and they stop responding to emails, voicemails, tweets and so on, it’s brush off time for sure, but how about when it’s a more casual relationship, a friendship, or a friends with benefits situation? Can you tell if the person is just busy for the moment, or if you’re truly being ditched?

G, who spent the weekend with Y and then found out Y had gone incommunicado, knew what was going down right off the bat. “When you’re twittering little jokes every day and then you hear nothing ,you know,” she explained. “When all of a sudden it’s radio silence, you know, especially after a couple of days.”
Interestingly though, G, like many of the people I talked to for this article, finds being ditched while remaining connected---kinda—by social media both politic and convenient. “Yeah ,it’s rude,” she says, “but it wasn’t really a big deal.”

Martin, another friend I mentioned all this to, says he ditches people all the time. “You just don’t answer their calls until they get the message,” he says, “but you keep following them on twitter, and appear on decent friend terms. Pretty soon, they get the message.”

So, if you’re the one who might have just been cut loose and you’re not sure if you’re thick as a post or your hot date’s just become really busy, here are some warning signs:

  • Partner stops answering phone when you call; you get the answering machine.
  • Call backs are never or infrequently and weirdly times, like while person is the BART or the car.
  • Twitters mention going out without you, plans you don’t know about.
  • Or, public tweets become means to communicate, rather than DMs or calls.
  • You’re connected on Facebook, maybe even still in a relationship, but your partner’s adding lots of people you don’t know. Daily.

Once the big freezola comes, you’ll find out that rather than leave town as a means of breaking up, your relationship has just abandoned real time—he (or she’s) not reachable, no way, no how.

On the other hand, if you’re the one who wants to let someone you’re seeing down easy, or who thinks non-communication might be the best way to have your sweetie let go, here’s some tips from the dark side:

  • If saying no loudly doesn’t work, try silence and see what happens
  • Staying connected via social network shows you care—but not enough to deeply engage
  • Tweeting your date—or your excitement about—someone else, is a powerful way to say bye-bye.
  • osting pictures on Facebook or flickr of you having fun with others sends the so-long message loud and clear—unless you caption them “I wish XX was here.”
  • Voice mail is good-bye mail if you never make any call backs.
  • If your sweetie does get through, pretend something is burning (your iPhone?), say you’ll call back and hang up. Crash and burn messages communicate clearly in that scenario.

]Have you been ditched via social media? Dumped via email (we all agree that's worse)? Share your stories here—as well as your strategies for letting-em down easy when it’s just been a few days—or the relationship was casual.

Meanwhile, posts from around the blogosphere on being dumped, social medias and so on that are well worth a read:

Tales from Under the Table: And then there were two
“I have decided that the main purpose of Facebook is to allow all your exes to track you down again. Oh sure, there will be some contact from ex-classmates, and old friends, but mostly, I think it was created so exes can rekindle some sort of contact.
Of all my major relationships, there are only two exes who have not tracked me down to date.”

Always Fishing: Facebook stalking the exes
“I don't go seeking out my ex-boyfriends on Facebook - or at all for that matter - sometimes it just happens that I'll catch one of them tagged in a picture and think, "oh god, you know so-and-so too?" or I'll hear snippets of their lives at parties and get curious.”

Who Invented Roses: Anatomy of a Breakup
“Silence continues. I am now a Very Worried Girlfriend. I stew all day. Also, I engage in extensive over analysis with girlfriends via gChat, email and phone. Thanks to my Google Stalking ability and eCrush’s shameless sense of self-promotion, I find out he is in Europe for business and probably has known about this trip for awhile.”

Ariel Waldman: Twitter, dating and death
“When you live in the same city as others that you have mutual connections with on Twitter, it’s a great platform for spontaneous meetups, dates, and occasionally meeting new people. The new form of dating is almost this passive, cheesy situation like yawning to put your arm around someone during a movie. The first ping involves someone saying something like they’re hungry, the returning pong suggest a location, and before you know it, there’s a rallying ping pong of Twitter replies to make an IRL (in real life) event happen.”

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