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I’ve taken a lot of rejection in my day, believe me. But very rarely does a woman ever actually tell me that she’s not interested. So, how do I typically get rejected? Via that awful practice where romance goes to die: ghosting.

Ghosting is a relatively new term coined to describe the act of disappearing from a relationship. Usually it happens early on, after only a date or two, but sometimes it can come out of nowhere later down the line. When someone ghosts, it’s as if they were never there—no returned calls, no explanation of what went wrong. Zilch. Nothing. Nada.

What’s so bad about this exit strategy? Just about everything. When a woman ghosts, I’m left wondering. It could be that she hates me. Or maybe she likes me so much that she was scared to move forward. It could be that she died in a fiery car crash. There’s also the chance that I unknowingly insulted everything sacred to her. Ghosting, as you may know if you’ve ever experienced it, just leaves one giant question mark.

So allow me, if you will, to confront this ghosting problem head-on. Because I’m a man, I’m tackling this issue from a man’s perspective, but I know that guys are famous for ghosting, too—so ladies, I feel your pain. I think we would all be better off if we could just tell each other what we’re thinking, even if that means saying, “I’m not interested.”

It Breeds Confused Men

I’m a stats guy, for sure. When I’m playing for my rec league basketball team, I’m counting my makes, misses, and turnovers in my head. When I’m playing slow-pitch softball, I keep track of my hits, walks, RBI, and errors. And when I go on dates, I’m making note of the times that I made her laugh a little harder than usual or when she didn’t seem as thrilled about something I said. Maximize the plusses, minimize the minuses, and I figure I’ve got a good chance to win her heart.

This makes things all the more frustrating when I thought the date went great, yet when I follow up later I never hear back from her ever again. Or even worse, when I follow up, and she agrees to another date—maybe she even seems excited about it—but then she flakes.

It really stings. And while the pain will eventually go away, two lingering aches seem to remain, despite your best efforts to the contrary: (1) I have no idea what I did wrong (if anything), so I find myself second-guessing just about everything I do (or am), and (2) I’m always wondering if the next woman I go out with will drop off the face of the earth without warning.

Believe me, ladies, you don’t want a population of single dudes roaming the earth both second-guessing themselves and wondering how much they can trust women any more than they already do. So don’t ghost ’em!

It’s an Opportunity for Him to Step Up His Game

As a man who likes to do the pursuing, there’s often a delicate balance to strike between coming on too strong and not pursuing with quite enough fervor. Any dude who has been actively pursuing women can tell you of a time when he came on too strong and scared somebody off. That regretful experience is always in the back of our minds, and we want to do everything we can to keep from repeating the same mistake.

I’ll never forget one time I had been out with a woman a time or two, and things had gone pretty well. Problem was, we lived eighty miles apart. I thought I was being resourceful by proposing we meet in the middle for our next date. Suffice it to say, she was not impressed. But instead of ghosting, she communicated that she wanted more from me. She wasn’t whiny or disrespectful about it, but she was confident enough rejecting my idea that it was clear I needed to step up my game. I did, and we ended up having a really great long-term relationship.

Then there’s Malcolm. Malcolm was once told by Vickie that she was spending too much time with him. Her job was suffering, her other relationships were suffering, and she just seemed tired all the time. Even though she loved spending time with him, she saw this as a serious problem. Enough so that she decided to break up with Malcolm. Luckily, for them both, she actually came to Malcolm and told him these things. Malcolm, as it turns out, was happy to adjust his approach to make it work for them both. Now they’re married with two beautiful children.

All of this goes to show that even if you find yourself a little unsure, if he still seems like a good guy, I suggest giving him a little nudge instead of disappearing altogether. Either he does try harder, and you can see what he’s really made of, or he’ll go away, and you can both move on with your lives.

It Gives You Both an Opportunity to Grow

Even if you end up going your separate ways, there are plenty of good things that come from telling a man the hard truth. For one, you might actually help him improve his life. I recently had a woman tell me straight-up that she expects a man to actually make plans with her instead of him just texting her whenever he might be free. I didn’t like hearing that, but I needed to hear it because I don’t want to be that guy.

What should you do if you don’t really have anything you can say to a guy other than, “I just don’t think we’re a good match”? Try this: Tell him, “I just don’t think we’re a good match.” Here’s the thing: There are a lot of dudes out there (myself included) who struggle at times with confidence in relationships and with women in general. As much as you think you might be crushing all his hopes and dreams, you also might be doing the opposite.

As disappointing as it might be to have a relationship with a great girl end, the fact that I had a relationship with a great girl that ended cordially is something to be proud of, not ashamed. I consider it a feather in my cap that I gave it a try and that we were adults about it. We can be a little wary to communicate our feelings sometimes, and many of us aren’t good at it. In fact, that’s likely the reason for some of this ghosting nonsense. But there’s only one way to get good at it, and that’s to do it.

So, the next time you’re tempted to stop responding to his texts and phone calls and hope he just goes away, I suggest taking a minute or two to tell him that you won’t be responding to his texts and phone calls anymore—and maybe even why. It might hurt his feelings, and it’ll probably be awkward, but you’ll likely both be better off for it.

Photo Credit: Jen Trahan