Get Well

Self and the City: Ghosts

by Jessa Chargois

Self and the City is a column intended to increase visibility and dialogue surrounding mental health, relationships, harmful stereotypes, and the necessity for self-care and vulnerability. Self and the City will be headlined by Jessa Chargois on a bi-weekly basis. Submissions and guest columnists are welcomed to send work to hannah@chillhouse.com

I believe in the power of transparency. I believe in the necessity of open communication and affirmation of connections, even when this is far from the easy choice. I believe that the most colorful and vibrant way to live is through expressing your love and admiration for those around you. I believe in pursuing experiences that bring joy and light in your life, even when they may intimidate or challenge you. 

I am a single woman living in New York City. Over the past year, I have learned the importance of romancing the individual, in other words, spending intense alone time with yourself, free of judgement or criticism. Through this pain and journey, I have reconnected with my deepest ambitions and darkest fears. I have become more confident in my ability to establish meaningful connections throughout all facets of my life. While in the past, I may have relied on external forms of validation, I am working on finding inward affection. I am no longer starved of love.

I am a single woman dating in New York City. I often embrace limitless possibilities, the chance to meet someone new who can open your world to new realms of passion and creative endeavors. However, other times, it can be exhausting. Contrary to some advice, I am of the belief that most dates should be just fine. It only takes one connection to blossom into a beautiful budding life-altering romance. Those special butterflies lose their potency if they become too common. While some connections are instantaneous, others are born through a slow burn, turning into butterflies over time. I am of the belief that both types of connections are equally as valuable; slow burns and combustible electricity. While connections are memorable, plenty of dates will fail to impress. However, regardless of the characteristic of the connection, I am of the mentality that once you find your “click”, you fight for it. However, I want to emphasize that I believe in expressing your honest feelings. I want to clarify that under no circumstances should you let your desire to pursue a connection allow you to lose sight of yourself. 

While sparks are magical, lack of communication is infuriating. I am also of the belief that when it comes to dating, transparency is the best policy. As a young woman with an incredibly busy schedule, I often try to make it clear when I am no longer interested in a suitor’s, an incredibly romantic way to say Tinder matches, attempts. Part of the cycle of dating includes closure, the uncomfortable and cringe-worthy goodbyes, or lack thereof. I firmly believe that leading on someone is one of the worst immature acts of selfishness we can commit to one another. Hence, I actively protest “ghosting”; the unforgivable act of ignoring all forms of communication from a suitor for long periods of time…possibly indefinitely. 

Recently, an electric spark fizzled to a slow burn. Emboldened by pure confidence and the realization that too many of us take this concept of “dating” too seriously, I faced my frustration head on. After weeks of no response and the desire to find some closure, I sent a GIF of a ghost to a grown man, a “click” who has found a spot in my hopeless romantic heart. Laughing at my own confidence, I found comfort in ignoring all the useless games too often played over texts. I put my phone away and went on to enjoy my night. What followed was a stream of emotionally charged paragraphs sent from the love interest in question. This “click” poured his heart out, explaining his fear and mistakes, offering a sincere and mature apology for his past actions and disrespect. While a relationship may never manifest between this “click”, dubbed “Utah”, may never turn into a life-altering romance, he taught me a new lesson. Why do we take our romantic selves so seriously? Why is it that we are trained to believe we must act a certain way over? Why do we believe that in hetero-normative relationships, the man must text first? Why do we torture ourselves with antiquated stereotypes? 

Recently, I have begun to alter the way I interact with romance. I have found joy in sobriety, planning dates with activities built in. I have laughed with strangers at comedy shows, cheered on basketball teams in Madison Square Garden, sung to the beat of a new tune at small concerts, shouted answers at trivia, and brought a date to an informative seminar on sex toys, yes, sex toys. Too often, dates that are centered around drinking can feel like an inappropriate interview, with life or death on the line. I want to laugh and talk about subjects outside of our occupations and upbringings. While that is not to disregard the importance of these facts, it is merely meant to shift the tone of these dates. Romance should not feel like a chore. It should be exciting, offering a breath of fresh air within our mundane routines. I argue the importance of equal engagement, avoiding gendered antiquated stereotypes. One year ago, I would have never felt brave enough to send a GIF of a ghost to a romantic interest. Today, I marvel at the pure humor and wit that I possessed in that moment. I highly encourage every reader to take into consideration your mental and emotional well-being and fight for the closure you deserve. Text your ghosts. Take into consideration their feelings and the pain you may have unintentionally caused by avoiding serious conversations. Apologize to those you may have “accidentally” “ignored”. Text your crush, because what are you waiting for? 

Undenidabley, no one wants to be rejected. We avoided situations where we can face this within our careers, social interactions, and especially, within our romantic endeavors. While many view “ghosting” as a soft let down, I’d argue that ignoring a conversation does not magically terminate the need for this closure. Consequently, “ghosting” causes pain. It leaves others wondering and confused, and potentially, sets up others to accrue a fear of abandonment. Too often, we place the blame on ourselves for not being “enough”. On the contrary, I have found that a “ghosting” almost never has anything to do with the recipient of the silent treatment. Romance is undoubtedly messy, however, it can also be compassionate and empathetic. Through vulnerable conversations, we can begin to create the authenticity we are all seeking in this over stimulating world of modern dating. Overwhelmed with a plethora of apps and opportunities to find a connection, is it possible we are all seeking the same thing? Someone to fight for us? Someone to hold us close and choose us in a world of limitless options? 

I am a single woman living in New York City.

I am a single woman dating in New York City. 

I am a single woman growing into a strong, beautiful, intelligent, and emphatic single woman in New York City.

Over the course of a year, I have found joy in romantic honesty. I am no longer fearful of asking for what I want, which includes closure. I believe that the most colorful and vibrant way to live is through expressing your love and admiration for those around you. I believe in pursuing connections that bring joy and light in your life, even when they intimidate or challenge you. I believe in fighting for romance. I believe in taking our romantic selves a bit less serious. I believe in transparency, compassion, and less hauntings. 

Feature Image via Jessica Golightly

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