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The Morning Moot Newsletter

It’s Okay To Ghost After A First Date

Orli Matlow


Yes, I am a coward, but I am not a hypocrite. I treat people the way I want to be treated: by going gentle into that good night. 


Most of the time, a first date is not a particularly intimate experience. It’s one step above prolonged eye contact with a stranger on the subway. It is an encounter in which two strangers recite their resumes to each other. If we met for a drink, having spent roughly 90 minutes together, and you didn’t feel a frisson of attraction, I’d rather you not tell me about it and simply peace out. 


Most etiquette guides suggest sending a “thanks but no thanks” text. A “I didn’t feel a connection, but you’re great and good luck on your journey!” But how is one supposed to respond to that? “Thanks, you too!” Sure, that’s an easy thing to do, but it is often unnecessary. If somebody doesn’t initiate contact after meeting, with an inside joke from the first date or an invitation for a second, then it’s safe to assume that an ever-elusive connection was not felt. I don’t need you to tell me that—I was there too!


I’m hoping the fact that I don’t feel compelled to go through the motions means that other people feel the same way. I don’t want to hurt anybody, which is precisely why I’m too chickenshit to tell somebody that I don’t Like Them Like That. 


The best case scenario after a disappointing first date is mutual ghosting, in which neither party reaches out to the other. There is no uncomfortable conversation or prolonged communication. We simply move on to the next disappointing first date, dry, rinse, repeat.


But if we go on a second date, and a third, and make it to the level at which you’re saved as a name in my phone (and real last name, not “Jeremy Hinge”), then you better say goodbye. It’s not hard to do nicely. Be honest and say that you met someone else (if you did, in fact, meet someone else), or lie and tell me you’re simply Not Ready for someone as beautiful and brilliant and self-actualized as I am. The best way to reject somebody is by telling them they’re too good for you, even if it’s a lie. It’s a rejection wrapped in a compliment, the proverbial spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. 


Finding a genuine and meaningful connection in this world is among the hardest tasks there is—even harder than folding a fitted sheet. It’s a process of trial and error, one so fraught that I just wrote an entire essay to rationalize my avoidance behavior. May we all find somebody whose avoidance behaviors complement our own.

If you enjoyed today’s moot, check out Orli’s Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok,  and website.  If you are feeling generous, please consider donating to CHiPS (Community Help in Park Slope), Orli’s charity of choice.

*For each moot, we generate a cover image using  DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'It’s Okay To Ghost After A First Date' in the style of Roy Lichtenstein, Orli Matlow's artist of choice.*

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DALL·E 2023-08-09 17.42.45 - a painting of a ghost on his phone in the style of Roy Lichte
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