Is Austin really the worst city when it comes to ghosting?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Relationship company Match recently dubbed Austin men the “Worst Behaved Men” in America.

Based on data from its Singles in America Survey, Match reported that men in Austin are 549% more likely than other singles to “ghost.”

To clarify, “ghosting” is what Match describes as when someone disappears after a few days, weeks, or months of consistent communication and/or dates with no explanation.

Match also says Austin men are 400% more likely to “breadcrumb” and 297% more likely to “come back as a zombie.”   

They define “zombieing” as “when a ghost comes back from the dead, weeks or months later — usually in the form of sporadic text messages or interaction via social media.” “Breadcrumbing” is defined as “keeping in touch with someone via messages or other social media engagement as a way to keep your foot in the door with little to no intention of wanting a relationship.” 

Match also said that single men in Austin were 347% more likely to constantly check their phone on a first date (a habit 90% of the women surveyed said they didn’t want).

Of all the people Match surveyed in Austin, 65% said they’ve breadcrumbed in Austin, 75% said they’d ghosted someone and 59% said they’d been a zombie. All of these rates in Austin were the highest of all the cities listed in the Match survey.

Match surveyed 5,000 singles from across the nation to get these findings

The results were released in February of 2018. It’s unclear how many of the people surveyed were in Austin and what the demographic breakdown was of those surveyed.

What dating coaches say

Austin-based dating coach Crista Beck advises people to take this report with a grain of salt.

Beck, who has been working in this field for a decade, has concerns about how comprehensive the data is and how many people in Austin were actually surveyed.

“What’s their purpose of actually saying that?”she asked.

“I felt like it was painting a negative picture of Austin single men and it kind of plays into this fairytale that a lot of women buy into that there are no good men out there, and I wanted to put a stop to it.”

Beck acknowledges ghosting is a “typical thing” people face in the dating pool today. She works with people around the country and based on the experience of her clients, she doesn’t believe it’s any more prevalent in Austin than in any other city.

She explained that ghosting used to be referred to as when someone ended a relationship by refusing to communicate with their partner.

“We’ve collapsed ghosting into any form of communication when someone disappears,” she said, observing that people now say they’ve been ghosted after someone they’ve been messaging through a dating app all of a sudden stops responding.

“I just want to invite people to consider if you’re talking to someone online, it’s not real life yet, you’re not in a relationship, and its best not to get your heart involved until it actually starts to move offline,” Beck said.

She cited a Pew Research Center study from 2016 which noted that a third of people who use online dating have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online.

“So as a single person who is committed to finding a long term relationship, it’s absolutely imperative to be able to sort through the people who are wanting to meet up in real life and who aren’t and not get caught up in the constant texting,” Beck said. “If you’ve been texting someone for a week or two or three, and its not moving anywhere in real life, cut your losses.”

Of the single men she works with in Austin, Beck said:

“Yes, there are men who are just looking for something fun and are just looking for something light and there are a lot of men that are looking for a long-term relationship.”

She explained that many of her clients just struggle with figuring out how to communicate with people on chats online or via dating apps, but they do fine once they meet people in person.

“Look at how people show up instead of putting so much weight on these messages,” she advised.

Shaina Singh, a licensed psychotherapist and dating coach in Austin, explained that she was not surprised to see the numbers reported by Match. She works primarily with people in Austin.

“Almost everyone will report that they get ghosted,” she said. “Especially because now Austin has such a large single pool and there are so many single people who are actively dating, it definitely happens a lot in Austin.” 

“A lot of gay men and straight women will report getting ghosted,” she added.

She said that with the number of people living in Austin who are not from Austin, this may not be a phenomenon unique to the city. Singh said her clients in New York and California report similar challenges.

She has her own theory about why ghosting has become so prevalent.

“There’s a big fear of vulnerability, and I think it’s really easy for people to hide behind their phones if they get some interaction from someone and then they immediately pull back — it’s easy and I think it’s extremely lazy,” she said.

She encourages her clients never to ghost others, even if they’ve been ghosted. It’s part of what she calls “dating with integrity.”

Singh noted that there are “a lot of bad manners” in the dating world today that can do emotional damage. As a psychotherapist, she talks with many people on her couch about the hurt they’ve experienced as a result of ghosting. The hurt can take a toll and she advises clients who’ve spent several months online dating without finding what they’re looking for to take breaks.

“I remind my clients that ghosting has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person,” she said.

She encourages her clients to keep an eye out for red flags but admits that sometimes ghosting can be tough to avoid.

“You kind of have to grow some thick skin, I am very blunt about that,” she said. Singh encourages clients to view dating as a job interview, you may love the job but you may not hear back after the interview.

“If someone has ghosted you, treat it like a job interview, wish them the very best and move on,” Singh said.

What dating platforms say

A spokesperson for Austin-based dating app Bumble explained that “ghosting is a behavior that should not be tolerated “

All new users on Bumble are now required to take a “ghosting vow” before they begin dating.

Last fall, Bumble launched a “No Ghosting on Bumble” campaign and added features to prevent ghosting such as reminders that go out to people who have not replied to messages, “urging them to either politely end the conversation or continue it.”

Bumble is hopeful their most recent in-app addition will prevent ghosting as well, users can now make video calls and video chats with one another without exchanging personal contact information.

Another dating platform, Coffee Meets Bagel, told KXAN that their app was created to combat ghosting. A spokesperson for Coffee Meets Bagel pointed KXAN to a survey which found that more than one in 10 dating app users spend over 14 hours swiping per week.

The spokesperson added that their platform hopes to cut down on bad behaviors and swipe fatigue by offering a smaller number of “curated matches once per day.”

She noted that nine out of ten CMB users are looking for long term relationships.

“I think the biggest trend I’ve seen is the online dating fatigue and ghosting-type behaviors that became super common, mostly (I think) because of the swipe model that has become popularized through Tinder,” said CMB co-CEO Dawoon Kang. “It’s sad because I think that even when people want something more meaningful, they ghost because they’ve been ghosted before or it’s just too overwhelming.”

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