Dr. Ruth, America’s favorite psychosexual therapist, talks about the new forms of rejection—ghosting, benching, orbiting, and breadcrumbing—in a new edition of the fun and comprehensive guide to sex. As app dating has evolved, so have those who abuse this new method of finding a partner. Not only do you need to know how to deal with rejection, but you have to know how to deal with it on social media.

That’s not to say that everyone you’d meet using the old methods had perfect manners, but I do find that some of these new ways of making people feel miserable are almost worse as they can be such time wasters.

"No ghosting!" — Dr. Ruth Westheimer

  • So, what is ghosting someone? You probably know, but in case you don’t, ghosting means someone just stops communicating without giving any reason why. Suddenly your texts and any other forms of communication might just as well have not been sent.

Would you ghost someone? If you would, or if you have, then you shouldn’t feel too badly if someone does it to you. If it’s behavior that you condemn, then chalk up being ghosted as part of the process of discovery and realize that you just learned something about this person that would have made him or her unacceptable to you in the long run.

  • Benching is when someone is stringing you along. It can be more harmful than ghosting because it leaves you hope and might cause you to wait for this person, which is just a waste of time. According to my philosophy, wasting time is the worst thing you can do since we all have so precious little of it. So, if you sense that you might be on the bench, forget about this person as quickly as possible and move on.
  • Orbiting occurs when you think you’ve been ghosted but discover that the person is still checking up on you on various social media sites. Is he/she still interested? Is this a form of flirting or just being curious? It’s hard to tell, which makes this habit very annoying.
  • Breadcrumbing occurs when someone is leaving a trail of social “breadcrumbs” so that you assume there’s some interest, but you don’t know for sure because there’s no direct contact, and you want to scream, “&^%* or get off the pot!”

Be careful of all of these new ways of being rude because they’re distractions. You’re in pursuit of love, and devoting psychic energy and time to these people who are hanging around on the periphery of your life is only going to delay you arriving at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

How to deal with rejection

Dating is a two-way proposition, and so you’re bound to be rejected occasionally, or maybe over and over. Dealing with rejection is hard but becomes less so when it occurs regularly.

The danger with frequent rejection is that you put up a wall in order to protect yourself from being disappointed, and that in turn causes you to hide your true personality — thus making it even more likely that you’ll be rejected.

Woman being ghosted/rejected ©fizkes

Is it worthwhile to be rejected again and again, each rejection delivering a blow to your ego? If in the end you’re going to discover true love, then the answer would be yes. But to hasten the pace of getting that one special person you’re seeking, I’d suggest learning from those rejections and seeing whether there’s something you might be doing that is putting others off.

Don't let rejection defeat you — put yourself out there

I accept that these days a lot more relationships are formed via computers and phones than using the older methods. You almost have no choice but to follow the herd. Notice I said “almost.” The older methods of finding a partner may not be used as much, but they still can work.

My advice to anyone looking for someone to date is to tell everyone you know — friends, family members, neighbors — that you’re available. You might think that your great aunt doesn’t know any single people your age, but the women she plays cards with might have relatives who would be perfect.

The other piece of advice I have for singles is not to sit home by the phone. I understand that this expression is a little dated since in today’s world your phone goes with you wherever you go, but there are plenty of people who will binge-watch some show, maybe even on their phone, instead of going out. If you’re outside, there’s always the chance of meeting someone. If you glue yourself inside your own four walls, chance meetings are out of the question.

Some people say they don’t like the bar scene, and whenever they go to the corner launderette, there isn’t a single person in sight.

So, what do you do? You do something that you enjoy. You take a class in a subject that’s always interested you. You go to a ball game. You take your phone to the nearest Starbucks. You can’t win the lottery if you never buy a ticket, and sitting at home is just like being ticketless.

I’m not saying that you will meet someone by joining the local book club or going to a religious service, I’m only saying that the odds of you meeting someone increase if you’re out and about. And if you’re doing something enjoyable, at least you won’t have wasted your time.

If you’ve tested positive for a disease, then you’re better off bringing up the subject sooner rather than later. Of course if you can sense in the first few minutes of a date that you’d never want to have sex with this person, then it would be useless to raise this issue but if you’re interested then don’t wait so long that you could get your heart broken in case this person ends up ghosting you after you reveal this about yourself.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

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Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer is America's favorite sex therapist. Author of over 40 books and host of several TV shows on human sexual- ity, she frequently lectures around the world. Pierre A. Lehu has worked with Dr. Ruth for decades as publicist, writer, and friend.

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