When I woke up that morning, a part of me knew.
Something had changed. The wind appeared to be blowing in a different direction. The air around me wasn’t quite the same. The world looked an unusual colour, and it was clear something bad was going to happen.
I had met someone who I’d let myself imagine a future with, and in that very act, I’d cursed it.
To be clear, I wasn’t being ignored. This person was far too kind for that, which made it all that much harder. His tone had changed. His texts were slightly shorter, just that little bit less enthusiastic.
And I knew what was coming, as if I was in my own movie, and the ominous, tragic music had started playing loudly and suddenly.
“Hey, I’m really sorry, but there’s something I need to tell you,” he wrote in a message.
“I really like you. A lot. And at a different time, I think this could have been amazing. But my ex-girlfriend has come back into my life, and I feel like I just need to give it another go. I’m really sorry, and I wish you all the best.”
Is there anything crueller than something ending before it ever really began?
We’d been seeing each other for a few months, and I hadn’t liked someone this much in years. He was everything I’d been looking for.
I’d let myself think that it was my turn, and maybe all the awful dating experiences I’d endured, had culminated in this moment. I could speak about them now in past tense, with a little laugh, lamenting my tumultuous early twenties.
But now the heartbreak wasn’t in the past. It was awfully present.
LISTEN: I discuss my dating experiment on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
I cried more than I probably should have, but told him I understood (which I didn’t) and I, too, wished him all the best (which, again, I didn’t).
The act of ending things with a person by telling them the truth, and offering some closure, has been termed ‘caspering’ and the fact that even needs a word feels somewhat absurd.
But the term is a response to trends like ‘ghosting’, ‘benching’, ‘breadcrumbing’ and ‘cushioning’ – all of which illustrate the lack of basic respect we afford potential partners in a new dating scene where people are more disposable than ever before.
Ghosting refers to the act of ending a relationship or fling with someone, by suddenly, and without any explanation at all, withdrawing all communication.
Ultimately, it leaves a person wondering if you’ve died.
Caspering is the friendly version of ghosting – just a note to say this relationship has ended.
An example of caspering, according to Metro, might look like: “You’re a really wonderful person and it’s been amazing hanging out with you, but I just don’t feel a spark so think we should stop seeing each other. Hope you’re well.”
And although caspering will undoubtedly hurt in the moment, it’s a much kinder act that ceasing contact with no explanation.
I cried, I reflected, and before long, I moved on. Whether it’s timing or a lack of spark, the least one can offer in a dating scenario is a semblance of honesty.
Hurt as it may, there is a ‘right’ way to dump someone.
And it’s to tell them it’s over.
Surely we can agree on that much?