Mooning: the new dating trend promising guilt-free ghosting
Would you ever moon someone? The latest disposable dating trend offers a new twist on ghosting, but can be just as frightening for its victims. We investigate mooning
What is mooning?
No, it’s got nothing to do with trousers. In dating terminology, mooning refers to the practice of putting your phone into ‘do not disturb’ mode, indicated by the little half-moon symbol on an iPhone. In this mode, you can still receive calls and texts, but you won’t see any alerts, so those messages are left into limbo until you manually turn ‘do not disturb’ off. You can moon everyone or pick and choose individual numbers to moon.
Why would you moon someone?
There are good reasons why you might moon someone – or everyone. If you struggle to stay away from your phone, even in the middle of the night, then setting your phone to ‘do not disturb’ could be a great way to get some sleep. Or if you’re about to head into an important meeting and don’t want telemarketing calls or your family WhatsApp group notifications to ruin your presentation, mooning makes sense.
But, when it comes to dating, mooning gets a little more complicated.
The practice occupies the middle ground between blocking someone and ghosting them. It’s less final than blocking – you do still receive their messages, after all, and you can access them any time you want. It could also allow you to ghost someone guilt-free. Instead of actively having to ignore pleading calls and lovelorn WhatsApps from exes, you don’t have to see their messages at all.
Mooning isn’t just reserved for people you’re dating; many people find it the best way to deal with persistent exes.
‘Blocking my ex would be cruel and, if I’m being honest, I like the ego boost that comes with her messages,’ admits Callum. ‘But, if I’m out on a date or I just don’t feel like talking to her, mooning means I won’t be disturbed and she just thinks I can’t get to my phone. It’s easy.’
An even more morally-dubious use of mooning is to use ‘do not disturb’ to receive messages in secret. Unfaithful people can simply moon their lovers overnight, or while they’re with their partners, but still receive and read their messages at more opportune moments.
Victims of mooning often never find out. You may have been sending countless well-meaning messages that are still sitting, unread, in someone’s inbox. It’s a painful thought, regardless of the mooner’s original motivation.
Mooning may sound less brutal than blocking but it is, in fact, simply another form of ghosting. And just like ghosting, it isn’t acceptable. If you’ve been on more than one date with someone, you owe them an explanation for not returning their messages. Sending a simple and direct message that lets your date down gently is much kinder than leaving them languishing in phone purgatory, wondering what happened.
And if you’re dealing with a persistent ex? Firmly ask them not to contact you again and if they don’t listen, block them. Don’t use them to feed your ego or make you feel better on lonely Sunday evenings. No game playing, just decisive action.