In the bank/accidental ghosting: how often should you message?

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

If you are seeing someone on a casual basis, or you’ve agreed that you’re going to date/shag them but haven’t quite done the logistics for meeting up, how often do you message them? Are you checking in regularly to see how they’re doing, or do you consider them ‘in the bank’ and therefore probably not in need of regular contact until it comes time to meet up? What is the difference between being casual about checking in and accidentally ghosting someone?

I asked this question on Twitter recently and the answers to the poll both surprised and horrified me.

My first reaction to seeing this was ‘holy shit, I need to go apologise to some men.’

In the bank? Or accidental ghosting?

One of the slight problems I’m having at the moment (and I emphasise ‘slight’, I do not want to complain about the lovely men who are kind enough to fuck me) is that most of the people I’m seeing dating occasionally fucking do not live near to me. Because of this, there’s usually a fairly long period of time in between each hangout. We’re talking months, in most cases. If I’m lucky, and someone’s work brings them to the city, then weeks.

So the idea of maintaining a high rate of messaging with all these people feels… exhausting. And kind of counterproductive. After all, if I message everyone all the time, then I spend most of my spare time clutching my phone and tapping out missives to people who are many miles away rather than focusing on the ones right here in front of me.

But it turns out that’s unusual of me, as evidenced by this Twitter poll. And it turns out that the phrase ‘in the bank’ might not be the best way to refer to it, as evidenced by one of my friends who made a frowny face when I said it. Perhaps a better phrase is ‘accidental ghosting’, because that is what some dudes think it is.

How long is too long to leave it?

Personally, if I’ve been chatting to someone, and we’re both broadly in agreement that we’d be DTF if we found ourselves in the same location, I tend to just assume that person is in the bank, and if I find myself in their area (or they in mine) then we’ll pick up where we left off, but this time in a sticky and physical manner.

Turns out, I am in a small minority – 7.8% – and that’s probably an even smaller minority if you were to broaden this poll to people who weren’t following me on Twitter. I suspect my Twitter followers are sluttier on average than the majority of the population: sluts are drawn to sluts, we just can’t help it.

Unfortunately, even sluts apparently tend to message more than I do, so when I saw the results of this poll my heart thumped a torrent of guilt into my chest and I realised I should probably communicate with some men. Luckily for me, most of them follow me on Twitter, and one of them saw this poll and assured me that he did not expect daily updates, and was happy for the occasional check-in and scheduling of logistics for when I next got to ride his dick. But this is not always the case.

I’m reminded of a lovely gentleman (genuinely, really sweet and funny and we had a right laugh) with whom I had a phone date long long ago. It was just after I became single, in between the summer of 2020 and the winter lockdown that same year. We chatted, had a laugh, and arranged for him to pop to London so we could drink wine in a park at 2 metres distance while assessing whether we’d be up for more. Sadly for us both, the weather on that day was shocking and indoor meetups were banned, so we took a literal rain check and I dropped off messaging for a while. We’d planned something else – another phone date, this time with added sexiness – but I was in the middle of a lot of busy shit and I had just assumed it’d be something we could pick up later, when my life looked less like a collapsing funhouse in a theme park celebrating trauma.

One day, entirely out of the blue (from my perspective) I got a message from him along the lines of ‘sorry this didn’t work out, but best of luck to you.’

Yes, I know. I am the WORST PERSON. I had literally left it for so long that this dude went ‘ah she’s not interested’ and bowed out.

Firstly: fair play to him. I appreciate it when men bow out, because it’s important to me that they recognise my failings and are able to identify dealbreaking incompatibilities when they arise. He was very sweet about it, not in any way rude or presumptive, and the break between messages was genuinely long – three weeks at least, I think. This isn’t like the guy on a dating site who (I shit you not) messaged me one single day after I stopped chatting with a ghost emoji and a question mark. One DAY? One SINGLE DAY?! I AM NOT A CHATBOT. Anyway, I digress. Phone chat dude did the right thing, and he did it kindly – I would always strongly prefer someone say ‘see ya!’ than try to shoehorn any burgeoning interaction into a shape that doesn’t fit me.

Secondly, though, as a sex blogger who prides herself on good communication, it’s extremely annoying to find such a clear example of where I’m completely fucking awful at it.

Don’t wait up

Bad communication usually comes from assumptions: instead of asking people what they think/want, or being up front about what we think/want, we instead just let our brains fill in the gaps in our knowledge, or assume other people’s brains will magically fill in the gaps with the right answers. Turns out that my brain never fills in any gaps by assuming men are waiting by the phone to hear from me. As a general rule, I assume that people don’t want me to message them, because they’re busy either messaging other people or having a wank or hanging out with their mates or skydiving or whatever.

This is clearly an incorrect assumption, and the lesson I’ve learned from both the poll and the occasional messages from men who assume I’ve ghosted them is that I need to be way clearer about messaging expectation. I’m not going to wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly be a prolific texter: it just isn’t in my nature. I’ll have some evenings where I’ll do a burst of it – catching up with friends, fucks and family when I’ve finished work for the day – but it’s sporadic rather than consistent, and I can go many many weeks between messages with dudes without ever feeling like I’m missing out by not catching up.

I’m pleased to hear from these dudes if they want to message me, especially if their message says something like ‘I’m in town on the X-teenth of Y-vember, can we fuck?’ but I won’t normally check in with someone in between those times unless there’s a specific reason (I saw an article they might like, I watched a film they recommended and want to let them know it was good/shit, I have a question about their penis for a blog post). I think I might need to get cards printed out which say ‘unless we have had a full-on falling out, you are always safe to assume that my status as horny for you remains the same, regardless of how much time’s passed’ and then give them to people around date two or three.

As I watched the poll results come in, with horror and guilt and panic rising in my chest, it occurred to me that maybe there were men who I considered ‘in the bank’, who had, in fact, gone off me. Or worse – not gone off me but thought I’d gone off them. What if I’d been blithely stumbling about the world assuming that if so-and-so was in town he’d let me know, when in fact so-and-so had been in town LAST WEEK but not told me because I hadn’t messaged him in the last two months?

What if I had MADE MEN SAD? [insert lots of weeping emojis here, both for the men who might be sad and for me, who does not want to ensadden those who might otherwise be willing to fuck me]

I’d like to get better at this kind of communication. One of the reasons I’m writing about it is to force my hand a little and nudge me to have those ‘here are my general behaviours/expectations around messaging’ conversations more often. Naturally, I’ll do it in person, because I prefer things that way, but I will at least try to talk to dudes about this as well as explain that they’re welcome to consider me ‘in the bank’ and release themselves from any obligation to check in if they’re too busy.

In the meantime, though, as I unpack the lumpy rucksack that is ‘GOTN’s dating strategy’ then try to repack it with less bad behaviour this time, I’ll end on a more positive note. The other night I had a lovely shag with someone new – someone who was also very busy and thus happy to schedule a date long into the future and engage in minimal messaging before the day itself. When I tweeted about it afterwards, saying I’d had a lovely time, one of the so-and-sos I’d been worried I might have accidentally ghosted popped up in my messages.

“Good shag?” he asked – or something along those lines – “I might be in town next month, and I’m really into ass play at the moment.”

Woo! I’m in HIS bank! He is not upset with me or worried by the lack of messaging, because HE TOO HAS A BANK!

Bank me, motherfucker!

Then fuck me in the ass.



Although not right this minute, because I have Covid. Boo. 


  • Mark says:

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve got terrible anxiety and if I’m not hearing from someone for a day I just assume they hate and despise me. A message a day, even if it’s just “busy today”, is more than enough. When it’s so easy to talk, the lengths some people go to to avoid it is frankly baffling. Having been ghosted and blocked two hours before a date, just say. It’s not like I’d just booked the train ticket or anything…

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmm OK so your message worries me. Firstly, whoever just disappeared a couple of hours before a date is clearly a dickhead and I need to make it clear that’s extremely far from what I’m talking about here. If I wanted to not see someone any more, I would just say so. I don’t mean ‘I literally disappear on people forever’ just ‘people apparently have wildly different messaging expectations to me.’ That’s why I talk about handing out cards which say ‘please assume I’m still horny for you.’ You’re well shot of whoever this was, they sound callous.

      But this… “if I’m not hearing from someone for a day I just assume they hate and despise me.” Do you think that’s a reasonable assumption to make? Like more reasonable than just thinking ‘oh they’re busy’? I have pretty bad anxiety too, and one of the ways I’ve learned to manage it is to ask people, if I’m worried, whether there’s anything I should worry about. I don’t think the responsibility for pre-emptively managing my anxiety should fall on them – it’s a huge thing to put on someone, the responsibility to keep you from sinking into that kind of thought pattern. Especially if they are a busy person and not very good at messaging back quickly anyway.

      As for messaging people just to say ‘I’m busy’, I often would reply with that if someone messages me when I am, but I don’t think it’s feasible (or fun for me) to just message a bunch of men every day to say ‘I’m busy’ – why would I start a conversation with them just to say I’m too busy to have a conversation? I can’t work out if I’ve not been clear in the blog post, but what I’m talking about is ‘check in/chat messages when there’s nothing in particular to say.’ That’s what I don’t do. I don’t just… randomly stop messaging people forever. I just don’t message them unless I’ve got something worth saying (ie ‘I’m in your area, fancy hanging out’ or what have you), and more often than not it ends up being them who message me, because it doesn’t occur to me that I should do it.

      I get that it’s easy to talk in terms of technology, but it’s not easy to talk when you’re someone who is extremely busy and juggling a lot of online stuff. I like to be present when I’m with people in person, and maintaining daily chats with everyone I’m not present with would make that extremely difficult.

      But maybe that’s the point I guess? That way of thinking is so completely alien to me that I find the expectation of daily messaging genuinely frightening- I don’t want to fail and make someone sad or anxious, and I know I’ll fail because I don’t have time to stay on top of it. And someone like me would make you extremely anxious, because there’s no way I’d be able to live up to the expectations you have. So yeah… honesty about comms is clearly very important.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Sorry to read you’ve got the C. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    As for the post, at least now you can link it from your dating profile or whatever so men who contact you know what to expect. I’m an infrequent messager as well, and can definitely sympathise there.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah yeah definitely! Although I wouldn’t ever link GOTN from my dating profile, I *will* be more up front about this if I’m messaging ppl I like on dating sites. Like ‘I’m not great at messaging so if I don’t get back to you quickly pls don’t assume I’ve just disappeared – feel free to nudge me if I’m slow’ or what have you!

  • Mark says:

    I’d hate for someone to read too much into what I’d said, sorry! My anxiety is well and true, but mainly in the context of who I’m speaking to. Friends and family, I know they don’t think less of me, but a stranger? Someone I’m chatting with on a dating app? I want to be giving a good impression of myself, but at the same time I don’t want to frontload with “Listen, my anxiety can get pretty bad sometimes”, and sometimes finding that middle ground between being honest and oversharing/scaring someone off, can be tough. You’re absolutely right that it’s not a reasonable thing to think, but it bounces about in my head from time to time.

    In the past I’ve contacted my girlfriend at the time just to say; “Hey, today’s looking to be a real bastard so I probably won’t be replying in a hurry, if at all.” I fully realise this may be some level of projection on my part, because I’d be comforted to know that someone is busy and that’s why they’re not in contact, or why they’ve not said anything. It removes that “should I say something?” anxiety. In my books it feels like a courtesy, but again I realise that’s just me.

    Some people are slow repliers, I’m not one of them. If someone asks something of me, I’ll hurry to get it done. If someone says something, they want a response, right? Like you say, it can be strange looking at something so trivial through someone else’s eyes. The technology is just an extension of that in my eyes, I’ll always take an in-person, social interaction over a calls, texts or emails, but especially in times like these, it’s just not always feasible, so I try and make-do.

    Sorry to hear you’ve got the rona, it’s a real bugger but I’m sure you’ll tough it out!

    • Girl on the net says:

      Sorry I didn’t mean to imply that you were wrong in your outlook, just that your message made me worry about you a bit. It sounds like a lot to carry, if you’re worried that more than a day’s delay means they’ve suddenly started to hate you. All else being equal, it’s unlikely someone would change their mind so drastically and go from ‘like’ to ‘hate’ without any input at all from you, so there are basically two options:
      1. they think the same as they did before, they just haven’t had time/headspace/inclination to text (these last two I think are important to note, because when it comes to dating especially, sometimes I’m not in the mood to be flirty or fun – I might send a ‘grr fucked off with work’ text to a mate if I want to rant, but a *dating* text would wait till I was in more of a chill ‘want to chat nicely with dudes’ mood rather than one where I’d be grumpy at someone who didn’t know me that well and therefore shouldn’t be expected to hold space for my grumping)
      2. they have suddenly gone off you and decided to completely ignore you, in which case that’s their loss and their problem (and kind of a weird problem at that) and if you expend loads of mental energy on them then the payoff is going to be absolutely rubbish for you.

      I get that with ‘2’ saying ‘their loss’ is far easier said than done, but I think that’s broadly how I’d approach it. Basically, my worry really is that given there is a range of expectation when it comes to messaging, assuming they hate you is gonna hurt you a lot in the long run, so I hope that your brain can be a bit more chill on these things and give you a little bit of a break.

      And yeah, I see what you mean re: wanting to hurry to get something done. I think if someone asked me something that was urgent/important I’d drop stuff to do it – for example, I was planning a date with a guy recently and he had some questions about play/limits/etc and although I was knackered I dropped stuff to spend a bit of time replying to his email. They were direct questions that I think were important to address. But if it had just been ‘how are you? What you up to?’ I probably wouldn’t have because those kinds of things seem less important, and therefore less in need of a response.

  • Aaron says:

    This was a great post, in so many ways! I loved it.

    Firstly, it’s brilliant that you were so open about importanrt things, and willing to talk about things which, at the time you were writing them, you might have worried might not flatter you. For me, I already knew that you were an open-minded (as in self-reflective, not a euphemism for kinky) and thoughtful person, but if a person didn’t know that about you altready, then this post will have signalled that that’s the kind of person you are, and that’s a good thing.

    It’s also great that you’ve written so eloquently about how the ‘I’ll check in when I have something to say’ approach is an entirely valid one. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but it’s perfect for those it works for. I’m more of that school myself than the ‘daily message’ approach, although I should say that as I’ve gotten more experienced with relationships, (of all kinds, not necessarfily sexual or dating) I have come to understand that a desire for check-ins for their own sake, is equally valid. The gap, where there is one, can hopefully be bridged by good communications and empathy, which you also very helpfully wrote about.

    And finally, it’s a cracking ending to the post that you are in each other’s bank! Banking is an integral part of the modern economy, after all, and it makes me smile very wide that your post ended that way.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you so much Aaron! I appreciate that! And yeah, you’re right – “The gap, where there is one, can hopefully be bridged by good communications and empathy” – this should definitely be the way to go. I think my comms has been sorely lacking in this respect as I’ve been resting on a LOT of assumptions, but having this chat on Twitter and here on the blog has made me realise I could definitely do far better in this area! Thank you for your lovely comment <3

  • platypus says:

    First off, I think twitter might have skewed your statistic a bit in favor of people of who spend more time communicating online and therefore feel more comfortable to message more frequently.
    I personally also don’t like to message people a lot in between meetings, because I prefer to concentrate on other activities and people who are actually around me and messaging kind of drains me. The result is, that while some people will leave ‘the bank’ (love this phrase by the way) because it doesn’t fit their preferred communication style, the people who stick around are a good fit at least in that account, because there is less explaining and trying to find common ground. I put more effort into close relationships, but acquaintances need to be low maintance in the communication department for me.

  • K says:

    While I’m not in the market for dates, my approach to most friendships is “you might not hear from me for months and then I will suddenly WhatsApp you with a link to something I think you might like” – so I totally get where you’re coming from.

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