Ever Been "Ghosted" By Someone? This Lawmaker Wants to Make it a Punishable Offense

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Ghosting someone is nobody's proudest dating moment, but should it be a punishable offense? That's the position of a lawmaker in the Philippines, who has proposed that abruptly cutting off contact with a romantic partner without explanation be considered an "emotional offense."

Rep. Arnie Teves Jr., a member of the Nationalist People's Coalition, says "ghosting is a form of spite that develops feelings of rejection and neglect" and should be considered an abusive act.

Last month, he filed House Bill No. 611, which was just publicly released this week. In it, Teves claims that ghosting in a dating relationship can be "mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting to the 'ghosted person.'" Being ghosted can have negative effects on a person's mental health, as they must try to process the unexplained reasons for the end of a relationship, he said; ghosting can even be "likened to a form of emotional cruelty" as it leaves a dumped person without closure.

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Ghosting can lead to "ridicule" and "humiliation

"The ambiguity with ghosting is that there is no real closure between parties concerned, and as such, it can be likened to a form of emotional cruelty and should be punished as an emotional offense because of the trauma it causes to the 'ghosted,'" said the bill's explanatory note. The bill also claimed that ghosting can lead to "ridicule" and "humiliation" and that people who are ghosted are likely to experience emotional turmoil.

Curiously, Teves didn't propose a specific penalty for ghosting, although his bill says it "should be punished."

"The bill, in its current form at least, is unlikely to pass," the Washington Post reported Tuesday. "Without any outlined penalties, it is unclear whether the proposal will have any legal effects. For a bill to pass, it needs to pass three readings and garner support in both Congress and the Senate. Many proposals languish or are forgotten, especially if they are not deemed a priority."

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Distraction from the problems

Political scientist Arj Aguirre of Manila University told the Post that Teves—whose political party is aligned with the Phillippines' current ruling party—may be using the bill as a distraction from the country's current problems, including the COVID pandemic. He said Teves may be using the bill "to get public attention and media mileage."

"It is a calculative move to make him popular and be part of the public conversation," said Aguirre. "Teves has a history of stirring public debate with controversial proposals," the paper noted, including a proposal to name a Manila airport after former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Teves may have ghosted that idea as incompatible with political optics.