Excuse the lengthy post as this is the first time this has happened to me, but I have a lot to say on Ghosting – IT SUCKS! I welcome all your comments.
Ghosting (noun): a modern dating dilemma in which one person suddenly ceases contact with another, with no explanation of why. Scarily, it can happen at any stage in a relationship: after a single date; after a few dates; even months or years into a relationship.
This past summer has been a long, strange dating trip. It started out great, met a nice guy, who I was very attracted to but it all went downhill when personal issues and stressors infiltrated any shot of us having a normal dating experience. I documented this in a previous blog. Then I had two more dates which turned out to be weird and not so great – one guy showed up drunk, the other was meh.
Next on deck is a guy who I will call the Professor. We hit it off conversationally immediately. I could not believe how easy the conversation flowed between us. Like me, he is a talker, texter and not shy at all. I met a formidable opponent in the battle of who can talk more. We even had a four hour conversation one day, four hours! Who does that? He commented that it felt like only 20 minutes and he was right. He was also very animated and had one of the best and loudest laughs I have ever heard. It was infectious. We spoke constantly, either by phone or text. Not one day passed when we didn’t communicate.
I was just getting back into dating after having my heart ripped out by a long term relationship and experienced hurt yet again by a shorter one. I kept saying I was going to be more cautious, not as open, take it slow. I tried, I really did. But talking with him was so easy and felt so right. He even said the same. He mentioned that he felt very connected to me and that he was looking for one compatible woman and that he may have found her (I’m assuming he meant me). I was the one who actually encouraged us to just have fun and be spontaneous (even I’m shocked at that statement). Both of us could not believe how eerie is was that we were so comfortable with each other. We joked that we just need to skip the dating stage and plan our wedding.
Things got pretty heated, in a good way, one morning when he texted me. It was something I’ve never done before and it was pretty amazing. We both commented that it was pretty unexpected and welcome and I guess took the edge off for when we would finally meet.
The next day he was on his way back from his beach house and asked if I was home so he could call me. I always looked forward to speaking with him so of course I said yes. As we were talking he mentioned he just passed my exit. I said I hope you waved. Then he said, “You know what? I need to meet you already.” I did not even hesitate to tell him to stop by my place, it was as if I already knew him for so long. I felt comfortable. Now, mind you I do not invite every guy I’ve ever been with over to my place immediately but for some reason my guard was down with him. I think that besides talking so much with each other, he was a retired law enforcement professional and because he is a well-respected Professor too, at a large University, I was able to find his vitae online and it all checked out. Hey, I’m not that stupid, I still did my research!
The minute I saw him, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t an awkward first in-person meeting at all. It felt natural, right. We talked for about two hours, kissed a lot and felt an instant attraction. It was a spontaneous decision and well worth it. We talked the rest of the weekend and then the following Monday he invited me over to his place to have dinner. Again, I did not hesitate, I felt completely comfortable going there. In fact, he left his back door open and told me to go on in and make myself comfortable. He was going to be a little late as he had to drop his son off first. It all sounds so serial killer-like as I’m writing it but honestly, I had no reason to doubt he was on the level. Plus my friends knew his address so he would be under suspicion if I disappeared, but again, I was not worried. He’s a pretty accomplished guy and had a lot to lose by making me “disappear.”
Dinner was fabulous and again the conversation flowed, endlessly. Was it all too good to be true? Unfortunately it was. The next night I was heading out to meet friends and he sent me an email saying it was only a couple of months since he was divorced and he liked me a lot, a whole lot, but he has reservations about getting involved so quickly. He did not expect to meet someone like me so soon and wasn’t sure if he was ready and most of all didn’t want to hurt me, I was too good of a catch for that. Breakups by text and email really suck and are, in my opinion, cowardly, especially if you’ve been intimate and on more than at least three dates together. He wasn’t sure about us and in hindsight, maybe I should have just said thank you, good luck and let him go.
Now I understood his hesitation about a relationship. I’ve been there too. I was still healing from a short term relationship with a guy that I was not completely over. As I neared the place to meet my friends I called him. He answered and we talked for a while again and about a lot of reservations he was having. I think I put his mind at ease and let him know I wanted to take things slow too. He asked if he could come see me. I said yes and it ended up being a magical night. We talked a lot as usual, laughed even more and were intimate and it was great. We started joking that all future breakups by email would not be accepted and pretty much laughed about it quite a bit after the email incident. Being the spontaneous people we agreed to be, I drove down to his beach house that same week (I was invited) and spent two days and nights with him. I honestly have not laughed that much in a long time. Again, we both had such a great time. I was on a high and allowed myself to be a little vulnerable again. It was wonderful. My family had a houseboat when I was growing up in the same shore area so we talked about our love of the beach, and all the places we loved to visit there. We sat under the stars on the beach and talked about our backgrounds, what we liked and so on.
The next day we worked a little in the morning, then went to the beach, took a long drive and then had dinner outside in his backyard. We talked so much, laughed so much and connected deeply. He kept mentioning how it was all so easy and how the connection was something he did not expect so soon. The night before we had to leave to leave to go home he mentioned that he was sad that we had to leave, he was having a great time with me and wanted to spend more time there together. I wished we could have stayed longer too.
I knew that school would be back in session for him the following week and between, teaching, running a very successful and time-sucking consulting business, being a Dad, researching, collaborating on papers – time was something that he might have a hard time juggling. This would be the first fall semester that he would have to deal with all this on his own since his divorce. I was fine with how busy he would be – I found it refreshing and quite sexy that he was so ambitious, smart and good looking. As long as the communication didn’t stop I would be okay. I become a different person, very insecure, when communication ceases and it’s not something I am proud of and am working on to manage.
We seemed to be communicating less after that weekend together. Days went by and I heard nothing from him. And as much as I try not to, my insecurities and past hurts started creeping in. I know some people will say that maybe I need more time to heal, but honestly that was not it. I’ve said this in previous blogs, I think when you’ve been hurt before, insecurities creep in, doubts creep in, negative thoughts creep in, sometimes in small increments, but lethal doses. What triggers my insecurity? No contact or a drastic reduction in communication. I recognize this issue of mine and I am trying my best now to stop this damaging behavior. This is all a recent behavioral development of mine and I trace its roots to my long-term relationship that took an emotional toll on me that I have previously blogged about. I know what I do – I over text, email and overthink – all wrong and relationship killers. But back to the story.
After dealing with my ex that same week, aka The Complicated One, I needed a night out. My good friend obliged and for the first time in a long time I had too much to drink, very unlike me. I wasn’t driving so I let loose. I went home and drunk dialed friends (they laughed as I am usually a very funny drunk), one other ex (I apologized the next day) and the Professor. I know or at least I remember that I did not say anything crazy but he might have been turned off by it. He told me the next day that everything was okay, he was still here and in it with me, but that he is just really swamped. I wanted to believe him but my gut told me something was up. To not hear from him for days was not normal for us. It was all so new, but when you get into a certain pattern with someone and it deviates from the norm, you can’t help but wonder. I wasn’t expecting four hour phone calls or multiple texts, but no communication puts my brain on overdrive.
Then it started, I would text and try to be funny as I felt I knew his sense of humor, which was similar to mine and then crickets. I tried reaching out more and same thing, crickets. My destructive pattern was starting again. Now I didn’t reach out as much as I usually do, or as I did with my previous guy, thank God, but probably more than I should have. I did stop myself before it got out of hand. But as
But a Ghostee you start trying too hard. The silence was deadly. The situation with the Professor baffled me. He was such a talker and texter. He didn’t seem like the type to disappear and we had already discussed his relationship reservations and joked about it.We never had a fight or even a argument, so none of it made sense.
I still have not heard from him. I know he was not just out for sex, I can honestly say that was not it. It was too much effort for just sex. Even if he got spooked, or if I said or did something to upset him ghosting me is wrong at this stage. Actually, ghosting is pretty wrong at any stage, but maybe I am just old school in that thinking. The problem with silence is that as the ghostee it makes you think, too much. It creates the ultimate scenario of ambiguity. It was all so new, should you be upset? What if they are hurt and lying in a hospital bed somewhere? Maybe they are just a little busy and will be calling you at any moment. Your phone pings and you check it, hoping. Your phone doesn’t ping and you keep checking it, downtrodden. You don’t know how to react because you have no idea as to what has happened. It is a horrible feeling. It causes you to question yourself. Why didn’t I see this coming? Did I do something wrong? Am I too clingy? Is he back with his ex? You even start having crazy thoughts like, we ate a lot of tacos the night before (we had that weekend), did I stink up the bed and gross him out?
I wasn’t in love (too soon!), wasn’t projecting toward the future but I really liked him and enjoyed his company. I miss speaking with him, and hearing him laugh, that infectious laugh. We had a ton in common.
I don’t regret opening my heart again, it is who I am. I am a fighter. I don’t close off my heart, I accept people for who they are and I forgive. I don’t want to change that about me, I am proud of being this way even if it opens me up to being hurt. Life is too short to live with regrets. Only twice have I had relationship regrets – when I settled in one and my behavior with my most recent ex. As for me, I get back up even when I’ve been knocked down, but this time I am at a loss for what happened and I am now questioning what I may have done, even though I know it probably wasn’t me. Ghosting renders you powerless. If he just put himself in my shoes, maybe he’d reach out…
I would take a traditional breakup over being ghosted any day. I read that people who ghost do it so they don’t hurt someone’s feelings, but in fact the opposite happens. They are doing it to protect themselves, not you. Past relationship fears may have set in for the Ghoster and it is just easier for them to go away rather than deal with it. I would rather hear reasons and have an explanation, no matter how hurtful, than silence. I keep hoping that there must be a valid reason and he will contact me, but the problem with being ghosted is there are only scenarios, there are no answers, no reasons, no closure but lots of what did I do, or not do and feeling pretty low almost disposable.
The following quote pretty much sums it up “Ghosting is one of the cruelest forms of torture dating can serve up.” And as with any ghost, it haunts you, and no matter how long the relationship, it is soul crushingly painful.I came across this quote and it can apply to relationships, friendships, colleagues –
If I treated you the way you treated me, you would hate me.
How true! If we only took a step back and realized that we are dealing with another human being, who feels and hurts, we may change how we treat that person. Maybe we wouldn’t be so selfish in our words or actions, we would show a little compassion. One thing I would never change about me is that I do not make excuses for my behavior when I am wrong. I say I’m sorry and embrace it. Now I may defend myself when I need to, but I have no problem owning up to my mistakes. I do not know many people who can say that. I’m not saying that I can’t sting someone with my words, I have in the past, but I will admit my mistake(s) and be upfront about it. With me, what you see is what you get, no games, no bullshit. I’ve said it many times, I am an open book and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am that girl who loves hard and you know what, I am proud of it.
As for the Professor I’m still open to hearing from him. Maybe he’ll call and we’ll laugh about it and our story will end differently. But right now my gut is telling me otherwise and I’m learning to trust my gut again.
On a side note I’ve also read that there is a trend called “benching.” With ghosting, you never see or hear from the person again: no texts, no emails, nothing. But with benching, the person still maintains some contact, and may even initiate contact sometimes — but somehow you can never nail them down to actually make plans. And that just sounds so much more psychologically torturous. Can’t we all just go back to dumping each other in person? Have we become a society that is so connected technologically but has become so disconnected with human relationships?