This post is part of a series about my own personal dating experiences before I met and married Marc. I may be a newlywed now, but just a few years ago I never thought I would be anything but single, and I hated it. When I was struggling I didn’t feel like there was anyone who could truly understand. I was single, I didn’t want to be single, but I also wanted to be happy in my present life. My goal with this series is to give people who feel the way I felt hope, no matter where their lives might take them.
Once upon a time a kind, smart, strong and capable woman went on a date with someone new. By the end of the night she was convinced this was the best first date she’d ever had, it couldn’t be topped no matter what, that this guy felt the same, and maybe (just maybe) it had been her last first date. He told her he couldn’t wait to see her again, mentioned how much his family will love her, and even talked about some of the amazing vacations they could take together.
At the end of the night he kissed her goodbye, said he can’t wait to see her again, and that he’d be in touch.
The next day? No call or text. Three days later? Still nothing. One week later and two quick texts from her? A whole lot of silence. Two weeks later? Nothing still and the woman chooses to believe he had been hit by a bus.
We’ve all been there at one point or another. And if you somehow have avoided it, either you haven’t been single for more than 30 seconds, or you were probably the offender. Just sayin’.
I’m talking about ghosting. You know, the complete and total disappearance of a potential love interest without any trace of his or her existence.
One minute you’re happy and relaxed in what seems like mutual attraction, the next he vanishes into thin air.
To me, ghosting is one of the cruelest things a person can do to someone else. Being ignored means this person believes you are so inconsequential you don’t even deserve his or her time or emotions in any way.
I would much rather have had a dude tell me he’s not interested anymore because I’m strange, or my hair is too short, or my eyes are uneven, rather than just flat out ignoring me. Hell, even Burger was kind enough to leave Carrie a Post-It in Sex and the City (I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.). I would have killed for that Post-It back in the day! At least it meant the other person thought of me for a brief moment as he jotted down a couple words of goodbye.
But since it’s all happened to us at one point or another, let’s just share!
A few years back I was desperately single (emphasis on desperately). I was just shy of turning 35, had no boyfriend prospects on the horizon, and was doing a lot of yoga to keep myself from completely losing my mind about it.
Then one night everything changed. You know, in the way things change for what ends up being a brief moment but in that moment you think it could be forever.
A friend of mine had a group of people in town from Chicago and invited some of her NYC friends to join them all for a night on the town. One of the out of towners happened to be super tall and pretty cute and I was immediately intrigued. I’ll call him Casper. Like the ghost, though a much kinder pseudonym than he deserves. A few hours into the night he and I started talking and totally hit it off.
We spent the rest of the night side-by-side and made plans to see each other again the next night before he had to go back to Chicago. Oh, in hindsight there were red flags shooting out of all sides of this guy, but he was being really nice to me and I only wanted to think about the good stuff.
Casper had a younger sister who was also single and had dealt with her share of bad guys. Casper couldn’t understand how anyone could treat her so poorly and also repeatedly apologized to me for the way I had been treated by men in the past.
Over the next couple of weeks we exchanged thousands of texts and talked on the phone for hours. We planned on having me come to Chicago for a visit, which I did, and we talked about me potentially moving there as well. I even had a phone interview for a job in Chicago. What?? Yeah, I really wanted this to work.
A few weeks after my trip to Chicago he was supposed to come to NYC for a weekend. Problem was, he never told me any of his travel info, other than the day he would arrive. When that day finally came, I prepared everything in my apartment, bought food and wine, got a mani/pedi, and did everything I could think of to make him comfortable in my home. But by 5:00 that evening I still hadn’t heard from him. Was he at the airport? Had he taken off yet?
Finally, I texted to ask how everything was going. His response was basically, sorry I’m too busy with work and won’t be able to make it. Ummm, but what about that flight he booked? Yeah, clearly, he never actually had.
We talked a few more times after that failed visit and I explained how I felt. He said he was extremely busy with work but that he would try to do a better job of communicating. I hung up from that phone call not feeling great but thinking that at least we had started a conversation we would be able to continue.
Oh, how silly I was.
Because after being told that he would work more on communicating with me, I never heard from him again.
Like, nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I texted him. I called him. I sent emails. And Casper couldn’t even be bothered to send me a Post-It.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that after about a week I started begging him for a response. Up to that point I was playing it cool, but that could only last so long. I told him I was worried about him. That I knew he was busy, and I supported him. That all I needed was a quick response to tell me he was alive. Please. Please, please, please.
And yet he gave me nothing in response.
After a couple of weeks of this crap (yeah, I’m embarrassed it took that long, too) I got mad. Like really, really mad. How dare this man treat me like this. What kind of person does this to someone, especially someone he claimed to care for.
Eventually I decided he didn’t get to end this. He didn’t get to break things off with me by ignoring me. I thought about it for a while and then sent him one last text:
Goodbye Casper. I sincerely hope no one ever treats your sister as you have treated me.
And then I cried my eyes out and hit the bars with my good girlfriends who made sure I was never without a drink in my hand.
Nearly one year later guess who finally decided he was ready to talk? I had long since deleted his number from my phone but one random day I got a text I later figured out was from Casper. It said, “hey Laura, how are you?”.
Seriously, dude. SERIOUSLY?
I responded politely asking who is this? And shockingly that was the end of it. Casper disappeared into thin air once again, but this time for good.
I’m sure there are deep rooted issues behind a person’s decision to ghost. You didn’t have to convince me that Casper could benefit from a lifetime spent on a therapist’s couch. But I am not an expert in the human psyche, so I’ll refrain from trying to break it all down.
What I do wish I had handled better were my actions and emotions. Because Casper wasn’t the first guy to ghost me. Not at all. But yet I put myself in a very vulnerable position with him because I so desperately wanted this man to become my boyfriend.
Remember those red flags I mentioned? Yeah, they were everywhere. And each time one started waving I talked myself out of paying it any attention. I was far more focused on the man I wanted him to be than the man he actually was.
And that is on me.
Here’s the thing, you should never compromise your intuition. If someone or something about that someone doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Could you be overreacting? Sure. But at least do yourself the favor of giving it all some thought and attention.
Casper had the opportunity to ghost me because I was prepared to settle. And when I think of it that way, I am absolutely thrilled he decided to end things like a total asshole. Because I wanted a boyfriend so badly that I wasn’t going to end it myself.
And those couple of guys before him who gave me a seemingly perfect first date and then never contacted me again? I let it bother me so much because in one date I allowed myself to believe that this person I hardly knew could be the one.
By the time I met Marc I had started to realize the role I was playing in all of this. That I was setting myself up for heartbreak by telling myself stories about who I wanted my date to be. So, I was done with that.
Marc and I ended up spending six hours sitting at a bar on our first date because we didn’t want to stop talking. I allowed myself to listen to him and what he had to say instead of rushing a romance storyline in my head.
At the end of the night I gave him a hug goodbye and left knowing I had enjoyed myself but not being sure of anything after that. A few weeks later when I would meet a friend of his for the first time that friend would ask if it had been the best first date ever.
I was honest and said, well, it was nice. Which then prompted that friend to declare our first date to be “adequate” which is a joke that has stuck ever since.
But here’s why that “adequate” first date ended up being my last first date. It was because I was honest about it the entire time. And Marc was, too. He didn’t try to play me like so many guys before him. There are plenty of single men in NYC who date for sport and convincing a woman that he is perfect for her is the big game prize.
Marc was just himself. And so was I.
Because let’s be honest about something, if a first date seems perfectly perfect then something isn’t quite right. I mean, it’s a first date. Everyone is supposed to be a little awkward and nervous. If they aren’t then they just might be faking it. You might get a sense that this person could be special, but it takes some time to find out if it’s for real.
And that is totally okay.
I left that first date not thinking that I had just met the man of my dreams (because who can live up to that after a first date?) but simply knowing I wanted to see him again. I also knew that if I didn’t, I would be okay. Because I hadn’t built him into my perfect person before getting to know him.
Four years later I most definitely would not be okay never seeing him again and I do believe he’s the man of my dreams. But that’s because he truly is. The real Marc is my person, not a fake Marc I created in my imagination. And the real Marc took time to get to know.
Being ghosted is definitely not your fault. Some people just suck at being decent human beings. No matter what happened, ignoring someone is not an acceptable form of saying goodbye.
But there are ways to protect ourselves a little more. That’s not to say it will all lead to the perfect “happily ever after”. But it will help us to believe that all of the things we desperately want in our lives won’t just vanish into thin air.