You guys, I’ve been ghosted again.
I won’t lie, it’s been pretty crushing this time. I sensed it was coming from a week out with someone I’d been calling my boyfriend with trepidation: unanswered phone calls, monosyllabic text messages, all petering out until… nothing.
Nothing but a huge empty canyon where the warm communication should have been.
This time I completely missed the mark
Funnily enough, I wasn’t upset because I missed the person I was in the relationship with. I was more gutted that again I’d somehow put myself in the vulnerable position of being ghosted. After the last time I’d vowed I’d be wary, exercise caution when I figured out who to trust relationship-wise, and when. Yet this time I somehow completely missed the mark.
The ghosting came completely out of the blue, as it always does. I was three months into a relationship with a man a similar age to me, someone who worked abroad a great deal. This was OK with me – between my children and the business I’m always busy and wanted to take it slow – and with WhatsApp and FaceTime, not being in the same time zone for a week at a time didn’t seem like a big deal.
It was progressing as you’d expect: I’d accompanied him to the Christening of his friend’s children, been invited to be his date at his sister’s wedding. We’d spent time at each other’s homes, enjoyed some lovely dates, started planning a 10-day summer holiday (New York then Miami). We’d talked about him meeting my children and my parents. It was, I thought, going swimmingly.
Until it suddenly wasn’t. One moment I was excitedly waiting for him to return from a long trip to Russia, chattily confirming table reservations for our date that weekend, the next I wasn’t sure if he was alive. It was that sudden: out of nowhere, all communication attempts went ignored.
I read between the lines and, having not heard from him in 48 hours, cancelled the table I’d booked at his favourite restaurant. I sent one final message: “are you dead?” (subtext: “you will be”), and hours later received a message back about having a hard time at work and needing ‘some space’.
That was the last I heard from him.
You need to man up and be prepared to dump someone
Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is no way, no way, that it’s acceptable to be spooning a person one week then ignoring them the next. In my opinion (that of a 31 year old woman who has near enough had it up to here with the dating behaviour of blokes), every single romantic dalliance, whether that’s one date or one hundred, deserves a polite ‘thanks, no thanks’ before exiting stage right. With the exception of escaping an abusive relationship, you need to man up and be prepared to dump someone if you no longer want to spend time with them. It’s simple manners, grown-up dating etiquette.
Rudeness aside, it’s really rather horrible for the ghosted party. They’re left wondering, as I was, where they went wrong. Why they are so undesirable, so undeserving of a polite reason why they’ve been rejected. I spent days fretting what was wrong with me: Too independent? Too needy? Too old? Too fat? Too thin? With me, I always return to my place of undesirable single motherhood. As I feel so sorted in every other respect of my life – I cook the best fried chicken this side of Buffalo, after all – I always assume my children are the reason men don’t want to date me.
Like I said, it wasn’t this particular guy that left me so very crushed. It was the process of the ghosting that did it, the sheer disappointment once again of human nature. This is the third time I’ve been ghosted, and it makes me feel sad that I can’t trust men I date to play nicely with my feelings and emotions.
When I first leapt onto the dating scene four years ago (and there was leaping, I was damn excited at what awaited), I trusted implicitly. I completely believed I’d find love, innocently believing the lies I was told (“I got divorced last year”… no you didn’t, you cheating arsehole). I happily enjoyed the company of men, allowing myself to dreamily develop feelings at the drop of a hat.
Now, it’s more difficult. I second guess the things men tell me, going on dates with trepidation and borderline trust issues. My faith has been beaten down and I worry that one of these days it’ll disappear completely. Quite simply, I’ve lost my dating innocence and I miss that joie de vivre: it’s difficult, almost impossible, to feel excited about the possibility of being in a relationship again. What’s the point, when I’m only going to be let down?
Having dinner with my best friend on one of the evenings I had a date booked with the ghoster I asked her how she thought I should proceed. I was desperate to contact him once more, to give him and his behaviour a piece of my mind, perhaps gleaning a little of what the people on the telly call ‘closure’. Quite rightly she warned me to stay away and I agreed, knowing I would retain something of my shattered dignity by not sending a barrage of insulting WhatsApps (as much as I wanted to).
I bumped slap-bang into the ghoster
Which is why I enjoyed seeing the universe at play the very next day while shopping for an outfit to wear on a date (with someone who seems to believe in communication, thank goodness): I ducked out of a restaurant to bump slap-bang into the ghoster.
I was happy to note he looked suitably sheepish, “Oh, you’re not dead” I said.
He shuffled around like a toddler needing a wee, making (bad) excuses and attempting to joke around. Having previously imagined myself in this situation – I thought I’d metaphorically twist his balls until he felt so ashamed he exploded – it was interesting that I just said… nothing. I felt nothing, I said nothing, and I walked away with my head held high knowing who came out of that situation the nicer and better person (hint: it wasn’t him).
That evening I enjoyed a lovely dinner and one too many espresso martinis with someone I’d met at the gym, and I had a great time. All might not be lost: I’m a damn sight warier than I was four years ago, but I still believe there are good ones out there. Just.