Dear Dr. Darcy:
I recently began dating someone several years younger than I am. OK - he’s 15 years younger, and I’m sure you’re going to tell me that I had it coming, but he ultimately ghosted me. Why do people do this? And were there warning signs I missed?
Full disclosure: I hate the term ghosting. Someone rebranded an ancient dating ritual called “the blow off” and thinks he’s a genius. Nonetheless, for the purpose of this post, I will use ghosting.
People ghost each other off when they lack the ability to directly say that they are, for whatever reason, not interested in pursuing the relationship further. It’s an unwillingness to deliver negative news. Those who lack the balls or ovaries to tell–it-like-it-is generally spin stories that justify their avoidant behavior: We only just met - she’ll probably think I’m presumptuous to think she’ll care (the most innocuous of examples); I just think it’ll hurt him more to have a conversation about it (bullshit); I fucking hate disappointing people (you’re a douchebag but you get points for insight and honesty); I don’t want to make a big deal about it – better to just let it die off (please re-read the last for words of that and tell me if you still agree); she’s not dumb – she’ll get the hint (exactly. and because she’s not dumb she’s going to question whether or not she’s crazy for wondering why you’re not calling or for wondering why it hurts); isn’t it better if everyone escapes with their pride intact? (grownups understand that sometimes shit doesn’t work out and that it’s usually not personal but a poor fit between two people).
Bottom line: Each of those stories protects the messenger, not the receiver.
So how can you spot an impending ghost? Here are 9 warning signs:
1. Inconsistent Communication.
If text messages, phone or FaceTime calls are inconsistent (daily one week, sporadically the next), or if you find yourself initiating most or all of the conversations, it’s trouble.
2. Vagueness in Plans.
NYC is notorious for the ‘let’s confirm the night before,’ which is code for, ‘there’s a good chance I’m gonna blow you off.’
Things come up. They do for all of us. But if you can barely get her to commit to plans and when you finally do, she bails without a deep apology and without initiating the next date, you’ve got to be done with her.
4. You find yourself making excuses.
You just started dating – you shouldn’t have to explain away his behavior to your friends yet.
5. You’ve been here before.
She’s disappeared before – and you gave her another chance. You know the end of the story.
6. Everything moved really fast.
He was obsessed with you in the beginning. Hell, you didn’t even want a relationship. You’re still not sure you do – you just rolled with the pace that he set. And out of nowhere, he hits the breaks. This romance is about to end as quickly as it started, so fasten your seatbelt or jump ship.
7. Her responses are becoming increasingly short.
It’s coming - the end. The only choice you get is whether or not you’ll call it what it is.
8. He warned you that he isn’t ‘looking for anything serious.’
And you convinced yourself you didn’t want more either. But in the back of your head, you hoped that the right woman would change his mind. Wrong. Answer. Stop trying to change your partner. Believe what they tell you the first time.
9. You never meet her family, her friends, or her – in public.
C’mon. You know you deserve better than to be that guy. If she’s not showing you off, she’s keeping you hidden. And if she’s keeping you hidden, it’s not a good sign.