I am not quite sure why this has been such a difficult post to write even though I came up with the title months ago. Perhaps I am trying to distance myself from these painful experiences, but, in the end, I do think it is a good idea to fully process what happened through writing so I can more easily move on.
First off, I realize that my dating experiences echo what a lot of other women are going through. I am not alone in being brushed off and ignored, but yet I feel it so viscerally – it feels like an abandonment and I don’t understand the behavior.
I truly can’t fathom why it seems to be so difficult for people (in this case, men) to simply state their truth: I have changed my mind/I am no longer interested in pursuing this/etc. While I might not be thrilled to receive such a message, it is much better than no message at all. And, it is certainly better than being ignored.
Admittedly, the ghosting isn’t new, but, as I have shifted my dating focus from dating for sex to dating for connection, it feels more hurtful, especially as timelines have grown longer. In particular, my first date with Nate took place in late September and was followed by two more widely spread-out dates in the fall. He seemed to disappear at one point, so I reached out with my locating spell: It seems like… (in this case, that he was no longer interested in dating me). He immediately wrote back and apologized for his radio silence, citing health issues. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked him to be more communicative, noting that he didn’t have to share anything he didn’t want to share, but just to let me know that he was busy or otherwise distracted. He agreed and I thought we were back on track.
After the December holidays, we arranged to have an overnight date at his house in NJ. On the day of our date, Nate drove into the city to pick me up and, during the car ride to his house, we had a heart to heart talk, during which I asked him to kindly text me back within 2 days of my texts to him and to make plans with me in advance, rather than waiting until the last minute, since I was likely to already have plans. He readily agreed and we went on to have what I thought was an amazing date.
On the way to his house, he kindly stopped at the grocery store to pick up cheese and crackers and breakfast for the next day. Then, once we arrived, we hung out talking/dancing/kissing in front of a roaring fire all night, finally heading to bed at 5:00am. In the morning, he made us breakfast and then drove me back into the city, reaffirming his commitment to plan in advance and communicate in a timely manner. I was optimistic and excited about where I thought things were going.
Yet, two weeks went by without a response to my text or a request to make a date. Really? I sent another, less gentle text questioning his inability to meet my requests, and then, a week later when there was still no reply, gently asked for an explanation as to what happened. Now nearly two months have gone by and he never replied (and yes, at this point, I am no longer expecting one). But, I am truly at a loss to understand the situation. This guy was interested enough to continue dating me for four months and yet, he decides to ghost after all of that (and especially after an epic, sexy date)? WTF?
Less egregious was Trevor, whose texts were becoming fewer and farther between. I knew that he had some family health issues going on and simply sent supportive texts in his direction, but eventually noted that he was sending mixed messages, i.e. asking me to meet him for drinks one night and then recanting and telling me he had to work. While I respected his need to work, I did wonder if his enthusiasm had waned and questioned him on it. He finally wrote back to say that yes, he was now interested in finding a primary partner, but hadn’t wanted to hurt me. I sincerely thanked him for his honesty because really that was all that I wanted. Yes, I was disappointed to see him depart, but I wasn’t overly invested in him and I also wanted him to find what he desired. If that wasn’t me, so be it. But, if I hadn’t pushed, I am fairly certain he would have ghosted like so many others.
Lastly and, perhaps, most hurtful, is Gary, the professional Dom I had been seeing since July. Things with Gary had been going well, with us meeting up about twice each month. He had become a D/s mentor to me, permitting me to explore various kinks in a safe and sane way, which I greatly appreciated.
Moreover, he presented me with a collar in late September as a reward and recognition of what our relationship had become. It meant so much to me and it seemed to be meaningful to him as well. While our dates were mostly centered on D/s play and sex, he had invited me to see an off-Broadway show with him and had spent a lot of time really getting at my interests and desires within the kink scene.
Our last date was in early November and an additional meet up was forthcoming, during which time he said he would send me new dates. I never received the new dates and followed up with a text. No response. I didn’t want to push too hard and gave him space over the holidays, but even a well-crafted submissive text requesting an explanation yielded no response, leaving me feeling used and discarded. He was free to change his mind about me, of course, but I had placed a trust in him as my Dom that he broke. I think that in his position of power, he had a duty of care owed to me that he completely ignored. In the aftermath of that, it is challenging to believe anything that was said or done in that context.
So, yes, I feel that these men have indeed behaved quite badly. It is not that time consuming to send a simple goodbye text. And, at least two of these three men knew how I felt about ghosting and yet they did it anyway.
Ghosting seems to be the new normal, but we shouldn’t accept it or make excuses for it. What happened to decency and respect? If you have been physically intimate with someone (read: sex), don’t you owe them the time and energy to end the relationship in a respectful manner? At a minimum, I am perplexed, but, more to the point, I am hurt and admittedly afraid. I know it’s not fair to judge someone based on the poor behavior of others, but I am finding it difficult to trust as I proceed with dating.
Thankfully, the men I am currently dating seem to be capable of kindness and respect and I am hopeful that whatever happens with those relationships, they will provide me with examples of men behaving much better, thereby restoring my trust and dispelling my fears.