Give up the ghost

Good evening Travellers,

Here’s something I never thought I’d write, a bit of a glimpse into a recent life experience of mine that I’ve come to learn is a sort of pandemic of it’s own merit. Not the kind that causes blood clots, strokes, difficulty breathing and overall body pain, but more of a socialization virus that causes a disruption in our days and sadness in our souls.

I’m talking about ghosting. 

In case you are unfamiliar with that word, ghosting is when a person who has been romantically present in your life in some capacity for any period of time just vanishes without a word or explanation. Just POOF. Gone. And the ghostee is left wondering if the entire experience was all a mirage. Or an illusion greater that anything David Blaine has ever attempted.

I met someone through work and against my better judgement, that being never ever ever EVER get involved with someone you have professional ties to, started up something. AND he was younger than me, as in more than 10 years. Again, I approached this with some serious trepidation while thinking, well, why not?

I would say we were  in the exploring your curiosity phase. Getting to know each other. And taking it slow, as in no physical intimacy yet. And I made it clear I wasn’t in a rush. We were about 2 1/2 weeks in. We had hung out as the millennials call it and were texting back and forth everyday in a regular pattern.

In fact, I would dare say he was very consciousness about returning texts, writing lengthy responses and so was I…I saw him on Sunday in said professional capacity and it all seemed good. His last text was flirty and I had responded in a full on joking way that I believed was funny, direct and flirting. And then I got NOTHING.

On Monday night, I actually sent an apology text thinking I may have teased him too much, maybe it was misinterpreted? Because that happens…the thing is this guy works a full time job AND runs a side business that appears to consume most of his waking hours. I found that very attractive actually because I’m getting ready to start up outdoor yoga classes and felt it would be great to be with someone equally busy. I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about pursuing things in my own life since he was already doing the same in his…

Obviously I was mistaken….

Today is Wednesday which means it’s been over 72 hours or day 4 and he hasn’t returned any kind of communication. And I’m not sure how I know this, but I can feel it inside that he’s not going to…I knew it Monday morning. It’s sort of like how people describe seeing a ghost. There’s an uncomfortable sort of hair-raising-goose-bump-feeling-sick-in-my-gut-knowing. The ghost is there and you don’t want to see it…

I was ghosted in high school twice, but we didn’t call it that. We called it being an a**hole. And it was much less involved in both cases as I was just 14 or 15 years old. And both were dodging a bullet in retrospect. Still hurt, but a very different kind of hurt. I had one experience in college that also falls under this category and in that instance I had spent a night with him, no sex, but it was intense and intimate and yea, he just vanished. And that one really stung.

I also ghosted a guy a college. And I liked him, a lot. It was mostly self-protection because I knew he didn’t have the capacity to really date just one person. He actually said as much and had referred to himself as a nomad, while he was kissing me one night. It still makes me laugh to this day. Because in my mind that word conjured the image of him wandering through a desert on a camel.

I remember when he caught up to me after I had been dodging him for a month. It was a scene. A friend brought him to a party in our dorm room. He actually stood up on a chair in the midst of a party and asked everyone to leave so he could speak to me. I remember he kissed me up against the wall of that room. After the kiss, he said the most absurd thing that I’m not going to write here in order to spare my Dad’s eyes and then he immediately acquiesced, said he wouldn’t have been any good for me. It was a really weird moment that I’m probably going to remember forever. Because I really liked him, but just couldn’t date him. He would have really hurt me. I explained all that to him and apologized and we were good.

I’ve done some online reading about this phenomenon. Ghosting. And this behavior is rampant. And it seems to spare no one. Both men and women of all ages have experienced this supernatural lack of human integrity or decency. Everything from not returning calls after nights of sweaty intimacy to the dating app suitors who appear very keen only to vanish or the unanswered texts of a blossoming exchange. And I have only one question:

WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH US???

When did we decide to no longer extend the courtesy to others that we ourselves so desperately would want? When did we decide to avoid all honest communication that we would rather hear ourselves?

When did everyone lose their balls AND their humanity?

Is there someone out there who enjoys being left in the dark wondering what did I do, what changed, was it something I said, was it my hair, why the immediate hard left onto the off ramp of the highway of romantic entanglement??

I’m not saying you have to provide an in depth review of your decision to abandon the exchange, because yes, we all change our minds. Yes, you may discover things while getting to know a person that might not be your cup of tea. Yes, sometimes things happen.

And yes, this guy could be busy, or have been involved in some kind of vehicular accident, but I find that HIGHLY unlikely given the established behavior of the last few weeks.

Actions always speak louder than words people.

I have a friend who tells me it has to be a week before it’s technically ghosting. She’s a millennial, I feel she knows better than me. I think it’s disturbing there is an actual established chronological boundary for this kind of bullsh*t behavior. It’s like it’s been standardized and to be expected.

Which brings me to vulnerability. When did we all become such frightened creatures that we refuse to allow ourselves to be seen and dignified and honest with the people we choose to spend time with? And with the advances in technology since I last dated, I feel like there are so many convenient ways to let someone down easy without actually having to see their face. In case you absolutely can’t do it in person. A simple kindly worded “this isn’t working for me because (fill in the blank)” or “I can’t dedicate time to this right now, but (Fill in the blank) response is in my mind just being a good human.

Like I should have told Dan, Hey, I had fun, but you are a heartbreaker and that’s not for me.

I realize you might say that some people will just go nuts and start stalking you or texting constantly, but some of us don’t…and you have to trust that people will respond in kind to your honesty. Embracing your own discomfort is how you grow and learning how to say no is a skill we all need to learn, isn’t it? And isn’t life about learning to take the good with the bad, no matter how much it hurts?

I haven’t sent any more texts to this man, nor will I of a personal nature. I’m waiting to see if he holds up his contractor obligations and yea, I’m somewhat baffled. My guess is that he felt hassled and it wasn’t worth his time. And it hurts. It’s hurts that the first man I chose after the last year and a half of post-divorce non-dating, is pulling this stunt. It hurts my heart and ego. And I’m somewhat discouraged. I’ve allowed myself to feel all the doubting myself feelings and low self worth thoughts BUT when I want to bed last night I realized, it shouldn’t be a struggle and I deserve better. I’m not chasing anyone. So first thing when I woke up, I deleted the text trail of the last three weeks and his number from my cell phone.

Because unless you want to remain haunted, you have to bury the bones of the dead.

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