It’s been a while but I’ve been thriving, surviving, single and SWIPING.
DATING APPS: what a tragic time to be alive.
You know, every time something remotely unfortunate happens in my *less than impressive* love life, the sensitive, trusting, hopeful girl in me curls in a ball and wants to disappear. The ballsy, no-fucks, abrasive writer on the other hand thinks: I’m so glad he proved to be like all the rest, we about to go innnnn!
Like many other busy, bright and frankly amazing single women I know, I’ve had a truly unfortunate experience using dating apps. Tinder, Happn, Bumble and best of all, Hinge, are proving to be a fucking waste of my time. I swear, I’d be more likely to develop a meaningful relationship with a bag of frozen carrots than some of the men I’ve met.
I’ve been on several dates over the last two years and have many stories to tell: the guy who tried too much too soon, the guy who claimed to be a millionaire and fleeced me; the one who thought he could buy his way into my bed or worse, who thought his bed would make a good spot for a first date. Then there’s the guy who replied every 48 hours ’til I finally got the message and my personal favourite: THE GHOSTER.
I was excited when I met a guy who seemed perfect on paper. So funny, so normal, so cute, so nice. All of the boxes were like check, check, check. Even my cynical Mother was like “Hmm, this one sounds more like boyfriend material”.
No pressure then.
Before our date, we spoke for three weeks. Messaging in the morning, messaging in the evening. Phone calls, pictures, voice-notes – even the occasional drunk call some nights. We didn’t meet straight away ’cause we were both working and traveling, but it felt like we were on the same page, opening up and getting along.
The trouble with online dating is you never fully know who’s going to turn up: will they be all you’ve hyped them up to be? Will you be all they’ve hyped YOU up to be? I guess that’s why it was so nerve-wracking when our first date arrived.
Well, we met and it was…nice. Were we trying to rip each others clothes off? No. But we spent four hours together which, to spend with a stranger, on a weekday, is a pretty long time. I didn’t feel the way I felt with my some of previous dates (extreme chemistry and physical attraction which didn’t lead anywhere serious). Instead, I felt at ease. I felt like this is a person I can talk to, who is actually listening. Someone shy and unsure, who’s got my attention. Am I in love with him? No. Am I in lust with him? No. But there could be something here, worth exploring.
At the end of our date we kissed and it was, again, nice.
We carried on talking as normal after that. Well, four days to be exact. Slowly though, he started pulling back. Less messages. Fewer replies. It got to the point where we went from speaking every day to not speaking for a week and I thought: he’s gonna gradually fizzle out ’til he feels safe enough to disappear completely.
Now, to most people reading this, you might be thinking, what’s the big deal? Well, I guess there isn’t one if you’re okay with indirectness; not knowing where you stand or wondering what you’ve done wrong.
When you reach out to someone consistently over a chunk of time, they’ll get used to hearing from you. When you open up to them about your life, they’ll feel they can open up about theirs too. Or like, if you make grand predictions about your future together, you’ll pull them from the present.
Ghosting, is like leading someone up the garden path and pushing them into a well of self doubt.
I began to walk through all kinds of possibilities:
- He’s probably just giving me space while I’m on holiday
- He probably just wants his space while he’s on holiday
- Maybe he’s playing hard to get
- Maybe he’s lost his phone
- Maybe he never had a phone and was borrowing someone else’s
- Maybe his wife / girlfriend / boyfriend has returned from Nebraska
- Maybe he thought we’d have sex that night
- Maybe he thought I was too full on
- Maybe he’s seeing like four, five other girls
Did I have to send him all those pics of my pasta? Did I need to be so “alpha-male” by paying for most of the drinks? Can’t I keep myself small, to prevent guys from being scared of my BIG?
Put me out of my misery already. I went against all of my friends advice and messaged him. His response told me everything I needed to know:
Text 1: He made an excuse, but didn’t even bother to ask how I was doing. Why? Because he didn’t carrreeee. He was too busy feeling sorry for himself after taking ketamine all weekend. Me messaging him simply added to his self-inflicted problems.
Text 2: Did he reply? Of course not. He was ghosting.
Despite letting all my mates down by not playing “the cool game”, I was glad I sent those messages. They set me free from myself, the lights went on.
And something clicked.
I believe every woman has a switching point, where we stop giving a fuck about people who don’t give a fuck about us. We start to reevaluate our relationship with self and realise it’s not even about the guy, it’s more about what WE’VE projected onto THEM. I’ve flicked that switch with every man I’ve ever liked or dated, it’s like sobering up from a night out and nursing yourself with food and sleep.
If you’ve ever been confused, misled or ghosted – just remember: there are plenty more fish in the sea. That fish you been trying to hook? Set it free into the ocean. Let it get eaten by sharks, or later served on a plate with wasabi.
Just kidding. But think about it: if there are multitudes of sea life in the ocean, don’t be disheartened if you couldn’t reel a tiny fish in. Go for the biggest catch your rod allows and trust me, if your catch doesn’t even hold a *PLAICE* in his heart? Do you want him in your net?
Over time, I’ve been advised not to be too honest with men: “Don’t tell him you wanna get married or have kids, he’ll run a mile. “Don’t bring up anything that makes you sound depressed or insecure, it’ll probably be too heavy and he’ll think you’re a psycho. “Play the game by revealing as little about yourself as possible, when he’s finally yours you can show him how crazy you are”.
My bad, I didn’t realise I was a performing puppet in search of an all-male standing ovation.
After being emotionally misled and ghosted, I took all that great advice and binned it, along with every other guy who’s hurt my feelings.
I stopped appeasing online predators, no longer responding to sleazy one-liners with shy emojis, and started showing them my boundaries:
I started turning down dates with guys “looking for fun”, giving them clear, honest explanations as to why I didn’t wanna date them:
Sadly, I forgot some men love the chase and that such reactions would gage more interest:
My ghoster did eventually reappear, almost a week and a half later. He listed all my favourable attributes to soften the blow of his rejection. He didn’t realise that labels like “pretty”, “funny” and “awesome” were just another way of reinforcing his absence. He ended something before it began, because I was more interesting when I was two-dimensional.
All in all, I guess he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Maybe he wanted to back out without contact in case he chose to reappear one day. Or maybe, he was scared to be seen in a bad light, thinking that saying nothing would be safer than saying something.
If somebody ghosts you, burn some sage and close the windows. Delete your ghoster’s number along with any pictures they may have sent: nobody wants to be looking at that shit.
If your worth needs to be validated by anyone other than YOU, maybe it’s time you start giving yourself that much needed love you deserve. Remind yourself how worthy you are and fuck (not literally) anyone who doesn’t see you.
Keep in mind that ghosts aren’t real: if they disappear, they were never really there to begin with.