O Captain, my Captain.
I am sort of shocked at what I am writing you, as I’ve never had anything like this happen to me. I have a 34-year-old woman, and was in a long-distance relationship with a 37-year-old man until a few weeks ago. Then? After our first fight (over the phone), which I thought was fairly minor really, he disappeared. No calls, no texts, email, Facebook, smoke signals. I contacted his best friend to make sure he is still ALIVE – he is – he has just stopped communicating with me altogether. Has he broken up with me? Does he actually plan on resurfacing? I don’t know. But what I think you should know is that we have known each other for 20 years, making this behavior even more cruel.
Here’s how it started: we met in high school. I was basically in puppy love with him until he graduated (nothing happened), and then my first year of college or so, we spent time together. We didn’t have sex but we were intimate. That ended when I found out he was seeing someone else (which was fair, as we’d never discussed being exclusive) so I went my own way, feelings hurt. Then he moved far away, and we exchanged letters, and basically, we’ve kept in touch for the last 20 years. Often, we’ll be in town (the small town we grew up in) at the same time, and we usually drive around and talk and talk and talk. Once, we checked into a motel, watched TV, and kissed. But it never happened again.
This past Christmas, I knew I liked him and was tired of all the dancing around, so we consummated our relationship, if you know what I mean. I spent the next few days with him, and when I left for New York, I made it known that I would come visit him in the Midwest. And I did, several times. It was always just beyond wonderful and lovely and I really thought I loved him, although it was too early (?) to say that, so I didn’t. He did all sorts of nice things for me as well. One thing that concerned me about him, however, was that he hasn’t really worked at all in five years, although he has skills, and he isn’t trying to. He’s dead broke and refuses to work. But. Love!
So, the disappearance. I’ve taken it.. badly. I have basically been using his text box as an empty Word file, and I keep texting him – almost like I’m talking to myself. ALL I NEED is for him to tell me WHY he disappeared, WHY it won’t work out, WHAT is wrong with him, is he upset? What? And he WON’T EVEN GIVE ME THAT. It’s just cruel.
So it’s been three weeks now. Every few days I call him, hoping that this will be the time that he answers the phone and tells me JUST WHAT THE F HAPPENED.
And he never picks up.
About My Disappearance
Dear About My Disappearance,
I know this is incredibly frustrating and painful and I’m sorry both for the pain that you’re in and for what I’m about to tell you:
If he wanted to talk to you, he would have done it already.
Silence in the face of repeated contact may be an unsatisfying message, but it is still a message. It means “I do not want to interact with you.” When someone does not want to interact with you, it is time for you to stop texting and calling him. Not one more text. Not one more call. Not one more email, or letter, or telegram, or checking on him via his friends. Stop.You are not making the situation better or more likely that you’ll get an explanation. Stop shredding your dignity and your feelings against his silence.
You may never know what prompted his change of heart, but you do have all the information that you need to write the story of the end of this relationship. A rough draft:
“(Name) has been a part of my romantic landscape since I was a high school kid with a crush. We came close a few times but it never quite happened. Then, when we actually got together later in life, despite having a few promising visits and weekends together, it just didn’t work out. I was having a few doubts about the relationship anyway, especially when I learned more about his money and career situation. The final straw was when we had an argument and he completely ghosted on me in a cruel and confusing manner, so I ended* it.”
*You do not have to wait until you get word from him and you do not have to communicate with him to make a break up “official.” Just because he decided to leave first doesn’t mean you don’t also get to decide that.
Whatever this man’s attractive qualities may be, whatever hopes and promises were between you, whatever history you have, in the present moment this man is showing you that he is not the right partner for you. His actions are not the actions of someone who loves you and who wants to be with you. You’re not going to even be friends (this isn’t how people who want to stay friends treat each other, either).
In the end it doesn’t matter what his plans are, or his reasons are, or his feelings are. What he’s left you with his his silence, which is both an answer and a gift if you can let it be one. By which I mean, someday he might try to crawl back into your good graces/your bank account/your bed/your attention. Let the memory of how he treated you now be a shield for you against him then.
Please, take the very best care of yourself.