#1108: “I got ghosted after re-connecting.”

Hi Captain! I’m 22, she/her, and relatively inexperienced romantically, if it matters.

Last summer I met a guy on Tinder and we hit it off right away. He actually asked me to be his girlfriend the first time we met up in person (my friend insisted this was a serious red flag, but I didn’t see this as a huge concern as we’re both pretty young—at the time I was 21 and he was 22, so I thought he might just be a romantic and not necessarily a sign of emotional immaturity). We went out for two months, during which he told me he “really, really, really, really liked” me. But then he went through some really rough things financially and emotionally and started messaging me less. I asked if he still wanted to see me, saying I understood if not. He said he did but needed some space for a while. I told him if he was still interested by then, I’d be around.

He never got back to me, so I figured he’d move on, but I never really stopped thinking about him. A month ago I texted him, asking how he’s been. I swear I wasn’t expecting to rekindle things or even an answer, but he said he’d been thinking about me too and wanted to see me again. We were going to have lunch but later admitted we both wanted to have sex. We did, and after that, radio silence.

I know we weren’t in a relationship, but I’m hurt that he’d say he didn’t want it to be the last conversation and then vanish on me again. I thought he genuinely showed signs of interest: He was the first to say he missed talking and that he had been thinking of me, without me asking. Since he was at work when we reconnected, I asked if he’d rather talk on the phone later, and he agreed but added “yet I still want to keep talking” i.e. still keep texting. He called me as soon as he was done with his shift, while still at his workplace, then while going home he texted me saying even though it was only for a bit (meaning 18 minutes) he missed talking to me over the phone, and then he called me again when we got home. All our calls were over an hour. The day before we met up, he asked if I still wanted to have sex or do our original plans, saying he was fine with either—even after I asked if he was sure.

Also, I asked him if he had any problems from when we were going out. He said it was honestly great except one thing that was ‘mostly just his insecurities’ but that that was something better addressed another time. Maybe this doesn’t mean anything, but I can’t imagine someone saying something like that if they’re just gaming to get laid.

I really thought I had tried to be communicative and make sure we were on the same page, and I’d like to know if I had somehow misread the situation. Also I’m just sick of thinking about him. Any clarity or insight would be appreciated.

One more thing: days after meeting up, I discovered that he deleted both his Instagram and Facebook accounts. Not blocked, deleted. I saw him scrolling through Facebook when we met up, so he must have done this very soon after that. That made me wonder if something else is going on in his personal life or if I should be worried, but I’m not sure if I’m grasping at straws.

-Tired of Overthinking

Hi Tired of Overthinking:

You were honest and forthright and did nothing wrong, though your friend is right that “I want to be your boyfriend” the first time you meet someone is a bit of a red flag.

What happened is this: You met someone who is charismatic and interesting and sexy who comes on really strong at the beginning but who is not good at following through. Whether he’s not interested in following through or not able to follow through ultimately doesn’t matter – either way, he doesn’t follow through.

It happens sometimes. It sucks, but it happens sometimes.

Deleting all social media presence is possibly a worrying thing for him to do, but presumably this dude has friends and family and other people who can check in on him if something is not right. If you check on him, here’s what will most likely happen: He will tell you a story about why he hasn’t been around. (Fill in the proper space on your Confusing Dude bingo card if this sad story involves baggage from a past relationship.) You will have some intense conversations again and sleep together again, and then he will disappear or otherwise disappoint you again.

So here’s the lesson: Now that you know that he’s unreliable, you can break the cycle of overthinking and being disappointed by letting his self-imposed disappearance from your life actually work. Don’t chase him. He is either unwilling or unable to be the dating partner he seemed like at the start.

The next time you meet up with someone from Tinder or another dating site, you will probably be a bit more skeptical about grand pronouncements like “I want to be your boyfriend” right after they meet you. You’ll be like “Cool, we just met, so slow down! How do you even know I want to be your girlfriend?” You’ll be a bit more skeptical of someone telling you “I have a lot of insecurities, that’s why I am [unreliable/annoying in some way].” You’ll be like “I hope you have a good therapist to talk those over with! So are we on for Saturday or not?” And hopefully you’ll continue to be your wonderful, forthright self, and look for people who consistently show up. This dude is probably not that dude. You didn’t do anything wrong by liking him a lot or giving him a couple of chances.

 

 

141 comments
  1. Belle said:

    Been there LW 🙂 I had a beautiful summer romance with a guy before he flew off to Canada forever. Then he got sent straight back because his visa was a dud, and I was like “cool, so I guess we’ll keep seeing each other” and dude just became hella weird, ghosting for weeks then texting to meet up and saying how much he missed me etc before just vanishing again.

    In the end I got bored of being a wanking sock and FEELINGS receptacle for when he was bored, and told him to get lost, but not before I’d wasted months thinking that something might click back into place, because I was a bit lonely and bored and didn’t feel great about myself.

    The best thing about this was that maybe two months after this I found myself being asked out by three different guys and am now well over a year into an excellent relationship with a guy I wouldn’t have met if I had still been clinging on to that situation.

    I’m not saying if you cut this guy off you’ll be swimming in dick, I AM saying that often we cling a little bit to relationships that aren’t fulfilling for us because we feel that any guy is better than no guy (especially if we’re not experienced romantically). But there is nothing wrong with being single and living life on your terms, and, if finding another partner is something you want at some point in the future, you can’t find great, healthy happy relationships if you’re still putting energy into one that’s not nourishing you.

    • rdyer207 said:

      “Swimming in dick” is my new favorite expression.

      • Dlanda said:

        Oh god, me too. Ditto “wanking sock” and “feelings receptacle.”

        • Ice and Indigo said:

          A less-than-lovely combination, too. If you’re going to date someone casually, fine, BE casual, don’t lean on them for big emotional support. Casual sex is fine! Casual company is fine! ‘It’s serious when I want something and casual when you want something’ is just being a jerk.

          • Sheelzebub said:

            Yeah, ITA. I’m not here to be a dude’s girlfriend experience. Either suck it up and take the plunge or don’t lay your emotions and needs on me if the only thing you want are NSA sexytimes. Nothing wrong with NSA sexytimes but it’s selfish as hell to expect one-sided emotional commitment.

          • The Ghost's Side Chick said:

            OH MY GOD THIS.

            I’m in a very similar situation to LW’s at the moment and kind of perpetually oscillating between “well it’s still very early in the relationship, I shouldn’t freak out if he doesn’t text me for a week, be chill girl” and “but also he’s very intense and told me he loved me and I met his dad and was privy to some extremely confidential info about his health so I thought it was kind of serious?”

            Like, fuck this bait-and-switch deal, at some point it’s casual or it ain’t. You should know something is wrong when frickin Katy Perry sang a song about you (referring of course to the 2008 classic “Hot n Cold”).

          • PromotionalKittenBasket said:

            Oh god, ‘serious when I want something and casual when you want something’ is an accurate description of a back-and-forth I’ve been in for a SOLID YEAR as a grown-ass woman. It’s so simple put that way.

        • Kitty said:

          Yes. Belle, hats off to you 😉

      • J said:

        Oh Lordy yes!

        • Oh of course. That one. (Thank you for introducing me to this.)

        • Typhoid Mary said:

          “you know the one, where the nun is harvesting dicks from a tree…”

          sometimes, I really, really love this community.

      • How I wish, WISH this comments section included up-vote buttons!

    • policychick said:

      Well said.

    • Harriet said:

      I was actually engaged to a man who went to work for a few weeks in another state. He told me he was coming back over Labor Day and then NEVER SHOWED UP. I waited three days and then called, where upon he said he “just couldn’t come back right now.” A few days later he called and gave me some hope and then ghosted again. I was a single parent, in my thirties, and with no family whatsoever. I was suicidal for a few weeks. But after a few short months I knew that I had dodged a really, really awful bullet. What kind of person does that?

      I’m sorry I don’t have any great advice for you, but know, there are some incredibly self-absorbed people out there. It is a major life lesson and you get more cautious with time.

      • JenniferP said:

        Oh. My. God. Who. Does. That.

        He couldn’t say “I’m so sorry my feelings have changed let’s break up?” I am so sorry. (And yes, you dodged a bullet)

        For the greatest tale of horrible ghosting and karma, this post from Ask A Manager has it all.

      • Oh golly. That’s awful.

      • policychick said:

        Oh my god, Harriet! I had a similar situation:

        When I was a senior in college way back in late 80s, I dated a guy for about a year. He had just moved out/broken up with his GF when we started up. He was my first real love, first real ‘Oh so THIS is what good sex is like!’. He was funny and smart and had a fascinating job (combat photojournalist). After I graduated we traveled around for a bit. One weekend, he was going to go back to College Town to pick up some things from GF’s house, then meet me in my hometown to meet my parents. The morning he left for College Town, he said, See you Monday!, and… I never heard from him again.

        After about a month of panic (now remember, back then – no cell phones or internet or anything) and calling everyone I knew to try to find out if he was dead in a ditch somewhere, one of his friends took pity on me. The friend told me that once BF got to College Town, he reconciled with GF and they got married at the courthouse that Monday.

        • devicat26 said:

          Good lord. I can’t even imagine how that would fuck your life up. Its kind of astounding how some people are so utterly unaware of their actions and how they affect the people around them. Enraged doesn’t even come close to how I would feel. What a piece of shit.

          • policychick said:

            Yeah, I well and truly fell apart – I could barely function for I don’t know how long. It took me a long, long time to recover (assuming I did lol). But seriously, ‘ghosting’ is absolutely unacceptable to me. Say something…ANYTHING when you need to end a relationship. Just disappearing is heartless, and the other person feels worthless – like, I didn’t merit a simple ‘It’s over’?

            It’s cruel, and it’s cowardly.

        • Sheelzebub said:

          I. . .wow. That’s so shitty. I hope his future is shoeless and filled with Lego-strewn floors.

          • Carpe Librarium said:

            Your comment just reminded me of this awesome poem by Rachel Wiley, ‘Dry Cake Wishes and Tap Water Dreams’: https://youtu.be/qpJn7y8kT-w

            I think many of the commenters here would enjoy it.

        • Kitty said:

          WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. That guy is clearly a sociopath! Who fucking does that!

        • Friendly Hipposcriff said:

          That sounds incredibly tough (particularly with the travelling around and being away from your support network), but you’re very, very lucky – he’s out of your life.

          What I was wondering is what kind of person would marry a man like that, and one plausible answer is ‘his girlfriend’ – he *said* he’d broken up, but did *she* know that? Sooner or later, his true colours would have shown again…

      • Jitz Girl said:

        I did a college internship, and started dating a fellow intern. We both received job offers, pending the completion of our degrees. We agreed that we would accept the job offers, complete our degrees (at different universities in different states), and come back to work at this company. I fulfilled my end of it. He… didn’t. Shortly after graduation, his phone was disconnected. He never gave any kind of explanation; I just gradually accepted he wasn’t coming.

      • Thursday Next said:

        I just can’t even begin to understand ghosters. Dudes! Why can’t you send a text/email/snail mail that says, “I’m really sorry, I can’t marry you/keep dating you/move to City with you/come back home after this beer run”? (Seriously, a friend’s dad went on a beer run when she was two and just. never. returned.) I pose this question in all sincerity, because I can’t fathom it. It makes me so mad. And sad. Like Sookie, I’m smad.

        The Ask A Manager letter writer is next-level epic. I am not one to revel in other people’s professional misfortunes (unless they are racist, misogynistic, xenophobic* public figures), but that guy got what he deserved.

        *Not an exhaustive list.

      • Not Australian said:

        Friend of mine was engaged to a guy, they’d lived together for several years, she thought This Was It. He went back to live with his parents for a while, and the next thing she knows is an e-mail from his dad informing her – apologetically – that he had just married someone else. No explanation, never another word from the guy himself, but the father was absolutely mortified.

    • S said:

      Wanking Sock + Feelings Receptacle should be like, a type of sex worker. Because that is a thing that so many men want, they want you to be there for those things when they want you, and then to go away when they aren’t interested.

      And like, who wouldn’t want that sometimes? not that I blame them. But it’s unfair to keep expecting women to fill that role for free.

      • Guesty said:

        I can imagine wanting it, but I can’t imagine actually treating someone that way, particularly when you’re keeping them in the dark about it. Who thinks it’s okay to do this stuff? It’s self absorption to the max, likely with a heavy dose of objectification thrown in.

        • Nanani said:

          I think it’s an aspect of gendered objectification, where the patriarchy teaches that women are only to be paid attention to when a man needs something from her – sex, emotional support, labour – and go away to storage like a good little object the rest of the time.

          • S said:

            Absolutely. Well and I also think that women are socialized to provide it to a certain extent. I know I do, and the idea that I should want something in return for emotional support, even with female friends, seems selfish to me.

          • devicat26 said:

            Yuuuup. In that link from the Cap, a lot of the comments (from MRA’s I suppose) were whining about how commentators were targeting men for this behavior and I was like WELL DUH!?!? #notallmen but our culture, hell the WORLD’S culture, teaches men this behavior which is why that utter asshat thought it was okay to ghost a 3 year relationship to avoid ‘drama’. Jesus Fuck WHO DOES THAT.

      • Some years ago I went to a cuddle party. My long-term partner, who’d determined that he was polyamorous, wanted to get practice asking people to cuddle, and invited me along. I went because I (monogamous) already wasn’t getting the time and attention I wanted from then-partner, and anticipated that would only become more the case as my then-partner started dating more people. I wanted to see if I could exchange clothes-on, non-sexual touch with other people thus inclined, and maybe meet some of my unmet needs without doing something that felt at odds with my own integrity.

        Toward the end of my time at the party, a dude I’d been in a contact improv class earlier in the weekend came up to me and asked if he could put his head on my leg and decompress for a bit. I thought about it a minute and thought, I would be okay with that. Dude proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes talking about how nice to women he had been all weekend, and how he saw all the guys who hadn’t been so respectful of their boundaries being rewarded with attention and sex. I was trying to be non-judgmental, so I kept saying “the right person for you is going to *like* that you are respectful of boundaries.” What I later wished I had said, as I was sorting through why I felt so irritated, was that he never asked if he could complain to me about Not Getting Any. He never contemplated that I was a safe person to have this conversation at because he had identified me as an Emotional Labor Dispenser instead of a Sex Dispenser.

        Anyway. That experience– which, mind you, happened while I had plenty of my own relationship angst to deal with– cured me of thinking that cuddling with relative strangers would do anything to address my loneliness and/or touch deficit.

        Hold out for someone who sees you a fully human, not as a Dispenser of anything.

      • Sarah said:

        I am a former sex worker and while I wholly and readily admit to having provided services that fall under that description … WOW do I hate it when people say “Ugh this gross thing men do … they should do it to sex workers!”

        • spd said:

          Yikes.

          • spd said:

            (Yikes as in that dehumanization sounds awful to put up with, not Yikes you are an unreasonable person).

        • policychick said:

          Yeah, I cringed a little at that too….

        • Vicki said:

          Thanks for that input.

          I’d interpreted S’s comment as meaning that sex+one-sided emotional labor could be a kind of sex work, the same way that people hire sex workers because they want a particular kink, or because they’re self-centered enough sexually that they would rather trade money for a partner who is okay with focusing on the client’ orgasm than concern themselves with whether their partner has also been satisfied.

          It also reminded me of something I read years ago, that what some people are paying sex workers for is not just sex, but going away afterwards, rather than expecting any kind of continuing connection. A level of non- or one-sided expectation where it doesn’t count as ghosting if the client doesn’t call again, but where if they do call again after an arbitrary length of time that’s fine and they can expect to see the person again without being asked “where were you?”

          • S said:

            Yes, that is what I meant. But I realize I may not have said it very well.

        • Leonine said:

          When I read that comment, I thought, “Ugh. What sex worker would want to deal with some dude’s stupid feelings?” It kinda made me wonder how the encounter would be negotiated and how much more the sex worker would charge. It actually seems kind of impossible, though, because I have from time to time been used as an unconsenting emotional toilet, and ime, people who do this have *no idea* how goddamned exhausting they are. I had a senior colleague at work who would corner me at least once a week for at least 30 minutes to disgorge all her FEELINGS about her legal/family issues. I kinda want to go back and say, “There, there. Let it all out. Feel better? Good. That will be $50.”

          • I was reading about some really strange emotional services you can hire other people for around the world.

            My favorite was the one where in a certain city in Japan, you can hire a beautiful young man to show up in a Japanese-medieval-swordfighter costume and read you poetically sad stories until you weep, whereupon he will kindly and gently wipe the tears off your face.

            I’m not kidding. That is the service. I’d be tempted to try it just for the WTF factor.

          • JenniferP said:

            That’s like a vignette from a Cat Valente novel.

          • wordsintheinterim said:

            If you’re interested, the term for that in the sex-worker communities I’ve been a part of has been “Girlfriend Experience” or “GFE” and it’s a lot more expensive than most other services for that reason – it’s EXHAUSTING, and so many people consider emotional labor part of your “job” as a person in a female-shaped body, never mind as a sex worker, that you find yourself doing it all day for free. But if you’re gonna be burdened with someone else’s nonsense anyway, charge higher!

        • S said:

          Sarah, I just want to clarify, I don’t think they should do it to sex workers because it is gross and bad behavior. I think they should engage sex workers for this behavior because it is real work that deserves to be compensated, and should be something that the other human consents to.

          In fact the thing about it that I find distasteful isn’t that they want this, it’s that they are simply taking it without compensating the other person in any way or without getting consent from them first. (And of course I know that sex work isn’t always done in ideal conditions and that full consent might not be possible, I am certainly imagining a more ideal world situation than a real world one here.)

          I am sorry that my comments may have made you feel like I didn’t respect your former work or for any other negative feelings I may have caused.

        • Clorinda said:

          I rather thought S meant that if women provide this service they can be paid for it, and like any businessperson they can say no if they don’t want to do it.

        • Not an unreasonable response, generally. In this particular case, though, I don’t interpret the sentiment as devaluing sex workers. The gross thing in question is the lack of reciprocity. If the guy pays for it, and the person he pays is somebody who wants cash rather than emotional labor from him, then reciprocity exists.

      • slythwolf said:

        I have trouble imagining such a sex worker would be paid what their services were actually worth.

      • Fleshlights and counselling are already available to people who are willing and able to pay for them. The problem is that these kinds of guys think they shouldn’t have to.

    • Sarah Newitt said:

      I think “FEELINGS receptacle” is an amazing descriptor and would like it added to a crummy relationships dictionary.
      Also, add me to the been there done that list. Life is better now.

    • “I’m not saying if you cut this guy off you’ll be swimming in dick, I AM saying that often we cling a little bit to relationships that aren’t fulfilling for us because we feel that any guy is better than no guy (especially if we’re not experienced romantically). But there is nothing wrong with being single and living life on your terms, and, if finding another partner is something you want at some point in the future, you can’t find great, healthy happy relationships if you’re still putting energy into one that’s not nourishing you.”

      Being single and living life on my own terms is how I’ve spent most of my life — somehow the certainty that no guy is better than the wrong guy is one I’ve struggled with less than most, and I knew it somehow from a very young age. So when people find it difficult, I can tell you that’s it’s not just one’s own thinking that makes it hard, but relentless social/societal pressure. Sometimes I feel like my life has been one long war, battle after battle after battle, for my own freedom from being bound and chained into something I don’t want or haven’t had enough time to consider.

      And hell, I’m used to it, and was used to staunchly doing what I thought right while my whole world tried to shout me down from childhood.

      Those of you out there trying to take that space for yourself — I know how insidious, how relentless the messages are that you must somehow be failing at life or be somehow bad and wrong if you’re not coupled-up or working hard to get that way. But as Belle said, that is how you get the room in your life to decide what you really want and to be able to spot it when it shows up.

  2. Ayla said:

    OP I appreciate you adding the details of your conversations to give context that it wasn’t your old fashioned booty call. BUT wanting intense conversation plus/instead of sex doesn’t mean he’s there for long term dating. Intense conversation can be very exciting/distracting/addicting in a way similar to sex. Does anyone have a term for this talk-based version of booty call?

    Anyways, the advice still stands, just wanted to chime in about this line of thinking .

    • Thanksforallthefish said:

      unpaid therapist and/or confessional lol not a proper term but I know those feelings. Like you get to admit to anything and share your wildest dreams with this person because this person is outside your real life.

    • Sheelzebub said:

      I’ve heard it called the ‘girlfriend experience’ (or the ‘boyfriend experience’).

    • S said:

      Well I think what’s frustrating about this, is that those things generally DO signal more than a booty call. Like someone showing interest in you, in your life, dropping the word boyfriend? There is nothing wrong being like “Hey, I super want to spend time with you, but I am not interested in any kind of commitment, so please don’t mistake anything i say or do for that.”

      But it doesn’t sound like this guy is self aware enough to realize that he’s building this emotional connection for a type of gratification and then dropping it when it is no longer useful to him. The fact that it’s kindof common and maybe he isn’t doing it on purpose doesn’t make it a not shitty thing to do.

      I think there is nothing wrong with wanting a one night type of connection, but you should be upfront with your partners. And this guy wasn’t, and it confused the LW and I don’t blame her at all for being confused.

      (The girlfriend experience usually refers, in my knowledge, to sex work, so those women are getting paid to be emotionally connected with and then dropped like a hot rock, which I think deserves compensation!)

      • Ayla said:

        Nope absolutely do not blame for being confused. The only difference between booty call, early infatuation, and long term that I’ve reliably found is time and consistency. They all feel the same to me at the beginning.

        • JenniferP said:

          “The only difference between booty call, early infatuation, and long term that I’ve reliably found is time and consistency. They all feel the same to me at the beginning.”

          THE TRUTH OF THIS. Ouch. So true.

        • S said:

          That’s interesting, because to me they don’t. I pretty much know if I’ll be into someone long term or not immediately. But then 100% of my relationships fall into either “booty calls” or “basically married.”

  3. catsan said:

    Wasn’t there an article recently about guys who resort to excessive flattery and lies about interest in a relationship to get laid, even on platforms that are explicitly for that purpose?
    Because that reminds me of similar instances in my life where it was like this. Now, being autistic doesn’t make me exactly skilled at societal double-talk, so it took me a long time to not take guys seriously, not pay with my own self-esteem (It must have been something I did or am etc.) and build up necessary distrust (which of course riles the Not All Men squad up, but I gotta live)
    As if sailing the cognitive dissonance and guessing wasn’t costing a lot of energy. Talking about feelings and relationships as a bait for sex or to make a woman perform more and demand less in bed is an unethical waste of other people’s time and consideration.

  4. policychick said:

    “unwilling or unable”

    I just want to highlight that this is such a critical, important phrase. I have been through so many relationships (I’m 53 so I’ve been around the block) and they have all, to a certain extent, hung on these two words.

    You AND the object of your affection (OYA) have to be in a position to be both willing AND able. ‘Willing’ because you are truly interested; your OYA is funny/intelligent/passionate about their work/fill-in-the-blank. And also ‘able’: unattached (according to whatever their relationships dictate); emotionally open, within X distance away, fill-in-the-blank.

    And it doesn’t really matter which one is missing or why; without both you will twist in the wind. I’ve been in that purgatory for almost ten years now. The worst of it is, it’s a purgatory of my own making. Learn from my mistake.

    Good luck LW! You are young and smart and pulled together – you have a lot of love ahead of you!

  5. Ros said:

    All of what the Captain says.

    But also: he’s going through things, and that’s fine/understandable/an explanation/etc, but that doesn’t mean that you have to help him get through things. There’s this social script that writes men as projects and women as meant to help the dude get through his crap because once that’s done you’ve got a happily ever after, and it’s nonsense. If you are with someone who brings you joy and supports you, obv part of a relationship is that support. But there’s a reason most therapists charge 80-odd an hour, and that’s cause this shit is WORK. You don’t have to volunteer for it.

    • enplaned said:

      Awesome. Love it.

  6. glomarization said:

    When something like this happened to me, I never found out exactly what issues the gentleman had, but a good google search a few years later showed that he was working nearby in a BigCompany office and seemed to have gotten his act together. We’d met each other during a professional training program, and his current job was unrelated to that program and didn’t require the extensive licensing that he had been on track to get by that time. Now, I knew that before the program he’d had addiction issues, so I suspect that he ghosted because he had a relapse.

    I hope for the sake of LW’s guy that he’s not enduring an addiction problem, and that’s not what I even mean to suggest. What I do mean to suggest is that LW not take the ghosting personally. Something seems to have come up for this guy, and for him to ghost LW it was probably something really, really big and difficult to deal with. So I hope LW can work through the disappointment and take it to hear that the ghosting is not about her, but about the guy’s own issues.

    • JenniferP said:

      It probably is his own issues! When people say “I have a lot of issues!” and then act like they have a lot of issues, believe them!

      I would just resist the narrative that because whatever it is might not be his fault that it’s somehow on the Letter Writer to get to the bottom of it and/or give many chances.

      • Vicki said:

        Right. “I’m working on some issues” is like “it’s not you, it’s me”: take it at face value, because it might well be true, but they aren’t your issues, or your work to do.

        An actual friend might ask for help working on their issues. And you can ask them for the same. Emotional intimacy is a real thing, and a valuable one, but it should be a two-way street. Not “the other person talks about their issues and problems, and you make sympathetic noises, make them soup, and don’t ask them to listen to your stuff.”

      • glomarization said:

        Yeah, my gentleman’s reasons for ghosting were not my circus, not my monkey-on-my-back.

        • sayevet said:

          Not my skeletons, not my closet 🙂

      • Guesty said:

        Exactly!

        I would also like to add that unethically racking up bedpost notches is how a lot of people (particularly guys) self-soothe or distract themselves from their problems. It could be that the way he is behaving is actually working for him in some way and he’s not particularly trying to change. Just because he could have legitimate problems doesn’t mean that he’s not also a jerk to his dates.

  7. jenfullmoon said:

    Go read the books “He’s Scared, She’s Scared,” and “Attached.” Seriously, blew my mind on shitty dudes like this.

  8. LW, you should not be worried. Something else might be going on in his life, but if it is, he’s *choosing* not to share it with you. You are trying really hard to be communicative and make sure the two of you were on the same page, and that’s awesome! He does not seem to be putting in the same effort.

    I get that he was the first to say he missed talking and that he had been thinking of you, and that you didn’t need to prompt him, but it’s still worth keeping in mind that he had at least half a year in which to get back to you if he was interested and he didn’t reach out. He hasn’t talked to you since you had sex. He hasn’t mentioned why he chose to delete his social media accounts.

    You seem like a lovely, thoughtful person who is putting in a good effort to build a relationship. He seems like a bit of a flake who, even if he has the best of intentions, is terrible at following up about things he says he wants.

    It’s like if you see an ad for a really fancy self-heating coffee cup that carefully maintains your drink at the Exact Right Temperature and as soon as you try it little LEDs spell out that it wants to be Your Best And Only Coffee Cup and you think this is cool so you pick it up, and this coffee cup works great for two months, and then the cord breaks and customer service says they’ll get back to you if they can find a replacement and next year you say “hey, what’s up” and they ship you a replacement, and the coffee cup is working perfectly again except for that thing where you drink from it and the next morning it won’t turn on and the cord has disappeared and also all the online ads you saw for it are 404.

    You didn’t miss anything and you don’t need to be worried; it’s not like you invested your rent or tuition money in this cup performing as promised. It’s absolutely okay to be sad that the coffee cup is not doing what it said it would do, but this is not your problem! And this year can be the year of finding a coffee cup that actually works for you and doesn’t sit around gathering dust for three seasons.

    (In the meantime, teacups or paper cups or juice glasses are okay. Or caffeine-infused chocolate squares. I don’t know, the metaphor is getting away from me, but you *definitely* do not have to have a coffee cup to be happy, and certainly not *that* coffee cup.)

    • kddomingue said:

      I love, love, love a good runaway metaphor!

    • Ros said:

      This is lovely. Yes.

  9. Temperance said:

    LW, I had my own version of this guy. He was gorgeous and exactly my type, super tall and covered in bad tattoos, and he would hook up with me and then say that he wanted to date me for real and that we could have something, and then he’d ghost for a while and come back. He was super hot and I really liked him, so I kept doing it even though I knew it was going nowhere.

    I think your dude is doing a more elaborate version of what my dude did. That’s okay. There are so many other dudes out there who aren’t into playing weird headgames.

    • Ros said:

      I wish dudes who just wanted to have sex and then leave would be straightforward about it. Frankly: it’d avoid a lot of messed-up expectations, and I would legit have slept with a lot more dudes I was into if what was on the table was ‘sex and I leave’ (what I was looking for) vs ‘feelings talk and possible relationship, but also sex!’ (which I wasn’t, and therefore avoided dudes who phrased their expectations that way because I wasn’t reciprocating that desire and wasn’t willing to get laid on false pretenses). It’s amazing how much ethics help get what you’re looking for sometimes…

      • CommanderBanana said:

        ^^ This.

        A couple years ago I got out of a long-term relationship and just wanted to sleep around, basically. I was open and honest about just wanting casual companionship, but I got one of two results from almost everyone I met: either trying to lock something down right away, OR behaving like an ass on (I guess?) the theory that if one acts like a decent person to a casual partner, they might “catch feelings” and then OHNOES the world will end.

        The ironic thing is almost every guy who ghosted me ended up trying to get back in touch through random “hi, thinking of you” texts – some OVER A YEAR LATER after we’d last seen each other.

        You can have a casual arrangement with someone and still be a decent, kind person to them. The thing that was so stupid is that it was like they didn’t realize that behaving like a douche meant that I’d eventually get fed up and stop responding to them.

      • goddessoftransitory said:

        I think that one reason (not the only, or all guys, but some) guys do this is that they don’t want to think of themselves as unworthy of more than what they dole out to their partners. They emotionally stint and ghost and act like jackoffs as some kind of preventative ritual for feeling like that’s all they deserve in their own lives, or something. A kind of “you can’t fire me I quit!” reaction to what was honestly an unpaid internship at that point.

      • M Dubz said:

        That would necessitate that the dudes who do this shit actually know what they want. I have found, to a man, that they don’t.

        *pulls out soap box* there are few things that irritate me more than people (especially men) who say “women are COMPLICATED, men are simple.” Like no, you’re just as complicated as us, and I have the dating history to prove it. The simple ones are the ones who acknowledge how complicated they are, and try to make sense of it.

  10. CarpeFelis said:

    LW, forget this dude. My read on the situation is he’s using you for sex and/or free talk therapy and may be doing the same with other women as well. Your friend was right about the red flag. Usually the push for quick involvement is a sign of an abuser, but in this case it sounds like it was just a line to reel you in. In any case, it doesn’t really matter what he’s up to or why. The fact is, he’s flaking on you and isn’t worth your time.

    • Guesty said:

      Yeah, I think it’s called “love bombing” when someone is really affectionate really early. It’s either a way to emotionally manipulate someone or a sign of someone who isn’t very emotionally stable.

      I think about it this way: If someone call fall in love with you in an hour, what, exactly, are they really falling in love with? They barely know you, so what are these affections rooted in? It’s either your appearance or assumptions about who you are that may or may not actually turn out to be the case once they get to know you.

  11. Sheelzebub said:

    “I really thought I had tried to be communicative and make sure we were on the same page, and I’d like to know if I had somehow misread the situation. Also I’m just sick of thinking about him. Any clarity or insight would be appreciated”

    I have no idea what he’s thinking. The only insight I can offer you is that he’s not for whatever reason into this. It doesn’t matter why as it’s not on you to fix things for him. This sucks but I’d move on. I’d block his number and never get in touch with him again–not to be punitive but for your own peace of mind. You’ll move on more quickly that way, and you’ll be open to meeting cool people you are into who want an actual relationship with you.

  12. not fake-woke enough said:

    Echoing others that this is NOT your problem to fix, so don’t put that on yourself. He (hopefully) has other people in his life who can help him get through this, and not only are you not obligated to do so as a casual Tinder partner, you most likely wouldn’t be effective at doing so as a casual Tinder partner.

    But don’t jump to reacting to this as a verdict about his entitlement for sex, broader verdict about men on the dating scene, etc., either. There are a ton of red flags about this that jump out as potential depression/suicide risk behavior. Not saying that’s for sure what’s going on here, since I don’t know the guy, but the initial loss of contact coming after financial issues and the blanket deleting of social media accounts is concerning. I’ve dealt with financial issues to the point of temporary homelessness, and it sucks to be dealing with that while attempting to maintain normal social relationships. Hierarchy of needs kicks in, and it’s near impossible to put forth equal footing in a friendship or more casual romantic relationship when the other person’s definition of equal footing looks like full financial/emotional/familial support. If any of the above is the case, then the jumping into a relationship right away after initial Tinder contact seems to be less of an emotional neediness deal or sex desperation and more of a “look, a magic fix to be Normal, I can do this” thing coupled with some sharp mental health plummets when the enthusiasm spike wanes.

    You don’t have to be, and you shouldn’t be, his magic fix under any circumstances, let alone when you’re inexperienced on the dating scene and looking for a cut-and-dry meetcute. If you have any way to still contact him post-social-media deleting and have the desire to do so for your own reasons, though, I would approach it from a friendship standpoint, if you can. “Hey, just checking in. I know you’ve been going through some rough times, and as much as I’d like to continue our relationship, I’m cool with friendship too if you ever need an ear to listen. If not, hope things are looking up for you.” Don’t imply that you social media stalked and found out he deleted his other accounts, and don’t offer friendship out of obligation or the hopes it will turn into something more – you don’t want to come across as the one who seems entitled to sex – but from your letter, it really does sound like this is not about you.

    • I think you’re hearing hoofbeats on Dartmoor and betting on zebras.

      There is no reason for the letter writer to extrapolate that some boy who ghosts is homeless or suicidal. I believe you’re asking way too much of her.

    • Even if you’re read on the situation is correct, it’s still not at all on LW to be a relationship if he wants it or a friend or a listening ear (whatever he wants, totally on his terms) – they dated two months, it’s not appropriate for her to be a therapist to him (not appropriate for either of them).

  13. Czarnoskrzydła said:

    LW, I don’t think I have much advice other than to forget this guy. For whatever reasons, he is not that into you and I think any time and effort on him is wasted. But if you are interested in my read of the situation, or just generally in theories, here it is:

    I think it was about sex. I’m sorry! I know this sucks and it seemed like something so much more, but I think this is the way a booty call often looks – you don’t know you are one because it’s not obvious (if it was, it would not work on people who don’t want to be a booty call – it needs to be masked).

    He shared a little bit of generic things like ‘I have insecurities’ – which, everyone has them. He didn’t really tell you anything private or intimate at all (like: what those insecurities are?) Just something very generic that only sounded intimate.
    He was into this intense, deep conversation and reeled you in with big emotional confessions very early on. To me it looks like a classical player – possibly someone who has a script and techniques for this kind of thing, like the fast bf/gf thing. I also think (btw I may be waay to cynical) that the generic confession about insecurities was calculated exactly to make you think: he is shearing stuff so it’s not just about sex, without him actually sharing anything).

    I understand there was a lot of details that happened, but in the end, when you cut through the bullshit and confusion this is what emerges; you talked, there was sex, he lost interest right after sex. This is actually pretty black and white, imo. Of course I can be wrong, this is just my read. Even if I’m wrong – the fact still stands that he seems not to be available for much more than shagging.

    I’m sorry! I get that you have a crush on him and would like to hear something else and I send all the jedi hugs!

  14. Dear LW,

    You did nothing wrong.

    There’s a cultural narrative that says women require emotional attachment when we have sex, men not so much. I believe that underlies some men’s tendency to play up their feeeeeelings (even when no feelings are there, even if the motivation is unconscious).

    This man has a thing for over the top declarations anyway, so it’s not surprising he did it again. If he shows up again remember this encounter – but consider not taking him seriously.

    You will meet men who are as open and forthright as you are.

    Good luck.

  15. Indie said:

    I think if this is one of your first experiences, a post mortem is pretty natural. I think you did just fine, and I think with more time and data, you may find the annoying but self disposable dude is somewhat better than wont-be-dumped guy, who is also waiting to be discovered. I think one of the most irritating experiences young women have to go through is when men say A, but mean B, regardless of you being clear that saying A is fine. Short version? In general, watch both his lips and his feet. Communication only gets you so far. Actions should back up the words.

  16. Beth said:

    Anyone else wonder just what was on his Facebook and Instagram that he didn’t want LW to see? Such as another relationship?

    • Honestly, not really.

      This is my personal perspective, but I wouldn’t *delete* two of my social media accounts (that were already looked at, or LW wouldn’t have known they existed to be deleted) to hide a pre-existing relationship for what seems to have been a few weeks of intense conversation and one intimate encounter. I guess I might do that if I had a big secret that I wanted to hide while maintaining the new relationship, but I wouldn’t ghost on the new relationship and *then* do it, you know?

      (*If* it was LW-related, it reads a lot more to me like “dude indicated he wanted a relationship, dude is now terrified that he might need to be in a relationship, dude is trying to run away because ‘mostly just his insecurities’ flared up like WHOA”. But there are a ton of things in his life that aren’t about the LW, so maybe he’s just going into lockdown because of something unrelated.)

      Either way, dude has chosen not to share information with the LW, and does not seem to be stepping up to be worth more of her attention.

      • On some social medias, blocking someone can look like you’ve deleted your account. I know for a fact that Facebook does. My mother thinks that both my brother and I have deleted Facebook. We have not. We’ve just blocked her. So to her, our accounts do not exist. She can’t find us by searching or through mutual friends.

        • That is good to know, thanks! I didn’t realize.

          Either way, the dude is cutting off passive avenues of communication to the LW (places where you can stop by and see someone, if that makes sense?) and not maintaining active ones (like texting back) so he’s not maintaining a relationship with her. I feel like she definitely deserves better, and that putting time and energy into thinking why he did this isn’t time and energy well-spent?

        • not fake-woke enough said:

          Super valid point. He could’ve blocked her, then set his profiles to private, making him invisible to her and her assume he deleted. Impossible to know from the situation, and the larger point comes back to the idea that it’s not her responsibility to fix him, not healthy for her to keep herself emotionally dangling, and not her place to assume what’s going on with him.

      • not fake-woke enough said:

        I’m with you here. Without the mention of financial issues early on and the deleting of social media accounts, my read on this situation would be completely different and I’d align with the “he’s just a player smooth-talking his way into sex and baiting with the promise of more emotional commitment” responses. I think we might be missing a key point here in the story re: the social media accounts – what is the context of LW knowing these accounts were deleted? Was she friends with him on those accounts? For how long prior to the deletion? Without details, it could be anything from him attempting to hide something damning on his social media profiles to her social media stalking him without him knowing and coincidentally observing another effect of his depression.

        With only the details given, it sounds like something bigger is going on in his life, and their relationship is an unfortunate casualty of that. That’s not to say that with the relationship playing out without those issues going on in his life, he couldn’t have been a dick anyway. But if deleting two social media accounts that presumably have a lot of family and business contacts attached is a facet of a habitual scheme to ply women into sex with sob stories about hardships and insecurities, then this dude has a lot bigger issues than being a player. (Or, alternately, he shouldn’t be wasting his attention-to-detail nefarious masterminding on a sphere like Tinder and should instead turn his talents to something like international spy work…)

    • Rhoda said:

      Can you delete a Facebook account? I tried and years later was still getting messages from Facebook. I was able to log in as if I’d never deleted at all one day.
      Ironically, I can’t get in at all since last week. It’s telling me my password is invalid and sending reset emails to an email address that I haven’t used in years, despite changing my settings to use a newer one at least 2 years ago. Oh well.

      • Nope. You can only deactivate them, because they know you’re more likely to come back if you already have an account that’s set up and waiting for you. I think maaaaaaybe there are ways to do a real delete? But I believe they involve a lot of finagling with the people at facebook and you need some kind of circumstances more extreme than “I just don’t want an account anymore.”

        • JustKate said:

          Yes, I think to delete a page, you do indeed have to have the help of the not-very-responsive folks at Facebook. My organization has been streamlining its various social media accounts, and that includes combining FB pages (e.g., instead of Specialized FB Page A, Specialized FB Page B and Specialized FB Page C, we now have one Overall FB Page Z). Once the likes/followers of two pages are combined, which is a huge deal (not undertaken by me, thank the dear Lord), then the now-extraneous Specialty FB Page has to be deleted. It all takes weeks and weeks of effort. We have somebody who’s paid to do this, but most regular, just-use-FB-for-fun folks aren’t going to bother. And why should they? So deactivating is much more common.

      • n.b. said:

        Yes, you can. I have. They make deactivation easy and deletion not, but you can delete it at will by jumping through the proper hoops.

      • Rachel said:

        I have completely deleted facebook, although that was back in 2013 – things might have changed since then. The deletion process was *hilarious*. It took forever and I had to click “Yes, I definitely want to delete this account” about twenty times, and it showed me pages and pages of photos of all my fb friends with manipulative messages like “Jenny will not be able to contact you… Dave will not be able to contact you… are you sure you want to do this?” Even then, once I had finally deleted the account, I had to stay logged out of it for (I think) 30 days to finalise the deletion. If I had logged back in at any point during that time, I would have had to start the whole process over again.

        However if you just deactivate your account (which I did first) you become invisible to everyone so it appears you have deleted your account anyway. This could be what the LW’s Ghost Boyfriend has done.

        • Anne On said:

          Rachel, those are protesters-outside-the-abortion-clinic tactics. Creepy!

  17. SZ said:

    My sense is that he wants–or thinks he wants–an Actual Relationship, but is not stable enough or emotionally ready for one. The key point is that this is his problem to fix, not yours. Whatever caused him to delete his social media is also his to deal with. Wish him well, hope he gets it together, but don’t let yourself get emotionally invested in whether he does or not.

    He’s ghosting rather than asking you to help him with his issues, which…is not the most mature way to handle it, but it happens. Beats having him latch on to you like a hungry man-baby and sucking you dry while you devote yourself to helping him get over his insecurities. You had a two-month summer fling, and then sex-with-an-ex, and that’s not all that unusual in your early 20s. You have nothing to regret, so don’t worry about him and focus on living your best life, while looking around for someone who can be a wonderful addition to Your Best Life.

  18. Amy said:

    Sometimes things are exactly what they look like. This guy talks the talk, but for whatever reason he’s not walking the walk. There’s absolutely nothing you can do (and nothing you could have done) to change that. All you can do here is decide if it’s worth it to you to keep chasing someone who never follows through on their words.

  19. WorldEnough&Time said:

    Thank you, Universe, Letter Writer, Captain Awkward and the wise Awkwardettes (showing up with pom poms for the sisterhood), for this particular post on this particular day. I’m dealing with similar anxieties about a man who may or may not show up this evening for intimate congress with me, which I am building up to MEAN something..

    Dear LW, you and I have got it bad, that overthinking and obsession thang about a guy whose motives are opaque and ultimately unknowable. All those four AM questions of the ceiling: “what if I had texted *this* instead of *that*? What if I had been more understanding? What if I had worn the blue bra that makes my breasts look bigger?”

    But the better question to ask myself is why I go down the obsession path in the first place. What is missing in my life and my self-esteem to make this habit of thought the default? The opportunity in this for me and possibly for you, dear LW, is to examine those meta-questions. Be curious about why you find yourself in this frame of mind, not why he did whatever he did. In the long term, we have to be our own best friends, and a real best friend would take that approach.

    Oh, and take care of yourself. Whether he lets go of you or you of him, there is loss. Loss needs to be recognized and the resulting grief needs to be delicately medicated with friends who will cherish you, and chocolate.

    • spd said:

      Good luck. For what it’s worth, it sounds like whether your man shows up tonight or not, you deserve to be free of him.

      • The Ghost's Side Chick said:

        Ain’t gonna lie this made me tear up a little.

    • Ducky said:

      Oh, the times I have done that for a man who wouldn’t ever have done the same for me. Life got so much better when I started assuming “maybe” means no and also finally realized he *benefited* from me being uncertain about him doing things. I’d be grateful just because he showed up, and in the meantime if he got a better offer (I didn’t “put out” as much as he wanted) from a woman who was more into certain things he could take it and how could I complain? He’d never promised, after all.

      People who leave you hanging aren’t worth your time. They clearly don’t think you’re worth theirs.

  20. LW, it sounds like you’re trying really hard to decide which story is happening: Is it a story of a really great guy who is trying really hard and failing (through no fault of his own) to have a meaningful relationship with you? Or is it a story of a not-so-stellar guy who is intentionally misleading you?

    The problem is, that those stories are all about him. The story that matters is about YOU. The story is “a brave and loving woman met a charismatic man who disappointed her many times.”

    • vanadiumoxide said:

      This is an excellent comment.

    • Czarnoskrzydła said:

      This is lovely! Thank you for this comment, I needed to hear it.

    • Thursday Next said:

      Amazing comment, bluestgirl.

    • Friendly Hipposcriff said:

      That is a great framing; thank you very much for this. Bravo.

  21. Guesty said:

    The LW shouldn’t take this personally. It has everything to do with him, not her.

    This guy is treating her poorly. Whether that’s because he’s a jerk or because he has issues is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t change the fundamental dynamics. The LW is showing up, communicating clearly, and being considerate of him while he is doing the exact opposite for her. Continuing to put herself in a situation where her feelings aren’t being considered will only be bad for her self esteem.

    Women in particular have a habit of being considerate and caring towards others at a great cost to themselves. It’s okay to opt out. This guy can get a therapist – there are lots out there. He’s not entitled to get free talk session AND sex without even showing basic consideration for her feelings.

  22. --E said:

    Many years ago, before social media existed, before cell phones were common (but we did have email), I had a potential beau who was unreliable. We dated once or twice. He would make plans and then not show up, but then call later and apologize. I’m 99% certain he genuinely wanted to go out with me, but was scrambled in his life in some fashion that really wasn’t any of my business…except it meant I was waiting to go out and he just never showed up or called.

    I had one talk with him where I told him being unreliable was not acceptable, and then two dates later he stood me up for the third time.

    At that point, friends of mine advised me, “You can find someone who’ll organize themselves so they don’t do this to you.”

    I took their advice and *I* ghosted on the guy (“ghosted” wasn’t a term back then, but it is a great one!). I didn’t have any social media to block, but I stopped answering his phone calls. I was sad—I really liked the guy!—but I wasn’t going to cave again. Three strikes, buddy.

    Listen to the Captain. This guy may be the greatest dude in the world, but he’s not in a mental place to have a relationship, and you’re not his training wheels while he learns how to sort himself out. Get him out of your life and go find someone else who will treat you with the attention and courtesy that you deserve.

  23. Rhoda said:

    This guy sounds lime very hard work. If someone requires this much effort, It’s time to look for someone else.
    Oh, and your friend was right. Telling you he wanted to be your boyfriend just hours in IS a huge red flag. People who press for a quick commitment do so because they don’t want you to have time to look more closely at them and see their deficiencies.

  24. marvanvar said:

    For me this really stood out:
    “I thought he genuinely showed signs of interest: He was the first to say he missed talking and that he had been thinking of me, without me asking”

    That’s just him saying words — not the same as undertaking actions. As someone who is really good at telling people exactly what they want to hear and then being crappy with follow-through myself, let me tell you that words mean very little without the utterer backing them up with actions. I’m also extremely trusting and believe what people tell me, so I understand wanting to believe that his words are his true feelings and desires. I myself can say something and even believe myself that it is true — but if I don’t back it up in the real world, what is it worth?

    • Czarnoskrzydła said:

      That’s what I though too. There seems to be this theme in the letter that he says tons of really nice, lovey-dovey stuff and the LW takes it all at face value – that he just saying the stuff means something. And I get why she thinks that because I tend to make the same mistake.

      But, LW, saying stuff is really easy. Things like: I miss you, I really really like you, you are important to me – I urge you to say this out loud now. Did it cost a lot of effort? Not at all. It’s the actions that take effort – does someone ACT like they miss you? Do they ACT like they really like you and as if you are important?

      • Guesty said:

        Advice like this, though accurate, is particularly painful for me to give people.

        There’s something so incredibly sad about telling people that they should be suspicious when someone acts like they like them, that they should doubt and second-guess straight-forward communication when the topic is affection.

        • Czarnoskrzydła said:

          That’s true!
          I remember taking part in an online discussion lately about a difficult boyfriend and how when someone tells you stuff like “I’m a bad guy! I have issues! I can’t get attached’ you should always believe them. Believe what someone tells you about themselves. And then I realized that this advice is golden but only stands if someone tells you something upsetting or bad about themselves, but when they tell you nice stuff like ‘you are important!’ or ‘I’m a great guy!’ the advice is almost never: “Believe what you are told”, and for a good reason.

          That’s such a downer – that you can and should believe what people tell you, but only the bad stuff.. And it’s so sad.

          • Vicki said:

            Maybe a more nuanced approach is, when people tell you things about themselves, ask “why are they telling me this?” A lot of things are neutral, potentially personal, and almost certainly true: “I grew up in Cincinnati,” “I love cats,” “I can’t see you Thursday, I’m having dinner with my mother, how about Saturday?” “I wanted to be an astronaut when I was ten.”

            If it’s really positive stuff, one approach is tentative acceptance. It’s more likely I’m important to the person I’m dating who says “you’re important to me” than to someone who doesn’t, but see how they act on it. Does that go with “I will make time for you this week, because you’re important to me and said you miss me” or is it “sorry I blew you off. You know you’re important to me, it’s just that I have this project to finish, I’ll see you when that’s done”? And either way, what happens then: does the first person actually make time to see you, consistently? Does the second one call you two seeks later and say “thank god that’s done, can I take you out for sushi this weekend?” and do it, or is there another excuse?

            Similarly, there are bad things that might be either sincerely intended warnings, or meant to excuse the person later (“I told you I was an asshole”) or set you up to trust the person by prompting you to be the one to say “come on, you’re not an asshole.” Is it “I’m not good at time, let’s not make plans where me being late would ruin things” so you make sure you have your own ticket and meet inside the theater, or is it “I told you I’m not good at time, stop blaming me for missing that whale-watching tour because you were waiting for me”?

            Sometimes the good things people tell you are sincere, even if not true, because most people want to think we’re good people. Someone who is living paycheck to paycheck may tell themselves that if they borrow money they’ll be able to pay it back, but then some other expense came up. And then they want to borrow money from someone else, and don’t think “I still owe Vicki from when she helped cover my electric bill, I shouldn’t tell Czarnoskrzydła that if she pays for dinner I’ll repay her the next time I see her,” they think, and tell you, “I’m getting paid tomorrow, I’ll have the money.”

            It’s tricky, and the best answer I know of is to adjust our beliefs/expectations over time, because relatively few people have both the desire and the ability to maintain that sort of facade for years at a time. Lending someone $20 is less risky than lending them a thousand; having someone else be the one with the movie tickets is less risky than counting on them for your travel arrangements, and “don’t worry, I’ve got it” than “I’ve made the arrangements, here’s your ticket, we’re booked into the Hotel Shangri-la, the room is in both our names, here’s the confirmation email.”

          • But what this boy said about himself is “I’m troubled. I have problems. I’m insecure and sometimes unavailable.”

            Believe it.

          • wordsintheinterim said:

            I think it’s better phrased as, “If someone warns you about their issues as if they’re YOURS to manage, rather than THEIRS, believe that they believe it’s so.” My experience has been that people warn you about themselves when they don’t want to take on the responsibility of working to change, so they get out ahead of any potential judgment and can blame you when you call them on it, saying, “Well I TOLD you I was like this!”

          • Emma9 said:

            Out of nesting, but Vicki, that’s an awesomely game-theoryish way to look at things and I love it. A lot of advice boils down to ‘if it feels right, you’ll know’, and sometimes it just doesn’t work like that. Yes, sometimes it does and listening to your instincts is important, but sometimes you just want to diagram out an if/then flowchart and make a calculated decision, and you’ve offered some great concrete tips for doing that in this situation.

        • marvanvar said:

          “when someone acts like they like them” but that’s the point: this person, from what I glean from the letter, is NOT doing the “action” part of acting — they’re just saying it, but not actually doing it at all.

          You’re right that there’s no reason to be suspicious when the person has proven their words carry weight; my point is that as far as what I read in this letter this person is not doing that at all. You don’t think a person should question the veracity of someone’s words when they CONSTANTLY do the complete opposite of said words? Why would you continue to believe that person?

        • Leonine said:

          Would it help to maybe not doubt or second guess so much as being cautiously optimistic but reserving judgment?

  25. Marzipan said:

    I totally get the impulse. I have invested time and thought into men in hopes that that the pretzel of overthinking my brain squeezed out would make me satisfied with a situation I just wasn’t satisfied with. But sometimes, it happens, and it’s fine to end a romantic situation with “Well, that pretty much sucked, out loud and forever”, The best thing to do is let it go. Move on. Resist any actions that would engage you with this person at all and find it funny and pathetic when, somehow, inevitably, he texts you, months later, offering the semblance of what you thought you wanted then, except now you know better! You know you don’t want it, and you know he doesn’t really offer it (possibly you know that because you’ve fallen for it in the past, so don’t feel bad if you give it a try)

    Do not invest in, do not trust, do not do any more work on behalf of dudes who won’t do any of it back. Constancy, consistency, communication, honesty, those are things you deserve even in a casual thing. If he can’t do that, for whatever reason, move on.

    I know it’s not helpful. Your brain is like “obsess obsess obsess” and you’re like, I’m so bored of thinking about it but my brain doesn’t or can’t think of anything else, so it/he MUST be interesting, my brain wouldn’t be so stupid as to just obsess over nothing” and there is nothing you can do but distract your brain, ’cause your brain can’t fix this. As the Captain always says, focus on hobbies, activities, on leading a full and interesting life, because that is just always worth doing.

  26. lowbudgetcyborg said:

    Dear LW,

    I totally know the feeling of being sick of thinking about some dude. Jedi hugs of solidarity if you want them. For me, the best cure for that is distraction– do a craft project, watch a show, get out of the house. Knitting and The Great British Baking Show were the first aid for my latest romantic disappointment.

  27. TinLizi said:

    Thank you for Confusing Dude Bingo! Disney got it wrong. This is the real Tale as Old as Time.

  28. Clarry said:

    First date.
    Him: I want you to be my girlfriend.
    Her: What does being boyfriend/girlfriend mean to you?
    (Since I honestly don’t know and can think of a dozen possibilities, it makes sense to ask.)

  29. Lol! I’m going to keep “Confusing dude bingo card” in my pocket for if I encounter another confusing romantic interest.

    LW, three of my exes ghosted me while we were in established relationships, plus there have been people who have stood me up for dates, ignored me after I asked them on another date, etc. I understand your pain. I have lots of sympathy for you. This guy has shown that he’s not a good partner for you, since you value direct communication and he doesn’t. You deserve to be treated better.

    I agree that asking for commitment on the first date is a red flag. Two of my exes asked me to be in a relationship with them on the first date. One became abusive, and the other started keeping me waiting for hours on dates and brought a surprise person on another date, a romantic horse carriage ride I had planned for us, without talking to me about it. In the middle of the date, he dumped me in front of this stranger, which was awkward and painful. It seems to be an indicator of bad behavior to come.

  30. J said:

    LW you’ve been had by a guy who sounds like he just wanted sex and did whatever to get it. We’ve all been there and it sucks. You are too good for this guy please see that! My guess is he has multiple FB accounts. Or else he cheated on someone and had to switch his handle to avoid getting caught or some variation of that. Some people are just bad liars. I’m sorry he hurt your feelings and I hope you feel better very soon and find someone who actually deserves you.

  31. Modern Culture said:

    One year, decades ago, I was invited by a man I liked to go to a first-class hotel for Thanksgiving dinner. We were both single, without local family and new to our city. I bought a nice pantsuit appropriate for the occasion as we arranged to meet outside the hotel restaurant. Ivfluffed, primped–you know the drill–and arrived a few minutes early. As you’ve guessed, he didn’t show up and I never heard from him. As a young fat woman with self-esteem issues, I was devasted and humiliated. I went back to my apartment and ate leftovers for Thanksgiving. I was too mortified to tell anyone for years.

    Cut your losses, dear LW, and don’t look back. There are wonderful people out there who will share friendship with you at no cost to your self esteem.

  32. Tired of Overthinking said:

    Hi everyone, LW here (using a different email account bc my WordPress blog has some identifying information–might be overly cautious but I’d rather not have people I know stumbling onto my complaints about my sex life, lol). I wanted to thank the Captain for this response, which was honestly so helpful. I also sincerely want to thank everyone commenting for your time and thoughts, as well as your kind words.

    So I’m really sorry to report this after so many of you commented already, but I was wrong: he blocked me, not deleted his Instagram. His account was private, which is why it looked to me like it was deactivated (I figured out just now by checking while logged out of my account–that might’ve been unwise but well, it’s too late for regrets). Weirdly enough we actually weren’t following each other on Facebook, so blocking me on that as well seems kind of preemptive, but anyway.

    It sucks, but I’ll be okay. (I’m even more confused now as to why he said he could do sex OR lunch the day before we met up, even after I told him I also could do either–if he just wanted the dang sex that I was *already prepared to offer* I can’t imagine what kind of weird 3-dimensional chess grandmaster wizardry this could possibly accomplish unless he, like, get offs on giving mixed signals or something–but it really doesn’t matter.) Ngl I don’t feel great right now, but earlier I felt a lot better and was even surprised to find that I actually thought of him *less* after reading the post and even reading through all your thoughtful comments. Even though it didn’t turn out the way it hoped, I honestly never regretted messaging him or telling him I was happy we were talking again. I think after I’ve moved on, I can honestly say I can look back with no regrets, which might not have been the case if I’d held back out of pride or fear.

    • Tired of Overthinking said:

      For some reason I couldn’t post this the first time, so I copied and pasted my original comment but left out the ❤ at the end. It might not be necessary but I really am so grateful for all your kindness and Jedi hugs, so:

    • Nanani said:

      EW :/ You deserve so much better, like someone who’ll actually listen.
      Instead you got a guy who overwrites your stated words (“I want to have sex!”) with his own preconceived notions (“Game-playing is the only way to get sex!” etc etc)

      Best of luck with whatever comes next

    • Guesty said:

      I’m so sorry that it turned out this way! If he’s taking the time to block you, it’s because he knows that what he did is hurtful and he’s trying to prevent you from being able to explicitly tell him so.

      Even though he’s a jerk, I think it’s wise that you don’t regret your role in it. You don’t have to regret your kindness or compassion or care for another person just because they prove themselves to be unworthy of it.

    • TootsNYC said:

      Re: him saying he wanted to do either instead of just saying, “let’s not do lunch–let’s just have sex”:

      Lots of guys don’t want to think of themselves as someone who is that shallow about sex. It makes them feel shitty about themselves. They don’t want to think of themselves as “takers.” They’ve bought into the idea that “sex should be about emotions” and that THEY aren’t guys who “only want sex.”

      Other guys assume that no woman really means it when she says, “let’s get together and just have sex.” They’re become programmed to think that the only way to get in a woman’s pants is to make her think there’s a chance at romance.

      • Emma9 said:

        Your last paragraph = yes. Insert the many rage-inducing ‘If a woman says X, whatever you do, DON’T BELIEVE HER, she really means Y’ memes here.

  33. blondeintokyo said:

    I love this reply. Sometimes it’s just good to hear “you didn’t do anything wrong in giving him a few chances.” I wish someone had told me that back when I was getting ghosted so often. 🙂

  34. gracie said:

    Run, run while you can. I have an ex who would behave like this. He also waved the red-flag of fast-tracking our relationship and was introducing me to his family as his girlfriend two weeks in. After two and a half years of being together, we had a horrific breakup followed by one or the other contacting the other for the next five years. Contact would usually lead to the pants dance followed by him ghosting. It was a bad, bad scene that shredded my self-esteem.

    Once I finally cut him out of my life forever and ever, I met my now husband. There are many, many dudes out there.

  35. MassMatt said:

    LW Maybe it would help to focus more on what he is actually like and how he treats you than what you hope or wish he might be or WHY he is like he is. He has shown you that he is unreliable, has poor boundaries, and doesn’t treat you well. This is how he is. Take note of the warning signs you missed the first time so you are better prepared the next time.

  36. MassMatt said:

    Captain’s advice is great but I have one issue—the LW didn’t say “He said he wanted to be my boyfriend”. The words from the LW are “He actually asked me to be his girlfriend the first time we met up in person…” and IMO it is more than a semantic difference. Saying either at first meeting is a big red flag but “will you be my girlfriend” is creepier, it seems to imply more ownership and focus on what only the ghoster wants, which seems to fit.

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