A bit over 3 years ago, I (she/her) went out with a guy (he/him) I met through an online dating site. We had some drinks, slept together, and then I basically ghosted him – ignored a couple of texts, then moved out of the country, changed my number, and never thought about him again. I’m not proud of ignoring his follow-up messages and wish I’d handled the situation differently – but at the same time, our date was very casual, I made it clear that I was not looking for a relationship, and he knew I was moving out of town the next week.
Flash forward to today, when I hit “accept” on a request from an account that’s been trying to message me on a social messaging site – usually I only accept requests from friends, but I decided to see what this was about. What I got was a trove of messages from this guy, dated from last year through last week, ranging from your garden variety emojis to several super intense declarations like “the thing I regret most in life is not spending more time with you.” UM.
Captain, if I had seen the first of these messages I would have sent a “Thanks but not interested, wish you well!” But I’m feeling completely overwhelmed by this backlog (for the record, the tone of all his messages is flattering / wistful / a little deferential – not pissed off or threatening). I know I behaved somewhat badly towards him – I wish I’d been more kind and direct when we went out, or when he later tried to contact me. Back then I was a pretty inconsiderate casual dater, and since then I’ve been really trying to treat people more carefully, and default to Using My Words. But does this level of, what – oblivious persistence? – on his part (again: it has been three + years) make that no longer my responsibility? Has this become the kind of thing where I *should* cut and run? I’d appreciate some help thinking through who’s owed what here, and when someone else’s weirdness means I don’t have to own up to my own.
– More Than Moved On
Dear More Than Moved On,
This guy is so creepy and I am sorry you have to deal with him. It would have been great if you’d replied to one of his early overtures to say “Thanks for the date but as you know I’m moving, and I’m not interested in hanging out more, bye” but given how he’s behaved since then, I’m willing to consider the idea that your instincts were protecting you from his clinginess.
Your utter disinterest in this guy is not a mystery, and what’s happening now is not your fault. It hurts to put yourself out there and receive nothing back, sure, but when someone goes on one date with you and then doesn’t respond to anything you send or otherwise talk to you for more than three years, trust that whatever you may have had together is not only over, it is Extremely Not Happening. This guy should have long ago said “Fine, be that way, LW doesn’t deserve me anyway” and soothed himself into his own closure.
Letter Writer, if you want to just hit the block button and never respond to anything again, I fully support you in this. You owe him nothing.
But because this dude has shown that he does not get hints and that you could power a small city with his wishful thinking, I think it might help you to send one clear, direct “Nope!” before you block him forever.
I’m really sorry that I never texted back after our one date all those years ago. I was in the process of moving away, and I wasn’t interested in more dates. I wish I had been more clear at the time.
Three years later, that hasn’t changed. When I accepted your message request, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me who you were or what you wanted, but now that I know, I’d like to be clear: I wish you well, but I’m not interested in dating you or talking more with you. Please stop contacting me.”
THEN block. And never, ever, ever answer another communication from him again.
I included an apology for ghosting in the script because you might feel better if you give it. It might give you closure to say “I’m sorry.” You ghosting him back then was not awesome, but him using you as an imaginary friend/feelings receptacle in absentia is not even close to a proportionate response, and it’s not your fault if he’s sad or embarrassed when you finally tell him to knock it off.
Whether you decide to block him or message him and then block him, I wish you a long future life of not thinking about him at all.