Publishing this post took careful thought and a few deep breaths. I encourage you to be kind, while reading it.
It is so tempting, as an avid social media-user, to only display the exciting or pretty parts of my life. It's easier, right? Unfortunately, that's not my life. My life was, at this moment, not pretty, not curated, not all cool-toned photos, and certainly not comfortable.
About six months ago ago, a person I was casually seeing for a little over two months essentially dismissed me with little-to-no justification. I can already feel the wheels turning in your head, thinking something along the lines of "she's probably just bitter because he didn't want to be with her" and, honestly (not proudly) I've made the same assumption about multiple women in the past.
But hear me out.
I harbor absolutely no heartbreak about no longer being with him or no longer seeing him again. Truth be told, I'm did very well about that aspect of the situation, all things considered. I posted this a few months ago, not long after it happened, and more recently I've heard multiple women talking about being in a very similar situation - and it really saddened me to realize that we still have to discuss things like this.
No real names used.
Number 11 and I had already known each other for a few years when we went on our first date a couple of years ago.
We had a great time, but the timing wasn't right. I would run into him pretty frequently when he was in town visiting family, and we were on good terms.
When his job brought us to the same city, we began to casually see each other. For our first date, he impressed me by taking me to see a folk singer that I had once mentioned I liked a few months prior. For our second date, he invited me out to dinner and drinks. Afterwards, he invited me back to his house, where he was staying with his mom for the time being, while he figured out a living situation closer to his new job. We spent some time talking to his mom and just relaxing and being with each other. I followed his lead. He even bought a ticket to come see me perform in my show in New York, and hitched a ride back home with my Mom and I so that I could spend my day off with my family.
We spoke almost ever single day until my show ended, and I got sick with bronchitis due to stress and exhaustion, so I was unable to see him for about two weeks.
Directly following the holidays, he started to subtly pull away. After about two weeks of lackluster conversation, I took matters into my own hands and asked him for some clarification about how he felt about me. To my disappointment (and total lack of surprise), I received a text over 24 hours later, telling me that "the timing wasn't right for him to be anything more than friends." He even made sure to address me using my full name (which he never used) to keep things cool and formal.
two weeks later he celebrated his birthday with his new girlfriend by his side. i found out on instagram.
I know off-hand ten girls who have dealt with this type of behavior from men whom they're casually seeing. I've also heard some horror stories from guys that I'm friends with - sorry ladies, we're not blameless in the act of ghosting.
I think it's important to explore why this type of behavior can no longer be acceptable, from one human to another.
BREAKING DOWN THE BREAKUP
- I never once mentioned being exclusive to him - I never even asked him if he was seeing anyone else. In truth, one of my fellow cast-mates asked me how everything was going, and I responded that I wasn't sure, but luckily neither of us had put any pressure on the relationship. So we were just planning on continuing to get to know each other.
- I truly don't believe that it ever crossed his mind to ask me what I wanted. He never stopped to think that maybe I wasn't ready for anything more serious either. There was no possible universe that allowed for the idea that I was just trying to get to know him, instead of locking him down and making him my boyfriend
- For the record, that is not a term that I give to just anyone. It's not a gift I bestow to the multiple men I've dated. It's a special term I use to refer to someone I could see a future with. It's a term that I never used for him.
- I should have never had to text him to ask how he felt about me. I should never have had to spend two weeks feeling like I did something wrong, because he couldn't find it in his heart to muster up some good old-fashioned honesty.
- He was doing absolutely nothing wrong by seeing another person. As I said, we hadn't had a conversation about being exclusive - and honestly, if we had, I wouldn't have been ready for that. If he had been clear about the fact that he met someone else, as much as my feelings would been hurt, I would have respected him so much more in the long run for respecting my time and my worth.
When the person you're seeing doesn't respect you or your time to think THAT you deserve any closure, make your own.
The truth is, having an adult conversation where you communicate what you're looking for, or how you feel is not a lot to ask. Is it awkward? Of course, but if you don't feel like you can handle that, you shouldn't be dating.
It ISN'T weird to not feel the same way about someone. It's weird to not talk about it.
Think about it. As humans, it's a normal occurrence for one person in the relationship to not feel the same as the other - that's never the weird part of the breakup. The weird part of the breakup is the social part - the uncomfortable, awkward part where people's feelings get hurt, or the sad part where you let something go that you know won't work, even when you care about the other person. These parts are also where each person gets what they need to move on.
Denying someone of that, frankly, is selfish and speaks volumes about how you treat people as a whole.
The way a person reacts to a situation is where their individuality shows. So, I challenge you to protect your peace.
Stop responding. Place their text thread on Do Not Disturb, so that whenever your text-tone sounds, you don't wonder if it's them. Unfollow them on social media - this may seem petty to some, but I'm a believer in unfollowing the things that don't serve you.
Then, once the hurt and the anger has subsided, laugh.
Delight in how lucky you are because the universe dodged a bullet for you that you never saw coming. Laugh because they think they're avoiding dealing with this relationship by ghosting you, yet this behavior will only continue until they are completely alone or they're dating someone who will put up with it because that person doesn't know their worth (and I hope they, ultimately, will read this post someday too). Smile because while you've literally shut him off, his curiosity will ultimately get the best of him as he wonders "how you're doing" a few months from now. Allow him to freely enjoy his rear-balcony seat as you continue on your beautiful journey.
The last laugh is yours.
I just finished the book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and if you haven't read it, I recommend that you stop whatever it is you're doing and get your hands on it. I could do an entire blog series on that book and the lessons, notes, and teachings I took from it, but I'll try to keep this brief.
make a promise to yourself that you will never be ghosted again, and keep it.
I believe on a larger scale, where relationships are concerned, the rules of relationships are that there are no rules - except the one rule I am about to tell you. It has been valid and true for every single man I have dated since I was twenty-one years old.
if a guy wants to date you, he will date you.
GIRL. If there is any inkling that you're not high on this person's list of priorities, I implore you to take action. That sounds dramatic, but it doesn't have to be. Put your big girl pants on and ask where he's at. Or if you're not that invested, be honest and move on. Those fifteen minutes of awkwardness are worth the weeks of anxiety and questioning yourself that you'll save in the long run.
The truth is that people will treat you with as little respect as you allow, and if you don't value your own time, no one else will either. You set the tone for how you're treated. The less bad behavior you tolerate, the less bad behavior you will encounter in your dating life.