Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am in my later 20s and have been single for a few years. In an honest effort to meet and get to know a guy I can get serious with, I have tried in earnest to meet someone. I've signed up for multiple online accounts, I've said yes to blind dates — I feel like I'm doing all the right things to meet Mr. Right.
The problem is, over and over, when I meet a guy I'm really into, and when we have a first or even second date, he then, just, vanishes. We have two nice dates and I never hear from him again. He stops texting. He stops calling. He says something after date one or two like, "this was great, you're great, I can't wait to see you again" — and then I never see him again.
First off, why do guys make promising, sweeping statements they never intend to keep? And second, what is it about me that attracts this type? I don't get it. I need help so I can break this pattern.
Ugh, ghosts suck. They are truly the worst. We bound eagerly into potential connections with that essential but excruciating vulnerability and then these dudes just — poof. Vanish. As though we aren't worth their time to even explain their departure. It's lame, it's hurtful and absolutely it's confusing.
Back in college, as a starry-eyed undergrad, I spent a really random but fantastic evening wandering around town with a graduate student we'll call Dave. We had drinks, we talked about life, we walked along a lake, he played guitar. It was one of those magical nights. At the end, I said to Dave, something like, "I can't wait to see you again." The older, wiser, amazing Dave said, "Wanda, you're awesome, and this has been great, but let's respect each other and admit and agree that maybe this was all this was: an amazing evening."
In the moment, Dave's words stunned me, even hurt. They gave me something to think about, for sure. And in the days that followed, clarity bloomed, and I felt grateful for the gift Dave gave me that night: stark, unencumbered honesty, which we are so often terrified to share because we are afraid of hurting someone, when in reality, pretense will injure us more in the long run.
We should all try to be more like Dave and say what we mean instead of what people hope they will hear. Moving forward, tell your potential partners that you would prefer to know precisely where they stand and would rather hear the optimistic and misleading farewell than never hear from them again.
Not only should we all aspire to keep it real like Dave, but we should all be lucky enough to have at least one former flame like Dave who gives it to us straight but also lets us down easy. Wow. You can't even feel bitter. Bittersweet, maybe. But you'd be foolish not to be grateful for having a Dave set such a shining example for romantic character and clarity. That moment and those words should be a dating gamechanger and a touchstone for our dating futures.
Sadly, Dave is the exception. Most of us are complete disasters when it comes to communicating our true needs, dreams and desires to someone else. And even the best of us can stumble and fumble when faced with making the decision our gut is telling us is right vs. hurting someone's feelings. And for every Dave who shows someone the door at the end of a seemingly great date, there are thousands of truly good people who give in to sudden selfishness when they decide they'd rather not spend the night alone … even if their bedmate is someone they might not feel so awesome about waking up next to in the morning.
Sorry, this is all probably pretty heady stuff for a 20-something who just wants to get serious but keeps coming up somber. So let me digress and break it down like Dave: Ghost me once, shame on you. Ghost me twice, shame on me.
Basically, you can continue to get extremely excited and super serious about every person who agrees to meet up with you for a drink … and then get let down big time. Or you can approach these first (and second, and third) dates as exactly what they are: two total strangers hanging out and getting to know each other. So dial down the expectations, seriousness and pressure. You're not only applying them to yourself, but your dates can feel that, too. And it can send them running.
If you're truly in this for the long run, remember it's a marathon, not a sprint. So relax. Keep looking and dating. And let things play out naturally and organically.