It happens to everyone. Someone we were dating
disappears, and we want to know what to do about it. In a 40’s detective
novel, we’d throw on a dirty overcoat and hit the streets and track them down, but
now we just want to know…what happened?
Maybe they came on strong, pouring on the charm. But then, you stopped hearing from them, and you can’t stop wondering about it.
The first time I was ghosted, it shocked me. I had
been seeing the person for nine months, and I thought if they weren’t
responding to me, they must be in prison or in rehab. Honestly, either
one would have been a great idea for that person. Finally, a close friend
had to tell me- dude, he’s okay. He’s just gone. And she was right.
Years later, the same friend asks me- I met this guy
at the airport, we had crazy chemistry, we went on some dates, but now he’s
gone silent- how do I get him to write me back?
I gave it to her plain- you gotta stop talking to him.
Exasperated, she told me, “No, you don’t understand,
he’s already stopped talking to ME. Not talking to him is, at best, a
“What everyone tells me”, she continued, “is to sit back and
play it cool, and to let him pursue me. But what if I don’t want to play
it cool? What if I want to reach out? Why can’t I do that? Shouldn’t I be able to do what I want? I
don’t like playing games.”
“You absolutely can do that”, I assure her. “And you
might see him again. But he’ll disappear again, and you’ll be back in
this same spot. You can’t change him or his behavior.”
I see people finding my dating articles online with the same
search terms again and again- how to respond to breadcrumbing. What to do
if you’re ghosted. How to reconnect. Just about everyone has
had a moment when they wanted to hear from someone that they weren’t hearing
from. I’ve finally figured out the
solution, and that is to forget them!
The truth is this: everyone wants to know how
to change someone’s mind. If anyone had the answers on how to get someone
back, they’d be a multi kajillionaire. They’d be hiring Jeff Bezos to
shine their shoes. Turning someone towards you who has turned away-
that’s the one thing nobody can really do, despite what the cosmetics, fitness,
and apparel industries advertise. They pad their margins based on the hope that
we can control something we can’t- “I can’t seem to forget you, your Wind Song
stays on my mind!”
Think about it. How many times have you heard
the story: “We met online. He came on strong, told me I was
beautiful. We went out a few times and it was really great. Then,
he stopped responding to my messages. But I waited it out and really
played it cool, and then one day I sent him just the right cat meme, and now
we’re getting married at Disneyland.”
Oh that’s right, you’ve never heard it.
I told her, the thing is, you’re not playing it cool
for this guy. He’s gone. He’s in the wind. You’ll run into
him later at one of those bars that looks like a laundromat until you press the
soap dispenser and a dryer door opens into the main room.
You’re playing it cool so he won’t waste more of your
You’re not going to get good results from him. You’re just moving him aside so you can keep
looking for the person that will pursue you, who will be consistent, who will
be as interested in you as you are in them.
A few days pass and
my friend calls me again. She reached
out and got a couple of texts from the guy, was exuberant for a minute, but
then he was gone again. At this point,
he’s a sunk cost- she can pour more time and emotion into it, but she’s not
getting anything back.
So much of dating is editing. Our grandparents,
great-grandparents, might have courted, or been courted by, fewer than a
handful of people before they got married. Modern singles can meet that
many people in a weekend. Most of those people won’t be the one.
So, all the advice about hanging back and being
aloof- it isn’t meant to change the person who has already let you down.
It’s to free you up and find the person who won’t.