Photo: Courtesy of CeCe Olisa.
Have you ever had someone “ghost” on you? I'm not talking Patrick Swayze, sappy music, and a pottery wheel. I’m talking about when a guy or girl that you’re dating just disappears off the face of the planet — and you’re left wondering what happened. If I have a first date and the guy never calls back, that’s not ghosting; it's just life. But, if I’m seeing someone regularly and circumstances or feelings change, I'd like to hope everyone will be grown-up enough to communicate that. When someone ceases communication without warning and you never see them again? That’s a ghost situation.
My ghosting experience happened with Adrian. We had been dating for a few weeks when he asked me to be exclusive. But, of course, there was a catch — he also needed to take a month-long work trip to Turkmenistan to help save the endangered snow leopards. I can’t make this stuff up.
The idea of being exclusive right when Adrian was going to be gone for a month didn’t sit well with me, so I told him I’d rather wait until he returned. The night before his flight, Adrian wanted to sleep with me (one of the intimate perks that, for me, comes with being exclusive) — but I told him that wasn’t going to happen. He was respectful, told me he’d miss me, and promised to e-mail me as soon as he landed the next day. I never heard from Adrian again.
The first few days, I tried not to freak out. I went about my day with a quiet storm of thoughts running through my head: His flight was probably delayed. Maybe he doesn't have Internet in Turkmenistan. Did I give him the correct email address? What if he’s getting bounce-backs? By week two, I was officially losing my mind. I called his work; when the receptionist answered, I froze. I could have said, “Hello, I’m calling to see if one of your employees was eaten by snow leopards, or if he’s ghosting on me, can you help?” Instead, I hung up the phone and called Ghostbusters, a.k.a. my girlfriends. We spent the night collectively trying to stalk Adrian over cocktails, but we didn’t have much to go on. We decided that closure was needed in the form of one final, saucy voicemail.
I put my phone on speaker and dialed his number. The number was disconnected — Adrian had really vanished. Now, I was angry. I couldn’t believe this was happening. After another round of drinks, we decided that the only thing to do was to offer an “R.I.P.” to that relationship and keep moving. I couldn’t make Adrian call me, and I couldn’t text a snow leopard to see if he had been spotted in the wilderness. The whole situation was out of my hands. I reminded myself that people do crazy things to avoid confrontation.
I decided that I wasn’t going to spend more time mourning Adrian than I spent actually dating him. I snapped out of my funk, and was suddenly grateful. The desire for a relationship can be an overwhelming feeling (more on that single-girl problem here), but I was glad I'd followed my instincts and pumped the brakes when Adrian wanted to be exclusive. Can you imagine how crazy I would have been if I never heard from my “boyfriend” again? I can’t help but wonder if his whole exclusivity chat was just a ploy to hook up before his month out of the country. Who knows?
It all boils down to trust, which for me, has to be earned. I really liked Adrian, but in the few weeks we had been dating, he hadn’t earned the trust required to be my long-distance boyfriend. I could have let my desire for the “girlfriend” title trump my desire to build a long-lasting and real relationship, but instead, I chose to stay single and let Adrian show me just how trustworthy (or not) he could be. He certainly showed me.