He was the perfect gentleman, or so I thought.
I walked across campus in my cutest dress and heels, excited for my first ever date.
I had spent hours perfecting my hair and makeup, thinking about the sound of his voice on the phone when he said he couldn't wait to see me.
Right on time, I got to the spot where we had agreed to meet.
And there he was, looking as sweet as ever, wearing a sweater made of potential-boyfriend material.
He opened all the doors, paid for everything and gave me his jacket whenever I got cold.
After spending several blissful hours together, he walked me back to my apartment, which was many blocks out of his way.
He made me laugh, made me feel special and was the perfect gentleman, or so I thought.
We texted a bit the next day, reminiscing about the fun we'd had together.
I was already dreamy over the prospect of seeing him again.
He promised to take me to the movies, to the museum and to all his favorite spots in the city he thought I'd enjoy.
But a few days later, when I suggested we make plans for the weekend, all I got was radio silence.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe he was busy.
Maybe something came up.
Maybe he didn't check his phone.
As an old-fashioned girl with no relationship experience, I wanted him to set the pace, make the first move and take the lead.
So, I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
A week went by, and I still heard nothing.
That was when I began to worry.
Maybe I came on too strong?
Maybe I didn't seem interested enough?
My friends were of little help.
They either confirmed one of my fears or the other, and none of them were reassuring.
I was afraid I had lost my chance at a great boyfriend, and that he had found someone better who wasn't waiting to get physical.
Throughout the next few weeks, I jumped every time my phone rang, and I felt intense disappointment when it turned out not to be him.
I blamed myself for not being pretty enough, funny enough or desirable enough.
I cried over this guy more than I had over anything in a very long time.
And after all the denial, anger, bargaining, etc., it was only after pouring my heart out to my mom, the one person in this world who knows me better than I know myself, that I was able to learn one of the most important lessons of my youth:
You are not responsible for someone else's bad behavior.
I didn't know it then, but I had been ghosted for the first time.
Ghosting is the phenomenon of someone cutting all ties with another person at an early stage in the dating process.
It is enabled by our increasingly impersonal modes of technology, and it has adversely affected communication for our entire generation.
As human beings, we crave intimacy.
And for those of us, like me, who don't let our guards down very often, the shock of ghosting can cause serious emotional bruises.
But it doesn't have to.
If a guy or girl isn't courteous enough to let you know what's up, he or she isn't worth your time or your tears.
This guy could have told me if he wasn't interested, and I could have picked up and moved on.
He could have told me if he was really busy, and I wouldn't have worried that I'd messed up somehow.
My mom reminded me I deserve someone who's willing to pick up the phone, make a date and stick to it.
We all deserve that.
What's more, we deserve people who are mature enough to be straight with us, to express how they feel without hiding behind technology and to be honest enough with themselves to know that their avoidance is wrong.
I ran into him a month later.
It was a Thursday night, and I was on campus with a girlfriend, on our way to a party.
I hadn't thought about him in days, and seeing him walking toward me was shocking.
I asked him what happened, and he seemed nervous and regretful.
We parted ways, and I decided I was over it.
When he texted me minutes later, asking to hang out the next day, I agreed to do so under one condition:
This time, I made the rules.
I wasn't capitulating.
He had lost the chance to be with me, and it was clear he was too immature for a relationship anyway.
Maybe we can be "just friends."
Maybe I'll get tired of his ambivalence.
Maybe I'll finally find someone who is the gentleman I thought he was.
It doesn't matter that I don't have all the answers.
What's important is that every step of the way, I established boundaries I was comfortable with, and in the end, I remembered my self-worth and stopped blaming myself for his bad decision.
When I examined all the facts and talked to someone who really knows me and whom I trust, I realized it wasn't worth my time to sit around waiting for some immature guy to make up his mind.
Everyone deserves real intimacy with someone who is confident enough to be clear about his or her intentions.
Don't settle for anything less, and don't sell yourself short.
You have a lot to offer, and the right person will notice.
But first, you have to believe it.