7 Lessons I Learned After Meeting Up IRL With A Guy Who Ghosted Me
I was once ghosted by a guy after we dated for a little over a month.
I matched with him one night on Tinder, and we chatted briefly on the app before moving to texting, then to a date at a Spanish restaurant.
Our first date went extremely well. He was funny, kind, and a strong, built 6'6" — a perfect physical match to my 5'9''. We had the same sense of humor, shared a lot of the same political views, and when he kissed me, I felt lightheaded in the way that an amazing first kiss is supposed to make you feel. The more we hung out, the more my fondness for him grew.
At the end of our very last date, though, something felt off. Our debate about rape culture over dinner got a little heated, and the next morning after our sleepover, I said something stupid about where Biggie lives. ("He's dead, Alexia," he'd said.) (Disclaimer: I knew that.) When he didn't respond to my Snapchats over the several days, nor did he answer my "How was your weekend?" text, I knew it was done. I'd been ghosted.
Months later, when he sent me a text so long that it required me to scroll down twice to read it in full, I couldn't help but laugh. He told me he'd been wanting to apologize and explain himself, but no texts or voicemail messages he's attempted to leave me had sounded quite right. He insisted that we meet in person.
So, I agreed. And after a couple weeks of playing cat and mouse to solidify a plan, we met up for drinks at a wine bar in downtown Manhattan, where I learned a hell of a lot about myself, dating, and how much people still think Tinder is the reason romance is dead.
Here are seven lessons I learned after meeting up with a guy who ghosted me IRL:
1. If He's Still Liking Your Instagram Posts, He's Probably Still Thinking About You
My ex didn't just text me out of the blue. I sort of lured him to do it.
A few weeks after he ghosted me, he started liking some of my Instagram posts. I was irritated at the fact that he was now deciding to give me attention that, frankly, I didn't even want anymore. So one day, I purposely posted a picture I knew I looked good in, just to see if he'd like it (don't you dare pretend you've never thrown down a thirst trap).
Sure enough, like the perfect Pavlovian response, he did.
Because I'm an inquisitive person, I used it as an opportunity to call him out via text for ghosting me but still lurking on my social media. I expected him to ignore me, or maybe hit me with a "Haha sorry" because of how irrelevant I was to him. It had been so long since we communicated, and I was sure he was just mindlessly going through his feed like we all do, double tapping on whatever.
But, nope! Clearly I'd underestimated the meaning behind an Instagram like, because my text gave him the opportunity to spill his guts to me in the form of a literal five-paragraph essay.
Being ghosted and then receiving a text in which your ghoster begs for forgiveness is the 2017 equivalent of John Cusack standing outside of your house with a boom box.
2. There Are Still People Out There Who Think Tinder Is Filled With Weirdos
At the wine bar, he told me his reason for ghosting me was, in part, because he didn't expect to meet someone "like me" on Tinder. This, apparently, scared him.
"You should know that you did nothing wrong," he said. "The only thing you did wrong was that I liked you too much, and thought you were too cool."
Um, hold on. What kind of people did he think used Tinder? If he's normal, charming, attractive, and using Tinder, what made him think there weren't other normal, charming, attractive people using Tinder? I felt a little foolish. I was pretty excited to meet him before our first date, meanwhile he thought I was going to be this vapid, unintelligent chick who looks way better in her pictures than in person.
If you think about it, Tinder is no different from a bar on a weekend night. When you walk into a bar, all you really get are snapshots of people: what they look like, what you can figure out about them by what they look like, followed by (maybe) a surface-level conversation about where they went to school, and what they do for a living. And guess what? All of that information is also found on a Tinder profile!
Some nights, bars are packed with cute, intelligent guys. Some nights, they aren't. But you won't know until you walk in, take a look around, and start swiping.
Let's stop blaming Tinder for the dating apocalypse, all right? It's not that simple.
3. "Tinderella" Is A Compliment
Apparently my ex's friends poked fun at him for liking someone from Tinder so much. Whenever they talked about me, I was referred to as "Tinderella."
After much deliberation, I decided that "Tinderella" is, indeed, a compliment I was going wholeheartedly accept.
4. Just Because You Have Sex And Communicate Frequently Doesn't Mean You Know Someone
During our "relationship" (if you could call it that), my ex and I slept together after nearly every date. We texted and Snapchatted all the time. And we'd been doing it for a whole month! All of this meant I thought we were really connecting.
But truthfully, none of those things automatically correlate to a connection. Our conversations had been more playful than anything else, and looking back, I remember feeling nervous to tell him how I actually felt about certain deeper, more important things.
One of my favorite quotes from Girls is from season 3, episode 1, when Adam says, "Just because I tasted her cum and spit or could tell you her middle name or knew a record she liked, that doesn't mean anything. That's not a connection. Anyone can have that. Really knowing someone is something else. It's a completely different thing, and when it happens, you won't be able to miss it.”
It's true. And it took my ex ghosting me to realize how little I really knew about him, and how little he probably knew about me. I was upset for a hot second after the ghost, but I didn't truly feel the sting of his loss.
And that's because, for whatever the reason, neither of us fully let the other in.
5. It's Frighteningly Easy To Be Seduced By A Fantasy
When my ex texted me requesting to meet up in person, my first reaction was to laugh. Then, as if I suddenly realized how desperately I missed him over those last few months, I felt this overwhelming desire to see him as soon as freaking possible.
But if I wasn't that upset when he ghosted me, and if I knew deep down I really hadn't missed him at all, why was I so eager to see him so many months later?
Because I hadn't gotten to know him super well when we dated, it was easy for me to project all these fantasies onto him of what we could have been when he reached out to me. I had no idea if he was even thinking about starting up again, but that didn't stop me from fantasizing about the possibility anyway.
I remembered the little things I knew about him — our shared political views (very liberal), his favorite artists (he liked Future; so did I), the fact that he'd been to Montana (a place I long to vacation to) — and used them to craft this elaborate fantasy of a romantic reunion, followed by an equally as romantic relationship.
This is not to say that he wasn't a great guy, that we didn't actually have a lot in common, or that we wouldn't have had a fulfilling, romantic relationship if we continued dating. It is, however, to say that much of my desire to see him again was rooted not in how much I'd been pining over him or how badly I wanted to know why he ghosted me (though I was obviously curious), but in the kind of couple I thought we could be if we dated again.
Fantasy is powerful.
6. It's Fine To Sleep With A Guy Who Ghosted You
OK, if you do this, you're going to be little mad at yourself. But you're only human! I mean, just look at him. He's hot. How could you resist those eyes? Those hands? That height?
Seriously. It's fine. Shhh.
7. Either I'm Way Too Much Of An Idealist, Or Everyone Else Is Way Too Cynical
My ex told me that he'd hoped I would just see his actions as a natural fade out. He figured I wouldn't see it as a big deal, because it's just Tinder. Onto the next one, right?
I guess that's a fair assumption. But I don't believe everyone on Tinder is looking to hop from one meaningless hookup to the next. I believe some people (including myself) are open to real connections. I've always known that not everyone believes this, but to be reminded of that by a guy with whom I thought I could have one of those "real connections" made the realization sort of... way too real.
No matter the medium — at a bar, on the street corner, or swiping left and right on a dating app — there will be always people trying to find their next lay and people trying to find love. It's presumptuous to assume someone you meet is just trying to use you for sex, and it's probably a little arrogant to assume they're dying to fall in love with you, too. That's why, no matter where you meet someone, you need to communicate your expectations once things start happening. It's that simple.
Maybe it's idealist of me to expect communication. Maybe I'm naive to want people I date to just be honest with me, and to also expect honesty from me. But I'd rather be that idealistic, naive person than someone who bumbles around presuming that everyone sucks and there's no point in trying.
You might dodge a few broken hearts that way, but you definitely won't learn anything — and that, to me, would be the greatest heartbreak of all.