If you got ghosted back in the olden days, you could at least just assume that your betrothed succumbed to cholera, or perhaps got swept away at sea, or at least periled in battle, or something. Like, those were all pretty reasonable guesses. But let me tell you, it is much harder to believe that's true today, because (1) we have vaccines and stuff, and (2) I know the doofus is alive because he's still posting on Instagram. Luckily, if you have no shame, you are perfectly free to call guys out for ghosting you to hear why they disappeared from your life.
So I did.
Actually, I rounded up five ghosts who vanished on me without so much as a "boo." It's Halloween, baby, and nothing's scarier than confronting the haunted spirit of ghosts past.
I almost chickened out at first. In order to confront a ghost, you essentially have to text something like, "Why don't you like me???"
And sure, I might be brave, but I wasn't sure if I could be that brave. I didn't want to look completely crazy or desperate. In my ideal world, all my ghosts would still think of me fondly as a person who is poised, confident, and self-assured. This would ruin all of that.
But then I realized I had nothing to lose. None of these guys were remotely interested in me — if they were, they wouldn't have given me the silent treatment in the first place. And hopefully, they'd look at the conversation as an opportunity to reflect and think, "Hey, maybe I shouldn't do that again in the future."
Inspired by the leagues of Ghostbusters who have come before me, I set out to catch some ghosts.
I started with my most recent ghost. I met a group of three guys at a sports bar on the Upper East Side six weeks ago; they asked if I'd join them so they could play two-on-two beer pong. They were all cute, friendly, and offering me free beer. Who am I to turn them down?
I ultimately wound up a week later on a date with one of them — Ian. He's also a writer, so we had a ton in common to talk about when he invited me out to a Scotch bar near my apartment. We had two rounds, then migrated to grab a slice of pizza, and he walked me back to my apartment. Instead of a kiss good night, we both did this awkward wave thing. NBD. I was ridiculously smitten, and assumed we'd have, like, years to kiss when we were in love and holed up in a rustic cabin in Maine writing novels together.
But that was the last I ever heard from him. Under any other circumstances, I would've texted him something the next morning. Instead, I fainted 15 minutes later (I have low blood pressure, it's fun!), cracked my head open against my wall, and spent the rest of the night in the emergency room. While I recovered for the next week, #boys were not my top priority. Also, I had 19 staples holding my scalp together and did not feel attractive enough to communicate with any man, even if it was just through text.
I tried to reach out to Ian this morning with a faux-casual message: "So can I ask what happened? I was surprised I never heard from you"
I intentionally left off the period in an attempt to look carefree. The subtext: "I don't care about silly grammatical rules, and I definitely don't care about feelings, hahahaha ha... ha."
He never wrote back.
I met Nick during a Bumble spree last spring while trying to rustle up a boyfriend presentable enough to bring to my cousin's wedding. I matched with him because he was a production assistant on the TV show my mom, sister, and I are all obsessed with, and I wanted the inside scoop on what goes down on set.
After a few messages, he asked me to meet him at a bar in Williamsburg. I got bad vibes from the bar choice right away, because I had been ghosted after a glorious second date there just four months prior. (Before you ask, no, I'm not brave enough to confront that guy. Yet.)
But whatever, I went. I remember having zero chemistry with Nick from the start. We struggled through a conversation about the show he worked on. He asked if I wanted a second round at a different bar and wound up taking me to a nearby spot with a half-pipe inside. One of the skaters looked exactly like Kevin Federline, to the point that I wondered aloud if he really was K-Fed. Nick didn't know who that was. Maybe we weren't ever meant to be.
I shot off a quick text to ask Nick why he never texted me.
He made a good point. Did he ghost me, or did I ghost him? To be fair, I could've messaged him if I wanted to.
I have no problem approaching guys in bars, sending the first message on a dating app, or going dutch on a date — oppressive gender norms keep us all down. But I draw the line at initiating a text. It takes so little effort for a guy to shoot off a text. All I want them to do is put in one teeny, tiny morsel of effort!
So, sure, I could've texted Nick first. And if I was really digging him, I might have. But I typically wait for a guy to text me after a date, and he never did.
He asked if there was a "higher purpose" to my random reach-out a full 18 months after we last spoke. I'm pretty sure he remembered I was a writer and wanted to know if I was writing something. I dodged his question with a sort of excuse. He still seemed hesitant to give me a real answer. Fine. Bye, Nick.
I met Scott three years ago at my former boss' birthday drinks, held at her start-up's coworking space. I brought my boss a bottle of Prosecco and a pack of cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar. Scott worked at a different start-up on the same floor, wandered by the office kitchen, and stole a cookie. Over the course of the night, he also stole my heart and my number.
He never formally asked me out, but he did send a "u up?" text a few nights later. When I turned him down, he clarified that he didn't necessarily mean anything sexual, and offered to let me sleep on his floor instead of in his bed. That was the last I heard from him.
So, yeah, hitting him up three years later did not exactly go well.
To be honest, I forgot about James until I told my friend Kelsey about this story and she brought him up. I met James on Tinder three years ago. We had flirty banter over text, and he quickly asked me out to a swanky cocktail bar — the kind of place where the cheapest item on the menu is a $12 dish of olives.
I arrived right on time, dressed for the occasion in a slinky black dress and four-inch Louboutins I had nabbed for 75 percent off at a consignment store the year before. I waited by the hostess stand for a half hour while I lost all the feeling in my feet. He never came.
I felt like a fool. And then I hobbled outside, bought a hot dog from a street vendor, and forgot about him for the next three months.
That is, I forgot about him until he started sending me creepy messages out of the blue, making fun of me for winding up at that bar by myself. While out with Kelsey on a Friday night in the East Village, I showed her the texts. Like a true friend would, Kelsey typed his number into her own phone and gave him a taste of his own medicine. We interrogated him about why he'd bother asking me out in the first place if he wasn't going to show up for the date.
It was fun for awhile — until he started talking about Kelsey's mom. He referred to her by name. We were freaked out and dropped the game. It wasn't funny anymore.
When I confronted James for the second time today, he refused to take responsibility for wasting my time, apologize for creeping on Kelsey's mom, or engage with me beyond asking, "Are you serious right now" (no punctuation — I am not even worth a question mark). I was disappointed, but not surprised.
I saved the best ghost story for last. Nearly two years ago, I went on three dates with Stewart because according to OkCupid's algorithm, we were 99 percent compatible. That is shockingly compatible. I loved that he wasn't shy about his career ambitions, that he braved freezing temps to stand in line outside to pick up tickets to the Whitney for me, and that he was a Beyoncé stan just like me. Also, it didn't hurt that his apartment was directly above my favorite bagel shop in the world.
He invited me to his place on a Sunday afternoon for our third date. We were lying in bed — not even hooking up, just lazing about, fingers intertwined, talking while Lana Del Rey music videos played in the background. We talked for six straight hours.
Or rather, he talked. I never got a word in edgewise. At all. We watched the surprise new video for Beyoncé's "Formation" together, and then I left. I would've been willing to see him a fourth time — everyone has off days, right? But in the time that our beloved Beyoncé dropped an album and gestated two whole humans, I never heard a peep from him.
So I finally sent him a text.
It felt good to get sassy with him. Didn't he kind of deserve it? He made a dig at our supposed lack of chemistry, and I sent back a jab about how he delivered a six-hour monologue on our last date.
I wasn't expecting anything radical. So far, my experiment had created a couple of awkward situations, but hadn't led to any real apologies.
But Stewart actually said he was sorry! It felt good to finally get an apology, even if it was almost two years too late. I'm glad I took on this whole crazy experiment in the first place.
If there's a ghost still haunting you, please, take it from me. Send them a text. You have nothing to lose, and major satisfaction to potentially gain.
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