Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Man…Act II

If my recent experiences are any indication, the disappearing act has regrettably become a regular part of modern dating behavior. The previously mentioned boy—the one who caused those awkward teenage girl feelings—inexplicably pulled the untenable maneuver last week. After showing a fair amount of interest on the first couple dates, asking to see me again and setting up a date he would ultimately blow off, the guy vanished.

Friends offered a myriad of potential explanations: “he was leaving and didn’t want to get attached,” “maybe he read your blog and freaked out,” “he just likes playing games.” Whatever the reason, I was once again left completely in the dark, feeling a bit blue.

The rather superfluous level of interest I had in this individual caused the disappearance to have a sobering effect. In an effort to pull me out of my brooding funk, my friend offered some advice, “use it as a learning experience, consider what you did wrong and change it the next time around.” I pondered this idea, looking back on the few dating experiences I had with this guy to determine exactly where I had gone wrong. The problem was I couldn’t think of anything I should have done differently. Essentially I behaved precisely as the person I am and anything I would have done differently would have been fake and part of a game.

I’m not saying I am flawless in every dating situation, but if you aren’t allowed to make a mistake or two without prompting the guy to run in the opposite direction, his expectations may need to be adjusted.

While I think people should learn from all experiences in life, I don’t think the lessons in this case necessarily illustrate how hopelessly flawed I am. As a firm believer in the process of constantly improving oneself, self-reflection (and sometimes self-flagellation) has become a way of life. However, it seems using a brief interlude with a virtual stranger to illuminate the areas in need of improvement may prove to be a slippery slope.

If we scrutinize every bad dating experience fully expecting to discover fatal errors within ourselves, it becomes a dangerous game. Not only will it inexorably dent our self worth, it threatens the very essence of our personality. If we alter our behavior every time someone decides that something in us makes us undatable, we will be bouncing back and forth desperately trying to define ourselves by someone else’s estimation of us.
This becomes especially detrimental when the individual rejecting us only knows us on a superficial level. 

Someone may be able to determine if you aren’t the person for them after a couple dates, but they certainly don't know you well enough to suggest that something is inherently wrong with you. After I realized how little my crush actually knew about me, I quickly pulled myself out of my despondent mood ready to move on to the next romantic mistake.


  1. Eliza,

    I think you're right on the money about this "disappearing act". The countless good night pecks on the cheek, the endless "I'll call you"s..all for what? For the longest time, I fell into the same introspective trap that you did. Was it something I did? Maybe I said something wrong? Do I really look that different from my photo? I never did try to alter my behavior or anything, but I did of course at one point question myself; hey, it's natural.

    I've been on countless dates where things are seemingly alright. That's not to say that there are always sparks flying. But at the very least they're not yawning, they can stand to look at me, and they are for the most part engaged. And then when it comes to asking for that second or third date, well, they just disappear without a word.

    Personally, I am a big fan of giving everybody the benefit of the doubt and going on at least a second date with them. Heck, I'll give em four dates. I mean, do people really expect sparks on the first date? Falling in love - a deep and lasting love - takes time.

    I think dating culture is starting to reflect a certain unsavory sentiment: that people are disposable. Nobody seems to offer the courteous "Oh, I just don't think we'd work out..." Rather, silence is the status quo. I find it incredibly rude to just ignore another human being who tried to make a connection with you.

    I think it's the unknown that really bothers me (and perhaps you as well) in these situations. It's not so much a reflection of our self-worth as it is a curiosity to why this other person didn't wish to continue dating. Do you feel that way?

    Anyway, it's 4AM right now and I am starting to regret writing this comment because I'm afraid I may not be as comprehensive or cohesive as I'd like. I'll just end this comment by saying: You've got a new reader, so congratulations.

  2. Just finished skimming (because skimming is all I can do at 5AM) a lot of your past entries, and I must say...there is a great degree of comfort to be had in knowing that there are women like you out there who agree with my views on things like dating, relationships, and infidelity.

    The whole thing with people who just magically disappear (I thought I was the only one who met people who mysteriously die in a car accident shortly after meeting me)...
    The rampant infidelity all over the place (if we can invent microchips and send a man to the moon, why can't we keep our pants on?)...
    The sad state of men's fashion (men need to learn how to dress themselves and keep a neat appearance: I miss the good old days when men wore suits everywhere)...
    Even on the topic of sex (why has sex become a casual commodity to be traded? What happened to the good old days?).
    We seem to be reading from the same book. Or perhaps we're writing the same one. I don't know what it's like wherever you are, but I wish there more women like you here in New York City. Everyone here is all about the quick fix, casual sex, disposable relationships.

    Whatever happened to just holding hands...? Spending time together, getting to know each other? Have our attentions gotten so deficient that we can only find the time to screw and entertain the idea of a relationship if there is that instant magic spark that happens one time in a million?

    I'm not sure just how introverted you are (I'm actually rather introverted myself), but if you ever want to talk, swap stories, or get a man's perspective...write me.

    Here's to romantic idealists trying to make a stand against the rest of the world.