Before the Internet exploded into our lives, people searching for relationships most often dated people whose backgrounds they knew.
They met by working together, playing in the same areas, sharing the same social contacts, or belonging to the same groups. Occasionally, they were “fixed up” by friends, or perhaps met in some kind of magical, unpredictable way.
In that way, most intimate relationships were publicly observable.
They were part of a larger social “tribe,” and, therefore, open to observation and influence. There was little probability that either partner could get away with disappearing if he or she was planning to leave the relationship.
In today’s world, many daters not only don’t know where their new partners come from, whether or not their histories are even accurate, or what other relationships may exist outside of the one they are currently pursuing.
There rarely are ways to compare what is being said with what may really be the situation or to know which coordinates can be used to figure it out.
How can anyone in a new relationship know how to trust what he or she is experiencing as real? What criteria should people use to predict whether that new partner is telling the truth about the importance of the relationship? Are there signs and signals that precede disappearance? And how can a deserted partner cope with the painful feelings that accompany abandonment?
There are several ways to determine whether the person you’re with will be honest about either staying in the relationship or telling you it’s over:
1. Comparing an online profile with the person who shows up
Profiles are often carefully scripted summaries of what a person feels will attract a potential mate. As such, they are rarely representative of who a person truly is, or how he or she will actually respond in any one situation. Most people are reluctant to share vulnerable feelings or past histories that might push someone away before they can make an impression. Using what they believe the media suggests as valuable assets, they try to fit all of who they are into what they believe most others would value.
When you eventually meet that new person, pay careful attention to any differences you observe between the profile and the actual person. If there are obvious discrepancies, share them with the person in a non-threatening manner. Anyone whom you can trust later will be happy to clear up any misunderstandings.
2. Let the person know up front who you are and what an ideal relationship would look like.
Coming from a place of curiosity, not the need to interrogate, share your feelings in general about what you truly care about in your world, how you feel about being in a relationship, and how you came to feel the way you do. Don’t share personal information like how many people you’ve been with, why your relationships haven’t worked out, any pessimism you might have about why things don’t work, or your fears of the future. Being open and authentic is not the same as opening yourself up to challenge or criticism.
Imagine being in a foreign place with no expectations of the future. You meet an interesting person in a spontaneous situation and just begin to talk. It’s easy, in an emotionally anthropological way, to explore how each of you came to be where you are, what you are currently excited about, and what you’d love to have happen in the future. You’re sharing without being self-conscious, open without exposing personal information about yourself. The beginning of any relationship should be that comfortable.
3. Pay attention to the consistencies or inconsistencies in the narrative you’re hearing from a new partner.
Though most people are nervous when they start a new relationship, they do share stories about who they are, what they’ve done, and what they like. If you listen carefully, you can hear how those different narratives seem logically connected or that obvious gaps are evident. If you are a good listener and know how to welcome another’s world, you will hear them if they exist.
Watch for whether or not your date fills in details that you could easily check out, or seems evasive in presenting underlying substantiation. Does he or she, for instance, talk about families or origin, current friendships, or present interests in an open way, or skims over details while presenting stories that may or may not be real?
4. Directly ask about how they’ve ended relationships in the past when they stopped working.
Tell your date about what you’ve heard about how easy it is these days to disappear out of a relationship when someone is uncomfortable about rejecting or hurting someone and how you so much prefer honesty both from others and from yourself. Tell them that, although it may be hurtful at the time, it is much less when both partners are always up front with one another. That way you are letting that partner know who you are to get his or her reaction before you even consider going further.
5. Before you consider committing to a new relationship, make sure your partner introduces you to important members of his or her social circle and/or family.
People are much less likely to disappear out of a relationship when it is consistently observed by others. If you know a person’s haunts, social patterns, and other close relationships, you can trace them more easily. Partners who are leaving it open to do an invisible get-away, do not make that easy.
If your new relationship only exists in isolation, no matter how good it is, you may be in for a future “ghosting.” That is especially true when that partner doesn’t easily offer where he or she is when not with you, especially when they don’t answer texts for long periods of time, or keep their phones turned off when they’re with you.
6. Equal interest and value.
If you start a relationship in a one-down place, you are more likely to be expendable. People, who don’t want to lose a relationship, even if it’s to maintain a friendship in the future, do not “hold court.” That means that you are not the one who is always reaching across the chasm to make the relationship work or to keep it going. It’s just too easy to eventually walk out of a relationship when there is unequal value of both partners.
Check out how many resources you are contributing to a relationship versus what is coming back. Time, energy, money, love, trust, need, giving, investing, and devotion, must be somewhat reciprocal from the beginning. It’s okay if those resources shift back and forth, but not if they are consistently only available in a one-sided deal.
7. Being honest with yourself.
Many people tell me, after the fact that they knew their partners were on their ways out, but didn’t want to see it happening. They turned the virtual “blind eye” to the situation because they wanted the relationship to work out and were not prepared to lose it. They were afraid to confront their partners to give them a chance to validate what was happening.
A partner who can’t seem to tell the other that he or she is losing interest always gives some sign that are happening, no matter how subtle. If they are not recognized by the other, those reluctant abandoners often see “ghosting” as the only way to end the relationship without having to face the consequences.
Invisible or unpredictable abandonments that happen early in a relationship are a little easier to bear. There hasn’t been a lot invested. They hurt much more when a relationship is established. If you have been rejected that way many times, you’ll need to look at your expectations and make sure they are in line with probabilities. If the person you’re with has a history of leaving without settling and it doesn’t repeatedly happen to you, you may just have been blinded by the magic and forgot to leave the lights on.
Should you rush into a relationship?
10 questions to ask if you’re ready to commit.
Is this true love?
Touch and Go Relationships – Do they have to be superficial?
Ten important questions you should ask a potential partner?
When It’s Time to let a Relationship go
Match who? – Crucial aspects of a potential partner
Who are the “Keepers?”
Should I date this person again?
Successful on-line dating profiles
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
Usually when a relationship is on the rocks, you know it’s about to end.
There are the normal signs of not communicating and spending less time together. There might even be conversations about how things are just not working out. That makes it easier to see the break-up when it occurs. But sometimes people disappear with no explanation, and no amount of calling or texting can get them to call us back.
People disappear for as many reasons as there are stars in the sky, but none of those reasons are about you.
If he wasn’t mature enough to tell you he was leaving or was having problems with the relationship, there’s nothing you can do to fix that. In relationships where there is trust, caring, and understanding, we communicate about problems, even if they are difficult and we don’t want to say what needs to be said. Someone who can’t give you the respect to end it and allow you to move forward is no one to spend anymore of your precious time on.
Sometimes disappearing gives a person the aura of being mysterious, and since we can’t talk to them, we will never get the answers we want, or even the answers we don’t want.
This means we tend to come back to it again and again, wondering where you went wrong. It’s normal at the end of a relationship to ask yourself what you could have done differently or how you need to change to make your next relationship work. When the other person doesn’t talk with you about their perceptions, you’re on your own and have to figure it all out for yourself, and no way to check out your worst fears.
So, what should you do?
First, stop calling and texting and stalking him on social media.
It’s important to get a clean break and take some time to figure out what you actually need for you. If he’s not responding to you, he’s moved on, and maybe it’s time you do the same.
Remind yourself (over and over again, if necessary) that any answers you might get about why the relationship ended will not actually change how you feel.
It’s important to grieve the loss of the relationship, and nothing anyone can say will make that any easier or better. Allow yourself the time you need to get through this and move forward. Closure is always a personal process, and you may have to do this on your own.
Finally, don’t assume that there’s anything wrong with you or that you did something wrong.
Nothing you can do can actually change another person’s behavior, and you can’t be responsible for what they choose to do. Your next relationship will be entirely different, and hopefully you will find someone who respects and cares for you enough to tell you how they feel instead of simply disappearing.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
He Says “I Love You”… But does he really mean it?
This 7 question quiz tells you if your man truly loves you or if he is just using you…
The man you are dating has disappeared.
Did you get really drunk and sleep with his best friend? Did you yell obscenities at his mother? Do you stand him up on a regular basis? Are you mean or controlling? These are some reasons that might justify an abrupt departure without some kind of conversation that at least lets you know what his problem is. I am assuming he isn’t dead.
In general, there is no good reason to simply cut-off a relationship.
It’s a mean thing to do. It’s very unfair to the partner who is left with all of the unanswered questions, not to mention the pain of feeling rejected, abandoned, or at the very least embarrassed that you’d so misjudged the relationship.
I have to think that this is not really a quality partner.
He may have commitment issues or difficulty with communication. But assuming that you haven’t committed some really egregious crime, there’s no reason why he can’t tell you what’s going on. Ideally he would have told you when he first began to have doubts, opening up the possibility of working on things. But just disappearing without any warning is pretty bad. I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with this person anyway.
It’s always a good idea to take an honest look at yourself.
Is there anything that he has complained about that you’ve not been willing to look at? Do you have a pattern of men disappearing on you? Do you get so defensive that a man might want to avoid any confrontation? Have there been signs that you’ve been minimizing or avoiding?
Looking at yourself is always helpful because you may find something that you can work on in yourself.
You are the only part of a relationship that you have control over, so if there’s anything you can learn, there’s a good possibility that the next relationship you’re in will be better. I want to distinguish between the things that he might not like and the things that you consider areas for self-improvement. What he doesn’t like reflects his experience; what you don’t like reflects your own self-assessment, which is a more reliable source.
Every relationship is an opportunity for growth.
It teaches you about yourself so that you can make better choices. Don’t let anyone else define you. Be open to feedback, but someone who would just disappear really doesn’t have anything useful to say.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Learn Why Men Pull Away
There is a deep-seated “Gap” in communication that very few women (or men) understand.
It’s the #1 reason why men pull away.
To be truly irresistible to a man, you MUST understand this gap, and the way feelings of love get confused and entangled in a man’s mind…
If you are dating a guy for a few weeks and then you don’t hear from him, with no explanation or courtesy to explain what’s going on, this guy is NOT for you!
Chances are that he goes through many women, because he’s just not ready to settle down or commit to just one. These guys can drive you crazy, because you want to know what happened and why.
If you find that this happens all too often, then maybe it IS you.
Here are some suggestions to think about:
These seven questions could give you a clue as to why these guys are disappearing.
So it is an opportunity for you to focus your attention on how you can improve yourself, perhaps be more interesting or just understand better the dynamics of a healthy relationship.
Remember, if you are just attracting a lot of unavailable, uncommitted guys, you need to look elsewhere in the dating pool, to meet an eligible prospect.
There are plenty of resources online and around your community that may provide a whole element of new potential partners, outside of your usual comfort zone. This could be just what you need to keep the guys hanging around!
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com