Why Do Guys Ghost?

Dear Elana: 

Why do guys ghost? I've had three guys disappear this year. Am I scaring them off? With one guy, we went out on several dates and it seemed like he had a great time. He even introduced me to his friends. Then, he stopped responding to my texts and I never heard from him again. 

- Girl Hoping One Stays True

Dear GHOST

Guys disappear when they are afraid of communicating. It's so much easier to simply ignore a text than to have a difficult conversation about their feelings. Maybe he wanted a casual relationship, and he doesn't know how to break the news that he's moved on. Maybe he thinks that avoiding you will be less painful than telling you the truth. 

It's confusing and disheartening when a guy who showed interest abruptly vanishes. The experience leaves you questioning his motives and wondering if you did anything wrong. You need to know that it's not your fault when a guy disappears. There's no excuse for the immaturity and selfishness of ghosting after connecting with another person. 

Could you be the spooky one causing men to ghost? I don't know, maybe. Are you saying that you want to move in together and open a shared bank account on your first date? Regardless of your behavior, a mature and emotionally stable man will not simply disappear. He might say that you're not a good match, but at least he'll have the guts to tell you that he's not interested in a relationship. 

Remember that you can't force men to be emotionally aware or honest. However, you can communicate that you can handle the truth, even if it is unpleasant or disappointing. You can also seek out men who are thoughtful, self-aware, and good communicators. Eventually, you'll sort through the ghosts and find a man who maintains a corporeal form. 

--

Elana Hunter started KickStartLove when she was single, and after years of dating she is now happily married. She provides individual dating coaching for private clients who are ready to change their lives. 

Get Back Together with My Ex?

Dear Elana,

Some time ago, I started dating this amazing guy. Everything was great and we got along in every way. However, he had finished a two-year relationship right before we started dating, and after a few months he said he wasn’t ready. We concluded that probably not enough time had passed since his previous relationship, and that he could not be emotionally available to me or anyone else. My heart was broken, but as we both really liked and admired each other, we decided to stay friends. Now we spend time together, but I am still in love with him. How do I know if he is ready for a relationship? When that happens, how can I make him see me as a romantic interest once again? P.S. We are gay. Thank you so much!

– Hopeful Underdog Not Giving Up

Dear HUNG UP,

It sounds like the first question is how honest your friend is being with you. Is he really “not ready” to be in a relationship, or is he hesitant about being in a relationship with you? If you truly believe that your former flame can keep burning, then you need to have a conversation. Ask him how he feels about his ex, and how he feels about you. Remind him of the fun you’ve had together, and tell him you want to keep having adventures with him. However, I would caution you to examine your expectations. It is possible that he will remain your friend, but fall for someone else. If that time comes, make sure that you are open to other matches whose flames are burning brighter for you. 

Should I call him?

Dear Elana, 

I am a 34-year-old woman who has been single for two years. Last week, I finally met a great guy, but he hasn’t returned my phone calls. I texted him after our date to tell him that I had a good time and didn’t get a response, and then I called him three days later to invite him to a friend’s party and haven’t heard anything yet. I’m feeling frustrated. What should I do? 

- My Phone’s on Vibrate For You

Dear Phone’s on Vibrate,

Despite the fact that you don’t hear your phone, I hear you, loud and clear. After two years of missed connections, you finally found a guy who might be a match, and you can already imagine your future children playing catch in the backyard. The problem is, he isn’t picking up what you’re putting down.

First – and I say this with care – stop contacting him. No calling, no texting. Find something else to do with your thumbs. If he wants to find you, he knows how to get in touch.

The fact that he didn’t respond to your text or call tells me that he is either not interested, or he’s pursuing someone else and hoping to keep you on the hook. Give him space. If he calls you, there’s a chance that you could develop a relationship, but if you keep running after him you could chase him away permanently.

Right now, you should be less concerned with his call, and more interested in how to establish power dynamics that build a lasting relationship.

Whether he comes to his senses and realizes that you are the milk to his cookies, or you decide to meet someone new, here’s how to avoid moping around in sweatpants while you wait for your iPhone to buzz.

I’m going to share a secret with you from behavioral psychology: guys aren’t “great” or not “great”. They are people, and they respond to reinforcements. If you teach a man that he can navel gaze while you call, and write, and swoon he’ll learn that he can maintain your affections without lifting a finger. This is not what you want.

You need to establish power dynamics in the beginning of a courtship that will be in place throughout the duration of your relationship.

If you are always the one calling, arranging dates, and texting him selfies, then you are showing more interest than he is. You’re giving away your power which makes you feel vulnerable, and ultimately makes you less attractive to him.

Consider the balance of power that you want in a relationship, and then act accordingly from your first interaction. If you want an equal partnership, then make him feel secure and loved, and hold him to the same expectations.

The key isn’t to stumble upon a man who is “great,” it’s to find a man who has good character and who likes you so much that he wants to match your level of affection and attraction. Put down that phone, and get out there.

How to enjoy single life

Q: I hate to admit it, but I’ve started calling my exes and reconnecting with them because I am so lonely. When I come home from work, my house feels empty. I work on projects, and I have hobbies – but it feels flat improving my home, cooking, and watching movies all alone. Most of my friends have coupled off, and I have lost my friend support network. I don’t want to jump into a relationship unless it is with the right person, but I’m going crazy spending so much time by myself.
- Is Single and Happy an Oxymoron?

A: Being single and happy can be a trick in a culture that is obsessed with couples. It’s hard to avoid the not-so-subtle message that coupledom is a measure of success. Every time you turn on the radio you hear love songs, and even the billboard on your drive to work features a diamond ring. The pressure to find “the one” can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry. It gets better.

Take a deep breath and follow these five steps to a new, happy you.

1) Get perspective. The fact is, being in a relationship has its ups and downs like everything else in life. Your life will not miraculously transform into a glossy Hollywood movie the second you fall in love or get married. There will still be beautiful days, and dreary days.

2) Live your life right now. Don’t wait for that special person to appear on the scene. He or she will arrive one day, but you can’t sit around waiting. How attractive will that seem if you are all bummed out and sitting on the sidelines? Take charge of your life and complete all the milestones that you hoped to accomplish by this stage. If you dreamed of traveling across the country with your partner, convince a friend to be your road trip buddy and start the adventure. Maybe you have been waiting to get a dog until you have a comfortable home life with your partner. Guess what? Single people can have dogs! Get your fluffy, scruffy pup and be happy. Whatever it is that you have been putting on the back burner for “one day”, bring it to the forefront and make it happen.

3) Connect with your support system. Your friends and family can be the best support system in the world if you let them. Even if your friends are married, they still need quality time with people other than their spouses. Plan weekly or monthly outings with each group of friends, and stick to your plans. Ask your friends to invite their friends who you haven’t yet met, and your social circle will quickly grow. You might just meet your match when you’re not even looking.

4) Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, and dress to impress. You will feel better, and you will attract attention from potential matches. Treat yourself to homemade meals, and dinners out with friends. Get an extravagant haircut if you can afford it. Have you always wanted to take music lessons? Do it. Why are you waiting for someone else to spoil you? You can spoil yourself right now, no partner needed.

5) Give yourself credit. Accept that what you are doing is hard. Like it or not, you live in a society that prizes romantic relationships over being single. Couples have a sense of stability and direction that can be envy-inducing. As a single person, you can feel stuck in limbo, unsure about where your life will ultimately lead. Your single years can be challenging, but they are also a very special time in your life. You have more flexibility and more freedom than you will ever have again. Unless you want to remain single (and some people do), you will one day look back on this time with nostalgia. Summon the courage to believe that, like all things in life, this era will end.

Instead of pining for all the relationships that could have been, spend this time indulging in the pleasures of being single. Focus on your passions, go out on dates, travel, learn a foreign language, do whatever it is that makes you feel fulfilled. Take pride in your solo accomplishments. You will find love when the time is right. 

The case for high standards

One of the issues I come across most often in my coaching practice is settling. That is, dating someone who isn’t quite “good enough” but who you date because you don’t think you can do any better. I see this most often with men, but women do it too. Here’s why it’s a bad idea, and why you deserve your perfect match.

You have probably heard of people being rated by numbers. A gorgeous model is a 10, and a bottom-of-the-barrel ugly is a 1. But the thing to remember is that these numbers are subjective. Your 6 is someone else’s 10, and your 10 is someone else’s 6.

The same is true of your number. One person might see you as a 4 and someone else might see you as a 9 or 10. You owe it to yourself to avoid dating the people who diminish your value, and to only give your heart to the people who admire and cherish you.

Few of us grow up believing that we need to have low standards. Something happens in our adolescence or early adulthood that wounds our egos and diminishes our self-confidence. We experience some form of rejection, and don’t want to get hurt again. It feels safer to date someone beneath us, someone who will be grateful to date us. But there’s a problem with this logic. Just because we perceive our partners as being lower status does not mean that they see themselves that way. A “low-status” mate is not more likely to stick around than a high-status partner.

Here’s why.

If you treat your partner like a 6, he or she will have very little incentive to stay. (If your partner does, it’s a sign of low self-esteem, and that’s not good, either.) When you’re kicked to the curb, you tell yourself, “I can’t even keep a 6, I better lower my standards to a 4.”

Wrong.

That’s false logic. You would be much better off shooting for an 8, 9, or 10 next time, because you will treat this new prospect with love, respect, and admiration, and that will hold interest.

Now, let’s clarify what it means to be a 10. Before you go prancing off into La La Land and chasing A-list movie stars, let’s make sure that your “high standard” is your deepest, most real desire. Are a fit waistline, firm skin, and an expensive car the traits that elevate someone in your book? Are they the qualities that will bring you meaningful, profound, satisfaction for 50 years to come? Probably not. So, let’s take a moment to figure out what a 10 really looks like for you.

Start by identifying the qualities that you really want and that you honestly value. Create a list of 10 to 20 items that absolutely make you swoon, the ones that you wouldn’t want to live without. This list will be different for everyone. Most likely, your list will include qualities such as intelligence, emotional stability, honesty and loyalty. It might even include physical characteristics such as body type or hair color. Are creativity, athleticism, sense of humor and spiritual/religious beliefs on your list? What about lifestyle, status, and education? Determine the most important qualities that you look for in a mate and write them down.

Now, you have a succinct list of the qualities that you want. If you did it right, it’s not a superficial list of features that turn you on. Rather, it’s a genuine list of characteristics that make a person compatible with you, a really good fit. If you meet someone who is “okay”, but who doesn’t quite meet your standards, don’t get involved. Really. You don’t have to settle. You know that expression, “There are plenty of fish in the sea?” Well, it’s actually true. Throw your “okay” fish back in the water, and keep rowing until a superstar swims your way.

Love is a serious business. It’s fun and silly and romantic. But it’s also serious, especially when you are thinking about creating a life with someone. You want to make sure that your better half lives up to the title. Settling leads to disappointment and regret. Hold out for that astonishing person who will make your heart pitter-patter, who will understand how you feel through thick and thin, and who will be your best friend. That person is out there and they are looking for you. If you have the skills to play the game, and the good judgment to sort out the mediocre from the golden, you can win yourself a 9 or 10.