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On the Men You Wish Would Disappear…And The Ones Who Actually Do [Dear DBN]


It’s hard to imagine in the age of digital omnipresence that there could be any mystery left in relationships, but there is and it’s horrible.  This week, how to handle yourself when it’s the disappearances and reappearances of loves and exes that’s causing you the trouble.

I met this guy online, and we really clicked. At least that’s what I thought. He really opened up to me recently, telling me about his trust issues and how he’s looking for “the one” and how he knows I’m “different.” I told him that I too have trust issues, that I’d never been in a relationship and that I’m a virgin. He told me that I was worth the wait and that he really liked me a lot. Somehow, he managed to melt off the face of the earth a week later. Umm…wtf happened? Should I ask him why?

When I was about 12 years old, living in a light blue farm house in Ohio with a big wrap around porch, we would sit on that porch in the evenings, eating chips and salsa. My father would have one beer and my mom would have one wine cooler, and then they would go inside to watch network television. We didn’t have cable.  I would usually stay on the porch, reading fashion magazines in the rocking chair.  One muggy night, a cat approached.  He was probably close to 18 lbs, a formidable grey beast with a long coat.  And for whatever reason in my childish mind, I decided he looked British, and thus named him Winston.  Winston was amazing; an immediate lap cat who would meow when you spoke to him.  I brought him food in the evenings and would pull him into my lap on the porch swing and stroke his fur as I read.  I begged my parents to adopt him, but we already had two cats.  We really did not need another, let alone this mastodon of a feline.

And then, one night, Winston didn’t visit.  He didn’t visit the night after that.  And he didn’t visit ever again.  I was displeased.  I fed that cat! I cared for him! I even fought to have him brought into our home! And then he just vanishes?  The nerve of that cat!  But I didn’t question it.  I didn’t wonder if he didn’t like the food, or if already had a home, or if he was overcome in a barn fight.  I didn’t ask those questions because I would never have those answers.  And often times, we want to ask other people those questions because people have the ability to answer.  But at the end of the day, the real answer doesn’t change.  Forget the why, forget the how, and focus on the “what” – he said a lot of nice things to you and then stopped speaking to you entirely.  It’s a rare Hollywood plot-line that the why ends up being that he lost his memory in an accident, so don’t bother looking for a twist in the script and accept that someone was thoughtless with you.

Don’t hold a grudge, don’t hold an investigation, don’t hold onto him any more than he is holding onto you. Another word for “trust issues” is caution, and it’s alright to be skeptical about what saunters onto your porch.  Not every alley cat that flops over on your feet like you’re a Disney princess is looking for a home, and not every alley cat can tell you why they wander.  But they do, and they will, and the best thing you can do is continue to tread lightly but kindly with whoever you may let wander onto your porch.

People even manage to disappear off the face of the earth when you’re actually dating them, in the flesh, so remember that words on the screen can, sometimes, really just be that: poetic pieces of nothing from a human looking for just a bump, a line, a hit of attention. Don’t let it harden you that that’s all some people want.  Instead, be grateful that that’s not all you have to give.

Any advice on seeing “the person” again when you know you aren’t ready? My ex left me after 6 years of a bunch of on/off again nonsense. I am not even close to over it, but it’s been 4 months since we broke up with no contact (*pats self on back*), but we’ll both be at the same function in a few weeks and I am dreading it. Not that seeing him will make me burst into tears (shit, I hope not), but I’m in a “don’t want to see or hear from him ever again” sort of space. Thoughts?

1) Do not get drunk at the function.  I know this is annoying and conceivably lame advice, but do not get drunk at the function.  I don’t have any idea what kind of function it is, but when the words “emotionally unprepared” are apt descriptors, alcohol should be under lock and key.  In one short paragraph, you have expressed concern, panic, irritation, anger, pride, and fear.  And rightly so!

2) Have a buffer. You need to have someone at this function who is hyper-aware of your situation. Even if you didn’t have any close friends going, I can guarantee you that 85% of women, upon hearing even the vaguest of details, would be willing to stand guard against “private conversations” and on again/off again looks across the bar.  Relationships do not work under a “hair of the dog” premise.  A little bit the next day will make you worse, not deceivingly better.  So grab a lady friend and say, “I’m trying to maintain a safe emotional distance from the handsome baggage over there in the navy suit – could you help me?” I would say yes in a heartbeat.

3) Practice.  Practice the words, the outfit, the laugh.  Make sure to wear something you don’t need to constantly adjust and feel beautiful in.  Practice the responses to polite questions he might ask.  And practice not caring that he asks.  The best thing you can do is be full of light and laissez-faire.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is nothing more alarming to a man than a woman who is kind and couldn’t care less.

The dread and anticipation are the worst parts.  And every click on the roller coaster will torment you more until you reach the top. But once you’re up there, strapped in and ready to fall, just keep your eyes open and have a good time.  You might be a little queasy and you might be a little scared, but you will definitely be alright.

CollegeCandy is excited to announce that we’ve partnered up with one of our favorite Tumblrs, DateByNumbers, to bring you some of her very best advice. Each week she’ll tackle your questions. Life, love, sex, the real world…nothing will be off limits. To submit a question of your own, visit her “Ask” page and keep an eye on CollegeCandy every Thursday afternoon!

    I've written for Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, Leveled Magazine, College Candy, How About We, and have been featured on several HuffPost Live segments. Creator and leader of Bold Moves October featured on xoJane and Neil Gaiman's blog. Both Neil and Jane appreciate boldness. I specialize in pep talks, very long bike rides, and matching my lipstick to my heels.