In this week’s Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer, a reader writes in with an issue we can all relate to: He was ghosted after an amazing date.
But why does this happen? Well, thank goodness JP Brammer is here to provide some insight into why things can go so well…and then just disappear.
If you want his advice, just email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start out your letter with Hola Papi!
So, I went on a wonderful date with this guy last month. I’m talking wine, candlelight, the works! He was so cute and we got along immediately. Perfect chemistry. Or so I thought. We ended the night at my place with some, AHEM, Bible Study. When he left he said he’d text me when he got home, and I went to bed thinking I had really met someone special.
But when I texted him a couple days later, I got no response! I played it cool for a while, but when I hit him up again a week later, my suspicions were confirmed. I’d been ghosted.
Papi, how do I deal with a guy disappearing into thin air?
Thank you for this spooky October letter, Ghosted. What better way to usher in Halloween season than with a column that touches on so many of our private fears? Commitment! Complicated emotions! Struggles with self-worth! OOOooOoooOOoh!
Please pretend I said all that in a spooky voice. Like a camp counselor sitting by a crackling fire, telling a ghost story with an upturned flashlight to his face. Yes, I am aware I am going to die alone.
Anyway, in all semi-seriousness, ghosting is something most of us have experienced. Some people get ghosted after one date, others before they even have a chance to meet, and so on. But what they all have in common, what defines “ghosting,” is this: Sudden, unexpected radio silence from someone you were invested in communicating with.
So how do you deal with being dropped like a hot potato in July? That’s exactly what I’m going to tell you because that’s exactly what you asked, and that’s the entire point of Hola Papi! Your favorite column that appears in your Grindr notifications sandwiched between nudes and “horny, you?”
When someone suddenly stops talking to us, when that second “hey?” text gets left on read, it opens up a frightening mental space where we’re left to wonder what happened. The silence becomes unbearably loud. It screams questions at us, questions like, WHAT DID I DO WRONG? Or WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME?
But put that voice on mute for a second. Name her Tiffany and tell her to be quiet. Realize that what you’re going through is a perfectly logical, natural response to someone going ghost.
You see, Ghosted, we human beings, by nature, love closed narratives. It’s why we enjoy telling stories. In our world, things are supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end. We see our own lives in this format, and it’s how we perceive history, both on a cosmic and personal level. But real life, of course, can’t be arsed to cater to our needs. And so, more often than not, we are left with more questions than answers, and no pretty bow to wrap things up with.
Ghosting really messes with us because it doesn’t give us a conclusion, and gives us no journey, no path to getting one. This person isn’t going to speak to you anymore. They might as well have fallen off the face of the earth, and it’s not likely that they’re going to sit down with you and explain the motive behind why they disappeared. Unless you’re both in Brooklyn and it’s pitched as an intimate gay art exhibit or something a la Weekend (2011, Certified Fresh at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Instead, ghosting forces us to do something we absolutely hate doing: Accepting that something has ended, and that it ended in a disappointing way. If we can’t accept that, if that’s not an adequate answer, then our brains go into overdrive looking for one. Surely, it must be that I wasn’t attractive enough, your brain says. I must be bad at sex. Maybe my breath smells weird. Maybe I said something that offended him without realizing it. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I, I, I.
We tend to look inward in those unpleasant moments, Ghosted, because the other person has given us so little to work with. Odds are, you have only scratched the surface of this human being. You are unfamiliar with his anxieties, his motivators in life, his quirks, and his insecurities. And so we look instead to familiar turf, to ourselves, to conjure up that damn explanation we’re so desperate to have.
But have you ever seen a douchey Grindr profile with these words in it? “No answer is an answer.” I’m not one who usually looks to headless torsos for wisdom, but in this instance, the sentient pair of abs is correct. Not getting an answer is its own answer. It’s just that you, quite understandably, don’t like it and struggle to accept it.
On the bright side of things, however, I can tell you that whatever his reason was, it almost definitely had more to do with him than it did with you. That’s part of the peril of meeting someone.
Whenever we venture out to meet someone, Ghosted, we take a huge gamble. This is more or less a stranger, especially if we have few to no mutual friends in common, if we met off an app, or if we have no prior history. We roll the dice, and we drink wine by candlelight, and we share some laughs, and sometimes we go home together, but the risk hovers over all of it. They could hurt us. They could disappear.
And so, this guy is gone. Yes, he is good and gone, and you should consider him as such. Not a lingering maybe, not a drunk what’s up? Gone. Poof! Not your concern anymore. He did an asshole thing, which revealed him to be at least somewhat of an asshole, and the book has closed thusly.
As for you, the best thing you can do is not internalize it. You have no idea why he Danny Phantom’d. But don’t compound that nuisance by making more problems for yourself by trying to think of what you could have done differently.
I hope that, knowing how much it sucks, you don’t do it to anyone else. And this is a reminder to myself as well. Being ghosted is a painful experience, and while there are ways to cope, as I outlined above, ideally, it would stop happening and we could be adults who communicate our feelings to one another.
Or just think about how lucky you are that you’re only being “ghosted” by some dude with personal issues and not a real ghost. Can you imagine?