Online dating can have some really positive upside, but the danger of being ghosted is always lurking.
Ghosting is when someone seems really into you and then suddenly disappears, hoping you "get the message" without the hassle of a confrontation. I've seen some women use this term when a guy they were chatting with on Bumble stopped responding, but my definition is when you've met someone in person, been out at least once (but usually more), and established very positive traction only to see them vanish without explanation. It means the woman suddenly stops responding to text messages, phone calls and proceeds to unmatch you on the app. The unmatch on the app is a key signal; it means she no longer wants to show your picture to her friends. Hence, game over!
I referred to it on occasion as a "seven out." On the craps table, a seven out occurs when you establish a point and then throw a 7 before the point is re-rolled, thus losing your bet.
I've listened to my lady friends complain bitterly about being ghosted, but as I painfully learned, women are pretty damn proficient at ghosting themselves. Ironically, some of the most fun dates I had resulted in a full-on ghosting.
Ghost #1 was a Cuban American who I met for drinks one evening. We hit it off immediately. Five minutes into our rendezvous we were already finishing each other's sentences. Neither one of us could even get to the end of a story because we kept branching off into side-bar anecdotes and each one of those led to another hilarious memory. There was so much to talk about! At one point she mentioned that her favorite Talking Heads song was Wild Life, which happened to be the ringtone on my phone. Things were going that well.
My follow up to that evening was an invitation to the theater on a Friday night, which she immediately accepted. Then on Friday afternoon as I was trying to nail down pre-theater details, she disappeared, never to respond to another text or phone call again. SEVEN OUT! GHOSTED! After the best first date I ever had. Holy shit!
Along came Ghost #2. She was a pretty blonde who I had a really fun dinner with. She insisted that we go for a walk by the Hudson afterwards, and with the river flowing in the background, she grabbed me and started kissing me like we were long lost lovers. The next day I got a lovely text from her saying how much fun she had. And then when I tried to set up a follow up date she vanished. SEVEN OUT! GHOSTED!
Not unlike those inexplicable losing streaks in Las Vegas, somehow everything I touched ended in a SEVEN OUT.
A woman friend who runs an elite dating service confided that "men are much more open to second dates than women are. If the first date doesn't blow a woman's socks off," she asserted, "she won't go on a second date. It's always a problem for our agency." I remembered a drink date I had at Barawine in Harlem. The woman had 2 cats, a blind dog and was proud of still using a Blackberry. I don't know which of those three was worse. And yet, I was somehow willing to go on a second date. She wasn't!
This losing streak made me so despondent that my inner circle had to talk me off the ledge a few times. Tired of feeling sorry for myself, I decided that a change of perspective was in order. I poured a chilled Don Julio and queued up Nirvana's Lithium at a deafening volume to facilitate my mental realignment. Yes; some of these experiences were draining, disappointing, and downright discouraging. A few illusions went up in smoke; that was true. And I was spending a shitload of emotional capital. That was very true. If this love game was indeed a game, then I would have learn how to play it, and play it well.
I decided that henceforth, I would increase the frequency of dates, and refer to those dates as games. Not because my goal of finding an awesome girlfriend had changed, or I didn't take it seriously, or I wanted to be a serial dater, but rather to reduce the emotional weight of each encounter during the process. Like a hockey team, it would be a long season. There would be home games and away games, satisfying wins and heartbreaking losses, nights when my confidence and wit were on fire, and others where my charm would betray me. However, regardless of outcome, I would never dwell on the past. My focus would always be on the next game.
Armed with a new attitude, I hopped a flight to California.
Jet lagged, euphoric from the Pacific Ocean breeze, and perhaps seeking adventure, I ignored not only my better instincts, but also my basic survival skills and started working on the Brentwood Jezebel, an ex-New Yorker living on the West Side of LA. We had a very choppy chat after matching. She described herself in her profile as "sassy" and I soon realized that in woman speak, sassy means "really bitchy." During my first attempt to set up a date she got really "sassy" when I placed an override on the restaurant she wanted to meet at. (Bandera has no windows, yo). That should have been a scratch right then and there.
Somehow she had a non hysterical moment and texted over an apology, to which I replied "Looks like I can cancel the restraining order against you." She thought that was funny. Her unexpected compliment gave me a split second of optimism and I flippantly typed "Maybe we should meet just to confirm that we really do hate each other." To my surprise she accepted and next thing I knew I was in an Uber, saying to myself: "why do you do these things?"
The Brentwood Jezebel disliked everything and everyone as far as I could tell, and that included her family who she had a troubled relationship with. She offered a few memorable quotes on dating in LA: "I meet a lot of quality guys in LA but I'm not attracted to most of them. Guys in LA have no sense of humor. They are in fact a bunch of pussies."
We argued over everything; French vs. Italian wines, how many times a week a non-vegetarian should eat meat, and even the very definition of what constitutes comfort food. As it turned out, we really did hate each other. Of course that didn't prevent her from trying to extract an expensive meal from me at Tavern on San Vicente by stating that she was hungry while browsing the dinner menu. Clearly I wasn't going to fall for that. Part of my self improvement project was refusing to finance the appetites of selfish women.
The second part of my West Coast trip took me up to San Francisco. I luckily matched with a super successful, intelligent, beautiful woman who invited me to The Battery — a private club — for drinks. She was bicoastal (perfect) and I was really determined to bring my "A Game" and make a good impression.
My date prep hit a speed bump when two of my close friends unexpectedly decided to get married at San Francisco City Hall hours before game time. Despite my insistence on not drinking, the champagne started flowing, and kept flowing, and when clean up time came, I had a hard time figuring out which shirts in my bag were actually dirty. I vaguely remember trying to iron a shirt with an empty champagne bottle. Somehow, I managed to find my John Varvatos sport jacket and then ventured out.
Needless to say I showed up to my highly anticipated date fairly drunk. I recall getting halfway through a story and realizing that I had no idea what I was talking about. She was far too polite to call me out on it. So there I was, left with the challenge of sobering up while drinking a bottle of Côte de Beaune with her, which I did to the best of my ability.
Back in New York, I thought of Anchor Woman, a TV reporter and one time anchor woman who I went out with twice. The last time out with her was particularly fun, an excursion to an art expo and wine bar. Normally very polished and articulate, it didn't take much Malbec to loosen her up. After shedding her camera ready persona, she was damn fun. There was a lot of story telling on both sides and hearing about live broadcast mishaps was particularly entertaining for me.
I had texted her before California and never heard back. It had to be an oversight I thought; she was too well mannered to ignore a text. A golden opportunity to reach out arose when I saw her interviewed on BBC as a subject matter expert. I composed a beautiful text with an invite to get together. I waited and waited for a response, but nothing. Ghosted! SEVEN OUT!
As I stumbled down Marcy Avenue, I thought about a recent conversation I had with a single guy friend. His theory was that the dating dynamic could be reduced to a single factor; men want sex and women want someone to solve their problems. Maybe I didn't come across as a problem solver? Then my phone alerted with a new Bumble match — a blonde nurse with curves in all the right places. It was on to the next game.
In good health, wine, and tequila,
Truth or dare