I was seeing somebody – “Bob” – for roughly two months. We spent tons of time together – 4-5 days a week. Because of his past with some pretty toxic relationships, he wanted to be sure about somebody before getting into a relationship with them. I agreed we could just take things slowly. Things were going well and it felt like we were progressing, but I recently saw that he was still on the apps, which hurt my feelings.
Then, last week, I saw a girl pop up on Bob’s phone, and I asked him if he was talking to other people from the apps when he was with me. He said he wasn’t, but he said that at the same time he didn’t just ignore people for three days while we were together either. He then asked me if I had talked to anyone else on the apps, and I was honest and said “yes” but that nothing came from it because it felt wrong.
I was really upset and hurt afterwards but tried to move past it, and then I saw her name pop up again and I just felt like Bob wasn’t being honest. I said I needed to go home because I was mad. I thought I could be patient with him but knowing we spend so much time together while he’s still keeping options open made me feel awful.
He proceeded to tell me that how I handled things was wrong, which I took ownership of. I could have dealt with it better, but I reacted in a moment of hurt. We argued a little; he told me he knows people make mistakes and that it’s okay to be human, but that the things we do affect things, and then he just hasn’t talked to me since.
I really don’t know what to do. My friends think I need to walk away because what he’s doing isn’t okay and ghosting like this is ridiculous and something I don’t deserve. I need some advice because I don’t know what to do. I feel like it’s my fault, but to just be dismissed this easily hurts. Any feedback would be great, thank you! — Ghosted and Mad
Here’s the thing – you’re saying that Bob isn’t being honest, but where’s the dishonesty? He told you upfront that he didn’t want to move quickly. He said he “wanted to be sure about somebody” before getting into a relationship. Did he, at any point, tell you he was sure about you? Did he tell you that you were in a monogamous relationship? I don’t think he did. You were assuming you were based on the amount of time you spent together. But when you saw a girl’s name pop up on Bob’s phone and you asked if he was still on the apps, he was honest and said “yes.” It turns out that you, too, are still on the apps. Again, where was he dishonest? Where has he wronged you at this point?
You said you were really hurt when you saw a girl’s name pop up on Bob’s phone, and you’re entitled to feel what you feel. But understand that these hurt feelings still are not the result of Bob’s doing anything hurtful to you. He’s still on a dating app, like you said you are. He has yet to tell you he’s ready for a relationship and he’s keeping his options open. This is all in line with how he told you he operates in dating (which is to say, slowly).
You left him because you were mad. Now he’s ghosted you. This is where I think he’s a jerk. He should have the decency and the respect for you after two months of around-the-clock time together to tell you that he’s not interested in seeing you anymore. But I want this to be a learning experience for you.
You didn’t say what your age is, but I can tell you’re young (or, at least inexperienced in dating). I know that because someone more experienced in dating would know that nearly everything Bob said was code for something else. “I’ve had some pretty toxic relationships and now want to be sure about somebody before getting into a relationship with them” is code for: “I’m playing the field, keeping my options open, just having fun, and don’t want a relationship.”
“I don’t just ignore people for days when they text” is code for “I don’t want to let other options slip away while I’m hanging out with you, so I answer texts but try to do it discretely when I’m with you.”
And telling you that people make mistakes and it’s ok to be human but mistakes affect things is code for “You just made this relationship way more work than I’m interested in investing, so I’mma move on now.”
This relationship is over now and you have a choice. You can label the experience as “toxic,” like Bob might, and let it guard you from developing future relationships into something meaningful, or you can learn from this experience and be wiser while still open-hearted and open-minded going forward in your dating life. I advise the latter.
From this experience, I hope the biggest lesson you take is to define a relationship with the other person instead of assuming it’s something it isn’t yet. Frequent dates or rapid intimacy doesn’t automatically equate commitment. Commitment, especially within the first few months of a relationship, should be verbalized by both parties. Communication really is key in avoiding some of these hurt feelings you’ve experienced.
I’d also suggest that when someone says they’ve had multiple toxic experiences that affect their interest in or ability to commit, you understand that this means that the person has limited emotional availability. If what you’re looking for is someone to emotionally invest in and connect with, keep looking.
I would also advise you to be beware of people whose words and actions are not in alignment. For example, if someone says he wants to take things slowly, but he makes time to see you nearly every day of the week, that is a misalignment and a clue that something is up. When there’s a misalignment in words and actions, it’s imperative to have open communication to get to the bottom of what’s going on. “When you said you want to take things slowly, what did you mean by that? Because we’re seeing each other so frequently that I’m confused about where you are intentionally being slow.”
I agree with your friends that walking away might not be a bad idea. Unfortunately, I think Bob has robbed you of that choice. Consider this a blessing in disguise though. Ghosting someone after two months of frequent dates is tacky and immature AF. You deserve better than that. Good thing you never deleted the apps.