“I’m in My Fifties And My Boyfriend of Eight Months Just Ghosted Me!”

I’ve known a gentleman, “Roger” for a year, and we’ve been dating for eight months. We are both in our early 50s and highly professional. He’s struggled throughout his life with poor relationships from neglect, verbal abuse, and being seriously taken advantage of. He has signs of mild depression and it’s hard for him to let go of negative experiences, as he has talked and relived them frequently. I’m smart enough to understand that he allowed this due to poor self-esteem or insecurity.

Well, we had a great relationship — we’re good friends and enjoyed a closeness. We talked extensively about a future. But he’s never lived on his own and, in between relationships, he slept on his dad’s couch for months. I demanded he get his own apartment because he wasn’t moving into my home. I’m an independent lady who has found my own way in life, and I don’t want or need a dependent man.

After living in his apartment for four months — which I helped furnish and organize since he didn’t have a towel to his name — it all changed. All of a sudden he “ghosted” me — stopped responding to my calls and texts. I’ve now figured out I’m blocked. I even texted his dad after a few days to make sure he was OK and I got no response. I’ve shown up at his apartment building twice and knocked on the door repeatedly; I heard no noise coming from inside, but his vehicle was parked in the lot.

It would be beneath me to camp out there, block his vehicle in with mine, or show up at his work. He knows my number and obviously it’s definitely over for him. I just don’t know why, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what I did or didn’t do. There were some signs of slight pulling away, but that happens with anyone at times. Up until now we talked or connected every day and it was good; now, it’s like he evaporated. There’s a huge hole in my heart and life with zero closure.

Any advice or ideas? We aren’t 20-somethings that just disappear. Thank you for your help. — Ghosted Fifty-Something

I’m sorry for the pain and rejection you’re feeling now, and the frustration of not knowing what you did or didn’t do to elicit such a response from someone you’d grown so close and intimate with. Unfortunately, you will likely never get the answers from Roger that you seek, but I know you can still heal from this, learn from this, and move on with a full and open heart.

There are two things that especially stick out to me from your letter. Well, three things, actually. The first is that you say Roger suffered from mild depression and had some personal issues he talked about and relived frequently. You say you understood that he “allowed this” — I assume you mean the issues he couldn’t let go of — because of poor self-esteem and insecurity. So that is a belief you have about him – that he is an insecure, mildly depressed man with poor self-esteem who can’t let go of negative experiences (that you believe he enabled in some part). That in itself should be enough to explain how you might have been ghosted despite not knowing what you did or didn’t do to prompt such an extreme reaction. You’re operating under the assumption that Roger would behave and function typically even though what you know about his behavior is atypical and dysfunctional.

Then there’s his housing situation — how he’s never lived on his own until you “demanded” (your word) that he get an apartment of his own. Look, there was a reason he hadn’t lived on his own before, and whatever that reason was, it didn’t disappear because you wanted it to. You can’t will away someone’s issues with love and demands. It just doesn’t work that way. It sounds like he tried to be the man you wanted and needed — an independent man — but that, without appropriate support tools in place, he likely failed. That failure may have damaged his self-esteem even more. It’s possible he felt shame, and it’s possible that he blamed you. Either of these emotions — and both together — could explain his sudden ghosting of you.

Finally, you describe yourself as an independent woman who didn’t need or want a dependent man. Well, what you know about Roger’s past relationships is that he was NOT independent at all — he was very much dependent on his significant others for, at the very least, housing. He probably purposefully sought out women who actually DID want to feel needed in that way by a man. Maybe in pursuing you, he was making a conscious (or subconscious) effort to break that habit. Maybe he simply really, truly liked you and very much wanted to be the kind of man you seek and he tried so hard and just couldn’t do it. Again, you mention various issues he was struggling with but you don’t say anything about any professional help he was getting. Without appropriate support tools, it’s really hard for someone to change his behavior, change his habits, change his thinking, and change his life. It sounds like he tried — passively, anyway, allowing you to furnish and organize his apartment — and it sounds like he did it for your benefit because he was afraid he’d lose you if he didn’t make an effort.

That’s one theory anyway. Whatever the truth is, though, I think it’s reasonably safe to say that his ghosting is not a result of your behavior so much as it’s a result of his own dysfunctional relationship with himself. I know that doesn’t ease your grief now and your sense of loss and the sadness you feel as a result of this relationship that you thought had promise suddenly ending. But I hope that it gives a broader perspective of the whole picture and that it encourages you to seek out men going forward who are not at odds with themselves. Pay better attention to red flags when you meet someone (like chronic homelessness despite being “highly professional”), and if you think someone needs to dramatically change something about themselves in order for him to be right for you, save yourself a lot of heartache and move along.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. Well, I guess you can’t expect reasonable behaviour from a dependant man in a highly unbalanced relationship. I know we all have issues, but the list you provided is reason enough to take a step back, and see if it is worth to live with them. Notice I said “live”, as you can’t expect them to improve or “demand” to get better. People is as it is the moment you meet them. Expecting changes for you to feel comfortable with the relationship is a vicious recipe for failure.
    Find closure in the thought that you did your best for him, but unfortunately their own demons are stronger, and you can’t win against them.

  2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    You will probably never know why he ghosted you and you don’t need to know. Just know it is over and it would never have worked because you needed to change him.
    It may be as simple as he didn’t like living alone. You said he is still parked outside the apartment building. Maybe he found a woman who was willing to move in with him.

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    You won’t get closure from talking to Roger. You get closure from accepting that it is over and it wasn’t going to work. You were probably much better as friends than as partners.

  4. Look for a person who is the way you want them to be already – at least for the most part. You want an independent man, find an independent man, not someone that you have to FORCE in to being independent. Once you’ve forced them they’re not independent anyway…

  5. Ele4phant says:

    Look – dude seems to have issues. But you knew that. What 50 year old can’t live alone?This isn’t like a twenty something that’s dallying on fully launching. At fifty, this is who he is, so who are you to try to push an adult man to change to fit what you want?

    Once you encountered his red flags, it should’ve been thank you for time, I don’t think we’re a match. The concept of dating someone who is a “fixer upper” is never really a thing – certainly not if said fixer is middle aged. You take it or you leave it.

    I get that it really hurts to just be ghosted, but you kind of acted like a crazy lady, texting his dad, showing up at his apartment.

    Again he clearly has issues but you were pushy AF during your relationship. Again he is who he is, if that didnt work for you – you should’ve moved on.

    1. You bring up a very interesting point in age. It seems like at a certain age there are a lot less financially prepared, emotionally attuned, single, straight males who don’t come with some baggage. I don’t think a middle aged man is a fixer upper but this letter writer might have actually avoided some of the other ladies he may have moved in with did not. People are critical about her not instantly moving on, but I wonder if 100% straight women sometimes indulge weird situations because there doesn’t seem to be anything more promising on the horizon at a certain age. It would make an interesting Wendy column, I think. Plus, it probably makes a difference if women have their own baggage. When someone is rooted to a particular area because of kids or employment, it probably really limits the scope of available choices.

      1. I’m sorry for the poor grammar; I’m a little busy and am just trying to post quickly. I think I got the across the gist of my point, though. There were red flags, but she may have treated them more like yellow flags because she busies herself, he was gainfully employed if lacking reasonable sufficiency in some fundamental ways of daily life functioning, and they were friends and enjoyed each other during the limited romantic interactions. They were red flags, not yellow, but most of the people I’ve met in the suburbs met their spouses in college. I wonder if it’s just an entirely different ball game at a certain stage in life?

      2. Ghosted Fifty-Something says:

        Thank you Keyblade for the balanced view.
        Before me, for 20 years he lived with 3 women, one of them twice. Just moved in with them and he started suggesting that with me not far into our relationship. I was resistant to this, I communicated that for us to move forward, he needed to live on his own (demanded was a poor word choice). Roger was really good to me, kind, attentive, and we talked a lot, at the time I thought it was a nice friendship.

        Everyone I know in the suburbs married their college sweethearts 20-30 years ago. It’s a different deal bringing people together when they’ve lived half their life already. We at this point we aren’t growing up and evolving together, we are already there.

      3. ele4phant says:

        That’s a good point – I’m one of those people that is married to someone I met in college, so I don’t know what it’s like to date in your 50s, or even your 30s. So, to an extent I may be speaking out of turn.

        And I also don’t mean to rip into this woman – we all make misjudgments when we are close to a situation and are emotionally invested/

        But sometimes outside observers that aren’t that close to a situation can point out what we’ve become blind to. I’d say, by middle age, we have to meet people where they are. If she dates a man that is too dependent for her liking, the assumption should be that’s who he is, and her choices are either to take him as he is, or move on.

    2. LisforLeslie says:

      I have met plenty of folks in their 50’s and older who never had to take care of themselves because their spouses took care of everything. Most people who divorce later in life or lose a spouse to death – they figure shit out. They get their kids to come sit with them and straighten out the bank accounts. Or they go to the bank and sit with a banker. Or they get on the phone and talk with their account manager for electric, heating, whatever. They get their bills paid, their garbage out the door, talk to their neighbors to arrange for a cleaning lady or handy man.

      They put one foot in front of the other and figure it out. They don’t move into a one bedroom apartment with their parents.

      When you get into your 50’s and beyond, there’s a saying “Purse or Nurse” – single attractive older men are a rarity. So they have a pick of the litter. And most are looking for either someone to take care of them – financially or medically. And there are women who are happy to do it if it means they get companionship (purses) or fulfill their need to be needed (nurses). If you want it – it’s out there.

      1. @LisforLeslie I love the wisdom of your reply. I’m mentally filing this one. “Purse or nurse”.

  6. Bittergaymark says:

    Eh, the guy sounds like a real winner, sure. But I still say after being forced to get a taste of freedom, the bf simply decided he’d had enough of controlling people dominating his life and decided he was simply better off alone.
    NEWSFLASH; Trying to dump a controlling partner can prove a real challenge. I suspect he did try to do so. But some people REALLY simply won’t ever take a hint. And thus ghosting becomes a viable and sound option. “There were some signs of slight pulling away…” Hah. Yeah, I’ll bet there sure were. Signs the LW ignored.
    PS. The random show ups outside his apartment and pounding on the door — coupled with calling his daddie is fucking batshit crazy. Stalkerish and simply very fucked up. If a guy was doing this, he would NOT be given much slack — nor sympathy. It’s alarming behavior. Decidedly so..

    1. More on your side here. She is trying too hard to sound normal in the letter but the crazy still slips out.

    2. ele4phant says:

      Yeah, I mean being ghosted on is always tough and you always want to know why, that’s natural.

      And they were seeing eachother a long time, so I can see how she would’ve felt she was entitled to an explicit “We’re done”.

      But showing up to someone’s house, repeatedly, texting their father (who must be in his 70s or older) is…well it’s not good. It borders on harassment, and seeing as it came from the offender themselves, I bet there was more than is being self-reported here.

      I mean, my read was, you’re crazy pants here too lady. The guy definitely is off, but so is she.

  7. The ghosted fiftysomething says:

    Wow, thank you Wendy for responding to my letter. Very good food for thought with a balanced perspective. I wrote the letter while frustrated and my tone came off cynical, unfortunately.

    I contributed to this relationship breakdown, including by assuming what he was telling me was real. He appeared capable, being a police officer making $90k, he didn’t leech off me for money. He’s had therapy in the past or at least he told me that and takes a mild anti-depressant, which he thinks he doesn’t need.

    I shouldn’t have said “demanded” he get an apartment. He wanted to move in with me soon into our relationship into my house. My intuition told me that wasn’t wise due to his past behavior of doing that, so I let him know if we were to move forward – he’d need to be on his own first. He talked about our future and he had big plans for us.

    He also complained about his life, reliving negativity, focusing on how people screwed him over at work, shitty women, etc. he started to appear like a victim at everything. Since I’m positive, maybe that got tiresome to me and it showed. I like to fix problems (obviously) and move forward.

    The man didn’t have anything, literally. Just all his brand name clothes, uniforms and a big truck. I gave him stuff I was going to bring to Goodwill (I didn’t tell him that) such as towels, silverware, plates, mugs, mats, rugs, blankets, sheets, pillows, etc. I didn’t furnish his apartment how I liked, I gave him stuff to live. I thought I was helping and being supportive.

    Maybe this is who he is, regardless of therapy, meds, lifestyle or whatever, and I badly incorrectly assumed he would be the man he really was with the support of a good woman. I learned a valuable lesson – you get what you see. If he ever does come back around, I won’t be available other than to say glad you’re ok. First, he hurt me deeply, and secondly, he’s not the man I built up in my mind.

    Thank you for responding to my letter. Excellent points that I’ll take to heart and learn from.

  8. LisforLeslie says:

    From the other thread -the guy is in his 50’s sleeping on his dad’s couch and lied to you for 6 months telling you he lived on his own. And you stayed when you found that out.

    You need to be needed. After dating him for a couple months, not visiting his house should have been a gigantic red flag. Like May Day in China red flag.

    You learned he’s not good at life. He can’t function on his own. So I think you want closure because he dumped you. I think you’re angry because he’s not good at life and should be grateful for your presence, and guidance and your decision to settle for you. But that is not the case, he ran away from you and is actively avoiding you. Don’t stalk him and don’t demean yourself demanding an answer. Move on.

  9. There apparently are some magic words ex wants to hear from her ex. She doesn’t need an explanation for ghosting, the reason is obvious. He ran away to protect his ‘self’. He didn’t engage in dialogue because LW is pushier and better at dialogue than he is. He has been his ‘self’ for over 50 years. He didn’t want to change that ‘self’. LW wanted him, but not the ‘self’ he was, but the new and improved ‘self’ she could force him to become. It seems he went along for a while, but in the end decided that being with her wasn’t worth changing his self. From LW’s description, she pushed him very hard to be the person she wanted him to be. Her help was all forced change. If she seems pushy and controlling to an outside 3rd party reading her own words of how ‘helpful’ she was, I can only imagine how much the ex felt beaten on by the force of her personality and demand for a large change in his personality and lifestyle. He seems very messed up to me, but he clearly has developed coping mechanisms to survive life, hold a job, and have relationships.

    I can understand why he fled without a word. I still cannot come close to understanding why LW, if she is the strong, independent, type A woman she claims to be would want to be with this guy. She needs to examine her own sense of desperation, which seems to have led her to the position of “any man will do, I can turn him into something acceptable’. I don’t think the ex has a ton of social skills, but I don’t doubt he picked up upon her condescending attitude.

    This definitely is a case of two people with problems. In conclusion, I don’t for a second believe her self-characterization that she is a highly independent woman. I’ve know a lot of 40-ish/50-ish highly independent women. Not a one of them would have gone on a second date with this guy, let alone wanted to stay with him after learning the whole tale of his social dysfunction.

    Men also are human beings — not raw clay to be molded to suit a woman’s needs. You like a man as he is, or you don’t. If you try to drastically change a man to make him acceptable to you, why would you be surprised to be ghosted? That is the calmest escape route the guy could choose. LW seems unable to accept no for an answer, as her harassment post break-up indicates. And it is a lie if she says she didn’t know it was over. That message seems to have been communicated to her loud and clear.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      I have a hard time with someone who is thinking about blocking someone’s “escape route” by blocking in their car and believes it to be somewhat rational.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Yes! Lisforleslie, that line leaped out to me as well…

      2. ele4phant says:

        Well come on now, she said that would be beneath her.

        Who hasn’t thought about potentially blocking in an ex’s car to force a conversation, but then realized that’s a step too far.

        It’s just a THOUGHT, what are you the thought police?

    2. I think this is a valuable comment for the letter writer because it will allow her to understand how she might come off as someone who is trying to “fix” aka control someone else.

      I read cop who lives out of trash bags and I assumed there must be something wrong. I can’t imagine wanting to date an armed police officer like this. I think it would be terrifying.

      It is also hard to picture pounding the door of a boyfriend or calling their family after being ghosted. I can imagine writing ridiculous thoughts about insane situations but I can see how others are reading scary abuser who is following the much-abused police officer’s pattern of dating abusive women.

      I guess I was more apt to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was earnestly checking to make sure the loner who told her sad stories about the women who had done him wrong and suddenly disappeared wasn’t off lying by himself somewhere from a heart attack or dying from a stroke and unable to help themselves but that was a bad projection.

      1. But she never said that she went to his apartment because she feared for his well-being. She went to demand that he give her closure, which of course he couldn’t do and didn’t want to try.

      2. You’re absolutely right and she should know never to do that to someone who doesn’t want to talk to her.

  10. It may well be harder for 50ish women to find suitable partners, but that doesn’t erase the basic rules of human decency: you accept the potential partner basically as they are, or you walk away. To demand, and yes she used that word, changes is just another way of saying ‘I find you unacceptable as you are but perhaps I can improve you enough to be worth dating.” That is rude and insulting and that is the position she took. Now she thinks he’s rude for running away from this treatment.

    LW fails the basic human decency standard.

  11. While I agree LW may have gone a little over the top, I think the things being said here about the LW being “stalkerish” are also a little over the top. Contrary to what someone said above, she did say she texted the dad “to make sure he was okay.” And she didn’t get a response. And so she went to his apartment and knocked – not “pounded”- on the door. And she did it twice, not everyday for a week or anything.

    Let’s imagine a close, platonic friend that ghosted as this guy did. You speak to them almost everyday. Suddenly, with no sign of a reason, you stop hearing from them and they don’t respond to any communication. Would it be unreasonable to contact a relative and make sure they are okay? And if that doesn’t work to stop by their apartment and check on them? Or would you just assume they suddenly decided they never want to see you again?

    I think the former is the more reasonable course of action, so I don’t think the LW’s course was unreasonable in this case, either – even though a relationship admittedly does make the circumstances slightly different.

    1. ele4phant says:

      I mean, assuming she was worried about his safety, not her need to force a conversation, it would seem to me that after first trying to get in touch with him, the reasonable thing to to do is…call the police, right? Not continue to try to catch them where they live.

      Maybe you contact someone he knows to make sure he’s okay first. Did his father respond to her text? She doesn’t say. If he did text back something – like “yeah talked to him yesterday everything seemed fine not sure what he’s not responding to you” , then anything she did beyond that was unreasonable.

      If the father did not respond, then okay, maybe you go over there once. After that, then you call the police and tell them you are worried about not being able to get ahold of someone that you know has a history of depression. You don’t go over there, AGAIN, and you don’t write into an advice column about being hurt you’ve been ghosted.

      She’s acknowledged she’s clear on the fact he purposefully ghosted her, not that she’s worried he’s off in a ditch somewhere. She’s not worried about his safety.

      1. Maybe it was a combination of feeling both confused at what was happening and also wanting to be needed (maybe it made her feel safer to think this man was progressing into someone who would be suitable? Which maybe doesn’t make the letter writer a terrible human being but maybe more desperate and willing to force change on someone than she cared to admit to herself?

        I ghosted someone once in my early twenties after a few dates and I felt terrible about myself doing it because his message made me sad and I wanted to call him back but I just didn’t have it in me to know how to gracefully end things any other way. I doubt being ghosted was what the letter writer deserved but I do think I would have peed my pants if that person refused to let me be done or showed up in person where I lived. But I think the letter writer thought they were further along than that and she assumed someone nice but not the way she wanted could be changed if he found the right person which was definitely wishful thinking on her end. And it does stink to be dating someone who wishes you would be able to be someone with more skills than you actually have because that is someone trying to parent more than partner.

        But it is a little difficult for me to imagine a police officer being scared by an unwanted confrontation with a person they ghosted but maybe he felt more afraid. He clearly wanted to end things so the why doesn’t matter much, anyhow.

    2. I agree it doesn’t read stalkerish to me to be so shocked that someone in his 50s would ghost you after 8 months that you’d go over there a couple times to try to get him to talk to you. You’d want to know what’s up, hear an explanation, find out why he’s ignoring you. Would I do that? I doubt it, but it doesn’t make me think crazy stalker.

      Seems like she was kind of the mommy in the relationship and he was the boy, and with a dynamic like that I could totally see wanting to make him talk to her.

      Anyway, like I said on her other post, and Wendy and others said too, this was NOT an independent man, and it was really ill-conceived to think she could change him.

  12. anonymousse says:

    Time this really sound slike he’s been passive his entire life. Maybe it goes back to his formative years, I don’t know. I think he’s really one of those people who goes with the flow, and suddenly realized he didn’t need this much help, or didn’t like this flow. And because he’s so stilted in relationships, he’s ghosted because that is what serves him in this situation. I don’t think he’s a bad guy for that. He told you and showed you how fixated and scarred he is from his past. Not that it’s your fault, either. There were very clear warnings that you didn’t notice, or chose not to notice.

    1. anonymousse says:

      Ugh. I’m not as think as you drunk I am.

  13. Finally some rational responses to my letter.

    I didn’t stalk him, he disappeared. The first time I went to his place, we had plans, and he didn’t answer the door. That was the first clue that something was off. I had no idea what was going on, I saw the guy 3 days prior and everything was great. He said he had been thinking about us getting engaged. He always talked about future plans and what “we” were going to do from the beginning and consistently. So we went from “we” had a future to not answering the door. He’s a good guy and I’m a good person. There’s no alcohol or drugs or bad behavior here.

    4 days later I text his dad once because I was worried, with no response. The guy then called my phone one ring the next day, I called back and no answer, so I went over again, partly because I was worried and I was upset. No answer.

    Even though I was the stronger one in the relationship, we were equal and had a good relationship. We had fun and talked a lot, sometimes for hours. To go from having a future to pulling away, e.g. ghosting, I don’t know what happened.

    It’s been almost 3 weeks now and I’m moving on from him, with a deeply broken heart. But I know 2 things I’ve learned from this posting, 1) find a man that is what you want, if he can’t live on his own, that means he can’t live on his own, and 2) follow actions not get bought into fancy words and promises.

    Thank you for your help

    1. Yeah, those are the right takeaways. What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG / wizzywig).

      I don’t agree that you were equals though. You were telling him what to do. He was not only unable to live independently, but he was unable to handle his business and talk to you – tell you it was over, and why. He seems to be a child in important ways.

    2. Laura, I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry this happened to you. I had something vaguely similar happen: a man I was very much in love with was talking about moving in with me/me meeting his family and then 4 days later completely flaked. He did give me the courtesy of telling me we were breaking up, but I was shocked and heartbroken and it took me a long time to recover. (In fact, I’m still recovering.) I am in my 30s; I can’t imagine what it would be like going through this in your 50s when (hopefully!) people are meant to be more mature.

      Wishing you peace, healing, and a happy year moving forward with a circle of people you love and trust who won’t act so immaturely and will be there for you.

  14. WYSIWYG: A great acronym from the dawn of the age of the personal computer. I’ve used it in conversation to blank stares from virtually everyone outside the 50-75 age group — either to old to be intimately involved with early PCs and have to fight through printer connections, interfaces, and instructions on there own, or else young enough that PCs were far better behaved when they got deeply involved with them.

    1. My parents worked for a computer company in the 70s and 80s and I remember the dawn of the PC. We always had PCs at home, really early on. And they telecommuted via modem! I remember the big loud crazy room full of mainframes that they had to keep chilled. But I first heard WYSIWYG from my OG husband in the military.

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