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Ghosted: A Halloween Story

Sometimes I worry I've built up so much bad dating karma that I've cursed myself to a lifetime of solitude...

Every time I look down at my phone, I get angrier and angrier. I can't believe he left me hanging when we had plans in just two days! I try to recall everything I said in my texts and the only possible mistake I come up with is that I might have come across as too eager.

"Too eager" meaning I texted him back right away. And simply said I was excited to meet him.

I guess that was too much for him.

More likely, he either met someone else or was never genuinely interested in me. Or both. Probably both.

So here I am again, at the crossroads of what I thought I'd be doing and the unintended path leading me back to where I started.

Chasing a Phantom

This is one of the hazards of dating men in their twenties: they can be so fickle. Sometimes they're only interested in a 43-year-old woman in a particular way - meaning, to some degree, I'm just a novelty to them.

Of course, the old adage is true: when you point one skeleton finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you. (I'm paraphrasing.) How emotionally invested am I in these young men? How fickle have I been over the past few years? I've caught myself speaking about them like they are novelties, prizes or trophies, as awful as it is to admit. I get bored of them too. Who am I to judge?

But I draw the line: even hypocrites have standards. I don't ghost a guy if we've made plans. And if we've been texting regularly, I don't just...well that's not true. I have ghosted countless men mid conversation. I'm not proud of it. I suppose it's a matter of degree...?

I guess my point is this: the rules of engagement I play by are more honourable than the ones I feel subjected to. Why do I even bother playing this game anymore?

Cougar On?

A wiser woman would question the age gap indicative of a midlife crisis and just date older. But that wiser woman would not be a cougar. Cougars play by cougar rules. And "older" isn't in the playbook. At least not in this cougar's playbook.

If I insist on dating young men, perhaps I have to accept that ghosting is part of the game. Easy come, easy go.

Perhaps I also need to accept that what I send returns threefold: If I'm quick to bail, surely I can't fault them for reflecting this attitude back to me! So what is my problem?

When I look in the mirror, I see a woman afraid to have something real, something with emotional investment, because I can't remember the last time I actually felt real. Somewhere along the line I became a caricature of myself. A cougar caricature. (Which would be a great book title, by the way.)

A ghost might attract ghosting. Maybe that's my problem. And maybe being ghosted when you're being real hurts more. But if I'm not doing this to find something real, I don't know what I'm doing it for.

- M.B.

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