Ever been ghosted? I talk to so many of you who have! Our letter this week comes from one of our beautiful subscribers, Kim, who has, too, and I know you'll identify with so much of what she's going through.
Here's what she wrote to me:
He is a single dad of 2 and he was very open about the challenges that might create. I was willing to work with it because he seemed so sincere and everything was there between us that I thought needed to be.
I did notice that we were not talking as much a couple of weeks in, more texting. He had a big project at work and was working long hours etc. He started sharing less and of course I thought it was me overanalyzing but I knew something was different.
My father left and pretty much never looked back so I know I have abandonment and trust issues. I try very hard not to let those fears and hurts dictate my actions when dating.
Anyway, I really thought my luck had changed.
He went to visit his brother for the Easter weekend in another state. I texted him in the morning saying to have a safe trip. He did text me when they arrived but I thought it was odd that I didn't hear anything during the day. He texted a bit later that evening asking about my day.
I answered back but didn't get a reply.
I didn't expect to hear from him over the weekend but really thought I would. I did not reach out and we didn't have any communication. On Monday morning I sent a text saying to have a safe trip home and nothing.
Again, I thought it was odd but as usual came up with an excuse for him in my mind. I knew for sure we would talk on Tuesday.
Well, it is now Sunday and he has disappeared. I tried calling and texting a couple of times. In my last message I said if he could just let me know they made it back ok. Crickets. I spent that whole day thinking something terrible had happened. If it did, the "relationship " was way too new for me to be told if something did happen.
Needless to say, he did make it back and I am just so confused, hurt, and angry. Someone who claimed that our situation felt "different", that I made him feel incredible, that swore he would never ghost someone because he has daughters blah, blah, blah...
Nothing bad happened.
All I wanted to do was spend time together and see where things went. He said more than once that he was surprised that I wasn't scared off by the fact that he was a single father and his kids were his priority. I explained that I was that kid and my mom met my stepdad when I was his daughter's age. I respected him for that.
For the life of me, I don't know what happened.
I am never anyone but myself, yet I keep attracting the same scenario. I am the best thing since sliced bread and then nothing. If I knew what I was doing wrong, I would surely fix it.
I cannot comprehend how people can just disappear and completely ignore someone that they claimed to have such a connection with. I usually consider myself a good judge of character but now I doubt myself.
I am compassionate, kind, fun,have a job, a car, own my own home, great friends......why is it that no man wants to stay?
This is not the first time this has happened and it gets really difficult to not take it personally when I am the common denominator. The last thing I want is a man like my father, yet he keeps showing up.
Am I doomed in the relationship aspect because I was hurt and betrayed by the one man that should have always had my back?
I know what a loving relationship should be because I had a wonderful stepfather that came into my life. He loved my mother with every fiber of his being so I know good men exist. My brother is also a great example.
I am almost 44 years old and each time this happens, it makes it that much harder to put myself out there. I only want to love and be loved and I am scared that I will never find it.
Here's my response:
I’ve been in your shoes.
So have a majority of the women who find their way here asking themselves the same thing. When will it be different? And does my past negate any kind of a future? Will there ever be someone who will actually love me for me?
It never makes sense in the middle. Not when you’re trying to objectively see what’s happening and trying to figure out what’s going on. I'm going to try and shed some light on all of this for you.
First of all, let’s talk about luck. That’s a problem in itself.
It buys into the very real belief system that most of us were programmed with that says there’s two groups of people – the lucky and the unlucky, and there’s little you can do to change that. That's so not true!
There's everything you can do to change that, just by changing your mindset.
I completely understand how discouraging this can be and how one more experience like this can set you back even further and leave you wondering if things can ever be different. But that doesn't have to be how it actually is in reality.
You're absolutely right that your past has set you up to feel insecure about someone you're beginning a relationship with. When you have abandonment and trust issues stemming from a father who could never be counted on to be there for you (and most of us do on some level!) you're going to have an especially difficult time believing and trusting that someone who's truly compatible with you is going to keep following up with you.
I don't know you personally, Kim, and I don't know this particular guy, and I don't know anything about your past relationships, only the details you're telling me about this one, so I'm only going by what I'm seeing here in this one, based on similar experiences with women I do know well and have been working with for awhile. Hopefully, some or all of this will resonate with you.
What's wrong is that you don't know this guy.
Sure, he sounded good and his words especially sounded good, but you don't really know him. Not the way you need to know him before you make him deserving of all the time and attention and mindspace you're giving him.
You know which relationships are amazing in the beginning? The ones that last. You know which ones are also amazing in the beginning? The ones that don't. Yes, you read that right. Great beginnings are indicators of both the best and the worst relationships.
You can't possibly know for sure which one you've got at such an early stage of any relationship, but there is something you can do to protect your heart and also give you the best chance of seeing a positive outcome if this is a guy who's the real thing.
You can control how quickly you jump in with both feet, how quickly you elevate him to "good guy" status without allowing enough time and especially time spent together to really get to know him well.
Turn this around, Kim. You're the one doing the choosing. You're not auditioning for the role of kind, compassionate, fun, successful, attractive girlfriend or wife.
If a man knows he hasn't yet earned the right to stay before you give him that right, he's not going to feel good about staying and won't end up staying. So when you send your messages giving him all your sweetness and niceties when he knows he hasn't earned that kind of behavior from you yet, it raises a caution flag to him. As in, is there something he's missing about you that you're like this with him when he knows he hasn't given you any reason to treat him like this yet?
You're already at the next stage in what you're giving him when he knows full well he hasn't done anything yet to deserve that kind of behavior yet from you. So when you give it to him prematurely - and you're not alone here, this is what most of us have been so programmed to do! - he can't tell you that, he can't admit that, he can't have a conversation about it with you because how do you say that even if he was aware of it? It's important to note that most men lack the communication skills to articulate that even if they were!
So when you tell him to have a safe trip, and he only responds slightly and then nothing but you still follow up with more and then more still, from his perspective, you're sounding a whole lot like his caring but overprotective mother to him (his issue, not yours) and he reacts accordingly by pulling away, or distancing himself, and then the full ghosting act.
Of course you're saying here "But I was just being nice!" "I'm caring and compassionate and considerate and that's just who I am!"
And you're exactly right.
But I go back to two things here.
One, this simply confirms that he's not the right one for you - no matter how much he seemed like it in the beginning, because someone who is, would have actually appreciated that same caring, considerate gesture of checking in on him. Again, this is his issue and has everything to do with a history you have absolutely nothing to do with except to provide the trigger for him to react. You can go ahead and confirm that the other guys who ghosted you like this were also not the right ones for you are because of similar issues.
And two, this goes back to our own programming that most of us aren't even aware of. Why DO we show such caring, understanding, and compassion for men who we don't yet know are even capable of treating us in these ways?
Why DO we automatically go to such great lengths to prove WE'RE worth so much of their time and attention by auditioning for this role of perfect girlfriend/wife when they aren't going out of their way to prove THEIR worth to us? Is it simply that we're so giving, and caring and loving and understanding we just can't help ourselves, or is it because we've been so conditioned to believe this is what we have to do - and to do as soon as possible - so that he won't leave us? And then we wonder why it backfires almost every single time!
If you're seeing a pattern here, you're right.
There's something about these men you're attracted to that absolutely resembles your father or the messages you've received about love and relationships and that's why you're finding the same type of men even capable of ghosting you for being the lovely, kind, caring, marriage material you, and they in turn are looking to work out their own dysfunctional pasts by finally proving themselves loveable by finding someone exactly like you!
Next time, hold something back of yourself until you know more about him. Let him show you who he is, let him audition for the role of boyfriend/husband before you start doing the same.
Take your queue from him.
If he's not checking in with you, if he's not initiating contact with you, don't do that with him. If you have no abandonment or trust issues and simply believed that what you see is what you get and someone is going to be honest with you, you don't have to try to keep them around in the beignning, you don't have to prove yourself to him, you can simply show up and go along for the ride (i.e. for the fun part of getting to know someone else who's happened to cross paths with your own), and trust that if he's worth it, you'll know soon enough.
See that difference?
YOU'RE the one doing the choosing. YOU'RE the one collecting information to decide if he's worth any more of your time or energy or mindspace getting to know! All those messages you received about how to behave and what to be that most of us not even consciously absorbed, they're the ones that include the ones about luck and being lucky and getting the guy, and proving our worth. Don't believe them anymore.
This is the mindset shift I'm talking about.
Not where you look out and question how this could happen to you again, but the one where you recognize where you begin and your programming ends, where you shine and your shoulds disappear.
You're absolutely the prize, Kim. But only if you remember that for as long as it takes to know you're with someone WORTH such a prize as you!
I hope this helps.
What about you? Do you have any words of advice or support to offer Kim? Tell her what you want her to know in the comments below.