If communication styles between two people aren’t perfectly aligned, as someone highly attuned to it, in the early days of dating it can cause doubts and anxiety until I get comfortable with patterns and see an alignment between words and actions.
Jack was saying all of the right things. He was clear from the start he preferred the more traditional form of dating – just one woman at a time. He explicitly said and wrote I was that woman. He complimented me in his texts about the things he liked about me.
But I’ve been fooled before. I’ve had great first sexual experiences just to have someone disappear. Shit happens.
We had an amazing third time together (I will write more about it later). He came over late and stayed even later and we talked forever and had pretty damn good sex. I sent him a thank you text after he left, to which he replied. The next morning at 8:20 am I sent him an article to read since I knew he had to kill time in the morning in a government office.
I was on my home computer, putting up a blog post, and in talking about hiding my POF profile realized there was more I had to do to close it out. So I went online. One thing I always do when going online is to make sure I visit the profile of anyone I’m actively talking to. Because I knew how it felt for me to see someone had been online and they hadn’t visited mine.
I may be the only person who thinks of these things, but I do. So after I cleaned out my messages inbox (POF’s “hiding your profile” feature doesn’t hide you from anyone who has a message in your inbox) I popped over to Jack’s profile. I saw he’d been online at 7:30 am.
Hmm. It didn’t sit well. I knew why I was online, but was he still online replying to messages, and why hadn’t he hidden his profile if he really meant what he said?
Half an hour later he replied “good morning thanks”.
That was it for the bulk of the day. I heard nothing else from him, so around 4 pm sent him a text asking if he’d been taken by the government. He replied and we had a very brief exchange.
As busy as I was, knowing he’d been online and seeing his profile was still up gnawed at me all day. On the one hand, I was pretty sure he was sincere, but… well I didn’t know this guy, really.
I didn’t want to overreact but I also knew this was all reactionary. Had he never mentioned dating one person at a time, had he not asked for it, I would not have been fussed to know he was still active online. So it wasn’t as much about his actions (perceived or real), but what I felt could be a disconnect between what he said and what he may or may not be doing.
The thoughts tossed and turned in the back of my head as I tried to figure out whether to say anything about it. Jack said he was the type of person to raise an issue right away. I decided to talk to him about it if only to try to suss out whether he was trying to keep his pipeline full at the same time.
I knew he had his children that night so at 8 pm texted “I know you have your kids but wondering if you’d have a few mins to talk after their bedtime?”
I. Heard. Nothing.
It was impossible for me to write the blog post about our great dinner date, because I knew in my slightly anxious state I was not going to represent it properly.
I tried all the right self-talk. That I knew he was busy, he had his kids and an unwell parent. That we had only had a few dates and there was no need for constant communication. But it still rankled. A text is such an easy thing to send, especially if it’s to say “hey can’t talk, will call tomorrow.”
Normally I sleep through the night without issue, but that night I woke up at 1:30 am. Checking my phone to see there was still no message, I had all the familiar dread. Was he ghosting, had he met someone else, did he change his mind, etcetera etcetera. Was he a person who said all the right things, but didn’t mean them?
I hated that feeling.
Instead of hours of sleeplessness, I managed to talk myself back to sleep. Bottom line was I didn’t even know he was the right person for me yet. My gut told me he was into me, so despite the creeping cynicism I just had to let it go. My bet was something had happened with his parent and it was too much for him to text me back.
The next morning at 6:45 am I texted “is everything okay?”
45 minutes later he replied “Hi there yes everything is okay dont be paranoid. Just a little stressed between packing, the hospital and having to do camp shopping for my kids. talk to you later off to make lunches.”
I didn’t like being accused of being paranoid… but I suppose that’s exactly what I was. We had plans to see each other that night so I just said “Okay. If tonight isn’t going to work let me know. ttyl”.
And I waited.
Image from the 1940 film “The Philadelphia Story”