Where my brain went when Bruce disappeared

Bruce evaporated Friday night. His radio silence was highly unusual. I’ve tried to recreate the mental paths I went down during this time, so my actions are contextualized. My Mom and my friends generally concurred with my analysis and helped me figure out what to do. One friend was convinced he’d ghosted or was lying about being single, but she was the exception. I promised myself if either of those were true, I would take a real break from dating. I was 90% sure he’d lost his phone, but that remaining 10% thought something serious had happened. 

7am Saturday

Hmm that’s weird he hasn’t texted me yet. He said he was going to sleep early, so not replying last night is feasible. But he always sends good morning texts.

Let me check Whatsapp.

Oh, he hasn’t been online there since last night 6:20pm. Guess he did crash early.

10am Saturday 

Still nothing? Okay that’s weird. He said he would call me in the morning. He has no issue calling me when his kids are around.

Gosh could they still be sleeping? Should I call?

No, Ann, don’t be silly. You talked to him three times yesterday. Bruce is with his children and probably just busy.

Send a brief text, that will work. “Good morning! All good?” That’s okay. Easy.

11am Saturday

He hasn’t replied. What the heck? He still hasn’t been active on Whatsapp. I wonder if everything is okay.

12-3pm Saturday

Don’t check your phone Ann. Focus on your birthday lunch. Turn it off so you don’t wonder every time it pings.

Hmm maybe will just sneak a peak. Still nothing? What the fuck.

4-8pm Saturday

This feels silly but search car accidents. Nope, nothing. Maybe he left his phone when he picked up his kids and the center is closed for the long weekend?

But why hasn’t he called me on another phone? Hmm. I don’t know his mobile number so if I lost my phone I couldn’t call him. I have an unlisted number so he’d have no way to reach me. We haven’t exchanged email addresses either.

How can I get him my number? Could I call his house? Let me look up his home phone.

Oh, that’s weird. There’s just one listing with that last name in his town, and it’s in his ex’s name.

Noooooooo.

Not possible. He can’t be married still. Could he be?

(Checks gut).

No. He’s talked to me so often, not just during the day. He’s called with his kids in the car and in the same room. I mean, maybe he’s that level of lying sack of shit but I just can’t see it. He’s not that guy. And if he is? Well then he’s a liar the likes of which I’ve never experienced.

Could he be ghosting me? Maybe freaked out and just done?

(Checks gut).

No. It simply doesn’t make any sense. Our last phone conversation was fun and sweet and we talked about plans and that he would call. And why would he talk to me so much when I was away, invest all that time talking on the phone, just to disappear? Maybe he met someone else?

Jesus, Ann don’t be ridiculous.

Then why hasn’t he called?

He’s lost his phone and gone away. Or left it at the Center and can’t get access. He’s got two children all weekend and is busy. He likely doesn’t have a home computer to go onto Plenty of Fish and send a message. If he’s with his friends maybe it didn’t even occur to him that he could use their phone to go to the web version.

Ann, it probably hasn’t occurred to him that you are really worried and anxious about what has happened to him or why he’s not been in touch. He’s new to this.

Whatsapp “last active” hasn’t changed. Weird.

9pm Saturday

Screw all this worry. I will just call his home number. Am I sure it’s his house? Let me look again. Yes… he mentioned that landmark at the end of his street. She’s the one that moved out so he probably never bothered updating the listing. My ex never did until he moved out three years later. Fucking dudes.

Maybe I will just block my number then call him at his home. If she answers, and he’s actually been lying, then fuck him.

Okay. Deep breath. Ringing now.

Wait – what the fuck? It’s her voice… “hi you’ve reached…” omg all of their names? HANG UP!!

Okay. Breathe. What the hell. Is it possible he hasn’t updated the goddamn answering machine message? Yeah. Knowing what I know of him? Maybe. It’s odd, but not outside the realm of possibility.

Just watch the rest of the movie, then go to sleep and I’m sure you’ll hear from him soon.

5:45am Sunday

Sweet fuck why am I awake!?

POF deletes messages after 30 days, that’s why he hasn’t called, because your text history is gone! Just log into POF and leave him a message with your number. “Hey Bruce not sure what’s up, figure you may have lost your phone and since I have an unlisted number, here’s my mobile again for you.”

10am Sunday

Still nothing? Whatsapp still unchanged? Okay, just try the home number again. Maybe because you blocked your number he doesn’t recognize it. Surely if you’d lost your mobile phone you’d answer your home phone no matter what, but who knows.

No answer.

Try his mobile again. Same thing. No answer.

Damn. Could he have gone away for the weekend without his phone? Not very likely. But if he left it at the Center and got a last minute invitation, its possible.

If something happened to him, and his phone was lying beside his hospital bed, wouldn’t someone answer one of his fucking phones?

Shit.

Try to focus on something else.

Rest of Sunday

Repeat all of those thoughts in rotation. Try his mobile once more, and the home number before bed. Same: no answer.

7am – 6:50pm Monday 

Repeat. Check in with the same girlfriends and your Mom to discuss likely scenarios. Try his mobile and home number in the morning. 

6:51pm Monday

Okay Ann, this is ridiculous. If he has call tracking you look like a crazy person, calling a couple of times of times each day. Are you a crazy person? No! Just worried something may have happened to him. In your gut you know he’s not ghosting and he’s not still married.

You have nothing to worry about. Just leave him a voicemail with your number and then you know when he gets home he has it. And then the sooner you can rule out the worry that something serious has happened to him.

“Hey Bruce, It’s Ann. Hope you’re okay. Call me when you can? My number is…”

7:30pm Monday

A text? Who from?! Oh yay it’s him!!

Let me read:

“Hey. Found my phone, deep in my couch. Now I’m currently listening to my ex yell at me about a woman calling her house. I will call you soon. Sorry, lost my phone on Friday night. It was on silent.”

OH.

FUCK.

44 thoughts on “Where my brain went when Bruce disappeared

  1. They were all perfectly reasonable trains of thought and I think we all have an inner bitch that can exacerbate any situation as well as create multiple scenario’s. I am glad it worked out to be a lost phone. I am new to your blog and still catching up on the story but do you have Bruce on Facebook? I am with you, I have no clue what Mon Capitaine’s phone number is if I lost my phone but I do have him on Facebook.

  2. Oh dear. Well in the medical world there is a saying “common things are common” in other words, it’s probably the simplest explanation– but your reaction is understandable. So you care. That’s nothing to feel ashamed of.

    • Thanks Caroline. I should have included that thought in this post… I thought, “what is he going to think about my leaving a voice mail on his home phone?” and realized if he’s been honest with me (which I thought he was) then it wouldn’t be a big deal. It had been 3 days and I was worried. I only feel chagrined that it didn’t occur to me it may have actually been her house… but I checked Google lol…

  3. For what it’s worth, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who runs through Every. Single. Possible. Scenario… multiple times. Every day… when this kind of thing happens…
    You have a much better established network of friends to keep you sane though. I should work on that…

    I’m glad he only lost his phone. The part about his ex yelling at him made me giggle a bit.

    • Thanks Adriana. I do try to keep the thoughts at bay when I know they are unproductive. Despite how it might appear from the post, on Sat and Sun I was able to keep it under control but by Monday night, knowing he should otherwise be home, I was a mess. And yes, I was checking in with my friends and getting their opinions to ensure I wasn’t nuts. They tell me when I am!!

      I hope you can build your network, I find it very important.

      He wasn’t happy… you’ll see it in my next post.

  4. Oh Ann! I’m laughing at his answer about his ex yelling at him!
    You read me, you know I’ve been through this numerous times with The Dancer. I feel for you!
    What I take away from all this is: he has a great sense of humour (my ex would have yelled at me for putting him in a difficult situation with someone else), you KNOW he’s not lying to you about being separated and meaning it, and, maybe most importantly… you care about him, because most of your worried thoughts were around something having happened to him, not around him ghosting on you.

    Those are good things to discover, aren’t they?
    Hugs! (And happy belated birthday if I didn’t already wish you one).

    (PS, I think I’ll copy your post for The Dancer, so he can see what goes on in my head every time I feat he may be injured)

    • I can absolutely go one day without communication. But after almost 6 weeks of daily communication, a pattern set by both of us and not forced by one or the other, and when he had said he would call in the morning… this was very out of character.

      • But you showed here that you can’t go one day without communication before freaking out.
        I don’t buy his “lost phone” excuse and I think if he really wanted to talk, he would have looked for his phone.
        So maybe he just needed a break from you…which isn’t bad at all because like you said, you have had constant communication.
        I suggest slowing down a little and don’t freak out when you don’t hear from him. This post actually showed lots of red flags so take a deep breath and remember you just met the guy.

        • All I can say is our contact pattern these past many weeks was organic, mutual,
          not forced, and very comfortable. There was no pressure and he wasn’t needing space. He’s wanted to talk to me just as much as I wanted to talk to him.
          We also have had space when we need it. I haven’t felt suffocated and either has he – he is a good communicator and has said when he needs some time.
          In that first 24 hours, these were just my inner flitting thoughts. I had lots of other thoughts and things to do and this didn’t consume me at all. I sent one text message and called him once on each phone number, left no messages, and I hardly think that constitutes “freaking out”. But my mind is active and yes, I did think these things. But given you see lots of red flags in my thoughts and behavior I guess we will just agree to disagree…

  5. Yes, the one and only time that I have been concerned about a man not calling me (totally out of his character), was when I found out he had passed away after surgery from an accident and coming home after a week in hospital only to be found dead in his recliner because he didn’t take the blood thinners he was prescribed after the surgery on broken ribs etc… I actually called his job (even though I knew he wouldn’t be there) because I had an overwhelming feeling he had actually passed. His secretary confirmed it in a call after I asked to speak to him.

    • I’m sorry to hear that. There was a small part of me that wondered if there had been an accident. And yes, I was mostly sure he’d just lost his phone – and as I’ve said, because I have an unlisted number he’d only be able to reach me via POF or if I left him a message. He has no office, no work email, no social media accounts at all. None. I didn’t think he was ghosting or lying so I didn’t think it was a big deal to look up his number and leave him a message.
      Would have been good if that wasn’t his ex wife’s number tho 🤦🏼‍♀️

  6. Why so much focus on scenarios and whether what he says is true and potentially catching him out? In the beginning of a relationship, it’s best to focus on how you actually feel and how you want to feel. Those data points are what is relevant. Not what he does or doesn’t do. When you tune in to yourself, in lieu of taking anxious actions to drive things forward, you can calmly sit back and observe what happens and how you feel about it. You can figure out whether you truly want him, who ever he is, on his own merits, or whether you simply want him to want you. If it turns out to be the latter, you might want to get to the root of that and understand why your need to be wanted may be getting in the way of authentic connection.

    • To be 100% clear I didn’t think he was ghosting or lying. That didn’t feel right to me AT ALL. It crossed my mind (hence why it showed up in this post) but it didn’t feel like a plausible scenario. That’s actually why I was concerned something had happened to him. I was pretty sure it was basically that he’d lost his phone. And if he had lost it permanently, he didn’t have a way to reach me other than POF or me providing my phone number to him.
      I definitely don’t just want him to want me. It’s something true in my past but not true for a few years… I am keenly aware that despite a great start, he may not be right for me and that’s perfectly fine.

  7. Just my two cents but when you talk I would keep it short and just say it was my birthday and I wanted to hear from you and when I didn’t I got worried and I’m glad you’re ok. I wouldn’t go on and on asking questions or telling him your worries as it may turn him off. If he’s not telling the truth it will eventually come out.

    • I was absolutely not going to give him a hard time or anything like that. I was fairly certain he’d simply lost his phone, maybe permanently, and wanted to leave him my number so he could reach me because my number is unlisted. I was also worried something may have happened. Leaving him a message didn’t seem like a big deal after 3 days of no contact which was very out of character. And if he’d just gone silent well then that would tell me something about the kind of person he is and how he feels about me – no point in arguing about that. To be clear I didn’t actually think he was lying or ghosting… that didn’t feel right to me.

  8. IDK…I would think there would be some other way to reach out (call from office phone? ipad message?) but I don’t know what you did or didn’t exchange.

    If it’s her house, and he knew she would react not well to anyone calling, then why did he give you that number to begin with?

    (still hoping this all works out for you…not trying to sound like my usual cynical self)

  9. New relationship yet an established pattern of communication, so I can understand your concern when he suddenly went dark. Kind of iffy on the leaving a message when it’s her voice on the voice mail, but you’re a caring person and were obviously concerned. This does not strike me as a terminal strike against you, but it does create an opportunity to delve deeper into communication styles and habits.

    That said, you now know he puts his phone on silent, occasionally misplaces it, and does not tear his house apart in a crazed search to find it. I happen to be someone who flips out on the rare occasions I cannot remember where I left my phone last, but I do understand there are folks in the world not quite as tethered to their electronic communication devices.

    • Thanks Janelle. And yes, I made a bad call leaving a message where it was her voice… I guess, I was pretty sure he wasn’t lying so it meant they hadn’t changed the voicemail. And given he’d told me about where he lived it never occurred to me it wouldn’t be his house… my fatal flaw lol…

      And yes, it taught me a lot. It will take a bunch of posts probably to write all the stuff I learned about him, and their relationship. He is definitely not tied to his devices the way others would be. He’s not on any social media. None. So yeah. Lesson learned.

  10. Anything fun can turn into something you hate when you feel there’s a sense of obligation and I see a lot of older men and women who didn’t grow up with the cellphone in their hands and aren’t used to constantly having to check in and answer every text immediately because they’re in the middle of something or keep it on silent mode. I further think any time anyone is made to feel what they do is not good enough for the other person is potentially eventually a dealbreaker because walking on eggshells sucks.
    I suspect the cellphone dilemma has broken most early relationships more than anything else. It’s up to you if the risk of mentioning it outweighs the risk of him throwing in the towel, he did after all say specifically that he would figure it all out for you two.

    • I agree with what you are saying… but it’s not clear to me if you think I was pressuring him? I promise you, things have unfolded organically and neither of us have pressured / cajoled / guilted etc. He wasn’t being made to feel that what he was doing wasn’t enough. It’s been great so far and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how communicative and engaged he’s been.

      • Yes yes it’s all been great, exactly!- that’s why I’m hoping the topic doesn’t even come up. This was a long weekend and he had the kids, couldn’t find his phone (the couch cushion situation has happened to me so I know it’s possible). There’s a Spanish song by Luis Miguel that deals with the subject of suspicion and doubts in a new relationship caused by echos of past ones. It says “as you looked into my past did you find enough reasons to love me, or to forget me? Because you can’t fall in love without a little amount of faith”.
        And you know what? I think that’s a drop mic statement. Our thoughts can be our worst enemies, especially the ones that we transfer from people with other names into our relationship with someone who should start with a clean slate. To me that’s the litmus test of someone who’s truly ready to find something/someone remarkableXO

        • That’s a great quote. It’s hard for us to not bring the baggage of the past into our current relationships. With him I’ve had to remind myself that he’s not Jack, and definitely not Tony. I’ve been able to not make assumptions and just see where it goes. It’s one thing the blog is awesome for… I can write out my inner thoughts here, and processing it helps me sort it all out.

          I will say, this situation with him and my error, and how he dealt with it, makes me like him even more. It’s a nice feeling.

  11. I find it odd that he went radio silent for 3 days after communicating with you on a daily basis for weeks, Just my 2 cents. A lost phone is one thing but he clearly didn’t think of texting or calling you or he would have found the phone earlier (calling the number to find it). So I am curious why he needed time off (which is perfectly ok, but he didn’t announce it beforehand so I think its somewhat odd). I am curious to read what he will maybe say about this episode…

    • Yes, it was extremely odd. He’d told me that he was likely to be asleep by the time I got home Fri night, for example.
      And yeah, it was hard to me to understand how there wouldn’t be a way for him to reach me…

    • My experience with Jack threw me because I didn’t see it coming… I believed what he said to me. So for sure that impacted my confidence in being able to trust my gut. But he was a salesman through and through.

      BUT when with Bruce the thought crossed my mind that he might have been lying or ghosting me, it just didn’t fit. Everything in my mind and heart told me it wasn’t the case.

      I think it just came down to worry that something had happened. I’m not sure. Nothing felt right and I wanted to know that I’d done everything I could so he could reach me if he was able.

  12. Well I do hope he has forgiven you for making his ex throw a tizzy fit. Whew!
    And that he understands why you did what you did.
    If anything, I hope maybe he will see that it was merely out of concern for his well being. (Which it was)
    Draw you two closer.. I hope!

    • Spoiler Alert!!

      (Yes, he has forgiven me, yes, he understands that it was not out of malice, he knows he should have realized I’d be worried and looked harder for his phone…and yes…it actually has drawn me closer to him in how he was during a time of stress and how he chose to “handle” me. He’s a good man.)

  13. Well, shit. There are sure a whole bunch of people reading here that know exactly how you should feel and what you should do. Perhaps you should add THEM to your circle and ask THEM what to do next time something like this happens….sigh.

    Anyhow, glad everything is, or seems to be, okay. My mind goes through all sorts of unlikely and weird scenarios when something like this happens, too. Anxiety is an asshole.

    • Yeah, it’s the downside of a blog… always makes me think and check myself, though!

      I could have been writing in the midst of it, sometimes if I have time I will do it. But one thing I’ve learned is that we all bring our own baggage and assumptions to what we read. We all pick up one or two threads and focus on those, because they resonate with us.

      So there are going to be people who think his behavior meant he needed a break, or they thought he was lying to me, or he was ghosting. None of those were true. I knew it in my gut but it doesn’t mean it didn’t cross my mind… of course I was anxious because I have been burned and surprised in the past, especially more recently with Jack.

      I guess I gave credence to those thoughts by writing about them, but it doesn’t mean they consumed me. And yes, things are good with him. He’s a good man.

      • Well, of course our opinions are tainted by our own experiences. That’s why I (mostly) keep my opinions to myself. I obviously know nothing about the guy you’re talking about so I have no basis to form an opinion.

        Anyhow, if I ever need a life coach just lend me your blog, okay? Seems like a bunch of people know just how others should be living.

What do you think?