She was a friendly ghost, but I was still ghosted
I want to hear your questions, dating issues, martial woes ... Send your own letter here. I'll be reading.
I’ve been Caspered. On a dating app, I made an instant and valued connection with an amazing young lady. She's normally very cautious to proceed through the progression of steps in an online relationship. But we hit it off so well, messaging on the app every day for a week, that she became comfortable exchanging digits and real names. We moved to texting and voice messaging. After a few more days, we set up a real-life date. I suggested we meet for a quick coffee or drink in case she wanted an easy exit strategy. She replied that since we "chat so well," she was OK with a full dinner date with time reserved after in case we wished to continue. I was ecstatic that things were going so well. I was really caught off guard when, several days before the scheduled big date, she went into radio silence mode. Didn’t answer my last text or follow-up voice message.
I'm not one to go crazy with lots more messages; if she isn't responding, I can take the hint and move on. But I'm left with the uncomfortable feeling of being ghosted. Now, I don’t actually believe it rises to that level. To me, ghosting can only happen after you start the real-life portion of a new relationship and have had at least a couple of dates. We've only messaged at this point, and not even had a live phone conversation. I believe it's perfectly OK to just drop someone for whatever reason if all you have is two weeks of chat messages. But THIS one felt special to me with a lot of potential. My hopes were dashed. As a writer, I felt a need to define what exactly I was feeling. I coined the terms Caspering. It can be as painful as ghosting, but not as serious an infraction. It’s ghosting light. I hope this helps others who might fall into the same dilemma.
I hate unresolved conflict, especially as mysterious, slightly painful and seemingly out-of-the-blue as this was. Since I know where she lives, I'm tempted to show up at her door and say, "Can't we talk about this?" Maybe send one text first, telling her I'm contemplating confronting her in person? I'm thinking that maybe she suddenly got exclusive with someone – if that's the case, why wouldn't she just let me know that and we'd both be ok with it. What now?
Don't show up at her house. Do not even suggest doing that.
I'm sorry this experience was being a big disappointment. Even though you never met in person, there was a bond – and you were supposed to have a big night out. You gave her every chance to back away from the plan, but she seemed to want more. It's a huge bummer.
But that does not entitle you to jump three steps (phone call, date, etc.) and show up on her lawn. That crosses a big boundary and could be scary. Scarier than a Casper kind of ghost. It has a "The Last of Us" vibe, if we're going for monster metaphors. It's more like a mushroom zombie who just keeps walking toward what he wants. (Sorry, I am really into that show right now. Don't be a clicker.)
Also, I hate to have to break it to you, but Caspering has been out there in the dating lexicon for a few years with a similar definition. I do like the concept. Not all ghosts are trying to hurt you.
If you want to send one last message, a "Hey, I’d just love one sentence of closure" note, go for it. Either way, the "what now" is clear. You need to get to an in-person date – or Zoom/FaceTime/phone call – with a potential love interest as quickly as possible. Someone might be great with the pen pal part of courtship, but if they're too cautious to take next steps, they might not be the best match for you. You'll move on knowing that someone has to earn those special "this could be important" feelings. They can do that by showing up a lot over time.
Readers? How do you keep going after a disappointment like this? Ever had this kind of experience?
"Sounds to me like she scared herself by transforming your suggested coffee date into a full dinner date with 'time reserved' (for sex?) afterward. My only thought is to take a few steps back and ask if you could re-schedule and limit the date to coffee. If you've already tried that, then just move on. She's overthinking, and just plain not ready for a real date." – OutOfOrder