I learned that I don't have to beg to find out why.
I'm about to throw myself under the bus here with a story that I haven't shared because, quite frankly, no one likes to admit to being ghosted, stood up, or dumped. But, it happens and when it's by a friend it hurts and it's hard to get over. So, here goes.
I had this friend, who I'll call Julio (although that's not his name) who was studying to be a mental health therapist. (How ironic!) We had this Friday night routine where we'd meet up after work and go dancing. We had done this routine for months. So, when Valentine's Day came around, and we were both single, it seemed natural to hang out together — because that's what friends are for ... or so, I thought.
We talked about planning the day together, starting with breakfast, a movie, and then maybe dancing as usual. No matter how good a friend he was, I wanted to make sure I looked my best. So, I got a good night's sleep, woke up early, and put on the perfect outfit.
My make up was on fleek. My hair and outfit were styling. I was totally feeling myself.
When morning turned into the afternoon, and the afternoon hit midday, without a word from my friend, I had already called and left a voice message to see what was up. I imagined everything that could have happened. What if he got into a car accident? What if there was a family emergency?
Never did it cross my mind that he was standing me up.
I was about to pull a major friend stalker move and drive over to his place. But, I didn't have to. When I opened the front door of my house, there he stood — six hours late. I asked him what happened. Without a word, he turned around and walked back to his car. I watched him get into it and drive off.
Not only did he stand me up, he ghosted me.
There are literally few things as heartbreaking or traumatic as being ghosted, stood up, or dumped by someone you have feelings for, romantic or not. And when the person who does it gives no explanation, it's a special kind of traumatic.
That moment happened years ago, and to this day, I still wonder why Mr. Future Mental Health Therapist did me wrong. But it proves that no matter who a person is or what their background, anyone is capable of acting a certain way. The important thing is to know how to respond when it happens.
Here are 6 things I learned to do when ghosting happens:
It's important to process how you feel. It's normal to feel confused. The key is to focus on yourself when a date doesn't show up because there may not even be a logical reason why things went down the way they did.
It's okay to go over the minor details: Did we confirm our plans? Could I have communicated better? Was it something I said? Just whatever you do, remember, just because someone has a certain title, background, or reputation, no one is perfect. Every rose has its thorn.
Every life experience is a teacher. Some lessons are more painful than others. When disappointments or break-ups like this come your way, tell yourself it's better to know who you were dealing with now than to find out later when things got more serious. It might sound a bit crazy, but gratitude for disappointments like this help.
Emotional pain can reveal where you need to improve for when future disappointment takes place. Take this moment to set up solid dating rules and habits to lessen the odds of self-blame. Think of what you might do to take care of yourself if anything like this happens again. Whatever you do, try not to lose your cool.
When I say, wait and see, what I don't mean is to wait by the phone worrying or allowing yourself to get angry and frustrated. Set a time frame for when you expect to hear back after you've left a message.
The nice part of you wants to give the benefit of the doubt. The angry part of you wants to not waste an entire evening feeling neglected. If you had a date set up, that's serious business. You deserve to have your time respected.
However, don't call or text more than once. You will regret doing so if the person who stood you up never responds, and if something legitimately was wrong, you'll feel even worse.
4. Just because your date stood you up or ghosted you, don't post a rant on social media — text your BFF instead.
It takes a lot of time and energy to do your hair, pick out an outfit, get your make up on, and chances are you look amazing. It's important to honor your beautiful self by not wasting your efforts or allowing your anger to get to the point where you tell the world what has happened. First of all, remember even if you delete a post, that digital footprint is out there forever and hard to erase. Instead, call or text your a friend or someone you trust.
5. Celebrate yourself.
There's nothing worse than being all dressed up and no one to notice. Take some amazing selfies — you can never have too many good ones). Call up a few friends, or order in your favorite Chinese meal then write down a list of all your amazing qualities. Remember that you might have dodged a bullet.
Someone who misses a date might be the same kind of person who forgets birthdays or fails to be there when you really need the support. You might be disappointed not to get that time together, but be thankful that you only have one night of disappointment instead of an entire relationship.
When a person does something wrong, they should try to make things right. That starts with an explanation. That's what apologetic people do. You don't need to be on the end of the begging stick. You know what happened. They know what happened. You left a message saying you want to talk about what happened. You did your part. Relationships require two responsible adults who want to be held accountable to one another. Solid communication is part of that mutuality.
So, if you're the one doing all the talking, that will set the tone for the future. You don't want to be a doormat or the person on the begging side of the relationship. Relationships are about equality and that includes communication. If no explanation is given by the end of the conversation, it's a clue that it's time to move on.