Monday, March 23, 2015

The World of Ghosting

Have you ever heard of ghosting in reference to dating? I hadn’t until now, which is ironic considering I’ve been ghosted and maybe guilty of it myself at least once. What is ghosting? It’s simply vanishing into thin air with no explanation. It’s easy to do in this world of digital communication.

Phone dating apps along with online dating allows daters to keep a certain distance. Even though the idea is to bring people closer, it creates cyber walls to hide behind. The first instance of this is your matches on an app or an online service. Let’s face it, no one responds to all their matches, especially if you receive dozens. I’m not even sure the same people are matched, which makes you wonder. A woman could receive a match, which is far from her stated requirements. He could live across the country or be the wrong religion. Naturally, the person deletes the match. There could be someone wondering what why Cindy in Louisville didn’t like him. Sending a note that she’s not interested is more work than she wants to do. Besides, it seems more hurtful to say you’re not interested than to do nothing at all. By doing nothing, the person can assume your account is inactive. All is all it isn’t that bad.

The second level of ghosting happens after you establish contact. The people involved both liked what they saw on an app or a dating profile. They text back and forth, maybe even call, then one person cuts contact. No reason, no preamble, they stop calling. The other party waits, gets up courage, and sends a random text. Nothing. It is the cyber equivalent of being stood up. It is a common practice that most people don’t need spelled out. If the snubbed party continues to text, he may find himself blocked. Often if communication had moved to social media, the abandoned party can watch the various dating exploits of a potential beau. Not sure, if it’s more hurtful to be defriended than to be so unimportant that the ghoster is unaware you’re on his social media feed.

The third level happens after a date or two. We date to discover if we like people. However, many people don’t even want to take the time to do that. They insist on coffee dates that last mere minutes. A few even do covert drive-bys or walk-bys to decide if they even like the way a person looks before introducing themselves. It shouldn’t be too surprising that people go incommunicado after a date or dates. Somewhere along the line, they decided it wasn’t working rather than actually explain this in person on in a note; they vanish similar to an apparition.  While this is easy, it is incredibly inconsiderate. The ghosted individual could become frantic thinking an accident occurred.  Eventual sightings of the ghost leads to the realization of instead of being in intensive care, the former date is a member of the callous jerk club.

Ghosting can go to amazing heights too. A friend of mine had a long-term relationship with what I would term a needy man. One day he disappeared off the grid, she wasn’t even sure he was in the same country.  After weeks of no contact, she saw on social media he’d changed his status and was dating again.

The most famous example of this odd phenomenon is Olivia Newton John’s former boyfriend Patrick McDermott staging his own death. Thousands of dollars and countless tears went into the search for the man, who resurfaced years later in Mexico. He didn’t do breakups well. He proved ghosting can be done without using social media.

Blogger Taylor Davies in her dating manifesto declares she’s desensitized to the behavior since it happens so much.  Current dating is more of a game of hide and seek. Our reliance on technology is part of the issue along with distance. We meet people we never would have met if we dated only in our general neighborhood, school, or place of employment. Running into former dates isn’t an issue.

Ghosting says a great about the person who does it.  Once you’ve started communicating, a simple explanation is appropriate before disappearing. If the person continues to contact you, then it is okay to cut contact. If you dated and the other person thinks you’re in a relationship, then you definitely need to say something even if it is a text. Often people walk away from first dates with no plans to see each other. Should you make this clear? That’s a quandary.

I’ve heard of some people being very specific why they’d never date someone. That’s going overboard. If the person inquires, yes you should be clear as opposed to ignoring the message. By not being clear, the person builds up a pseudo relationship with a ghost.  It is as if the missing person is lost at sea, but could return at any moment. The ghoster might discover on social media he’s in a relationship with the woman he hasn’t talk to in weeks.

There’s always an exception to the rule. The person who doesn’t quite get that you no longer want to see him or her no matter what you do.  It reminds me of the Adele song where the left woman still shows up on the married guy’s doorstep demanding to know why he never thinks of her. Ghosting
would definitely makes sense in that case. Moving to a new zip code, changing your name, and dyeing your hair would work too.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Grand Gesture

Ironically, I get many of my dating terms from television shows, although the idea may be universal. The Grand Gesture stems from doing something unusual or showy to demonstrate how much you like someone. Despite the term, which I borrowed from The Middle, it doesn’t have to be huge.

 A co-worker, friend, or associate you’ve been crushing on for a while mentions a love of Girl Scout cookies. Ah-ha! You might think to buy her or him a box, but that might be too much, especially if the feeling isn’t reciprocated. Instead, buy a box and offer some to the object of your affection. Most likely, he or she will take the cookies and then will develop a pleasant association with you. The association will be at a deep level of the subconscious where you represent something good. This opens the door for bigger steps such as a coffee date.

The cookie ploy might not work. What if he or she refuses the cookies? Right now, it could because of Lent or a diet. It could also be part of the Dobler/Dahlmer theory best explained by Ted from How I Met Your Mother. John Cussack made the character Lloyd Dobler legendary by holding up his boom box outside his ex-girlfriend’s house as it blasted their song. For those who never saw Say Anything, it regained him the affections of his ex. This scene earned its place among cinematic grand gestures. Right up there with Rhett scooping Scarlett up in his arms and carrying her up the staircase.
Several men have probably parked themselves outside of a former girlfriends’ house blasting Foreigner or REO SpeedWagon songs. Half of these lovelorn individuals had the police called on them or the family dog chased them away. The other ones reunited with their love, if only briefly. 

The difference lay in how the serenaded felt about it. She could have wanted to get back together. The gesture could have even charmed her long enough to forget why they broke up to begin with.

Those who didn’t fare as well had the Dahlmer effect named after serial killer, Jeffrey Dahlmer. Any grand gesture big or small icked the individual out because there was no interest of ever being involved. Everyone remembers someone from their past trying to flirt, maybe giving them an unwanted gift. The initial reaction could have been surprise that somehow this undesirable individual thought he or she stood a chance. They were undesirable simply because the feeling wasn’t returned. 
If they continued the behavior, then it became weird and stalker-ish.

Of course, it would have to be at a noticeable level. This noticing factor can be difficult, though. Beautiful women expect men to do things for them. After all, they do. Men open doors for them, volunteer to carry packages, compliment them, even buy them drinks. Most men would think these are gestures, but to some women it’s what men do. They also stop and change flat tires when a hot chick is stuck on the side of the road. They roam the hardware store to find that doo-hickey needed for the ceiling fan to work. It may be super hard to get the office beauty to realize you’re gesturing at all.

However, a person who is already interested in you is aware of everything you do. Even to the point of giving it connotations it may not have. If your grand gesture isn’t remarked on, there’s a good chance it wasn’t welcomed. You’ll want to cool it then to avoid becoming the creepy guy or gal.

Men often buy advice online from men who bill themselves as pickup masters only to find themselves slapped or a drink thrown in their face. The easy answer would be the girl wasn’t into the guy. How could she be when she’d never met the guy before? The more likely answer is those techniques seldom work. Even if the female did have some interest, using those tired scams would kill it.

Often we’ll hear someone wax fondly about what her beloved did to gain attention. We might think the gesture was cheesy, silly, or contrived. Not too surprising since we are not interested in their beloved. Whatever the action, it will make the person a Lloyd Dobler in their eyes. Lloyd’s actions were fitting for a teenage in love. I suspect it wouldn’t work as well for a fifty-ish man.

Once you suspect your grand gesture has icked out your intended, stop immediately. One more word of advice, never ever put your grand gesture on social media. Besides thousands of people witnessing a fail, it will never ever go away. Rather like the guy proposing on the kiss cam only to be rejected. He’s probably rethought that action a few hundred times by now.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Signs of a Potential Abuser

Think Abusers Wear Highly Identifiable Masks?

The incidents of dating violence and violence against online daters has risen measurably. It's important to know what to look for to avoid being a victim.

An abusive manipulator comes on initially as all charm, compliments, and gifts. Most women will regard this grooming behavior as proof he isn’t controlling or abusive. In fact, he’ll consistently tell the woman everything he does is out of love. This is also the favorite line of the abusive woman. She may even go so far as to tell the man he’s the one with the issue or needs counseling. Of course, if you’re involved with an abusive woman, she’s not nearly as generous with the gifts as the man is. If at any time you wonder if your date or mate is an abusive, then you already know the truth. If your friends mention it, it must be bad because most manipulators try to look good in public. It helps bolster their lie about how well they treat you. Avoid this type at all costs.

If three or more apply, then you’re in danger of abuse or already in an abusive relationship.

·         He or she wants an immediate relationship after meeting once.
·         Irrational jealousy
·         Controlling. Needs to know where you go, who you met, how much money you spent, wants to see the receipts.
·         Unrealistic expectations. This refers to you meeting his or her every need in the relationship while looking fabulous.
·         The abuser sees him/her/self as the victim. He or she never takes responsibility for personal actions.
·         Hypersensitive, which results in taking everything personal
·         Critical of you.
·         Use religion or culture to control ex: Women must be submissive to their husbands.
·         Tells you what to wear, even buys you clothes with the expectation you’ll wear them.
·         Subtly criticizes your friends & family. Invents events or illness to try to prevent you from seeing them.
·         Resents any hobbies or outside activities you might have. Finds ways to curtail them.
·         The two of you never do anything you want to do. Your favorite restaurants, activities, etc. fall by the wayside. You might even make plans to do something you want, but it is cancelled due to illness, work, or some other convenient excuse.
·         Mood swings that appear to have no perceivable trigger. With this person, you’ll constantly be walking on eggshells.
·         He or she is cruel to animals. Doesn’t understand the concept of pets. If a pet is around, they could be keeping a dog for hunting purposes or a cat for mice control.
·         He or she makes violent threats such as threatening to punch someone who cut him off in traffic.
·         Guilt trips when you decide to do something you want to do.
·         Humiliating or embarrassing you on purpose.
·         The two of you go out with his/her friends, then excludes or ignores you.
·         Refuses to talk to you, nor answer your calls or texts, to punish you
·         Withholds affection. This can run from refusing to hold your hand to being locked out of the bedroom.
·         Uses the I love you, but…. statements that tack on a criticism or a desired behavior.
·         Makes everything your fault
·         Threatens suicide if you leave.
·         Constantly calling or texting when you’re apart. This isn’t love, it’s checking up on you.
·         Flirts with other people in front of you. Laughs it off if you call him or her on it.
·         Cheats.
·         Uses sarcasm, eye rolling, and belittling terms
·         Knows your insecurities and makes mean jokes about them.
·         Uses control statements. Example: If you don’t go with me to Hooters, then I won’t go to the Spring Fashion Preview. He never makes it to the fashion preview.
·         Uses money to control behavior.  In the beginning, it can be not having money to do activities you want to do to finally controlling both your finances to prevent your needed departure.
·         The abusive partner may also threaten your pet or child to insure desired behavior.
·         Plays mind games. Insist events never happened making the victimized partner question his or her sanity.
·         Intimidates with guns, knives, or other weapons. This can be as subtle as showing or loading the gun.
·         The person forces sexual acts you don’t want.
·         Slaps, grabs, punches, pinches, and then blows it off by calling it teasing.
·         Destroys your property or forces you to dispose of a beloved item.
·         He wants you to have sex with him all the time. When you’re not there, you must send sexy pictures or provocative texts. This is more about ownership and control as opposed to passion. Reasonable people know you have a life outside of them.
·         Disappears for days without any explanation or a weak excuse such as: I had stuff to work on.

In the end, it is all about control, not love.  If you feel like you’re doing things you don’t want to do, Stop. Don’t give your controlling mate a chance to reform because he won’t. Many a person has been sucked in by the I’ll change story, followed by two weeks of good behavior. Make an extraction plan. If you’re not living together, it’s easier to get out.
1.      Change your phone number, email, etc.
2.      Defriend him or her on social media, but go silent for about a month. This person is canny enough to friend your friends to cyber stalk you.
3.      Be unavailable. This might involve not being at home, or not answering your door.
4.      Make a list of the abusive behaviors and incidents to remind you why you left when you feel lonely.
5.      Do something you’ve wanted to do, but denied yourself.

If you’re living with someone, it will be harder because they’ll be hyper aware of everything you do, but it’s do-able. If you work, call domestic abuse hotline from work or a public place.  Get together your license, social security card, and other personal identification for a quick exit.

If you’re ambivalent about leaving an abusive partner, look at these stats.  Men suffer abuse too. One out of seven men are in an abusive relationship. The figure jumps to two out five when the man is involved in a homosexual relationship. Abuse isn’t just a female or hetero thing.

I’ve been in abusive relationships and have been alone too. Alone is so much better. It allows you to gain the wisdom and distance to recognize a good, functional relationship.