Going silent

Ruby Ryder wrote a post about how a spate of potential partners she had been talking to suddenly stopped communicating with her and essentially disappeared.

If you’ve been following along here, you’ll know that it happened to me with the sex-voiced Texan not so long ago. The sex-voiced Texan was the first to do this at a stage where I was invested to the point of talking about travelling internationally to meet him, so it hit me pretty hard. There have been other times (in fact I tweeted about one earlier today who turned back up in my inbox), but ‘where we were at’ in those instances was a lot less concrete.

twitter no drama

On the one hand the disappearing thing is baffling and smacks of cowardice, but on the other, there is a point before which no-one owes anyone anything, so ceasing contact without any declaration is then perfectly fine. And the line between them is blurry and completely subjective. And I might well be a hypocrite here.

There is a point after which ‘disappearing’ is unacceptable to me, but I can’t honestly define exactly where that point is. And of course, that point is different for everyone which can make things very messy indeed.

For me, if we have made it clear that we are absolutely in this conversation to see if there is something worth pursuing together, and the conversation is past the initial exchanges, then our intentions and expectations are solid, and just disappearing instead of saying ‘sorry, this isn’t working for me’ is unacceptable.

If, however, we are having a conversation without any stated intent (even if there might be potential there) or we’ve exchanged only a few emails and the conversation falters, I feel no obligation (and in fact would think it was weird) for either side to state that they aren’t interested in continuing and are opting out.

The difference is in intent and expectations. And of course they may not match up.

If I’m becoming invested in someone, I will ask them to not just disappear so that they are well aware that it will hurt my feelings if they do. If they choose to do it anyway, I’m 100% clear that they just didn’t give a fuck about my feelings. Knowing that is very helpful. But the unspoken point where I will find it rude and hurtful is somewhere before that.

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I will often just cease communication with someone I’m not interested in, but I only do it if our communication never really ‘got off the ground’, if it’s still in email, if the conversation is stilted and struggling. But I subjectively make a judgement about that, and I have no real way of knowing what the other person is thinking. Frankly, I figure if it’s not working for me, it can’t possibly be working for them either. And if they reach out again and I see that they had different expectations, THEN I will call it, and not just ignore them. Because I’m not an arsehole.

While there is ambiguity in all of this, there’s one thing that is clear to me: If you stop communicating with someone and they come back with ‘hey, what’s going on?’ and you ignore them, then you are probably* being an arsehole.

*I had to put ‘probably’ in there because some people are completely delusional about what your obligation to them is, so I want to be clear that I’m talking about mutually pleasant exchanges here, not ‘victim of scary stalker’ type exchanges.

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18 Comments

  1. It’s as I said before Ferns it’s not a D/s thing it’s a common decent manners thing *waves fist* Jesus people get with the programme. It’s happened to me once twice, Fern’s you may remember ? And it’s not only bloody annoying it leaves you with a feeling of dislocation and loose endings that’s infuriating!
    Coug

  2. Maybe we can start a list of when common decency and courtesy demands a, “Thank you, but no.” message.

    I recently has a man tell me on Monday he’d let me know Wednesday what time he could meet me for the first time Friday. Then he disappeared. Four weeks later he was back as though nothing had happened. When I reminded him of his commitment he disappeared again. This repeated several times until I blocked him.

    Look, guys, if you have a reasonable excuse for missing a commitment, tell me. Otherwise, thank you but no.

    1. I’m making an ‘Oh FFS!’ face here :(. At least if it’s just a conversation there is a space for mismatched expectations and etc. But this?

      I just don’t get it.

      And the ‘hey there :)’ a few weeks later as if nothing happened blows my mind.

      How does someone justify it to themselves so thoroughly that they aren’t at all embarrassed or ashamed or apologetic about their behaviour?

      Ferns

  3. Ugh, this is the worse and apparently a universal experience. Those first few days or weeks after the fade are the hardest, not knowing what’s going on, being worried, then accepting the reality as it sets in. Not Just Bitchy had a good twist on this recently as it relates to just cancelling plans out of nowhere (“What Does Submission Mean to You.”).

    I agree with Coug that it’s a common decency thing more than a D/s thing, but in a D/s context it is *extra* reassuring to show me that this person not only doesn’t want to have the relationship, but would *not* have been a good sub for me if that’s the kind of behavior and level of commitment they have.

    I’ve totally had early message fading and mid-date-planning fade. In both cases, maybe I roll my eyes, but it doesn’t really hurt. Before we meet (unless it’s a super-serious online/long-distance situation), I think a fade is fine, just a cost of doing business. But after we meet, if it goes well, or damn, after MONTHS of dating/playing? I wish I could look inside those people’s heads and figure out what was up. The best analysis I heard from a friend was “they don’t want to be in the relationship now, but they want to preserve the option to come back later.” Which, obviously, doesn’t work. But maybe it’s a mental comfort blanket for them.

    Haha, that tweet is too funny though. No drama! (Like politeness, basic respect.) I might use that as a catch phrase when my primary asks me to wash the dishes.

    1. **The best analysis I heard from a friend was “they don’t want to be in the relationship now, but they want to preserve the option to come back later.” **

      I don’t think it’s this. Only someone delusional or of very low intelligence would think that ‘ghosting’ (that’s what they’re calling it now) would preserve some sort of option to return to a conversation with anyone with normal self-esteem.

      What I think it is is a misguided sense of what’s rude and what’s not (cluelessness) covering up cowardice and laziness. I know a very attractive woman who in her single days was asked for her number constantly and would always give out a fake number. When asked why she did this, she said “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” When I pointed out that when a guy realized he’d been given a fake number, his feelings would be hurt, she was at a loss to explain further. What she really meant, apparently, was that she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings *in person.* She was fine if it happened out of sight. It’s the same with ghosters. They don’t do it the other way because it simply takes too much effort and potentially involves some emotional heavy-lifting.

      1. **When I pointed out that when a guy realized he’d been given a fake number, his feelings would be hurt, she was at a loss to explain further. What she really meant, apparently, was that she didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings *in person.***

        Another big reason people do things like this (in person and online) are for safety, to avoid the backlash and harassment that can come with turning someone down. Responses like “you’re an ugly bitch anyway, I just asked because I pitied you,” or worse. I know this is a common reason that women placate or ghost on men, because they’ve had that experience over and over again (even a tiny slice of the population giving those responses can be overwhelming, and you never know -which- guy is going to respond like that, so you treat them all the same.)

        Do men ever placate or ghost on women for the same reason? Fear of reprisal or harassment? Perhaps. It’s crazy to me to think this is what any guy who ghosted on me was worried about, because it would be so out of charachter for me to respond like that. BUT, if the situation is the same on the other side, then I suppose they wouldn’t know whether I was one of the women who would respond like that.

        **I don’t think it’s this. Only someone delusional or of very low intelligence would think that ‘ghosting’ (that’s what they’re calling it now) would preserve some sort of option to return to a conversation with anyone with normal self-esteem.**

        Unfortunately, I think there are probably enough people out there with low self esteem or lack of experience that ghosting and coming back later -does- work sometimes. That’s why people so often ghost and come back. I honestly would’ve tolerated it more back when I had less dating experience, and didn’t understand fully what the implication was (that they were not into me). Or, when I really liked someone and got myself to crazy length to rationalize the behavior. I need to monitor myself for that impulse now.

    2. “I’ve totally had early message fading and mid-date-planning fade. In both cases, maybe I roll my eyes, but it doesn’t really hurt. Before we meet (unless it’s a super-serious online/long-distance situation), I think a fade is fine, just a cost of doing business.”

      I possibly should face that it is because reality, but I hate how it makes me distrustful.

      And obviously I’m stung by it if I’m genuinely interested and think things are progressing well. It makes me question my judgement, which I also hate.

      “But after we meet, if it goes well, or damn, after MONTHS of dating/playing?”

      Oh yeah. That’s a WHOLE other level of douchebaggery :(.

      “Haha, that tweet is too funny though. No drama! (Like politeness, basic respect.) I might use that as a catch phrase when my primary asks me to wash the dishes.”

      *laugh* Yes. I love the number of times that ‘no drama’ really means ‘please don’t call me out for being an arsehole…’

      Ferns

    1. I do.

      I have a lot of email conversations, and most of them will fade away because that’s how most email exchanges work.

      If I’m not interested in the conversation and we aren’t *clearly* on the ‘sussing out potential’ track (i.e. there is no stated intent in it), I can drop conversations because it takes too much energy to work up a reply if I’m bored with it. Then they disappear into the depths of my inbox never to be seen again.

      From the other side if the person is invested in a way I haven’t appreciated, it will look like a deliberate disappearance. And that obviously leaves the possibility that someone on the other side is hurt and confused by my disappearance and I might not even know.

      BUT if they contact me again and it’s clear there is interest there that isn’t returned, I will say so rather than ignoring them. That is, it’s not some deliberate strategy on my part to avoid saying ‘no thanks’.

      So yeah, communication IS tricky and no-one can know what another person is thinking, so unless it’s truly clear (e.g. Regina’s comment above!), there’s often still a grey area.

      Ferns

  4. *blinks*

    That response to your question where he said “Whoa, no drama” when you mentioned he’d disappeared says a whole lot about him as a person. None of what it says is likely positive from my perspective. As to when it’s okay to ghost out? I’d say what you did, near the beginning before things have been seriously discussed. Even then, if they ask, all it takes is a moment so I always respond “Thanks but turns out this wasn’t for me” just to provide closure

    1. “That response to your question where he said “Whoa, no drama” when you mentioned he’d disappeared says a whole lot about him as a person.”

      Ha! Right? To clarify, I did paraphrase a longer conversation, but the ‘no drama’ thing was absolutely in there :/..

      “Even then, if they ask, all it takes is a moment so I always respond “Thanks but turns out this wasn’t for me” just to provide closure”

      Yes, exactly!

      Ferns

  5. This behavior points to a lack of empathy and respect to the other person involved. It’s good to find out early if you can, it can head off bigger disappointment and hurt later on. There is one way to consider people like this – Players. Move on from them, they won’t take you seriously.

    1. Yes, and cowardice. It’s easier just to not deal with it.

      “It’s good to find out early if you can, it can head off bigger disappointment and hurt later on…Move on from them, they won’t take you seriously.”

      You make it sound like one has a choice here, but once someone disappears, there’s NO choice, so the point is kind of moot :).

      Ferns

  6. I think there’s two things at play here. Yes, I agree there’s a point no one can expect anything from anyone. But that a two way street.

    I think anyone is valid in being upset if someone ghosts on them. Just because I’m not suppose to expect a response, does not alleviate said ghoster from the hurt and pain they may or may not cause. All it means is I’m not justified in hunting you down and spewing vial at you for hurting me. But the audacity to show back up in my life without apology or explanation means I can then spew my vial at you. If you can’t be arsed to show some empathy, then why should I be? You were much kinder then I would ever be to the guy in the CM inbox. I get even with a special kind of evil and feel no remorse about it.

    One thing I’ve learned from my time on the internet is to set expectations from the start. Update as I feel they change. It’s helped a lot with ghosting or accusations of ghosting, save for the few on-line game players.

    1. “You were much kinder then I would ever be to the guy in the CM inbox. I get even with a special kind of evil and feel no remorse about it.”

      Heh. I’m not sure I was kind: I genuinely wasn’t sure that he was the one I was thinking of who had ghosted: I wasn’t holding onto some festering anger that I held back.

      Though as I think about it, I’d obviously remember the sex-voiced Texan if he came back and I’m not sure I’d be angry with him either, even though his was a clear-cut case that hurt me. I don’t think I hang onto anger. Or perhaps I’d surprise myself with it if he DID get back in touch. Not sure. I don’t have the experience with it to be sure.

      “One thing I’ve learned from my time on the internet is to set expectations from the start. Update as I feel they change.”

      Yep that makes perfect sense. I don’t do it from the start because at the start I just don’t care, but when I DO start to care, I let him know.

      Ferns

  7. I have had dominant men do this to me, lots and lots of interest, ooh subby woman, yay, go you, flirt flirt, me Dom, you sub, ( I am doing a labotomy here on they conversations but you get the drift), but then when they realise I am not just going to give them a photo, or cum video or some such other after a few weeks of chatting (vaguely about life and d/s, me trying to please, be interesting, find things they like, – subby me but not just ‘here’s my body me’ ) they just disappear. All I can think of is, ah, I must be too much like hard work…
    luckily eventually, I found one who decided I am worth the effort, we flirted with Sun
    Tzu and Clausewitz :) that’s probably a bit niche….

    1. At least if some dude behaves that way, you know exactly what happened and why (and no doubt are yelling ‘good riddance, areshole!’ at your empty inbox).

      I’m glad you found one with whom you clicked. Lovely *smile*.

      Ferns

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