I’ve become the person I hate. I ghosted on someone this week. Or I’m in the process of ghosting if we’re going to be technical. It’s only been two days. I could still save my reputation and soul. I could text back.
Let’s back up. As you know, I am an apathetic user of dating apps. I constantly match and never initiate. Or when I do start a conversation, I grow bored – or conversation is lively enough that meeting is proposed, and it happens, and they aren’t Cate Blanchett/Emma Watson/Keira Knightley. To their credit, I’m also neither Drake/Bradley Cooper/Justin Bieber. So then it fades out, but it’s mutual.
In this case, I matched with “Ireland” on Coffee Meets Bagel. A week before, the app told me that if I don’t start talking to my matches, then my match pool will degrade in quality. Now I didn’t want that, so I initiated a conversation.
I’m into unique names. I want to name my never-to-be son (sorry, Mom) Meridian. Don’t steal it; it’s copyrighted. I asked if there was a story behind being named after an island in the North Atlantic.
Did your parents conceive you there? Or maybe they met on the moors? Are there even moors in Ireland? What are moors, Ireland?
There was no story. Her mother wasn’t even a linguist.
She asked if there was a story behind my name. I asked what she was doing that weekend. We discussed my parents’ new puppy. We identified mutual acquaintances. We chatted about our jobs and happy hours. I mentioned the blog because I’m a walking billboard (I once wrote the URL on my waitress’s receipt; you should do the same next time you eat out).
Ireland said, “It is wonderful. Very well written while also being digestible and real.”
(Who else agrees with Ireland?)
Well, Ireland, this is about to get realer. We know what’s coming. I’m going to walk away and not tell you.
To be clear, I was initiating most of these conversations. I realize this as I scroll through the app (which I re-downloaded so I could write this).
“Is there a story behind your name?”
“Any exciting weekend plans?”
“Do you have any pets?”
“What sort of stuff do you do at your job?”
This is what makes me that much more of an asshole. I encouraged her. I even asked her to get coffee: “I have no intention of following through on this, but let me toss out the invitation. I love toying with my victim’s hopes before I devour them like goat cheese on crackers.”
This is when Ireland – poor, innocent Ireland – gave me her number. “Feel free to text me,” she said.
Ireland, I don’t feel free. I feel trapped. Like I’m in a sweater in Qatar. Please stop texting me for me.
Basically, this was a horrible experiment in me initiating conversation over dating apps and only reminding myself how much I’m not into it. And I knew this. And you shouldn’t experiment on humans.
But I thought maybe if I started a conversation, I would leave behind my apathy. Online dating would be different than shopping for a car I don’t need. Instead, I became a tease.
We texted for five days before I pulled the plug. Again I took days to respond. Yes, in these five days, I took days to respond, but then I’d pop up and say, “Sorry for being MIA! How was your weekend? Do anything cool? How is your Monday? Don’t you hate this weather? (Bad sign when I’m referencing the weather.) What are you working on at your job? That is so cool; tell me more. Do you watch Game of Thrones?”
At one point she apologized for being a bad texter, too. After taking five hours to respond. Five. Hours. Child, confess your sins somewhere else.
But the weekend approached. We were supposed to get coffee. I didn’t want to put aside an hour of my time to chat superficially with someone I had already decided I had no time or romantic interest in. How do I tell her? Or do I tell her? Why do I feel bad about this? We haven’t even met.
Sara is a proponent of fading out. So are others. But it’s gutless, I argue. You don’t have to give explicit explanations, but some sort of admission of “I suck; I’m bailing on this” should happen. We are adults, right?
I contemplated texting Ireland, “Hey, I’m withdrawing my offer on coffee and terminating this line. I haven’t even saved your number in my phone. You’re really great. I’m being authentic. You’re physically attractive and personable given your use of emojis. But I was disinterested from the moment I hit send, which is my problem, not yours, and I need to put us both out of our misery. Yours, but not anymore, Cazey.”
My roommate posed, “Why do you feel you have to text her?”
I tried to explain, “I don’t want her to feel like it’s her fault. She’s not boring. She’s done nothing wrong. I don’t want to be the guy who she calls her friends about and cries, ‘Why hasn’t he called me?’”
My roommate: “Yeah…she probably won’t think of any that… You haven’t even met.”
But I still feel like a jerk. Or maybe I just want to think of myself as a heartbreaker. Maybe Ireland’s actually ghosting on me.