How do you handle the silent fade away from a person you spoke with for hours a day?
August 21, 2010 5:32 PM   Subscribe

How do you handle the silent fade away from a person you spoke with for hours a day?

So, I have been chatting with a guy for about 8 months on-line. We met on We never met up, but just kept chatting. I never thought it was odd because I continued to date other folks and really loved our chatting. So months went by and we formed a really great friendship.

One thing lead to another and yep, you got it- it turned hot and heavy. We exchanged photos of ourselves and we'd flirt a lot. We finally realized we had to meet each other. We finally did. He was extremely gorgeous and it almost took me by surprise. In other words, I wasn't quite expecting that. I'm cute, too, but quite curvy and in my mind, I had self-consciously thought 'there would be no way' he'd be into me in real life. Anyway- we ended up having a ball. We got quite drunk. At one point, I kissed him, but he pulled away and took off. At first I was worried about that- but we talked and he said there was no weirdness at all and he just had to go.

After that, we continued to chat still and hung out again- for just lunch. Then, suddenly two weeks ago- BOOM. Absolute silence. Total fade away. I wrote and asked him 'what's up with that?" and he replied shortly that he was just slammed busy.

Ok. Fine. I'm resolved that he probably realized he wasn't into me. I don't think being freakishly busy suddenly prevents you from even squeezing out a text. My question is- How do you get over the fade? And why do people treat each other like that? I was not a freaky bitch in the slightest- Why did I deserve that?
posted by boostershot to Human Relations (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
People treat each other like that because dating is fraught with weird emotion. Best to just brush it off as a bad experience and move on.

There's really no better explanation than that.
posted by dfriedman at 5:42 PM on August 21, 2010

Best answer: You didn't deserve it, some people are just skittish. He might have issues getting close to people, fear of being hurt, or maybe something happened in his personal life that led him away. I'm sorry you've had that happen to you, but just know that it is like 99% likely that it has very little to do with you, and just something "freaky" on his end.
posted by elpea at 5:42 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of course you don't deserve this poor treatment, but it happens all too often with people I've met online - if our lives never overlapped otherwise, then what consequence is there to ending communication as abruptly as it began? Out of sight, out of mind.
posted by lizbunny at 5:52 PM on August 21, 2010

I'm very sorry that this happened, and I don't know that I can offer anything that will help you get over the hurt. I would just suggest that if your goal is a real-world relationship, trying for a face-to-face meeting sooner might be a better way to go next time. In-person attraction and compatibility can be very different from the online variety.

One of my dearest friends met & married a great guy through, but it was after a few disappointments. One of her first experiences went very much like your own. She invested a great deal of time and emotion, then things fizzled quickly after they got together for a couple of dates. It took time for her to get back on the horse, but she did so with a better feeling for the potential pitfalls, and it worked out well for her.
posted by gimli at 6:17 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

And why do people treat each other like that?

Maybe he was concealing the fact that he had a wife or girlfriend and the prospect of cheating only became real for him when you kissed, and he realized that he couldn't go through with it. At that point his options for extricating himself from the situation involve explaining that not only is he secretly married (which right there is hurtful enough of a conversation) but that he also can't go through with cheating and doesn't want to see you any more, or trying to make up some explanation about why you were hitting it off so well up until the point that you kissed. Neither of those are particularly fun conversations and with the nature of online communications it's easy just to silently cut losses and move on -- that's not to say he's justified at all with that sort of behavior, of course.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:23 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

I admit that I am one of those people who have ended friendships and relationships out of the blue. As commenters have noted above, it is a messy and complicated situation that has little to do with you. The point in life when individuals learn how to begin and end relationships tactfully is beyond me. I am socially awkward in more ways than one.

Recently, I began to feel depressed about many things in my life. I shut down completely and offered the same excuses of being too busy or exhausted to socialize. I cannot simply put my finger on it, but I managed to drift so far apart that my relationships may be beyond repair. Do I love my friends? Yes. Do I miss them? Definitely. But for the life of me, I cannot manage to pick up the phone.

I meet my boyfriend on a dating website in an effort to meet more friends in my area. Online, I am confident, self-assured, and humorous. When we first met, however, silence overcame me and I felt so out-of-place. I wanted to end the relationship but, somehow, managed to remain friends with him. I believe that patience, coupled with the fact that were both busy college students have kept us going strong.

Partners are going to end what you may believe is the best relationship for numerous reasons. It hurts, but I believe that every rejection makes us stronger. Perhaps he is a recluse like me, perhaps he is not. What is important is that you find the strength to move on and place those good times in a box of memories. I am sorry about your experience.
posted by nikayla_luv at 6:42 PM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

Why did I deserve that?

You didn't/don't.

why do people treat each other like that?

Because he may have thought the fade-away was easier than coming out and explicitly saying what you already know: I'm resolved that he probably realized he wasn't into me.

Many people deal with conflict or potentially unpleasant situations by simply avoiding it. It doesn't make it right or any easier, I know. But often the simplest explanations are the correct ones.
posted by modernnomad at 6:49 PM on August 21, 2010

(from someone fuming over something similar (friendly terms, nothing hot and heavy) right this very minute...)

And why do people treat each other like that?

Because he is a J-E-R-K. And along with all the good bits about his personality, this is part of who he is. You wouldn't treat anyone like that because that's not who you are (good for you!). That's one difference between the two of you. If this feels disrespectful, think about why you would even want to talk to him ever, ever, ever again. At all. Ever.

Why did I deserve that?

You D-O-N-T. Nobody does. (It's actually good in one way- he is showing you that he'd rather be a coward (and jerk) and disappear than be upfront with you- nothing like people demonstrating live aspects of their personalities by their actions!)

How do you get over the fade?

Life will go on. You will get over it, today or in 2 months or 20 years. BUT, he will have lost your respect forever.

(Finally back to 120/80.)
posted by xm at 6:52 PM on August 21, 2010

I'm resolved that he probably realized he wasn't into me. I don't think being freakishly busy suddenly prevents you from even squeezing out a text. My question is- How do you get over the fade? And why do people treat each other like that? I was not a freaky bitch in the slightest- Why did I deserve that?

I think you're hurt because you think he's purposefully shutting you out without offering an explanation. But I wonder if something didn't change in his life that has him on his heels? If I knew I were going to go silent, sure, I'd let friends know. But the thing about life is, sometimes you can't see the patterns coming. Maybe a relationship he was in (you say you were still dating others at least at one point, I don't know if he was doing the same) got complicated and he doesn't know how things will go down. Maybe he's having a life crisis and just doesn't have anything to say until he figures himself out. Maybe he got into a difficult situation with relatives, or other friends, that's changing his everyday life for awhile. Or maybe he's just hoping to flee the situation for whatever reason, and hoping if he stays quiet it'll disappear.

I know I probably sound like some kind of apologist for this guy, but based on my friendships of the past few years, any of these is more likely than him suddenly becoming a jerk. I've done this with friends (not significant others) before accidentally, and it came down to me owing the other person a long explanation and talk, but not having the emotional currency to do it due to some other life aspect. Or, in some cases, not even knowing what the situation will be in two weeks' time. Crises don't always announce a duration at the onset, especially if depression is involved.

I'm sure this probably won't be the case, but he doesn't do IT work does he? The electrical storm activity this season, at least in my area, has been so bad we've replaced tens of thousands of dollars in equipment over the past three weeks. Thankfully I'm not the one actually doing the physical replacing but it's still generated several times the normal workload for us. On the off chance he does work in any tech field, he might be telling the truth with the "busy" bit!
posted by Phyltre at 7:36 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of the single most useful pieces of advice about online dating is this: meet immediately. You two spent a lot of time chatting before ever getting together in one place and seeing whether things clicked on an interpersonal, flesh-and-blood label. By the time you met, you were (both) so invested in the connection and the outcome that the stakes became unrealistically high. You were taken aback, he freaked out. Whatever more one could say about it, the simple reality is that being together in real life, physically, was quite different than romantically chatting online, emailing, "falling in love" without ever having met.

This one is a lost cause. if you want to avoid any similar events, though, I would recommend changing your online dating strategy so that you meet dating prospects much earlier in the exchange. If you think you have enough in common to make a go-see coffee date worthwhile, schedule it as soon as you both can, and don't waste a lot of time in long email or phone chats. Invariably, that situation seems to lead to people getting far ahead of themselves - committing, essentially, to what is really only a selective presentation, a voice on a phone, a controlled communication in the form or email or text. You HAVE to check out the real-world viability, preferably before you've taken it so far that it becomes awkward or hurtful - like this did - before one or both of you realizes you were operating more on fantasy than reality.
posted by Miko at 7:49 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

You didn't mention how old he was. Many many years ago, I dropped someone by doing the fade. It was a cowardly thing to do. But at the time I convinced myself using the following "reasoning""

I feel this person is not right for me.
It's probably obvious to her also.
Therefore I don't really need to tell her the reason.
And if I don't need to tell her then I don't really need to speak with her at all.

I was just rationalizing my fear of being open. I was in my twenties. I was a jerk at that age and have regretted it ever since.
posted by storybored at 8:13 PM on August 21, 2010

Guys do this sometimes because they're into the power trip and they like talking with you, they like you being there, they like that there's intensity with absolutely no responsibility. Meeting you in the flesh and finding out that there was no way to rule you out because you were totally 360 degrees of awesomeness probably freaked him out. you weren't an abstract any more, you were real. he may have grown a conscience that he was leading you on and he wasn't prepared to make any kind of commitment, or he could just be a jerk.

You're going to feel bad and you're going to have withdrawal but all I can tell you to do is get out and about and don't sit around waiting for him to show up on IM or wait for email or whatever it is that you used to do. You have to fill the time.
posted by micawber at 8:37 PM on August 21, 2010

Oh come on, women do this too. It's not a guy thing. It happens all the time with online chatting and dating.

The idea is to meet and see if you're actually attracted in the flesh. You should have met sooner, or at least exchanged photos or something. All that chatting was just a buildup to the moment you met. Quite clearly he wasn't as attracted to you as vice versa, so he's cutting his losses. He should give you a quick explanation, but it's hard to do that and not obligatory when there was no obligation to begin with.

You learned a lesson. You're taking this too hard. If he had been unattractive to you, you'd do the same exact thing, most likely. The one who's not feeling it is the one who ends the contact.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:05 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

It's not about online dating. Do you think people don't fall off the face of the earth in real life? Also, OP may not have taken it so hard had they met sooner but does it really justify the behaviour?

There will be people here who think its fine to treat others like that and then those who don't. It really doesn't matter. What does matter is how you feel about it- and that is right thing to do for you. So, yes, the chap didn't treat you right- online or not, sooner/later, whatever.

All you can take from this is that some people (online or not), for whatever reasons, will act in this way. It is guaranteed. Just accepting this as a fact may help you get over the fade?
posted by xm at 9:31 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

He saw your picture. It ain't the curviness, unless you showed him some picture that wasn't representative.

So take that to heart.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:43 PM on August 21, 2010

You get over it just like every other disappointment in life: you feel bad for awhile and then you start to feel better. Unfortunately, there's no shortcut. The thing is, you'll never know why it happened. People get cold feet, they get busy, they're jerks, they're scared, etc. You didn't deserve it and odds are it had nothing to do with you. Trying to figure out what went wrong is just wasted energy. I know you might not want to hear this right now, but I assure you it is the absolute truth: when people do things like this--especially in the dating world--they're actually doing you a favor. For whatever reason, it didn't work out with this guy. But now you're free to move on and keep looking for the man who's right for you.

One thing you could do is look back on your correspondence with this guy and figure out if there were any red flags you might have missed (or ignored) that would indicate that he wasn't as "committed" to your relationship as you were. It doesn't excuse his behavior, and it doesn't mean that you did anything wrong, but it may help you weed out the people who aren't upfront or give off a cagey vibe. And I agree that it's good to meet early on, before you're emotionally invested from online chatting.
posted by lucysparrow at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2010

Best answer: I once dated a girl off of Craigslist (I know, I know). We hit it off over MSN pretty quickly and had a lot of fun talking. She showed me her picture, and I mine. This girl was gorgeous. She was what I suppose most would consider "crazy hot"—blonde, leggy, great figure, etc. (I prefer girls who aren't insanely skinny and, frankly, blonde.) I am overweight, though "cute", but seriously, overweight. She didn't seem to mind.

We dated a few times, and basically instantly hit it off, sex-wise. Things moved quickly, and she mentioned she may be leaving soon for a school program. We dated about 8 times or so, each time hooking up. Good conversation, really enjoyed each other's company, and then boom: she disappears. Like, completely, 100%, stops answering phone calls, no longer online, etc.

She lived far enough away that I couldn't just swing by her house or anything, but this really threw me for a loop. It drove me nuts. Even if she was actually leaving to a class, why not call, say goodbye, etc.

It was pretty cruel, I think, and a horrible case of conflict avoidance, to have someone you had made a connection with, and whom you were enjoying spending time with, just absolutely vanish. Left to wonder what the hell had happened, that was that.

Until almost a year later. She pops on MSN and strikes up a conversation. Tells me how incredibly sorry she was and how it was insane to do that to me, since I was a "really great guy who didn't deserve that" and how she felt that, if she *was* going to be leaving soon, better to cut things off entirely, than to really fall and make things difficult. It was incredibly nice to get that closure, and I count myself incredibly lucky.

We agreed to meet back up again. She told me that the class had gotten bumped, and she actually had a firm moving date, about three weeks away. We met up. Hooked up again. About two or three times. Nice, right? Then *poof* vanishes again, into the ether, like a frustratingly obtuse hot-chick-fairy who wanted to grant me some pretty decent sex and a whole lot of confusion in a brief pop-in back to my life before disappearing all over again. I really don't get what the hell she was thinking the second time around—I knew she was leaving. I would've even helped her pack.

But that questioning what the hell happened, and that inconsideration of someone who just vanishes even though you deserve a reason and at least a discussion about why whatever you've had for the last bit of time is now not going to happen anymore... it's so insanely frustrating and deflating and hurtful, you really just have to not take it personally. Recognize that this guy didn't want to deal with any conflict, and figured the silent goodbye was his best option. To me, it's incredibly cruel and uncool, but apparently people think it's acceptable, or their too selfish to care.

Move on, and find yourself someone who will talk to you, even when it gets tough.
posted by disillusioned at 3:49 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

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