A guy once disappeared out of the blue from my life after we’d been dating for a little over a month.
I matched him one night on Tinder, and we chatted briefly on the app before moving on to texting and then on a date at a restaurant.
Our first date went extremely well.
He was funny, kind, and strong, he was almost 1.90 – a perfect physical match for me who is 1.75.
We had the same sense of humor and we shared many of the same political views. The more we hung out, the more my passion for him grew.
At the end of our last date, however, something felt wrong.
Our culture debate over dinner got a little heated, and the next morning after the sleepover, I said something stupid, and he instantly changed his expression.
When he didn’t respond to my Snapchats for several days, nor did he respond to my “How was your weekend?” text, I knew it was over.
He turned into a ghost and disappeared from my life.
Months later, when he sent me a message so big I had to scroll down twice to read it in its entirety, I couldn’t help but laugh.
He told me he was wanting to apologize and explain, but no text message or voice message he tried to leave me sounded good.
He insisted that we meet in person.
So I agreed.
And after a few weeks of playing cat and mouse to solidify a plan, we met for drinks at a wine bar, where I learned a lot about myself, dating, and how much people still think Tinder is the reason why. romance is dead.
Here are seven lessons I learned after being reunited with a guy who disappeared from my life:
1. If He’s Still Liking Your Instagram Posts, He’s Probably Still Thinking About You
My ex didn’t just text me out of the blue.
I kind of enticed him to do it.
A few weeks after he fantasized about me, he started liking some of my Instagram posts.
I was irritated by the fact that he was now deciding to give me attention that, frankly, I didn’t even want anymore.
So one day I purposely posted a picture I knew I looked great in, just to see if he would like it (don’t you dare pretend you never threw a trap).
Sure enough, like the perfect Pavlovian answer, he liked it.
Being a curious person, I used this as an opportunity to text him and ask him why he disappeared, but he was still interacting on my social media.
I expected him to ignore me, or maybe give me a “Haha sorry” because of how irrelevant I was to him.
It had been so long since we’d communicated, and I was pretty sure he was irrationally scrolling through the feed like the rest of us, double-tapping on anything.
Clearly, I underestimated the meaning behind an Instagram like, because my message gave him the opportunity to build up courage in the form of a literal five-paragraph essay.
2. There are still people who think Tinder is full of weirdos
At the wine bar, he told me that his reason for disappearing was partly because he didn’t expect to find someone “like me” on Tinder.
Apparently, this scared him.
“You should know you didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “The only thing you did wrong was that I liked you a lot and thought you were too cool.”
What kind of person did he think uses Tinder?
If he’s normal, charming, attractive, and uses Tinder, what made him think that there weren’t other normal, charming, attractive people using Tinder?
I felt a little silly.
I was very excited to meet him before our first date, meanwhile, he thought I would be a vapid, unintelligent girl who looks much better in his pictures than in person.
If you think about it, Tinder is no different than a bar on a weekend night.
When you walk into a bar, all you really get are pictures of people: what they look like, what you can find out about them by their appearance, followed by (maybe) a surface-level conversation about where they went to do it. college and what they do for a living.
And guess what?
All this information is also found in a Tinder profile!
Some nights, the bars are full of handsome, smart guys.
Other nights, no.
But you won’t know until you go in, take a look around and start passing.
Shall we stop blaming Tinder for the dating apocalypse?
Well, it’s not that simple.
3. “Tinderella” Is A Compliment
Apparently, my ex’s friends made fun of him for liking someone on Tinder so much.
Whenever they talked about me, I was called “Tinderella” (Tinder + Cinderella).
After much deliberation, I have decided that “Tinderella” is indeed a compliment I would wholeheartedly accept.
4. It’s Frighteningly Easy to Be Attracted by a Fantasy
When my ex texted me asking to meet in person, my first reaction was to laugh.
Then, as if I suddenly realized how desperately I’d missed him over the last few months, I felt this overwhelming desire to see him as soon as possible.
But if I wasn’t so upset when he disappeared, and if I knew that deep down I really didn’t miss him that much, why was I so looking forward to seeing him so many months later?
Since I didn’t know him very well when we were dating, it was easy for me to project all these fantasies on him of what we could have been when he first came in contact.
I had no idea if he was considering starting over, but that didn’t stop me from fantasizing about the possibility.
I remembered the little things I knew about him – our shared political views (very liberal), his favorite artists (he liked Future; so did I), the fact that he had visited Greece before (a place I want to vacation) – and used all of that to create this elaborate fantasy of a romantic date, followed by an equally romantic relationship.
That’s not to say he wasn’t a nice guy, that we didn’t actually have much in common, or that we wouldn’t have a fulfilling, romantic relationship if we continued dating.
It is, however, to say that much of my desire to see him again was rooted not in how much I craved him or how much I wanted to know why he walked away (although I was obviously curious), but in the kind of couple that I thought we could be if we dated again.
Fantasy is powerful.
5. Either I’m Too Idealistic, Or Everyone’s Too Cynical
My ex told me he expected me to see his actions as a natural disappearance.
He figured I wouldn’t see it as a big deal, because it’s just Tinder.
For the next one, right?
I think it’s a fair assumption.
But I don’t think everyone on Tinder is looking to jump from one pointless connection to the next.
I believe some people (myself included) are open to real connections.
I’ve always known that not everyone believes this, but to be reminded of it by a guy I thought I might have one of those “real connections” with made me snap.
No matter the medium – in a bar, on the street corner, or swiping left and right on a dating app – there will always be people trying to find the next layman and people trying to find love.
It’s presumptuous to assume that someone you know is just trying to use you, and it’s probably a little arrogant to assume they’re dying to fall in love with you too.
That’s why, no matter where you meet someone, you’ll need to communicate your expectations when things start to happen.
It’s that simple.
Perhaps it is idealistic of me to expect communication.
Maybe I’m naive to want the men I date, to be honest with me and also expect honesty from me.
But I’d rather be this idealistic, naive person than someone who fumbles around assuming everyone sucks and there’s no point in trying.
You might avoid some heartbreak this way, but you definitely won’t learn anything – and that, to me, would be the biggest heartbreak of all.