Dating in Quarantine: A Ghost Story

Greetings fellow adventurers! It has been too long. Like many of you I let the unproductive vibe of quarantine take over me and like most of my artistic outlets, I put writing aside. But, oh boy, what an eventful few months quarantine was for me.

I’ve written a lot about dating since I started this blog. That wasn’t my original intention for this blog, however it does seem to be the thing I feel most drawn to talk about. Probably because writing is a form of catharsis.

If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of my posts about my negative experiences getting back into dating, you’ll know I had a rough time getting back out there. I was going through a whole personal experience of putting much of my self validation into casual sex and it was making me feel small.

At the time I think deep down I didn’t believe I deserved a real relationship. When I started this blog I was going through a break up of a 5 year long relationship. I spent years of my life being treated like an option, wondering if it was even a real relationship, and gaslit about everything I was experiencing. So I wasn’t exactly manifesting quality partners, after that.

There Was Someone Else at First

That’s when I first came into contact with “Casper,” We matched on Tinder. And had a brief conversation, the problem was I had matched with a few other people at that time and was in the process of getting to know them. I couldn’t handle juggling to many people at once. So I let him fall off into the dating app wasteland, of missed connections.

At that time I was already talking two guys, “GR” which is this blog’s nickname short for Golden Retriever. He was sweet and incredibly athletic, but …well… I will describe it as book smart not street smart. He was active and affectionate. He just wasn’t very… witty, kind of like a Golden Retriever. There was no way my chubby medium exercise self was going to be able to keep up with his extreme athletic hobbies, and even though he was getting a masters degree, intellectually we just weren’t connecting.

There was also, “News Guy” (because he worked on a news station) which I connected with strongly right off the bat. Which is pretty much why I didn’t give “Casper” much of a chance at first. I thought I had found something, and why waste any ones time?

Over time though, connecting with “News Guy” became more and more of a challenge. We had COMPLETELY opposite schedules, so even finding time for a date was difficult. He worked the graveyard shift and I worked during the afternoons. We connected really really well on a personal level though, and for the most part on a physical level as well! Yet, there was something standing in our way in that regard. Now, I am very open to kinks, as I explain in Part 1 and Part 2 of my negative dating experiences. But he had a very specific cuckold kink.

Originally, I was open to the idea, because jumping into a serious relationship after being with my ex for 5 years wasn’t exactly what I was ready for. And to be perfectly honest, my ex and I were exploring trying again at the time. When he broke up with me he stated “He wasn’t in a place to be in a relationship but wanted to keep sleeping together.” And like an idiot…. I agreed.

So at the time it seemed like the perfect compromise. I was moving on with my life but I got to keep my ex in my life. Even better I wasn’t lying to the guy I was seeing about it, and it was something he was also getting something out of. It, however, quickly became to much for me to handle. “News Guy,” was hoping for me to be on the prowl with new and random guys on the regular, and I was at a place where I wasn’t okay with casual sex at all, let alone FOR someone else’s benefit. We couldn’t even manage our time to coordinate many real dates.

When I would express how I really didn’t just want a sexual relationship with someone. We would end up bickering, because he was just out of a marriage and didn’t want anything serious. He didn’t understand why I was feeling like it had turned into a connection just about sex. And I kind of get his perspective. For him, being able to find someone who supported his really out there kinks was a form of connection. A connection he isn’t going to find often. And I was really struggling with the fact that we couldn’t spend time together for me to have the kind of quality connection I was looking for.

Quarantine Hit and Everything Changed

I had gotten to a place, right before everything shut down, that I couldn’t wait around for yet another person to have time for me. I had done that for years with my ex. I would ask “News guy” to drinks or come over for a movie, and something would always come up. So I put myself back out there. I was still talking to “News Guy” just less seriously. I figured if I found new people he would get what he needed out of it and I wasn’t completely alone while I was looking for an actual connection. One that would potentially be monogamous and simple.

That’s when “Casper,” and I matched again on a different dating app. Honestly, he had put different photos of himself up so I didn’t recognize him until he started the conversation with “So we meet again.” I was so embarrassed. But figured if we matched more than once, there was probably a reason.

By then I was out of work and in complete quarantine lock-down. And honestly I was incredibly relieved. Because I was so tired of feeling like a sexual object. It was so nice that potential dating partners had no other choice but to talk to me for awhile. Taking sex off the table, and out of my control, helped.

Since I was lonely in quarantine. I went ahead and not only matched with several people, but continued full conversations with them all. Because… what else was I going to do. I even did several, very awkward, zoom dates.

I was getting so many “Good Morning” texts from people, I remember joking with my friends about how I might actually leave quarantine with several boyfriends! But at the head of the pack every single day, I would hear from “Casper.” I was taking quarantine pretty seriously, especially because of my Nanny job, and he had a hard time with that. He knew that it was easier to make a real connection, in person.

He tried lots of creative ways to make new connections with me. Every day. He would send me little videos of himself via text message, and tell me good morning, EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. (In hindsight, I should learn to be weary of the ‘Good Morning’ text kind of guy but here we are)

Eventually he did talk me into coming over to watch a movie. I was so nervous. We both were. I was scared because who knew if I was exposing myself to Covid-19, and what would happen if I brought that back to the 2 year old I watched? I was especially nervous because I didn’t want to sleep with anyone, I was still struggling so much with tying sex to my self worth. First dates are always incredibly nerve wracking anyway, especially when there is an actual connection involved.

Our First Date

It actually went very very smoothly. Originally it started out as a joke. “Come over and take a nap with me.” And before I knew it we were making real plans for me to come over. I remember pulling up to his driveway and thinking, “Am I really sure this is a good idea?” It took quite a bit of courage to actually walk up to his front door. I had brought with me a six pack of beer, as liquid courage, for both of us. A deep breath, a quick self motivational chant, and I was pushing myself towards the door…

I am not exaggerating when I tell you all, that when he walked up to his screen door to let me in, I got an intense wave of butterflies in my stomach when I saw him in person for the first time. He was so much better looking than his profile photos. That’s not to say his profile photos weren’t attractive, they definitely were, but he far surpassed them in person. Not in the, you’re so perfect you could be a model kind of way, but in a you check ALL of MY boxes, kind of way.

Meeting for a first date is uncomfortable enough; let alone meeting at some strangers house for the first time. Nonetheless, I was surprised to see he had an incredibly noticeable, calming effect on me. We sat down and started watching one of the Avengers Movies. He introduced me to his adorable 7 month old puppy. That he had rescued and still wasn’t completely sure what kind of dog he was (other than adorable). He was clearly part lab but the rest was still up in the air. Who was very excited to meet me, and I really do love making new animal friends.

It was like being in high school again. All the tension and adrenaline. As he edged his way closer to me on the couch, and put his arm around me, every inch of me was on fire. We made jokes about what was on the screen, and I pointed out some continuity errors. He laughed, stating that he wondered if I was ‘that kind’ of film person.

Despite going into the date with the intention of NOT getting physical with him right way, the sexually charged tension between us was electric, and I absolutely gave in. I did eventually stop and asked him to slow down before we did anything I was worried I would feel small about later. He was remarkably respectful and supportive about it. Which instantly made me even more comfortable around him, and deepened my attraction to him. I remember later on the next day, worrying I had disappointed him by not going as far as he might have liked, and I realized this was the first person I had been intimate with in a long time that I felt confidently comfortable saying NO to. Which as I’ve stated a few times, was a big deal for where I was with my relationship with sex.

That being said, not having full intercourse with him didn’t mean I didn’t have a very very good time fooling around with him. The most eloquent way I can describe the rest of our evening is he knew how to play my body like a finely tuned instrument.

A Connection Like No Other

After that we were talking all day everyday. There was clearly a strong connection there. Every morning I would hear from him and we would chat until the day was over. Once or twice a week I would end up at his place as it was the only form of date we could do in quarantine.

He had an amazing attention to detail. Both visually to his surroundings and when I would tell him about myself. He would remember details of stories I told him about myself and Id be shocked. I don’t think I had ever felt so heard in my life.

“Casper,” was so much more affectionate that any man I had spent time with, including my ex, in years. I was almost suspicious of it. Right off the bat I was getting forehead kisses, he was holding me close, and holding my hand. It was so foreign to me I genuinely didn’t know how to react. I was used to needing to leave at the end of the night after a date, even one that ended intimately, that I was blown away by him asking me to stay the night.

You don’t realize how much those little details of being treated well really matter until you go from not experiencing them to experiencing them. I was trying not to be paranoid, because often people who act that way move to fast and end up in things that aren’t right for them. Everything seemed so genuine though. Here was another lost and lonely soul who truly needed the human connection and affection.

About a month had gone by. We had learned so much about each other. About each others families, our goals, and frustrations; it really felt like we had turned into something real. When I talked to my friends about him they nicknamed him “Patient Casper,” because I realized I should have given him more of a chance when we matched on Tinder, the first time. He was so supportive, especially when I wasn’t feeling emotionally my best.

He Made Me Ready to Say Goodbye to My Past

A Backstory

At this time I learned something about my ex, that despite breaking up a year ago, crushed me to my very core. In order to understand, I need to go back in time to last year, about 2 months before my ex and I broke. At that time,I hadn’t heard from him in a MONTH. This wasn’t unusual as he worked in the film industry working 100+ hour days and it often left him with little energy to focus on a personal life. I spent that weekend, at that time, asking if he had time to hang out and just wanted to check in. When I never heard anything I decided to go to out dancing at a bar with my friends. Where I found my ex dancing with another girl.

I was floored. I flipped out. Not only was he potentially CHEATING. But if he had the energy to go out and party, why wasn’t he able to simply RESPOND TO A TEXT MESSAGE? We didn’t break up for another two months, he insisted he wasn’t seeing anyone else and that I had overreacted. He deeply guilt-ed me for causing a scene. When we did eventually break up, he insisted there wasn’t anyone else. Later on, last fall, we even tried again for awhile before resigning to being friends.

But fast forward to 2020, after I thought we had had all of our ‘closure’ conversations and were in a good place of genuine friendship. I learned that not only did he lie and gas-light me about cheating, with the girl I caught him with that night, but that he had been in a ‘relationship’ with her ever since. So not only did he gas-light me, but he cheated on me, and then turned around and cheated on her when I was under the impression we were trying again.

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas from Pexels

Everything Shifted

It took one text to confirm all of this from my ex. It brought back a flood of unaddressed emotions. Heartbreak that I HAD been cheated on and anger that he had lied. To me and her. Even worse, we were long broken up and in what I thought was a place of honesty, he knew I was seeing new people and I encouraged him to be honest with me. Why continue to lie to me when there wasn’t anything to hide anymore.

“Casper” was so supportive of the fact that I was taken aback by this. I didn’t fully explain, as I was afraid I would scare him away if I talked to much about my ex. Yet he acknowledged and validated all of the feelings I was experiencing. It put me in a place where I was truly ready to let go of all of it and move forward, especially so I could make healthy space for a potential future with him.

After all of that, my sister ended up in the hospital. And yet again, he was surprisingly supportive. I was having a hard time and he was there. He made my concerns feel heard, and he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t feel alone.

Another month had gone by and I was gearing up to go on a Memorial Day weekend adventure, with some friends. The only socially distanced vacation we could responsibly take, was renting an Air BnB in the mountains. I remember taking the chance at being extra vulnerable by letting him know that I knew I was going to deeply miss him. “Is it terrible that I want to tell you I know I will miss you?” I said. “Why would that be terrible? I’ll miss you too” He truly seemed to feel what I felt. We were I was at a place I felt like I could relax and enjoy experiencing a new human connection.

When I got back from vacation, we hung out again. It was such a beautiful time. I remembered enjoying the rhythm of our breathing patterns syncing up. The next morning, we got up showered, and got ready like it was a normal couple routine. We walked out the door together, he pulled me in tightly and kissed me goodbye, and told me to have a wonderful day. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the last time I would see him.

The next few days we texted as usual. Nothing seemed amiss. Usually you see it coming when someone loses interest in you. There wasn’t a single sign in sight. One tuesday morning I had gotten up early to go kayaking with a friend. I woke up to my usual “Good Morning Sunshine” text. I went on my kayak run, talked with my friend about how great everything was going with “Casper,” and how I was excited that I had finally found someone.

By that night, I asked him how his day was. He told me he had gone to dinner with his mom and they had had a fight. He told me that he wasn’t doing great because of it. I did my best to be supportive but didn’t hear back. I assumed that he just needed some space after a bad day, but that was the last I had herd from him. Well, truly heard from him. Suddenly we had gone from a supportive couple, to nothing and I didn’t know it yet.

Photo by Ismael Sanchez from Pexels

Ghosting is Painful

I kept thinking he was just going through a hard time, and honestly needing space is valid. Which it is. I gave him a week before checking in again. I asked him if something happened and if he was ok. I didn’t hear anything. Another week went by and I checked in again. Didn’t hear anything. I sent him a few supportive and kind texts letting him know I was here for him if he needed but also that I just wanted to know what was going on. Nothing. Eventually I sent him a question bluntly asking if he was ghosting me. And it wouldn’t even deliver. Not only was he ghosting me, he had blocked me.

I. Was. Crushed. One day everything was great, and the next it was gone. This isn’t like hooking up with a guy once or twice and them ghosting you because they just aren’t into you. I had been seeing “Casper” for over 2 months and had every indication there were mutual feelings involved.

I was blindsided and in an incredible amount of pain. Personally I believe that ghosting is a cruel and cowardly act. I understand the notion that we don’t owe anyone an explanation if they make us uncomfortable, but how are we supposed to grow if we don’t know?

I find myself going back to a mantra I’ve been using all year: “You’re an ADULT use your words.” It isn’t that hard to explain to someone that they either aren’t interested, or that they just are not in a place to pursue something. Other peoples reactions to your honesty are not your problem, but how you TREAT people is.

This instance has been a bit easier, as I can tell it doesn’t have to do with me. Whatever happened with his family, clearly sent him in a downward mental health spiral, so it feels less personal. That being said, it still hurts. There was something real there and then it was just gone. I deserved, at minimum, the respect of saying goodbye. Random, almost shallow things bother me about it too. Like I most likely will NEVER have sex like that again. Not only was he incredibly affectionate but it was legitimately the best I have ever had.

He Made it Worse

Two weeks after he originally ghosted me, I heard from him. After I had already done so much work to move on. He didn’t say much. He apologized for being an a*****. I let him know that whatever he was going through was valid, I had just been trying to figure out if I needed to move on or if he just needed space.

He told me he just needed space. So I got my hopes up. That was to weeks ago, and I never heard back. Making it a month since I truly heard from him. What kind of child do you have to be to do that to someone? I can completely understand that depression and anxiety can do that to you. Can cripple you into being unable to communicate, but stringing someone along for over a month, when you clearly aren’t actually interested. Or in a place to pursue something. Unfortunately we all go through these things, but we still have a responsibility to have respect for the people around us. For example, you are allowed to have bad days, however a bad day is not an excuse to get away with treating people poorly. The same rule applies because we are adults.

I think the hardest part for me, is knowing that he is going through something so cripplingly painful, and I cant help him. I want so badly to help ease his pain. I hate that he isn’t ok. Yet, I can’t push my help onto anyone who doesn’t want it. And at the end of the day, all I want is to want someone who wants me back.

Its hard not to wonder, “what did I do wrong?” “Why wasn’t I enough?” “Should I have kept my problems to myself?” But in this one particular instance I honestly think I did everything right. I didn’t rush into it, I was authentic, I even handled him disappearing gently and with kindness. Instead of making what he was going through about me, I was just trying to remind him that I was there for him and just trying to figure out what he needed. Even if it meant me moving on.

If I can take anything away from this that’s a positive. Its that I have grown enough not to obsessively blow up someones phone when I’m not getting the attention I’m craving. Its an incredibly small consolation prize, but it is growth.

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Reasons Not to Ghost Anyone

When venting to one of the few friends I do currently have about what I’ve been going through. His response was “I’ve ghosted people.” I was shocked.

On one hand he had an interesting perspective. He compared lost connections to lost investments. He explained that in his line of work you can sink a lot of money into a project but if its not giving you the returns you need you just need to walk away. Which in a way is a healthy way of looking at it.

However I still don’t believe Ghosting is a responsible adult way of handling anything. Psychology Today explains that people who ghost do so because they “are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they aren’t thinking about how it makes the other person feel.”

In Layman’s terms, if you are the kind of person who ghosts. You don’t do it to protect other peoples feelings, you do it so you don’t have to face your own feelings about being an asshole. Psychology Today also describes it as a form of “Emotional Cruelty.” And that “Ghosting causes you to question yourself, which can be devastating to your self-esteem.”

I’m Having a Hard Time With It

Even though it was a short relationship. I have been having a really hard time with this loss. I have grown enough to know that it isn’t about me, and that whatever “Casper,” is going through is legitimate and heavy. But its completely distracted me from my life. I find myself deeply grieving. It feels so stupid to grieve this deeply for something that was so short lived. However, what it was while it lasted was very real. And I deserved better. I deserve better than what anyone has given me over the last few years. I acknowledge that I haven’t been manifesting what I am worthy of until recently, but that doesn’t change what I am worthy of. All I really want is someone who I want that wants me back. I’m not in a hurry to get married or have kids. But a valid, genuine connection isn’t asking too much.

Thoughts To Leave With

Have you ever been ghosted? How did it feel? Did you ever ghost someone? Why did you do it? I encourage you all to share with me your experiences in this regard.

This was a story about how I did everything right, and it didn’t seem to matter. Stay tuned for my next post which is a story about how sometimes its my fault things don’t work out. If you like my blog please share this on social media or subscribe.