One of my friends found herself recently in a common dating dilemma: to text or not to text.
The Clift’s Notes version is this: She meets a hot guy at work. They flirt a bit. He asks her out. She says yes. They go out on two dates in one weekend and things seem great. He alludes to things they’ll have to do together over the summer. She gets excited (in all the good ways). Then his kids arrive for his parenting week and he disappears completely. Five days after their second date, he sends her a text wishing her a nice weekend. She replies wishing him the same. After that, nada. Nothing. Zilch.
I mean, really, What. The. Fuck.
I feel certain that I will never, in all my dating years, understand the person who shifts gears from “Here’s a list of all the great and romantic and fun things we should do together this summer!” to stone-cold radio silence in a matter of days without any explanation or obvious reason. One of my guy friends calls this silence “crickets” — as in the awkward quiet that is filled in cartoons with the sounds of crickets chirping — and another refers to this as “tumbleweeds” — like in the old westerns when the tumbleweeds blow across a barren landscape and that music plays (he even does the sound effects). But whether you call it crickets or tumbleweeds, it sucks. Plain and simple.
Obviously, we can speculate — he decided he wasn’t that into her; he got crazy busy at work and at home; one of his kids got sick; etc.; etc.; etc. — but it would only be exactly that, speculation and nothing more. And so it is pointless.
My friend has, of course, surmised every possible reason for this sudden and unexpected turn of events. She has alternated between empowered moments of accepting that “it” just wasn’t there to insecure moments of questioning her physical attractiveness. It is maddening, this unknown, this waiting for an explanation that may or may not ever come. She can only try to put him out of her mind and press forward.
Or can she?
Maybe she could text him…. say something cute. See what he does…. Maybe she should be flirty…. Or just friendly…. Or totally nonchalant. Maybe she should say something reassuring him that she was interested (is it possible that he felt she wasn’t?? Wouldn’t that be terrible?)… Or maybe she should just say something open-ended, to (as she put it) leave the door of communication open….
In the end, she chose to do nothing, which was apparently the right decision because he is still MIA and she has moved on to a handful of other men who actually are interested enough to show it.
I know that men can be… how shall I put this delicately?…. reluctant to have difficult conversations with women. I suppose that I must acknowledge that there are members of my gender (who have, it would seem, dated every single man alive) who turn into screaming banshees when, for instance, they are informed that a man no longer wants to date them. These women also apparently sob uncontrollably and make wild, cruel, hurtful and false accusations about the man in front of them when confronted with a painful conversation. Just to be clear, I don’t personally know any of these women, but based on what I’ve seen of men, they must be pretty strong and pretty intimidating to deal with. And so, men generally avoid such conversations at all cost. Which makes us women tempted to turn into exactly the psycho bitches they expect us to be in the first place.
And so it goes.
I have had my own rendezvous with crickets and tumbleweeds. My personal favorite is Tom, a ridiculously handsome and successful attorney several years younger than me. Tom and I spent a year going back and forth, making ineffectual attempts at dating and never really getting anywhere (I can count on one hand the number of “dates” we actually went on). Then one night, when he was stone cold sober, we had a multi-hour phone conversation during which he confessed that the problem between us was that he cared for me too deeply and it frightened him. Turns out he wanted to make a whole life with me — a home, babies, dogs, the whole kit and caboodle. I was, quite literally, speechless. “Please,” he asked, “just tell me you’ll consider it. Just tell me that you won’t say no right off.” Well, even though I wasn’t sure about the whole White-Picket Fence Future he painted, I felt enough for him to agree to consider it. Turns out that I needn’t have worried. Because I didn’t hear from him again for another year. Cross my heart. Not a word. Not a text, not a phone call, nothing. Crickets and tumbleweeds. For a whole year. When he did resurface, a year later, last December, he wanted to pick up the conversation where we’d left off, so we went out once, to talk things through. I listened patiently while he said a lot of sweet things, and then (as expected) disappeared, again. I’ve pretty much decided that instead of a Christmas card from him, I can expect a declaration of undying love each December. At least he’s original.
Look, I know those conversations aren’t any fun. Telling someone you don’t love them anymore/aren’t interested/ have changed your mind/have met someone else/aren’t attracted to them, etc., etc. basically sucks. But, we’re all supposed to be grown-ups here and as such, it sure would be nice if we could just bite the bullet and deliver the respect that nearly every one deserves. None of us likes to have to say those things, and none of us likes to listen to them, but I think we can agree that we all prefer them to crickets and tumbleweeds.