crickets and tumbleweeds on my iPhone

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.

Sigh.

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.

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9 Comments

Filed under general musings, love, relationships

9 responses to “crickets and tumbleweeds on my iPhone

  1. Maybe she’s not worthy of his attention…maybe she deserves crickets…there’s a lot of those girls out there who prove themselves unworthy of a man’s intentions…maybe she’s offended him…maybe it’s simply a matter of him being disinterested… maybe it’s karma coming to visit her…

    T.

    • T., I find it a little interesting that your first offering is to suggest that my friend is not worthy of him. I, of course, think she is a remarkably warm, smart, and amazing woman. But I guess that might be his perspective. I think it’s far more likely that “it” just wasn’t there for him. But I can certainly acknowledge that any of your possibilities might be true.

      You sound a little offended by my post, so perhaps I should clarify that I do not take issue with relationships — of any depth or duration — ending. That’s natural. What bothers me is when it happens without any indication that it is ending or something has come apart… when people just disappear with no warning. I haven’t been hurt by this particular form of negligence in quite a while, but my two dearest friends have and I ache for them. It just seems unkind and unfair to me. I’ve rarely met someone who “isn’t worthy” of the decency of a goodbye conversation or note, just some little indicator that nothing more will be forthcoming. Just seems to me to be a small, appropriate courtesy.

  2. Have to agree with you, P. No one “deserves” crickets. Though, in my very brief stint with dating, I definitely am guilty of having cooled things by sending fewer, less engaged texts over time, rather than directly stating “it won’t work”.

    I don’t know if this is so much a passive agressive behavior as it is that whole idea that it takes a while to really know if you click with someone – and perhaps he moved faster than he himself was ready for and wants to step back but isn’t sure how. But of course, all of this is speculation, easily cleared up with an honest text.

    I wonder though, how many people really want honesty. I think we all say that we do, but how many women really want to receive the “I’m just not that into you” text. Most of us would be turned off by that, and that would close the door for him if he were interested later, or if after thinking about it more, he does want to continue. Maybe it is stringing her along, but I generally prefer to think of it as inconclusive. He’s not ready to make that decision – and why rush him? Relationships should be really special, not a matter of proximity and availability.

    c.

    • C — I agree with the idea that sometimes it takes a while to “click,” but I know that I’d rather have somebody say “Hey, we’re going at really fast pace. I like you, but can we slow it down a little?” than simply drop off the face of the earth. I think at this age, with the baggage that most of us have, being honest about your own limitations and the space you’re in is really crucial. In fact, I’ve found myself to be generally suspicious of people who DO dive in without any hesitation at all; makes me feel like they just want SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, and not necessarily me.

      I would agree that a lot of people don’t want honesty, despite their claims to the contrary. But the people in my closest inner circle do not fall into that category. I know that for me, I am far more gracious and mature when someone is just straight with me than I am when I feel like they’re playing games. And, in terms of leaving the door open for the future, trust is paramount, so if I feel like they’re being shady or trying to keep me off-balance, I’m far less likely to give them another chance, than if the first relationship ended (or petered out) due to timing or external distractions or whatever. Of course we don’t want to get that “I’m just not that into you” text, but — for me and my friends at least — the ambiguity is far more excruciating than the fact that we aren’t every single man’s dream girl. I think that’s part of mature dating — coming to the acceptance that when someone doesn’t like you well enough, you don’t have to take it personally or get defensive. Somebody else out there will. 🙂

      I think, for my friend’s beau, his lack of being forthright has closed the door. I think she sees his behavior as discourteous and cowardly (Rhett wouldn’t behave that way to a lady! 😉 ), particularly given that they work in close proximity. I think, had he sent an honest text or had a conversation, that door would have been open in the future, as circumstances changed and evolved. But I think that now, it is closed. I totally understand that for a lot of women, that would not be the case. The fragile ego would be too injured to allow another chance after an “I’m just not that into you” text, but then that just means that this man didn’t get a half-decent understanding of my friend and so probably isn’t right for her, either.

      • My turn to agree with *you*! I would definitely prefer something direct. Whether in the beginning of a relationship or two years in.

        Honestly, I think adult relationships are just difficult to figure out. We’re not as headstrong as we were the first time around. There is definitely ‘baggage’ – though I don’t like this word. I just try to understand all sides of it. To both your friend’s credit and her co-worker. I think if I were your friend, since they work together, I’d ask him to lunch to talk about it – especially in that situation, for me, it would be important to preserve some sort of work relationship just so things aren’t awkward for both of them. And maybe he just doesn’t know how to approach her with this “slow it down” idea.

        I also want to agree- whole heartedly – with the idea of people rushing in too fast and the feeling that they want “someone” not me. I’ve run into that in the past few months in my brief dating stint and it is challenging. I am going to keep your post in mind next time it comes up though, and be more direct, myself. 🙂
        c.

  3. I love this post and all of the comments.

  4. Pingback: intuition as faith | that precarious gait

  5. sebastian remolde

    I followed this comment from another comment and I must agree with what Mr. T. said. He seems to be much more in touch with what you should listen to when it comes to men.

    • That’s interesting that you should say that, given that T. ended up being revealed as a drunken, adulterous, sexual predator who lured women to Puerto Rico with promises of wealth and sophistication that were never real. I avoided that particular fate, but some of our fellow bloggers sadly did not. I would strongly advise selecting a more worthy and admirable role model.

      And, btw, Thomas, writing from LA doesn’t mask my ability to tell that it’s you. Let go and move on, already. It’s beyond pathetic.

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