Ambivalence and the Mauve Ghost

I’m so fucking pissed off! I’ve been ghosted by Mauve Man!


(Image – Flickr).

In our last conversation, last week, he said he was so glad I got back in touch, and we chatted loads. He still seemed really keen. I was telling him about my holiday in Portugal and he said “keep sending photos, I love them!”

Since then, he has completely ignored me. 

Our last conversation was on Wednesday last week. Then I didn’t reply to his last message until the Thursday. He never replied to that.

Ages ago, weeks ago, we had arranged our first date would be last  night – Friday 17th November.

This week, I texted him on Wednesday saying “did you still want to go for that drink on Friday?”

He never replied!

I know he is completely entitled to change his mind about seeing me, but, considering we had an actual date in the diary, I think totally ignoring me is really rude and disrespectful. It would’ve been much better to tell me that he didn’t want to go ahead with it, so I could’ve made other plans and knew where I stood.

It’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to our date. However, I’m not feeling too bad.

He was the first person I properly fancied and lusted after, since the Whippersnapper. With Mike and the Bearded South African Man, I was like I guess we’ll have sex, which will probably be nice. But with Mauve Man I couldn’t stop thinking touching his penis.

Now I still feel like I’ve taken a step forward, and it just won’t be with him now. He managed to pull me out of the quicksand I was stuck in, even if he fucked off straight after. He reminded me how it feels to really fancy someone and feel excited, and this gave me hope. I’m back on Okcupid with a different mindset now.

One of the worst things about WS was that he seemed like such a great, convincing option, and it really seemed like we had a future, so it was so hard to make sense of it, when he turned out to be a childish time-waster. 

It’s great that Mauve Man showed me this early on, that he was a time-waster with nothing to give.

In this situation, it’s easy to worry you did something wrong, and feel insecure about it. But logically, I just don’t think I did. When I was being myself, he seemed to really like it and encouraged it. There was no difference between the things I did when he was keen, and the things I did when he wasn’t keen.

I think maybe something changed with someone else he was dating, and he didn’t know how to tell me. 

Or, I really do believe a lot of people in the dating game are really ambivalent. 

Ambivalence is something we talk about a lot at work. Lots of people think ‘ambivalent’ means not interested or not caring, but it kind of means the opposite – being pulled in two, opposing directions. It means really wanting two incompatible things at once.

At work, some of my patients are ambivalent when they have an anxiety disorder and they really, really want to overcome it, because it’s ruining their life, but they really, really don’t want to do what they need to, because it seems too terrifying. For example, if someone has phobia and they need to do graded exposure to get over it, but they feel like it’s too scary to take the first step.

Other people might be ambivalent if they have an addiction and really, really want to stop but part of them really doesn’t, or can’t.

I think lots of people dating are ambivalent – maybe men in particular. I think that’s why you see the same person showing you behaviour that reflects really wanting to date, and then behaviour that reflects absolutely not wanting to date. 

I think if they were just in the middle, they’d seem lukewarm at the start and then maybe they’d go ahead with the date but halfheartedly. That’s what I’ve done when I’m lukewarm.

Instead, you see keenness that seems genuine and hard to fake, then ghosting or serial cancellations.

I think it comes from them having a really strong motivation to date – everything from their testosterone, to their friends and family, to society and the media tells them they should be dating and having sex.

But there’s lots about going on dates or having sex that makes them anxious. Some guys are anxious about their body image, and that stops them wanting to go on a date that might end in nakedness. 

Other guys are anxious about their sexual performance – maybe they’ve had times they couldn’t get it up or couldn’t come and they’re worried it’ll happen again. 

Other guys are socially anxious and scared they’ll be negatively judged or come across like an idiot on the date.

Other guys might be afraid of intimacy, relationships and getting close to someone for a whole range of reasons, even if part of them craves it.

So I can see why, in the early stages, the bit that wants to have sex, and maybe even a girlfriend, would win and lead them to text a lot, be flirty and seem keen. Then, when the date is approaching, the fearful bit kicks in and says abort! Abort! Do not proceed!

We know that society gives men the message that they shouldn’t talk about their feelings, that it’s not masculine to feel vulnerable and certainly not to confide in someone about it. This is the kind of thing that makes the suicide rate higher for men than women. (However, lots of men realise it’s actually very brave and strong and totally masculine to understand your feelings and talk about them, and they have positive responses when they do. Feeling understandably scared about doing something and doing it anyway is as manly as it gets.)

So I think, half the time, when ambivalent men suddenly don’t want to go ahead with the date they’ve planned, they might not even know why they’re feeling like that, and they don’t know how to talk about it. They just know they can’t do it.

To be honest, with Mauve Man, my intuition is that he isn’t a vulnerable little ambivalent, tortured soul who can’t talk about his erection anxiety or whatever. I think he’s just a disrespectful shitbag.

The way he was flirty from day one made it seem like he was a confident, seasoned pro at dating and I suspect he just got distracted by someone else or lost interest. 

I have lots of sympathy for guys who are anxious about dating and relationships and can’t talk about it.

What I have no sympathy for is ghosting. 

OK – sometimes I’ll have a brief chat with someone on a dating site and I’ll let it peter out if I lose interest, rather than saying “I do not wish to continue this conversation because it has been less interesting than I was expecting.”

And I guess you could argue I ghosted the Threesome Guy. We were chatting a bit, and I ended up ignoring him, but in our last couple of conversations, I made it clear I had reservations because he wasn’t involving the other girl and he ignored that. Maybe I could’ve handled it better and been clearer with him.

But I think if you’ve had a conversation with someone and it’s really clear you’ve set up the expectation you will be meeting, especially if you have a date in the diary, when you change your mind, you need to say something to let the other person know the date isn’t going ahead.

It’s just basic respect and decency.

I think ghosting is partly a consequence of our avoidance of awkwardness, and maybe comes from not wanting to send a message which is going to make someone else feel bad.

But I also think it’s a consequence of our dating culture, and the way we’ve started seeing people as products. 

In some ways, I think when I’m going through a dating app, swiping left and right, I have much the same mindset as when I’m online shopping for clothes or shoes.

I’ve read a few articles and posts about dating where people talk about the ‘quality’ or ‘calibre’ of the people on dating apps, and it makes me feel uncomfortable – the idea of one person being ‘lower quality’ than another. I feel a bit like we’ve forgotten these are humans, when we’re talking about someone being ‘low quality’ – like they’re a poorly made shoe or something.

I remember hearing one female friend, who is a hugely compassionate and generous person, saying “the people on that dating app are just trash.”

(I know I’m probably coming across a bit idealistic and holier than thou. Don’t get me wrong, sexual attraction is hugely important, and of course, if I had a choice between a penniless guy and a loaded one, and all other things were equal, I would probably choose the rich one. But I think lots of things are subjective and vary from person to person – what attractiveness means, which characteristics are important – so it’s too complicated to say one person is just ‘higher quality’ than another.)

So then, if you’ve got into the mindset of seeing people as products, the natural progression when you change your mind about dating someone, is to handle it the same way you do when you change your mind about an online purchase – you add the product to your basket, but you never proceed to checkout.

15 thoughts on “Ambivalence and the Mauve Ghost

  1. I was just talking to somebody yesterday, saying what a nightmare it must be to date anybody these days – with the proliferation of social media, and various apps – because you have to try and parse the way people present themselves, against the way they really are. I can’t help be be hugely impressed by your thought processes – and your optimism (not consigning people to being “trash” etc). You rule πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really sorry to hear about this disappointing episode but I really admire your positivity and objectivity. Being able to decipher the tortured souls from the disrespectful shitnags is a vital skill in life! I totally share your uncomfortable feelings around mention of “calibre” in respect of human beings – in my view having that attitude is pretty classless in itself. I remember reading a quote about people entering online dating not being scared that they won’t find anybody, but they won’t find the “calibre” of person they think they “deserve”. I guess as you point out that is very much intertwined with consumerism. I’ve had a couple of “gentle let downs” and whilst I was a bit peeved at the time ultimately I appreciate the effort they made not to ghost me. Manners really do maketh the man in my opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great article again that touches on some of the new behaviours and the ambivalence of people dating. I think you’re spot on in your investigation of that, also recognising that some people are just rude and disrespectful – or busy and pay so little attention to things like potential dates that it doesn’t even enter their minds. Whatever! Their loss!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Honestly I just think that social media changes the entire perspective on good manners. No just dating apps, I mean I see some people say something on Facebook that they would never say to a persons face. Ghosting is just another side effect of the manners (or lack off) associated with social media. Just my opinion πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Lots of fingers in my pie | Dater Analysis

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