An Open Letter To Boys Who Disappear


Dear Boys,

You need to stop disappearing.

Guys are notoriously commitment-phobic; it’s part of your nature. But the relationship disappearing act is all too common (there’s an entire book on the subject) and it needs to stop.

I understand (sort of) having a mediocre first date, a why not, second chance second date, then deciding it’s not worth it, and splitting the scene without a word. Girls can generally tell when you’re not digging them, or when you’re faking it, and the less time that’s wasted the better. You should still provide some sort of courteous explanation or excuse, but if you have none beyond “I don’t like you,” then sometimes the wordless goodbye, though not ideal, is acceptable.

You cannot, however, under any circumstance, date someone for two, three, six, eleven months, and then decide to up and vanish. You can’t allow everything to be peachy and full of potential, only to fly the coop for no reason.

Of course your behavior isn’t “for no reason.” You have your reasons, but it looks to us like we’re Charlie Brown and you’re the mean-spirited Lucy with the football when you don’t express your reasons to us girls. You might not be great at talking about your feelings, but you definitely have them. You’re going to cause us pain either way, but you can do so in a way that is less bitter and more bittersweet.

What males need to understand is that while ignoring your problem may, in this instance, make it eventually go away, this method will also cause a lot of pain and heartache where you probably didn’t intend it to.

“A gentleman is one who never hurts another person’s feeling s unintentionally.” So consider these things the next time you’re tempted to take the easy way out and fake an attack of the see-no, hear-no, speak-no variety:

It affects how we view (and treat) future relationships.

“She’ll forget about me and find someone better and more ready for a relationship.” This is what you tell yourself. While it’s probably true, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve chipped away a little (or a lot) of our trust in the male species. You can’t just love us and leave us and think there’ll be no scar left at the end. It may be easy for you, since you didn’t, apparently, have much invested in the relationship. But remember, it’s a vicious cycle. Women tend to make relationships their priority, so chances are we don’t (or didn’t) think of this fling as casually as you did. And since men tend to control relationships (they traditionally are the pursuers, and we the persuees), we end up obsessing over silence to the point of insanity.

By refusing to let us down easy, you’re creating a world of confused, jaded, bitter women, the next of whom you date will sink her claws into you and demand commitment right off the get-go. I mean, can you blame us? You gave love a bad name and made us paranoid, controlling, over-analytical psychos.

It shakes our confidence in ourselves.

We invested time, energy, and emotions into you. We liked you. You liked us. We thought everything was fine until you decided you could do better, or didn’t want to lose your freedom, or whatever it was you decided. You owe us an explanation. If “it’s not you, it’s me,” is actually true, then let us know what about you it wasn’t so we can get on with our lives and get off the endless second-guessing, self-doubting hamster wheel of never-ending torturous thoughts.

It affects how we (and our friends) think of you.

You must have liked us a decent amount to keep dating us for as long as you did, so you must care what we think about you at least a little bit. If you don’t care about your reputation, then ignore this part, but some point of pride should survive in you that would rather not have your name associated with the words “scum bag,” “jerk face,” or worse… Remember, word gets around.

There you have it, guys. The disappearing act may seem like a fine plan because you can break things off passively without having to tell her things she may not want to hear, and you can avoid a lot of questions you may not have the answer to. But it’s emotionally immature. It’s cowardly. It’s disrespectful and discourteous. You’re behaving like a spoiled boy, not doing something just because you don’t feel like it, selfishly disregarding other people’s feelings for your own sake.

Rule of thumb: The third time’s the charm. If you’ve made it to the third date, it means the first impression was solid, and the second go-around didn’t disappoint too terribly. Explain your reason for wanting out in a way that leaves us still happy to have known you.