June 6, 2022

How to (Mindfully) Ghost Someone—Lessons from the Meet-Cute from Hell.


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My therapist has told me that the one thing that sets me apart from other people is that I am constantly assessing my life, my behaviors, and my relationships with others, and making honest and incremental improvements in real time.

After the emotional tumult of a breakup I had in October, I allowed my diet to go to hell. I got to a point where I was having a bowl of Apple Jacks and coffee cake as breakfast every morning. I finally put a stop to that and am now starting my day with fruit and cold oats. I stopped drinking as of my birthday, and I also began an exercise regimen.

I imagine that this ability comes from the years of personal development, self-help, and goal-setting books I have read. Once that stuff is inside of you, it never leaves. It’s as if you’ve inadvertently developed a muscle that seeks out areas where you are kind of lame and challenges you to stop accepting that from yourself.

So, when I recently found myself in a situation that made me want to block, delete, and unfriend without explanation, I knew I wasn’t going to do it. I would get out of my comfort zone and tell the person how I felt.

I also knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I had just become involved with someone after one of the cutest of all meet-cutes I’d ever experienced. I saw her on the side of the road with a flat and when I focused on her, I noticed that she launched the tire jack into the woods out of sheer frustration and despair. I pulled over and offered assistance. Flirting ensued and before 20 minutes had elapsed, she had a donut tire on the front passenger side, and I had a Facebook friend request.

She DMed me a couple weeks back when she saw that I had a winery gig and lamented that she’d do anything to be there, but she had her kids that weekend. Not ever being one to let an opportunity pass me by, I offered to stop over the following Sunday with a bottle of Cabernet Franc. She was a fan of dry reds, and I knew that bottle would get me in the door.

And I was right.

Sometime after her first glass, she began to discuss all of the “current issues” she’s been struggling with. The “plan-demic.” The vaccine that she has done extensive “research” on and will not subject herself to under any circumstances. The “crisis actors” who keep inventing these school shootings. “The Deep State.” You get my point.

I sat there listening and wondering: if our genders were reversed, would I just abruptly leave? Was it simply the fact that I was a guy that made me silently construct polite excuses for a graceful exit instead of just saying “you’re a lunatic” and storming away? Well, this was no time for contemplation or thought experiments—there’d be time for that later.

But, by glass two, she began punctuating her sentences with deliberate arm touches and leg brushes and it was making me feel awful. Awful, because even not touching back felt like I was telegraphing something unkind. I had no contingency plan for how to reject a woman. I don’t have enough experience with it. Regardless, she suggested we take a tour of her house and I…fell for it.

She led me to the master bedroom to show me an oil painting she purchased recently. The making out ensued shortly thereafter. I was not enjoying it, but now the thought of pushing her away petrified me. (People-pleasing issues can be crippling.) Before long, clothes began falling to the floor. There were all kinds of alarms and bells ringing in my head—Danger! Danger!—not the least of which was the fact that we were inches away from engaging in unprotected sex. Ah, but leave it to my body to save the day.

That’s right. If my mouth wasn’t going to get me out of this situation, my sexual organ was more than happy to pick up the slack. I, then, made my regrets known and went outside to the safety of my RAV-4.

The next morning, I awoke with a thought: “…that something is difficult is one more reason why we should do it.” It was from a letter Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to Franz Kappus in August of 1904. So as I zombie drove to the laundromat at dawn, I began composing what I wanted to say in my head:

“Personally, I had nothing against having sex with you; it was my body that was refusing to get involved.”

No, that’s too confusing.

“As a sapiosexual, absurdity is an anaphrodisiac to me…”

God, that was even worse.

“About last night—it wasn’t you, it was the phrase ‘crisis actors.’”

And as I moved my clothes from the washer to the dryer, another famous quote popped into my noggin:

“The best laid plans of Mice and Men go oft awry…”

Then, I blocked my Gmail. Then my Instagram. Then my phone. Then my Facebook. Then my Twitter. Then my LinkedIn. Then my Snapchat. Then my TikTok.


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