The Case of the Disappearing Men

I’ve heard this story so many times.

A guy really likes a girl, so he tries to come up with reasons to talk to her. He starts showing up in the same places she frequents. He strikes up little conversations with her. He builds up the courage to ask her out.

Then, out of the blue, she’s curt with him. Really, really rude.

He’s blindsided. He doesn’t get it. But she’s been so friendly!

He slinks away. His heart just got a little bit harder.

What happened?

As I explain to men, often what happened was that she had been giving him signals that she wasn’t interested since the start. He didn’t pick up on those signals. Finally, she felt she had no choice other than to be completely clear.

Had he read her signals clearly from the beginning, she wouldn’t have rejected him so soundly. They both could have emerged from the situation with heads high.

Misreading one another’s signals is a common issue in the early stages of dating.

No one has X-ray vision. We can’t read one another’s minds. But no one wants to come out and say the truth, because the other person doesn’t want to hear it.

An area where this happens to women is with the case of the disappearing men.

Men disappear. They simply vanish. Why?

Because it’s easier than telling the truth.

Neither men nor women want to hurt each other. That’s why many women try every trick in the book to dissuade a man before resorting to absolute honesty about her lack of interest in him.

That’s also why so many men drop off the face of the planet without explanation.

They don’t want conflict. They don’t want to have to explain that they met someone else or decided this relationship isn’t going to work. They believe it’s easier this way on everyone.

A woman who has been incredibly nice and friendly to a man before his insistence pushed her too far would be horrified to know that he lacked the courage to approach any other women for months after her rejection. She didn’t mean to hurt him. But she felt she had no choice. He wouldn’t listen.

Similarly, a man who stopped returning a woman’s calls and made himself scarce would be astonished to find out that she spun into a spiral of self-doubt after her disappearance and began to wonder if she was even attractive at all. He didn’t mean to hurt her. He just thought it would be easier this way.

So what do we do?

Do we just accept that we’re going to hurt one another and continue on with business as usual?

There’s an alternative.

You can’t control whether or not someone else is going to feel hurt as a consequence of your actions.

What you can control is whether or not you allow yourself to be hurt by someone else’s actions.

If you’ve found that a man has vanished, withdrawn, or simply backed off, then ask yourself these three questions.

1. Is it possible you’ve misinterpreted his signals?

Did he mention that he wasn’t interested in a relationship … but you thought you could change his mind? Did he show by his actions that he didn’t like being tied down? Did you learn anything about his relationship history that might shed a light on what happened?

2. Is it possible you jumped to conclusions about him?

Men want the opportunity to prove themselves to a woman. It’s not a fair fight if she thinks everything he does and says is wonderful from the get-go. Hold back your opinion of a man until you get to know one another better. Keep him on probation until he demonstrates through his actions that he respects you, wants to be part of your life, and is worthy of your trust.

3. Is it possible that this was a stroke of luck?

Why would a disappearing man be a stroke of luck? It’s irritating at best. You spent all this time on cultivating a relationship with him, and he just vanished. All that work, all those hopes, gone up in smoke.

But maybe you haven’t seen the big picture. Maybe he got picked up by the police. Maybe he’d have been a miserable boyfriend. Maybe you need to be single right now so that you can be available for Mr. Right who’s about to walk into your life.

It would be nice if we could just be honest with one another and tell the truth about how we feel.

But, if that’s not possible, a person’s actions speak louder than words.

A man who disappears on you has just proved himself unworthy of your affection. Are his actions are going to hurt you or free you up for meeting someone else? You get to choose.

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