Think back to when you were much younger. The days were filled with birthday parties, balloons, cake, gifts and magic. A clown or magician would show you tricks: now you see the bunny, now you don’t, the rose disappears and is replaced by a dove. Disappearance acts were magical then and you were in awe. But now, you’re much older and this magic trick is no longer as entertaining as it once was, especially when it comes to guys.
The term is ghosting – the act of disappearing from someone’s life. We’ve all experienced some form of ghosting, whether he stops talking to you, stops seeing you or decides to cut you off from his life completely. There’s even a book and accompanying movie all about it (He’s Just Not That Into You, anyone?). You’re then left at a standstill, wondering what went wrong and why it happened. You never really get a chance to ask why and even if you do, you still don’t get the answers you’re looking for. Wouldn’t it be nice to catch a glimpse of what guys are thinking when they decide to become a ghost? What are the factors that determine whether he will stay or go?
A research study conducted by Dr. Susan Sprecher and Dr. Sandra Metts of Illinois State University evaluated 730 undergraduates about sex differences when falling in love. According to this research, men were more likely to believe in “love at first sight” than women, and men listed the “desire to fall in love” as an important factor in entering a relationship. If this is the case, then why are there incidents of ghosting in the first place? A few students with different relationship backgrounds shed some light on the issue.
Wesley Cabarios, 19, who is now in a serious relationship of two years, was no stranger to this phenomenon. His decision to either stay with or leave a girl was based on their chemistry together. He admits, “Going into most relationships I was already able to tell how those girls might get on my nerves, but what either made me stay or leave the relationship was dependent on how we could get past it.” When asked how he went about ghosting, he merely stated, “If I didn’t find the relationship was serious, then I wouldn’t find it necessary to even bother telling the other person that it was over.”
Mutual attractiveness and long-term relationship potential are important elements in determining whether seeing someone is just a fling or whether it could lead to something serious. Both males and females go through ‘flings’ for different reasons. Either because they want to find someone compatible and embark on a serious relationship with them or they are just playing the field and want to have fun.
Though Richard Tuazon, a fourth year biology and neuroscience student, is single, he doesn’t believe in flings. Instead, he admits that once he finds a potential mate, someone he can connect with, he’ll show initiative to pursue something serious. Tuazon says he’s looking for someone “who’s got their own beliefs and values, someone I have a connection with.” He says he prefers someone who has goals, is honest and trustworthy, whom he can have good conversation with and is pretty adventurous.
But Richard adds, “The list really gets thrown out the window when you have a connection with someone so I think that’s the most important.” And when this connection is not apparent right away, he chooses to end it by disappearing, “because it’s awkward to have that talk. But if ghosting doesn’t work and she’s still calling and trying to hit me up, then I’ll have to talk to her and let her know where I’m at.”
The research conducted by Dr. Sprecher and Dr. Metts states that “this tendency for men to fall in love faster than women could then lead men to fall in love with more individuals over time than women, which could then lead to more unreciprocated loves.” Either men are able to detect at an earlier time whether they will fall in love with someone or not, or they are simply more impulsive. This impulse may be apparent in how quickly they fall in love, move on or jump ship completely.
In addition to impulse, different men may disappear for different reasons, including fear of commitment, inability to deal with emotions, insecurity or simply bad communication skills. Then, there’s always the explanation that some men are just jerks. While chivalry may not be dead, it’s quickly on the decline.
Sonya Noronha, 19, a first year business management student at Ryerson has experienced ghosting, yet keeps an open mind, “Yes, it happens [and] the other person is allowed by all means. Inconsiderate of them maybe, but [that’s no reason] to get your spirits down. Seek contact. Find truth. Come to terms with the fact that we may never understand another person and their actions entirely, but that does not necessarily have anything to do with us. Instead pack up and move on. Don’t be haunted by the ghost.”
Indeed, while many of us long for that fairytale ending, finding the right person is not always as easy as we’d like it to be. This holds true for both men and women, no matter how differently the two sexes may handle it. Not every relationship will turn out as you want it to and not every guy will prove to be a Prince Charming – some may very well be more of the Caspar variety. The key is to remember that his disappearing act has little to do with you and likely much more to do with his own issues.