Oh Hello Jo — Ghosted… Again!

Words:
Jo Rosenthal
Photography:
Freya Gnaedig

I used to blame myself for my history of being ghosted, but now I realize that someone else’s inability to handle their own emotions is not a reflection of me. Three weeks ago, I sat in Central Park staring at the trees blowing in the very humid wind when I turned to my friend Ethan and shared that ‘I finally felt confident enough to put myself out there again.’ It’s been quite a while so this felt like an achievement for me to even think or express out loud. After spending almost all of quarantine alone, through too many bad days, I finally built up this unbreakable confidence towards myself that no one could bring down. However someone did, and the effects of how good and then how bad they made me feel is inexplicable, confusing and upsetting. It flat out sucked.

I figured the best way to ‘put myself out there again’ was to download a dating app where I frequently found attractive people I clicked with. Blinded by a new perspective, I completely forgot that I had only been unlucky on Tinder. Before quarantine, I spent some time casually hooking up with Spencer, this guy who went to high school with my cousin who I lit a dim flame with until he told me he didn’t like how I ‘didn’t care about how serious Covid was getting.’ The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t serious about Covid- I just wasn’t serious about him. Of course when he stopped paying attention to me, I started checking my Instagram stories everyday to see if he was spying on me. His account, which was about how much he loved Broadway, was nowhere to be found.
The goal with my newly found confidence was to only have the app for one week, go on as many dates as possible to boost my self-esteem, and prove to myself that I wasn’t completely ‘undateable.’ I’d never been told that, I just consistently felt that way because of one date after unhappy relationship after another…
The result of my Tinder scheme was an unexpected heartbreak that made me question why I put myself out there in the first place.
Everyone says it’s so hard to meet people in New York, but the people who say that are always the ones dating more than two people at once. Where do they meet them? I’m unsure, maybe waiting in line to buy hand sanitizer. I’m even more unsure of what makes their relationships work other than the fact that it was just the right time and the right place to start something.
When thinking about successful relationships, I’m reminded of my friends Emma and Aja who have been together for five years with little conflict. The secret to their healthy relationship is probably patience mixed with a sense of humor. There’s also David and Andy, who have been together almost two years and when I asked them their secret, they said it’s a commitment you have to be ready to make.
If you ask me, I think that everyone is preparing for another quarantine. Those who were alone the first time, don’t want to be alone the next time and those who weren’t alone are looking for someone who is more tolerable than the last person who entered their heart.
The problem with dating apps is that there is no way to tell what someone’s intentions are unless they flat out put in their bio that they are only DTF. I’m only somewhat DTF, depending on the day because heterosexual sex is something that has never really satisfied me.
The only person I met on Tinder who I actually felt like I had a similar heart to was Sadie, but she’s been in Martha’s Vineyard for the entire summer so that has yet to become anything.
The four dates I went on consisted of a lot of food, fake laughing at bad jokes and a general sense of wishing I was alone instead of with a stranger in the apartment I just moved into. I think another flaw of dating websites is that most people you match with you don’t have any mutual friends with, and it’s quite awkward because people are really unpredictable. Because you don’t know their mannerisms, you don’t know when they’ll stop liking you and fall off the face of the earth.
My date with Nicklaus was fine, we watched TV and I let him sleepover because I think he lived far. I forgot to respond to Justin so our date is still TBD, I can’t remember the name of the third guy I made spaghetti and watched XFiles with and then there was Mason.
I didn’t think I’d like him because he seemed a little too much like an 80’s actor turned hype boy. He wore a backwards hat and a choker necklace with an evil eye on it, but again, I promised myself a week of dates so I agreed to get dinner with him. He let me choose the place because his favorite spot was closed. I chose Thai. At the restaurant, time seemed to go by fast, and I think that’s because I genuinely enjoyed our conversation and the fact that, for the first time in months, someone listened to me.
My “pre-covid” dating consisted of bad hookups. I was ‘in love’ with Alex and we dated for eight months and the whole time I questioned my sexuality. Right after him there was Lee, who was totally wrong for me. I ended both. I felt like neither treated me like the person I’m supposed to be and something was off. Both relationships left me incredibly unhappy. After Alex I hooked up with Tom for a while and spent all of my nights watching him guzzle Kratom and laugh at all my jokes. Before Lee, I briefly hooked up with River, which was probably the best sex I’d ever had, but as soon as I told him I liked him, he blocked me. There were some eligible bachelors in between, but I don’t think they were very memorable.
Dating in New York has neither been fun nor easy for me, but it has made for some beautiful storytelling. I think that’s why I was so disappointed by Mason’s abrupt ghosting because I thought we really got along well and like the story wasn’t going to end where it did.
The worst part about being ghosted is that you’re left to pick up the pieces alone and there are so many that it’s like you don’t even know where to begin. The only way to get over being ghosted is to quickly move on or else you’ll be stuck in this weird limbo- where you have to face yourself and the other person’s inability to be honest and upfront. In my opinion, ghosting is more painful than a bad breakup because it feels like there’s no resolution. It leaves a person distraught and unable to properly process what’s going on. It’s like a story with no ending. No one likes being ghosted, yet we frequently find ourselves here, and the only solution is to just not do it. It’s mind blowing to think that in 2020, people still can’t confront themselves and their emotions, even if it means doing the tiny gesture of making the person on the other end feel less like garbage.
I recently listened to this podcast that talked about this scientist in the 60’s named Arthur Aron who wrote a series of 36 questions to help you fall in love, because supposedly these questions really help you get to know someone. When I went through the questions alone, I spent some time thinking about my answers and one night I asked Connor, someone I had a three-night-stand with, the question about regrets. This is how I knew it’d never work with him; he told me one of his biggest regrets was not hooking up with this girl he knew before she got a boyfriend. When I asked Zach, someone I had a bit of a big crush on, his answers all seemed funny and I knew it wouldn’t work because I was looking to make a real connection.
What started as a fun game turned into something I asked all my prospective dates. I’d gone through too much small talk to not want something meaningful, while simultaneously wanting to maintain a “no strings attached” situation. I’m not sure if that exists.
As we sat on the floor in my living room drinking beer and staring into each other’s eyes, I listened to Mason tell me about his passions and dreams- which all matched mine- which made him almost too good to be true. We both wanted to be writers, but we didn’t know what we wanted to write about. We both liked fashion, but didn’t want to take it too seriously. We both…at that moment-I wanted to kiss him and hold his hand and buy books for him and fix his past heartbreaks because for once I had met someone I felt like ‘just got it.’
Our three dates were mysterious and sad and confusing, especially when he showed up at my house blackout drunk while swiping on Tinder and going back and forth on whether he liked me or was still torn up about his previous relationship.
The thing about being heartbroken is that it takes a lot of time to get over, and sometimes the people we want in our lives the most are incapable of loving themselves, which makes it extraordinarily hard to like/love someone else in turn. Mason had gone through a heartbreak in February, which further indicated that he’d probably only be ready to date again if the person was not as complicated as me, not as passionate as me and most of all, not me. Sometimes what we want the most is incredibly out of reach, and the only way to fill our void is to be with someone who makes things ‘easy.’ I’ve never been one to do that, but I’ve always been someone who is down for a good time.
 I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t know why I crushed for him, or why I fall in love so easily in general. I think it’s because falling in love is an act of defiance. In a time of such uncertainty and sadness, the least we can do is put ourselves out there in the most genuine way and hope to be understood by someone else. Someone who warms us because they want to, and not because it feels like the right thing to do.