There are a lot of things about online dating that are weird to me, but there’s one part that is extra super strange and that is this: You meet someone via (insert online dating site here). You exchange messages for a while and then text. You feel like you click. Then you go on a date. You spend a few hours over drinks or coffee talking. They ask about your job and you ask about theirs and you learn about their weird roommate. But for some reason or another the thing fizzles and that person disappears. It’s weird, right? I mean you had no real attachment to this person per say, but it’s someone you spent time talking with and you thought you’d get along with. Maybe you got excited when you saw that they had texted you. And now, where are they? It’s like they become the ghost of dates past.
I still think about my own “ghosts” from time to time, even though I don’t particularly miss them. I’m just kinda curious. We’re all in the same city and yet I’ve never run into them again. I think this is just what happens when you don’t meet someone organically through friends or by bumping your cart into theirs by accident at the grocery store. Your paths didn’t cross before, so why would they cross after? But because of this, it’s almost like they evaporate. This has happened a few times, as detailed below:
Joey* (names changed to protect the identity of the semi-guilty): Joey was built like Gumby and seemed nice enough. We had a pretty good time on our first date, except halfway through he said, “Well, I guess I should tell you what I REALLY do for work.” What was his real occupation? Male stripper? Next in line to be the shortstop for the Yankees? Nope, he handled the marketing for a popular brand you probably use a lot. He thought I would be floored and was clearly disappointed when I said, “Oh cool!” as evidenced by the fact that he repeated his job description to me, in case I had missed what he said. That made things weird, but it got even weirder when he texted me a few days later at 1 a.m. on a weeknight to say, “‘Sup bro.” I had no idea how to respond. That was the last I heard from Joey. I hope you’re well, Joey, and that you found a girl who was starstruck by your position and your use of male pronouns when speaking to females.
Steven*: Steve-o arrived for our date with his shirt nearly unbuttoned to his bellybutton. He quickly told me about his minor criminal past, including distracting a tollbooth operator and then driving through said tollbooth when he had no cash on him. Oh yeah, and then he ordered seven beers and asked the waitress to sit with us. That was the first and only time I faked an emergency in order to get out of a date. The emergency involved my parents’ dogs, who are 700 miles away, so you know the situation was dire. Neither one of us even bothered with the, “This was greatttt let’s do it again sometime” BS at the end of the night. Yet I still wish him the best, kinda.
Mike*: Sometimes I think of Mike, who actually lived (lives?) down the street from me. He had a studio apartment where his bed was in his kitchen. Believe me, I know the deal with studio apartments. They’re small. But there were other bed placement options besides his KITCHEN. I’m not kidding when I say that he could have been lying in bed and reached over and grabbed a soda from his fridge. It was weird. Another weird thing was the intense layer of mold growing in his toilet. Either he was conducting a science experiment or dude had never been down the cleaning products aisle in Target. We went out for a few drinks one night and he disappeared for half an hour. I thought he fell into the toilet or something and was going to go check on him when I found him talking to three other girls. That was the end of that. Good luck, Mike. Just don’t let them see your bathroom.
I guess part of dating, especially online dating, is that you’re meeting a lot of different people you might not normally meet in order to see what works. But it’s still kind of strange to form a connection with someone, have it fizzle out, and then have them vanish. At the same time, I fully believe you learn something from everyone you date, even if they’re sort of a criminal or have no personal hygiene. So to my own online dating “ghosts” I say thanks for the memories and good luck and good night.