Gay Men, You’re Making Me Really Want to Ghost
I don’t ghost people I’m dating. I’ve had it done to me, and shit, it sucks. Being ghosted leaves you without any closure, wondering what you did wrong. It also makes you question the entirety of your relationship because if this person you really liked doesn’t respect you enough to kindly break things off — was what you had even real? Were you just building things up in your head?
So I try not to ghost. But queer men, you are making it really hard. I know this may sound a little like victim-blaming, and that’s not my intent, but boys, I need to vent. I feel like you claim you just want the truth. You claim you want the common courtesy of a guy kindly saying, “Hey, this isn’t for me,” and you’ll be okay with it. Maybe I have a skewed sample for whatever the reason, but y’all are responding terribly. I get it. You’re hurt. But also, if we only went out on a few dates, you need to respond better — otherwise, it perpetuates our culture of ghosting.
After recently having three dates with one man over a two week period, I let him know that it seemed very clear that he was looking for a monogamous boyfriend to do everything with, and that’s just not me. I’m a polyamorous guy, and even when dating a partner I love, I still need a lot of space and freedom to do my own thing (both sexually and not sexually). He said he understood and thanked me for letting him know. He then asked if we could be friends. I said, yes, but let’s take a little time without talking first. He replied saying he understood. I thought to myself: How nice is this? Two adults have a healthy conversation. It made me really proud not to ghost. Two days later my doorbell rings; I open it to see him. No, he didn’t text me first. Reluctantly, I invited him in.
He was frustrated that I didn’t want to be friends right away and attempted to convince me that we should be. When I told him he shouldn’t show up unannounced — he should have texted — he replied by saying that I wouldn’t have agreed to see him if he texted first. I told him that’s true, but what I didn’t mention –because I was a little flustered — was that that’s my damn prerogative.
You guys, I get it. As queer men, we’ve experienced a lot of rejection in our lives, from family members to supposed friends. A lot of us didn’t get the unconditional love a parent should give their child. This has a huge impact on our psyche and wellbeing. (FYI: The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World is a must-read book that details how growing up queer can lead to intense insecurities and unhealthy coping mechanisms when it comes to handling rejection. I highly recommend it!)
But we need to rise above it. Still, I’m not going to say that getting rejected has nothing to do with you. Most of the time, it does… obviously. Yes, he was busy with work, but if he really liked you, odds are he’d make the time. Most of the time, there is something about you he doesn’t like — maybe he’s not super attracted to you, or he didn’t like the sex, or the way you always bring the conversation back to yourself. It could also be something stupid and superficial — maybe he doesn’t like the fact you’re balding. But that is 100% okay. He is just one man. And the things about you that he doesn’t like, trust me, there are others who will. It’s okay if people don’t like you. We don’t need to be liked by every single man we meet.
I’m not saying rejection is easy, but it’s a part of life. Trust me, I’ve been rejected countless times. But do him and more importantly yourself a favor by handling rejection like a secure adult. So the next time you get a breakup text or call, simply reply, “I really appreciate you letting me know. Take care!” The irony is, you’ll feel better doing this than if you said (and did) more.
Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based writer, speaker, and activist whose work focuses on lifestyle, sexuality, culture, and entertainment. He was formerly the digital associate editor at OUT Magazine.His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Washington Post, Playboy, and more.