We all know the story of how relationships begin. You see a guy in a bar. Or in the library. Or at the grocery store (as you slyly try to hide the box of tampons you’ve just pulled off the shelf).
Your eyes meet. Your heart races. He smiles. You smile.
You go out and have a nice time. You go on a second date. He says he’ll call, and he actually does — and he doesn’t even wait three days to do it!
After you see each other a few more times, you start to think this could be the beginning of something great. Something real.
And then … end scene. He stops calling. He ignores your texts. He disappears from the face of the Earth. You begin to wonder if you’ll find his sweet face on a milk carton.
Or, he does return your texts, but he tops initiating them on his own, and grows more and more distant without explanation.
Either way, you’re left scratching your head and wondering what the hell happened.
The good news is you’re not alone. The disappearing man is a common problem, leaving a trail of women behind with wounded self-esteem and heavily beaten-down romantic confidence. The disappearing man makes the end of a relationship far more difficult than it might have been by refusing to tell you the motivation for his departure.
Usually, his silence is the result of one of these three things:
- He is unable to articulate why he’s just not feeling it.
- He want to spare your feelings.
- Harsh as it sounds, he doesn’t care enough about the relationship to take the time to explain himself.
Because he won’t say why he vanished, you’re left in the difficult position of trying to guess. Often, this results in you repeating the same self-defeating patterns, because how can you learn from something no one ever explains?
One of the reasons for the disappearing man, if perhaps not the main reason, is something that women do called “Filling the Space.” This is how it works: When two people meet, there is a space between the two of them and they each take turns stepping into this space. They may step into it with their words, their presence or their actions. If the woman is the predominant space-filler, the dynamic isn’t balanced. The guy gets turned off and he doesn’t even know exactly why. But there is a reason behind the madness.
If you’re a space-filler in the relationship, you are likely a leader or initiator in the dating dynamic. There’s nothing wrong with these qualities. The world needs strong women. However, when it comes to dating — particularly the early stages of dating — this unbalance can de-claw the man, at least in is mind.
A man who doesn’t feel that there’s any room for him to be masculine or directive will dislike this dynamic. He reluctantly takes a backseat and, ultimately, pulls away from the relationship.
It’s not that he has to be in control — you are not expected to greet him at the door with a martini like in a bad 1950’s vacuum advertisement — but there needs to be a balance. When you are the one in charge, he feels inferior. (All people by nature shy away from things that make them feel less than, whether they’re men or women.)
To figure out if this is what’s been happening in your relationships, try asking yourself the five questions:
#1. Do you text more frequently than he does?
Do you initiate things more often? If your texts are double the amount of his, your balance may be shaky.
#2. Are his texts short and curt — like the ever eloquent “K” — while yours are well thought-out soliloquies that rival Shakespeare?
#3. Do you use your sexuality as a way to keep guys interested?
If you answered “yes” — stop. Overt sexuality in the beginning of a relationship, especially before you’ve had a chance to get to know his character, is a turn off, despite what we’ve learned from every movie ever. When you throw yourself at a guy you basically don’t know anything about, you risk losing his trust and communicating to him that you’re not worthy of the chase.
#4. Are you the super talkative type?
Does silence make your uncomfortable? Do you often have something to say or comment upon? It’s fantastic to bring animation and conversation to a relationship (otherwise it’s just sex and staring blankly at the wall), but if you find yourself interjecting into silences just because you’re uncomfortable, your words become a barrier to intimacy rather than a facilitator of it.
#5. Do you ask so many questions that you begin to feel like a police interrogator?
Are your questions in regards to the nature of your relationship, such as where it’s going and what he’s thinking? Questions of this nature at the onset of a relationship come across as desperate and controlling. This isn’t to say that you can’t discuss what you’re each looking for, but make sure the discussion is reciprocal, rather than making him feel as though you’re shining a light in his face as he sits in a cold, dank room complete with two-way mirror.
Messing with the natural dynamic of a relationship paints you as insecure. Even if this perception is unfair and undeserved, it still comes across that way. It tells the man that you’re not actually into HIM, but rather, you’re into the idea of the title, the safety, the status or the union.
Communication in a relationship is important (duh! says everyone everywhere), but the above kind has a time and place and it is best reserved for later, once you’ve gotten to know each other, to like each other, and to respect each other.
After that, there’s nothing more attractive to a man than a woman who truly sees him, sees his uniqueness, and has the courage to initiate in some cases and speak with him openly and honestly. The moral of the story is simple: Cultivating relationships take patience and (sometimes) your ability to let him lead.
It’s a virtue and a necessity.