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It fizzled … again

‘Is such behavior normal in men nowadays?’

Love Letters

Love Letters

Q. I’m a 45-year-old attractive and accomplished divorced woman, a physician, and I have children. Other than my marriage, I’ve had one relationship that lasted more than a year. It felt healthy and blissful — until a friend sent me a photo of my boyfriend on a dating website. I ended the relationship promptly and had severe anxiety and depression for about a year. It had triggered trauma from my past (emotionally abusive marriage).

Two years after healing from that, I started looking at dating websites again. This handsome and accomplished man sent me a sweet message and we started chatting. We went on our first date and hit it off, staying until the restaurant completely closed! We met for coffee the next morning and enjoyed our time again. Then several weeks passed with fizzling texts. I even started talking to a different guy who kept canceling dates. He occupied my attention for several weeks. During that time, and because I was into the new guy, I had sent Gentleman #1 a message saying I’d be focusing my attention on a different person and would never ghost someone, so I’d be stopping my communication. He thanked me for my message and said I’d always be in his contact list. When I gave up on the canceling gentleman, I jokingly sent Gentleman #1 a message updating him on my life events and asked if he’d consider being my friend, as I had enjoyed his company tremendously. His response was prompt and said we should get together.

Date #3 was really sweet and I felt connected to him through our conversation. He completely surprised me with a passionate kiss after he walked me to my car, leaving me wanting more. More texts and date #4 happened a week later — just as sweet as date #3. Now it’s the fourth week after date #4. This past week has turned quite cold from his end for no clear reason. Very brief responses, if at all.


Finally I messaged him that I feel he needs a break from me, and that he can text me when he feels like chatting. I have told him that I am not seeking marriage or even a very serious relationship, and simply want companionship over coffee, wine, or dinner every now and then. I don’t have expectations for much, but dislike being made to feel like I’m a bother. I don’t know how to handle a man who is hot and cold without warning.


What does one do in such a situation? I wish he would just say where he stands rather than leaving me wondering and questioning my sanity. Should I stay away and move on even though I really like this guy? Is such behavior normal in men nowadays? Would it be wrong if I just pointedly asked him what’s going on or would it be taken wrongly as me being clingy/needy? Please help me understand dating in today’s world.


A. You said what you needed to say. You told him he seemed unresponsive and guessed he needed space. You could have asked a question instead — like “Why are we fizzling again?” — but I’m not sure he would have validated your feelings and explained. Sometimes dating goes like this after a few weeks. The fizzle happens and you fill in the blanks.


Instead of seeking more explanation, remember that this isn’t what you’re looking for. You liked him a lot, but he wasn’t able to sustain good communication after the first few dates, both times. You desire someone who’s a fun and consistent companion, without any of it feeling like work or a chase. That means this man isn’t right for you. I think we (well, some of us) spend a lot of time wondering what others are thinking when we could focus that effort on our own happiness.

As for dating again, please know that you can ask someone how they like to communicate. Some people are great at texting; others are busy at work all day and prefer a call on the way home. You’re good at being direct, right? If you’re ever wondering if less communication is a fizzle or lack of interest, find out what’s normal for the person. Maybe they only text friends and family once a day.

You ask if the ghosting behavior is normal nowadays. The answer is yes, and that’s why people came up with a cute name for it. It’s not a man thing, it’s an everyone thing, and I’m not sure it’s new. It’s just more obvious in 2023 because there are so many ways to communicate that not reaching out seems extra awful and intentional. I love that you set your own rules for it — that walking away without explanation is not something you do. Stick to that and maybe the people around you will follow your lead.




In order to have a better dating experience, I suggest you let go of feeling like you’re owed deep, honest, intimate conversations about your “relationship” from someone you’ve gone on a handful of dates with.


He’s doing a slow motion ghosting. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is part of dating and you’re going to have to develop a thicker skin. Don’t take it so seriously, especially if you’re not looking for marriage.


“Finally I messaged him that I feel he needs a break from me.” Telling someone how they feel is never a good idea. Your wording put the ball in his court so there’s your lesson — don’t bluff if you can’t follow through.


One moves on. Most relationships will fizzle, despite early encouraging signs. Also, I’d clarify what it is you’re actually looking for, as I don’t think you’re being honest with yourself.


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