Q. At the end of November, I met a guy. We had instant chemistry — and probably the best first date I’ve ever been on. We began seeing each other. Then the government shut down. He was a government contractor who still had to work. So for the longest shutdown in history, I was super patient and supportive. He even acknowledged this himself.
We saw each other when we could in December and January. February came and with it crickets. Texts and calls were few and far between. Then I ran into him on a Friday night. I was happy to see him out, since his work had been so demanding. He was not as warm as he had been, and left without saying goodbye to me. I followed him outside and asked what was going on. He explained he was super stressed and that he’d call me tomorrow and we’d go to dinner. Of course, that call never came.
That week, the government reopened, but I never heard from him again. Oddly, he began liking all my Facebook posts and it became clear he started seeing someone else. I deleted the social media connection and his phone number. I was so supportive only for him to drop me out of what felt like nowhere. Obviously, I got played.
What I’m struggling with is how burned and grossed out I feel about it. I’m looking at 40 and finding it harder to get over when someone is inconsiderate or treats me with disregard. I’m having trouble hanging in there. How does one cope?
— Shutdown and Out
A. I wouldn’t say you got played. That implies someone used and manipulated you.
But this man didn’t do that, right? It sounds like he got busy and lost interest, but didn’t have the courage to tell you in a grownup way. The big disappoint was the lack of communication.
It’s no surprise that he started liking your Facebook posts. Thanks to social media, people have new, passive ways to send their well wishes. It’s possible that every Facebook like means: “Hey, I’m clearly gone and with someone else, but I hope you’re thriving.” I’m not defending the behavior, but I do think that’s the message. (For the record, I’m glad you deleted him.)
You’d think that as people get older, they’d get better at breaking up and moving on. But that’s not always the case. Maybe that’s what you’re feeling — the realization that some things just don’t change. It’s disappointing, for sure, but the takeaway from your situation is that you met someone. Which means you can do it again. I know it’s easier said than done, but please focus on that — and what’s next.
I find people who avoid being straightforward with rejections are often either cowards, lazy, stringing someone along, or don’t want to be held accountable for someone else’s feelings. PENNIES2CENTS
I don’t think he “played” you, as if he intended to deceive you. I think he explored a possible relationship and decided to keep looking. LUCILLEVANPELT
This is the nature of dating. The fact that you’re pushing 40 probably means that you’re growing tired of the dating game. Sorry to tell you that your options are to deal with it — or stop dating. THATGUYINRI
Get Season 2 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast now at loveletters.show or wherever you listen. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.