“I can only marry someone Jewish. Would you be open to converting?” asked the cute almost-stranger over a bottle of wine in the West Village.
It was our fourth date in the course of a week, a supersonic speed that he attributed to our electrifying connection and once-in-a-lifetime compatibility. A couple of hours prior, we had taken a romantic stroll through Central Park, where he had casually whispered things like “When it’s right, it’s right” and “I haven’t felt like this with anybody in so long.” A couple of hours later. we were in his bedroom. A couple of days later, he was history, filed away in the Land of Ghosts Past.
“But he said all these things! Why would he ask me about CONVERTING?!” I lamented to my friends in the aftermath. While I wasn’t particularly upset about the guy in question (4 dates does not love make), I was desperate to understand his rationale. After all, I was a grown adult who didn’t require a precoital engagement ring; why had he deemed it necessary to lay it on so thick? I didn’t know what was more humiliating – that, or the fact that I had fallen for it.
Save for empathetic sighs of frustration, my friends had little to offer me. The truth is, most of them had been in similar situations, each boasting at least one ghosting chef-d’oeuvre peppered with elaborate quotes from their Don Juan’s seduction handbook. “He told me he could look at my body forever”, “He told me he was so lucky to have met me.” Bla. Bla. Bla.
A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times published a Modern Love piece called “For Best Hookup Results, Use Your Words, O.K.?” which expertly summed up said phenomenon. Just take a look at the last paragraph.
“I have never understood why some guys seem to think flattery is the key to a bedroom they’ve already been welcomed into. They say they would love to date me and then wonder why, the next day, I think they want to date me. I neither require the flattery nor deserve the ghosting. With hookups there’s no need to be mean — just say what you mean. Use your words.”
There it was, all of our collective frustration, relayed in just a few sentences. And yet, the million-dollar question remained: why is it that so many men find it imperative to over-bullshit en route to the bedroom? I decided to dig deeper and sent out a mass text to my Male Advisory Board.
Theory 1: “You gotta give the market what it wants.”
The most primitive, and, probably, the most accurate answer. Men are driven by goals, women by emotions. Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus.
Also, I had been a victim of a dating VR experiment. Lovely.
Theory 2: “I mean what I say in the heat in the moment”
This one is supposed to be reassuring (men are human too!), but is actually quite depressing, like when we elected Donald Trump as our president. It’s one thing to fall victim to careful manipulation – but to fall victim to impulsive stupidity? That’s way worse. No offense, Male Advisor #2.
Theory 3: “Classic overcompensation.”
Great for self-consolation. However, probably less accurate than the other two.
Speaking of self-consolation, here’s a CBT trick that will make you feel better. At the end of the day, no matter the scenario, you most likely dodged a bullet. Because, do you really want a master manipulator, or an indecisive kid, or somebody plagued by insecurity? Thought so.
Going forward, it never hurts to be slightly more aware. Feel that a guy is going too heavy on the flattery? That he is over-planning, over-committing, over-promising? Respect your instinct. Acknowledge that there is a chance that you are stepping into a virtual reality of his making – or, in simple terms, getting played. I’m not encouraging you to be cynical; I’m just telling you to be the girl who doesn’t “lack imagination.”
Now that you are aware of the risk, can you handle the repercussions? Would you be cool with the worst-case scenario, i.e. him ghosting into the post-fornication abyss? If so, great. Do whatever your heart desires. You don’t even have to finish reading this article.
However, if you are a fragile flower like myself and know that (yet another) disappearance act will affect you, wait. Cushion your ego. Take a bit longer to find out his true character. If he’s full of sh*t, he will fall off the race naturally. If his grand ardor is legit, he will be there days – weeks – no, months – later. Because, if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s this: the right guy will always wait.