He was gorgeous.
We met at a teachers’ conference. I couldn’t stop looking at him. Eventually, he came over to my table during lunch. We started talking. We got coffee. We exchanged numbers. We hugged goodbye.
Unfortunately, we lived a few hours apart.
We texted constantly for a week. I made plans to see him one weekend. It was on the way back from a job interview. We were going to do dinner and maybe a drink. I couldn’t wait.
The day of, I canceled.
I left him a voicemail. Then I texted. Then I emailed him. He never responded, probably because he thought I was leading him on, or that I was never interested in him to begin with.
This probably happens a lot. Someone you’re into cancels a date suddenly. I’ve lived on both sides. It’s easy to feel hurt, and then jump to conclusions. But there’s a lot of reasons why someone might cancel a date, or suddenly ghost. A lot of them have nothing to do with you.
She didn’t lose interest in you.
Years have gone by.
You wonder if she still thinks about you.
Actually, yes. Sometimes she does. She’s married now, with a kid or two. But every now and then, she thinks about the time you met. She remembers how excited she was. She remembers your face. She remembers that hug, or that kiss, or that time you held hands for a few minutes.
She sighs. She really does.
She even fantasizes about you sometimes, late at night. Why not? She wonders if she should feel guilty about that.
Nah. You were hot.
You didn’t creep her out.
Maybe you wonder if it was something you said or did. Somehow you offended her with that last text message. You didn’t call her when she posted that vague status update on Facebook.
It was none of that.
If you’d done something inappropriate, she probably would’ve told you. Only in the rarest circumstances does a woman—or anyone—completely cut off contact with someone they were seeing.
You’d have to be a stalker.
You would’ve had to do something violent, something so odd or threatening that she felt scared for her safety.
It’s possible, but not likely.
She didn’t meet someone else.
Maybe you wonder if someone else swept into her life, like maybe an old friend or someone she used to date.
You imagine her ex-boyfriend came crawling back and made her feel special again. He apologized for treating her like an old stuffed animal. He promised to do better this time.
But if it were that, and she were mature, she would’ve told you. She would’ve at least mentioned it during your last date.
She realized she wasn’t ready.
Here’s a real reason: She started to feel tired. Not just a little tired. Incredibly tired. Down in her soul.
She’d just gotten out of a relationship, a big one. She’d been dating for years, back and forth between lovers like a pinball. Since entering adulthood, she hadn’t spent more than a couple of weeks by herself. She’d always been dating, or getting over a breakup.
Then she realized.
She had no idea who she was.
She had no idea what she was planning to do with her life, other than find a job and get married and start a family. She was only 25. She was starting to see her future more clearly.
It was bigger than she ever imagined.
There were all kinds of choices now, not just the default one-size fits all trajectory for young adults. She could do anything. She could write books. She could get a PhD. She could get a law degree. She was still young enough to do med school if she really wanted. She could travel. She decided she needed time to explore those options. Just like that, she decided she shouldn’t be dating anyone right now.
She wanted to be on her own for a while.
She had no idea how to tell you all that. So she made something up, or she didn’t say anything at all.
She was scared to take a chance.
You asked her out. She meant it when she said yes. Then her insecurities and self-doubt kicked in. That little voice in her head raised the possibility that you were kidding, or just being nice, or that somehow she’d completely misinterpreted your invitation.
She tortured herself like that for hours.
Finally, she decided that even if you did mean to ask her out, she would mess everything up somehow. She would make you regret it. So she decided to play it safe.
It was the only way she could breathe again.
She wondered if you were ready.
Maybe the opposite happened. She wanted something serious. She tried to have real conversations with you.
It was hard.
You were smart, and fun, and attractive.
But you were also slippery. You kept everything at the surface level. You made her feel like an accessory to your curated life. It was an appealing life, the kind that a lot of people dream about.
The more of your life she saw, the less she imagined herself fitting into it. Honestly, she couldn’t keep up with you.
She could tell.
She was boring you. So she let you go. A few weeks later, she saw photos of you with someone else. She watched your relationship bloom into a marriage in just a few weeks. She didn’t feel jealous. She wasn’t shocked when you announced a divorce just a few months later, either.
Sometimes she still checks in on you. She’s not sure why. It could be, despite your incompatibility, that you’re interesting. If you were a book, she would read you and leave a nice review.
There’s worse things.
She thinks you’re just fine. You’re on your own path. So is she. You’re fast. You’ll always curate your life on some level. It’s worth showing off. She’s slow. She doesn’t want to curate her life. She likes keeping hers quiet and private. She found someone. So will you.
There were too many things in her life.
You wonder if you were boring to her. She simply lost interest. She found some shiny new object.
You were great. She liked everything about you. Unfortunately, her life was a mess. She had too many responsibilities. She had too many jobs. She had unprocessed drama from previous relationships, or her childhood. She thought she could handle love.
She thought having someone like you in her life would fix everything. Lucky for you, she had a moment of clarity.
She realized that all she would do is suck you into her storm. She could barely keep her emotions straight for one date. When she thought of revealing more of herself to you, it terrified her.
Trust her, she spared you years of emotional zoo keeping.
There’s a little good news, though. You made her want to get her shit together. That’s got to count for something.
She hopes you found someone.
She’s not sorry she canceled your date.
She’s sorry she couldn’t explain the why better. She’s sorry she stood you up, or ghosted you, or whatever else she did.
Sometimes she imagines what would happen if you two accidentally ran into each other one day, or saw each other from a distance, by pure chance. She’s not sure if she would want you to recognize her. She’s still a little embarrassed about the person she used to be.
She hopes you don’t still hate her. She hopes you haven’t been holding a grudge all these years, letting it keep you from finding someone you deserve. Because there’s one thing you can agree on.
She’s not worth it.
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