This morning I responded to a query that was posted on HARO (Help A Reporter Out). The topic was about online dating and how sometimes one of the parties disappears – either during the texting phase or sometimes after a date or two. “Poof” they are gone. Poofing. It’s a thing.
The reporter wanted to know why this happens and if there isn’t some better way to end the relationship/stop the communication. Having lived through the past year, fully immersed in the new, exciting and only occasionally disappointing world of dating apps as a newly single, 40-something woman I have done my fair share of disappearing and yes, some have poofed me as well. I consider myself somewhat of an expert “poofer” if you will.
Here’s the way I see it: it’s easy to meet men online and a conversation starts. Most of the time the texting chat provides very clear direction to me. If they can’t spell, are disrespectful, want to move to sexting immediately or aren’t saying anything particularly interesting to me – I’m going to un-match and disappear. Life is too short to continue with something that isn’t working. It isn’t working at the text level, why meet? Why continue? Unmatch! And if we do make it to the point of meeting up and I get any kind of weird vibe or simply don’t like what I see or hear, I am out of there. I will disappear.
Is this so wrong? Is it rude? Has online dating made us act less polite because we are hiding behind our computer screens? Is there too much availability via apps so we treat people as disposable?
One of my favorite poofing stories was when we poofed each other. He was a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, nerdy but adorable. We texted for a while and he was lovely. And polite. And we decided to meet. And when we met it was fine. We had a couple drinks. Solved the world’s problems. And he gave me a warm, lingering hug as I got into my Uber to go home. I texted him the next day and told him that I had a great time. He texted me back and agreed. Then neither of us contacted each other again. Poof!
Sometimes I do feel pangs of guilt. I do sometimes feel badly when I select the un-match option or block their calls (ugh. so many blocked numbers in my phone. I don’t always have good judgement!). There is a real, live person on the other end of the text. A person with feelings. A person who feels. Am I a callus divorcee? Maybe. But here’s the thing. You either haven’t met this person or have met a time or two. No one should feel badly that they’ve been poofed or badly for poofing. If you’ve been seeing someone for a while and decide to break it off – that’s different. That deserves respect and honor to take the time and the right words to end it well. But for a relationship that hasn’t really started there is really no reason to take time to end it. If you think about it, it isn’t really a relationship at all. Let it evaporate.