Dear former date,
I don’t want to use your real name, and I’m not going to say anything incriminating about you here. But I did want to write and say I’m sorry.
We were in each other’s orbits for months – maybe even a couple of years – with one or the other of us always in a relationship, no one ever single at just the right time. We were always skirting the issue of whether we would actually ever go on a date.
I suppose that was one of the things that did us in, really – the idea of this mysterious other person, who may or may not be the ‘right’ kind of person, the fulfilment of our hopes and dreams – you get the picture. I think you might have felt the same way, too. There was always this certain level of intrigue between us.
It didn’t seem to matter where I went – there you were, too. (I guess it must have looked similarly strange to you, this constant bumping into one another in the unlikeliest of places – I remember you joking about it, a couple of times.)
So when the opportunity finally came – the text out of the blue from you, asking if I was up for a date – I was beyond excited. And scared. What had seemed like a funny story, and a rather romantic little dream, now started to materialise in flesh-and-blood plans for a date.
There was so much expectation on this, I realised. So many things I barely knew about you, and yet quite a bit of shared history. A sense of fate accompanied our meetings, it had become too strange to shake off – and so there was this charged sense of maybe it all ‘meant something’.
The date was a bit nerve-wracking to be honest. I’d bought a new top for the occasion and it was a warm night, but I found myself kind of goose-pimply and cold, as we sat nursing our glasses of wine. I made a few stupid jokes at my own expense, which you took seriously. You made a few jokes that I frankly didn’t get. It just all got a bit awkward, didn’t it?
We only lightened up and had a nice chat when you were dropping me home – and it was a nice chat. It reminded me of why I had been interested in you in the first place. You’re funny, engaging, smart – really good company.
So, why didn’t I call you? I can only guess for the same reasons you didn’t call me. It was a mutual ghost – one minute, we were texting and bantering away, the next, dead silence – and an awkward yet inevitable encounter a few months later, where we once again randomly saw each other at an event, but didn’t know how to acknowledge it.
I don’t agree with ghosting, on principle. Even now, I’m vaguely humiliated that I did this to you, because I pride myself on not being that person, after being exactly that person as a teenager. It doesn’t matter that you did the same thing to me; I could have risen above it, and I feel like the face I didn’t was beneath me.
But I know the reasons why – I had invested a bit in that daydream of you, early on. It wasn’t fair or right to do, although very human. I’d allowed myself to wonder if perhaps it was more than chance that kept putting us in each others’ way – allowed myself to think more of the fascination that existed between us than it warranted.
And so, when we met it was inevitably not quite as magical, not quite as easy as I anticipated, and I froze. I considered calling you, even just to laugh about the situation and say: “Let’s just be friends,” but the truth is, the disappointment had taken hold and I wasn’t brave enough to push back against that, or to behave with more integrity.
I don’t think there was anything that we individually said or did on that date that sunk us. I think we had potential, even just as friends, but our hesitation cost us that. And even with no potential at all, it isn’t right to just end things with silence. There’s no honour in that. My hesitation and disappointment cost us that, and I’m sorry.
Of course, what I’m hoping is that one day I’ll see you and have the courage to mention this, face-to-face – even just to laugh about it with you and put it behind us, once and for all.
So, if I see you again soon – and unless you’ve moved countries that seems like a fairly likely proposition – I’m going to make an effort to say hi. I’m not going to act like you’re not there. Once and for all, I’m putting my ghosting ways behind me.