‘I couldn’t handle being ghosted again, so I started dating like a man’

·5-min read

Slip under the covers with Ebony Leigh, an insatiable sex writer who's done the leg work. Delving in to all things erotic and taboo, she's Yahoo's answer to Carrie Bradshaw, if she was a Samantha.

If dating was a sport, I’d be an Olympian with a pool room full of participation ribbons.

Because somehow I keep putting myself out there. Time and time again.

I blame my sunny-side-up disposition, my major main character energy, and my eternal optimism that of course, The One is just one swipe away.

Sure, that sounds great, I hear you say. Go you. 10 points for trying.

But now well into my early 30s, you could say that some of that spirit has slipped.

First date at a restaurant.
If dating was a sport, I’d be an Olympian with a pool room full of participation ribbons. Photo: Getty

I’ve been around the block and I know what’s out there, or rather, who isn’t.

Because in this online generation not all is fair in love and war when the other side disappears without a trace.

And for an entire culture where it is seemingly easier to say nothing than tell the truth, ghosting has become the new norm.

The perfect date who still haunts me

His name was Jake and he looked nothing like his photos in the best way possible.

IRL he could have been Robert Pattinson’s body double. And without overstating it, it was the greatest date of my life.

We started with fairly lit drinks at an outdoor bar before the conversation rolled into an unplanned dinner. From there he took my hand and we walked until he kissed me by the river.

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Literally every single thing had gone perfectly, and I could tell that it wasn’t just me feeling it. So the next day we made plans for the weekend, and I was more excited than I’d been in a long time.

But then the day before the second date, POOF, he ghosted me. Never to be heard of again.

By that point though, the vanishing act had become all too common.

So, like many good daters before me, I chose to think that he was in fact dead.

Just as a little part of me had died as well.

Because as confused and angry as this cowardly trend can make you feel, the rejection absolutely stings. Especially when everything seemingly went so well.

Regrettably, it chips away at you and your self-worth, and you’re left perilous, powerless and alone.

Reclaiming the power

Fed up with being walked over and tossed aside by this gutless act, I decided to change the way I date.

No longer was I going to put my hopes out there and allow dates to upset me. But I wasn’t going to wrap myself in bubble wrap either.

Instead, I was going to do the opposite. I was going to take a leaf out of their handbook. Because two can play at that game.

In making that conscious decision, I automatically felt like I was regaining my power. And it wouldn’t matter what happened from then on in because for the first time I was putting myself first.

So here is how I did it.

1. Don’t save their number

In an attempt to explain this one, I turned to Urban Dictionary.

“To name the puppy; verb, meaning to claim something as yours and declare emotional attachment before it may actually be appropriate to do so.”

The first step in avoiding any potential feelings is eliminating any potential excitement when their name pops up on your screen.

So downplay their existence to a series of digits until they're worthy of your contact list.

2. Do not ever text first

You do not need them. It is as simple as that. You are fabulous just as you are and they should be lucky to have your number.

If they’re interested, they’ll message. If they don’t, it’s their loss.

But by removing the opportunity to contact them first, you won't have the internal argument over whether you should or shouldn’t text them.

The decision has already been made and there’s nothing more you can do except focus on creating the very best you.

Woman texting.
Don’t save their number and don’t ever text first. Photo: Getty

3. Date multiple people at once

'Never put all of your eggs in one basket' is my favourite piece of advice. So fling that seed to the wind and keep all doors and windows open at all times.

Allowing one person to be in charge of your happiness is utter bulls**t. So don’t give them that power.

Date like crazy, have fun, and at least it will help you work out what you do and don’t want.

Plus distraction by others is king if you’re waiting on a message.

4. Don’t suggest future plans

Not appearing too keen has probably been my biggest lesson yet. Because while it’s hard for the OCD organiser inside me not to plan, not planning on a second date pays off.

Perhaps it’s the false impression that they’re in charge, or letting them think that date two is their decision, but not seeming too bothered is a game-changing power move that’ll have them chasing you.

Perhaps there is some truth in the attractiveness of unavailability.

5. Do booty call them

Ah, my favourite move and one which I most wholeheartedly support.

Because after a decade of getting excited each time a man messaged me after a night out, nothing feels more gratifying than sending a “u awake” text at 2 am.

So if you’re happily in that casual sex stage, lap it up, dear readers. Be the boss, call the shots and have some fun.

Sexual power is an extremely powerful force and one in which women definitely have the upper hand.

Getting control back

Maybe it’s made me cold and perhaps it’s terribly unhealthy. But after years of being treated like I wasn’t worth a text, I have zero guilt about acting this way.

Because in a world where ghosting has become the standard ‘out’, these rules have helped protect that once fragile heart.

They’ve built me up, manufactured resilience and forged a backbone I desperately needed.

When the right person comes along, none of this will matter. But until then, dates are just digits to have a good time with.

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