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Seeking Out New Connections Can Mean Risking Dealing with the Worst Side of a Stranger

·408 words·2 mins

It’s not just about the possibility of wasting time and energy, meeting someone and realizing you don’t click.

It’s not just about the COVID risk or the weirdness of meeting up with strangers during a pandemic.

Not just about risking rejection if they’re like “nah, I’m not feeling it.” Or ghost away without announcing that, which seems to be a standard move in our day and age, whether we like it or not.

It’s also about risking the possibility that it’ll be one-sided in the other direction. That you’ll feel something off and excuse yourself, but they’ll be super into you. I gotta say… this is probably my least favorite scenario of all. Like the time someone I’d been on three dates with fell madly in love with me — and I was honest about my lack of reciprocity and they flipped out on me.

I was lucky in hindsight. The only fallout was a harsh 10,000 words of texting after I told them the news and they got offensive and vile. A 10,000-word volley of texts after I informed that I didn’t want to talk to them anymore and wanted some space, please respect that.

Yes, 10,000 words. I copy + pasted it into a word processor and used the word count mechanism. A literal novella about what a bad person I was and how I’d led them on by going on dates with them only to change my mind three dates in and decide I wasn’t feeling enough chemistry to continue.

I ended up blocking the best I could. And moving on. It was stressful, but that was that.

But then years later, I heard word of this person going after another partner with a gun. The law was involved. Pretty terrifying.

In the rejection phase, I got a brief glimpse of the worst side of a near-stranger. But I could have been in for much worse. (And indeed they tried to convince me that I should stay in their negging/threatening style.)

These days I mostly just meet new people through friends and occasionally end up dating some of them when we click. But I think this is what I fear most if I ever do actively date again. The one-sided situation where the other person shows me their worst side, and I’m confronted with what to do in a highly charged emotional situation.

This is probably why other people ghost when they’re not feeling it.


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