A Man Is Not Real Until He Is Your Boyfriend

You want to know why your heart gets broken each time a new guy disappears?

It’s not because you’re a fool for believing that good men exist.

It’s not because he’s an evil human being hell-bent on destroying your self-esteem.

It’s not because you will not be able to survive without him. You’ve gone your entire life without him! I’m sure you’ll be fine once he’s gone.

The reason your heart gets broken each time a new guy disappears is because you are SURPRISED when he disappears.

Look at your life. Men disappearing is probably a semi-normal occurrence. Then why act so shocked and devastated when outcome is so predictable?

I’m not blaming you for having feelings. What I want to do is show you how to manage them – to protect yourself from continual heartbreak.

The reason your heart gets broken each time a new guy disappears is because you are SURPRISED when he disappears.

Men may still frustrate you, but I can make things easier, especially if you use online dating as a means to meet men. By mastering this medium and understanding male behavior, you can finally be in control of your own love life, and not a victim of disappearing men.

Yes, it really is that simple.

If you’ve ever been really hot for a new online dating prospect, you’re not alone.

You see a picture, you read a profile, and you start to get excited.

You write an email and he writes back.

Suddenly, you’re flirting like crazy, eagerly anticipating his every response.

There’s wit, there’s sexual innuendo, there’s instant talk about making plans.

Better yet, he seems sincere. He’s a good guy. He’s trying hard. Your phone calls are effortless and frequent. You remember that this is how dating is supposed to feel.

You plan your first date for Saturday night, and you have butterflies beforehand. You know that dates are rarely as promising as the buildup. But, sure enough, when he shows up, he’s as cute as his picture.

You have an amazing evening, filled with easy conversation and laughter. He’s chivalrous, interesting, attentive, and warm. You close the restaurant, end with a goodnight kiss, and a promise to do this again soon.

He texts you the next day to say he had fun, and instantly makes plans for the following Friday evening. You say yes.

He checks in during the week – a call here, an email there – not too needy, not too distant. He’s doing everything just right. It’s almost as if he’s reading your mind!

Friday night rolls around. You play mini-golf and grab two rounds of drinks at a nearby bar, after which you go back to your place and make out on the couch for an hour. In fact, you do a little more than that, but hold a little bit back. All in all, a great night.

He says good night and tells you he’ll call the next day.

But he doesn’t.

You go online and see that he’s checked his email.

You wait for his call, his email, his text. Nothing.

Another day goes by.

And another.

You check him out on the dating site again. He’s online RIGHT NOW and he still hasn’t called.

What the hell is wrong with this guy? He seemed so great, so perfect, so kind, so consistent.

How is he turning out to be like all the others?

If this story feels familiar to you, it’s because it’s familiar to EVERYONE.

And the reason it hurts so badly is simple: our expectations aren’t aligned with reality.

Sandy was a 45-year-old client living in rural Wisconsin. She had seen a really cute guy on Match.com and signed up for my Passion Course to figure out how to get his attention.

I wrote her profile, got her professional photos, and started our weekly coaching sessions. By the second week, the cute guy had already written to her. (This stuff is POWERFUL!)

Soon, they were bantering back and forth multiple times a day, and he started to plot their first date.

But there was a problem.

When the cute guy Googled Sandy’s hometown, he was surprised to learn that she lived 3 hours away. He knew he didn’t want to get into a long-distance relationship, and so, instead of trekking to go on a first date, he emailed Sandy to apologize and wish her well in her search for love.

Sandy was destroyed.

Even though she’d only exchanged a few emails, she’d gotten excited about this cute, successful, articulate, enthusiastic man.

If 9 times out of 10 (in real life), the special guy doesn’t turn out to be all that special, it may be smarter to reserve judgment for later.

She started to picture life with a partner.

She started to dream about this man saving her from a life of loneliness.

As a result of this wishful thinking, Sandy was as hurt by this man’s simple email as she would have been if they’d been dating and broken up.

I shared in Sandy’s pain, then informed her that she could respond in 1 of 2 ways:

1)    She could be devastated that Mr. Right turned out to be Mr. Wrong. She could have that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach and lose sleep over how she’s going to replace him. Or…

2)    She could realize that she’d never even MET this man. They’d never talked on the phone. They’d never met. They’d never slept together. They really didn’t have any relationship whatsoever. As a result, Sandy wasn’t “losing” anything; she never had anything to lose.

Which do you think is a healthier approach?

It’s not that Sandy was wrong to look at all the available signs and conclude that she had special connection with a special guy. Anyone in her right mind would draw the same conclusion.

It’s that, if 9 times out of 10 (in real life), the special guy doesn’t turn out to be all that special, it may be smarter to reserve judgment for later.

This is what I mean about adjusting your expectations to conform to reality.

I’ve had women tell me to chastise men to start following through more, to stop being so nice if they’re not ready for a relationship, to promise to call after having sex.

I hear you, and I agree that men could stand to do hundreds of things better to improve your relationships. However, as you know, I can no more stop men from being men than I can stop the earth from turning.

As such, your lesson, as a woman, is not to wish men acted another way, but to understand how they DO act and prepare yourself emotionally.

Because a man can be really interested in you, sleep with you, act like a future boyfriend for a few weeks, and be doing the EXACT SAME THING with another woman simultaneously.

Or he could seem like a great guy, make a great effort for you, and then realize, when it’s time to commit, that he’s just not ready for a commitment.

The point is that, by getting too excited about a promising dating prospect, you’re emotionally setting yourself up for heartbreak. And you don’t have to.

When you choose to be devastated by a man who is NOT your boyfriend, what you’re really doing is holding onto the loss of your fantasy. You’re not really mourning the loss of a guy you never had.

It’s the difference in feeling between losing a million dollars (devastating) vs. the feeling of NOT winning the lottery at all when you had 4 numbers (mildly irritating).

When you choose to be devastated by a man who is NOT your boyfriend, what you’re really doing is holding onto the loss of your fantasy.

You know when you CAN get excited? When the contract is signed, the ink is dry, and you know, without a doubt, that your dating prospect has become your BOYFRIEND.

Until then, each promising man is not actually “real.” He is merely hope, potential and fantasy.

Remembering this will save you a TREMENDOUS amount of trouble when you’re dating online. No longer will each flaky and disappointing man derail you. You’ll be able to bounce back and persevere instead of quitting. This is what’s going to pay off with a serious relationship in the long run.

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  1. 91

    I disagree with this article. Woman are hopeful when they are dating. You cant go into it thinking it will fail, because you never know. And why is it always up to the man to do the choosing?? So you have to wait till the guy decides to be your boyfriend pick me dont agree.

  2. 92

    First time commenting anywhere on anything like this, so if it comes across different, have mercy 🙂 🙂
    I believe bad behavior should be addressed. Also, when someone stops contact, (man or a woman), it is good to wait a little and then simply ask why. Many times technology is to blame, other times outside circumstances. Stopping contact does not mean being dumped. It might mean that something actually did happen and it is good to communicate about it.

    Guys know that I will ask for explanation if they were to disappear, so they either do not start dating me, or when they do, there is an explanation either on my or their side without anyone having to ask for it. I behave like I have a backbone from the first moment they see me, and at times it does make my life difficult, but I treat others with respect, so I ask for it too.

    There is another thing I happen to notice. Forgive me for the generalization, but in any society where goods and services are easily tossed away and replaced, so are more likely people as well, as nothing is truly considered of lasting value. Be the value, behave like you are valuable and communicate it. Personally I would hate myself for not asking what happened. I would be writing off people in all areas of my life for minute reasons. On the other hand, if I truly find someone has rotten character, they lost me forever in every aspect. (That happens rarely).

    Might I also suggest, that in my humble opinion women AND men are hopeful for love and something wonderful. At the same time we all have different degree for how deeply committed and attached we want to be, and that is completely individual and can not be said that men are this way or women are that way. I know very emotional men and very caring men and some cold women and vice versa. So, I am starting to think about challenging this whole notion of battle of sexes. Sorry to go against what everyone is currently teaching, feel free to have your own opinions on this one as well, you are most welcome. Enjoy loving yourself and others, be open, hopeful, and handle defeat with sparkly eyes, relaxed smile and holding your head up, after you grieved a little. You are all doing well, as you think about how to be and how to love others. You are way ahead of everyone else who thinks just about themselves! 🙂

  3. 93

    What a great discussion.  Guys have pulled the fade away/disappear act with me.  I’m not so much as disappointed or irritated over the assumption that they weren’t into me, rather I was disappointed in the way they chose to handle it.  Or lack of handling it.   Being upfront and honest are so important yet so rare.   I for one would rather someone come out and say “Hey, I’m not feeling it” as opposed to disappearing.  While pulling the disappearing act may be easier albeit cowardly, I see it as a slap in the face that the person did not have the least bit of respect for you as a person.  Oh well.  

    1. 93.1
      Gail B

      Hi Jenni – I couldn’t agree more, having had two guys I really liked (and thought were good guys!) pull a MIA act on me in the last six months.  I hate the dishonest and cowardly way out of just disappearing…it does hurt, this I know all too well, and tends to give our self-esteem a bit of a knock.  But – hopefully…we live and learn and get over it..the problem was not ours, anyway!

  4. 94

    May I just say how much I love, love, love this article! It’s amazing what simple words can do to help you. I especially like this : “When you choose to be devastated by a man who is NOT your boyfriend, what you’re really doing is holding onto the loss of your fantasy. You’re not really mourning the loss of a guy you never had.” Thanks so much for this! I’ve only been reading this blog for a day and I’ve already saved myself and my girlfriends week’s worth of endless phone call, figuring out, what if’s, maybes and rehashing scenarios over and over again.

  5. 95

    great article Evan! thanks so much and thanks all for your comments!

  6. 96

    What does it mean when you’ve been dating someone for 2-3 months. You talk on the phone and go on a date once or twice a week. However you haven’t had sex, you have one final phone call and then he disappears. After 15 dates, are you saying you don’t deserve even a “not gonna work” text. I understand about expectations, but this really leaves you wondering what went wrong? was he ever interested? Why the yoyo disappearing act? Why can’t he just send a text? I don’t think when you’ve spent time together and been intimate, you should have to just figure it out.

  7. 97

    I have never online dated but I know this struggle. I have had men promise me the world, tell me I am unlike any other woman they have ever dated. I have even been in friendships with men who said they loved hanging out with me. But they all inevitably disappear. I know I can’t be that intimidating and I know that most of the time the disappearing act was not a result of them being too “in love” with me and afraid of those feelings. But I have a couple of problems with this article:

    First, you do not explain at all WHY men lead us on only to disappear without the courtesy of a text or call.

    Second, just because a guy is your boyfriend that doesn’t mean shit. My last boyfriend promised me the world and followed through for a couple of months. Then one day, all of a sudden, he says “I’m not ready for a relationship” and he told me he loved me the morning he sent me packing. He still calls me every now and then to see how I’m doing.

    So please, can you explain why men act so inconsiderately and not just tell us how they do it? We know HOW they are inconsiderate. What I want to know is WHY?

    Boyfriend doesn’t mean shit and in this day in age neither does a ring on your finger. 
    And how exactly do we “manage” our expectations when men are so unpredictable? I don’t find myself devastated when men pull the disappearing act, just annoyed for having wasted both my time and my feelings on a man who did not have enough common courtesy to be honest. And that is annoying. 

    Is my time less valuable because I am a woman? 

    Although, I will give you this: the man you mentioned in the story who sent the email to Sandy did the right thing. Sandy should not have been so devastated because the man was both courteous and up front about his intentions from the beginning. But that HARDLY EVER HAPPENS. She should consider herself lucky.

  8. 98

    This is so spot on.  I agree 100% and wish I had gotten this info 20 years ago.  I would’ve saved myself a lot of heartache.

  9. 99

    It is silly that men can be allowed to be dismissive and woman should act like it’s okay, Evan. It’s not. If we’re interviewing for a job and we don’t want it, we likely tell the employer we’re no longer interested. It’s the thing to do. Yet with someone we’ve kissed, dated, etc…they don’t deserve to hear from us? Bull. 

  10. 100

    When a man poofs on me I just tell myself:

    Interested people act interested.

    Let yourself believe the worst case scenario.

    These type of men are not worthy of your time and distress, if they were, they wouldn’t be so disrespectful. You have to love yourself more than you love a man who tells you pretty lies to get what he wants. (sex) Ask yourself would you want your daughter (or some other person you love) to be treated like this? What would you tell your daughter or best friend to do in the same circumstances? You would tell them the guy did them a favor, better to know before you get too involved what kind of person you are dealing with. Go do something nice for your self, exercise, and in time he will just be a faint memory. Funny how time makes us see things more clearly.

  11. 101

    You are SOOO Right! 100 %. It took me a ton of bad love experiences to realize what you’ve said in this article. And now, I’ve adjusted my expectations and realized all that you’ve mentioned in your article. I still get disappointed when the guy Poof! disappears but I’m no longer devastated or wondering for weeks (even months) what I did wrong. I did nothing wrong. He just couldn’t hang and it’s better to find out if it works sooner rather than later.

    Thank you for writing this! I hope women will read your words and apply your advice. It will save them a ton of heartache! : )

  12. 102

    What bothers me about the general attitude here is  that there is no moral judgment. Disapperaing without explanation is morally wrong.

    It has nothing to do with expectations of the reciever of such behaviour or whether one is hurt by such behaviour or not. That is irrelavant.

    This kind of behaviour objectifies people and that is what is wrong about it.



  13. 103

    I tried this, and it gave me well functioning relationships and dates, that were very Flat because I wasn’t putting my heart into it. Why wasn’t I putting my heart into it? Because I didn’t want it to get hurt with wishful thinking and fantasy. I was open, and closed. But I wasn’t being me – a flawed, yet beautiful woman.

    I “get” what Evan and Karl are saying, and it DOES work but will you be happy with the results? I wasn’t.

    I’m not interested in a passionless relationship, that (in my opinion) just flows without a hiccup. So the key for me is to get out and connect with men, as if I were just one of the guys. Make friends, and grow into a romantic relationship over time. To me, that is safe as well as opening up to the chance for something more. I think it’s less likely that a friend (who you value, respect, trust, etc.) is going to pull a fast one on you. They are less likely to get intimate with you, if they couldn’t see themselves with you for a long time to come. I successfully did online dating years ago, but these days higher quality men do not seem to exist or they’re worn out from lower quality women. I don’t know. But who I want to find, is not online. So I need to haul my butt off of the computer, and back to old fashioned “dating”.

    Good luck, and God speed to all. xx

  14. 104

    As a guy who’s doing online dating, here’s my perspective:

    Girls are extremely picky about who they go out with.  As a result, there’s no reason for me to even bother reading a profile closely or getting hung up on anyone, I’ve just got to throw myself out there as much as I can so I can quickly filter down to the 2-5% of profiles who are going to be responsive to me.

    Even if I’m not sure I like a girl, hell, a date is fun, so I’ll go.  Then, as a guy on a date, I’m supposed to take the lead and act all confident, pick the location, be the aggressor, keep the conversation going, etc.  But it’s usually an act.  While I’m acting, I’m really trying to figure out if I like this person but not revealing my thoughts at all because a girl expects you to be focused on showing her a good time, not testing her.  Even if I’m getting pretty sure that she’s not the right one, I might use a 2nd or 3rd date to try out a new venue or idea that I haven’t done before to see how it goes, so that I’ll have great seemingly spontaneous ideas when I meet a girl I do like.

    I get the sense that the girls do their choosing much more upfront – they read profiles, look for attributes they like, etc.  Guys are just busy pursuing at that stage.  They decide later.  I’m not getting into right or wrong here – game theory suggests that both sexes are following the optimal strategy for them.  It make sense that girls are picky – going on a date with a random guy is a risky proposition.  Given that, it makes sense that guys pursue then choose.

    And to the author talking about how proud he is that he helped the 45 year old get a letter from the cute guy:  I hate to break it to you, but guys write tons of letters and write them quickly even if they’re not really that interested, because they’re pursuing the strategy I mentioned above of giving themselves as many options as possible.  If you could do the same thing for a guy, I’d be much more impressed, because girls are far more picky.

  15. 105

    I guess the moral of the story is to enjoy what you have with a new guy and keep in the present tense. So basically that means having no expectations other than having  a good time with someone you like and withholding any thoughts of a future and continuing to date others or look for others to date.   I  think men like competition or at least are motivated by competition and that applies to their dating life as well it seems so we women should expand our availability to others.

  16. 106

    I couldn’t have found this post/comments at a better time. I just got ghosted after 3wks, and it stings. He said and did everything right, and I think because of that I really did let myself get ahead of where things really were between us. I was thinking I’d found a boyfriend, instead of thinking lets see if he follows through on any of the things he’s talking about and telling me. Lesson learned. A little bruised at the moment, but if it seems too good to be true it probably is!

  17. 107

    disappearing without a trace is not acceptable and i do not think this kind of behaviour is connected to your sex- both sexes do it if they suffer from emotional immaturity. you may choose how you respond to it to a certain degree, but thinking that you should and can be totally unaffected by it is delusional.

  18. 108

    As daters we need to learn to use each dating experience as an opportunity to learn and connect more with ourselves rather than the one we have dated that disappeared. Their disappearing act is wanting to teach us to not disappear on ourselves which is hands down what we are doing.

  19. 109

    When it comes to expectations, my personal principles is that I have no expectations other than those that you set.  That means that I do expect others to keep their word and to follow through with what they have indicated their intentions are.  And if something about that changes, I expect them to let me know.

    I don’t think that we gain anything by telling people not to expect people to keep their word and to follow through.  Not only is it a show of disrespect not to do so, but it makes it easier on people to act inappropriately because they can tell the person who is disappointed with them that it’s not a big deal and everyone does it.

    We might need to expect that many people will break their word, but we shouldn’t accept that behavior.  There’s too much pushing of women to be the cool chick, namely lowering their expectations of respectful behavior.  Again, communicating honestly with someone and following through is a sign of respect, and its absence is a sign of disrespect.

    The reason I talk about keeping your word is because I would say in 9 out of 10 of these disappointment scenarios, the other person did in fact say something that he later backed out of.  I don’t think that most women, especially those experienced with dating, are building castles out of thin air.  The men they are dealing with are fully participating in that as well.  I think women would do better to set their standards such that they filter for men who always remain true to what they say.  Those will be the men who offer the most potential.

  20. 110

    I have just recently started online dating, it can be overwhelming but you can me some really nice people. I met a guy I liked, I would anticipate his every message. Once we had exchange numbers, I left the dating site. As of know, we have been on a few date and a relationship seem even more likely. However, he still isn’t my boyfriend, as he wants to take things slow – which I am happy with as I do not want to rush things only after a couple weeks. I am cautiously hopefully, being mindful that things might not work out. Such is life!

    This had been the best post I’ve read about preparing yourself for the realities of dating.

  21. 111

    I think in the online dating world I just assume people are dating several prospects at once to see who’s the best fit. I reserve the sex for when I’m in a relationship for that reason. People have so many choices. Someone could live closer, work in the same field etc. You never know so I don’t take it personal.

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