Should I Forgive the Guy Who Ghosted and Blocked Me?

Should I Forgive the Guy Who Ghosted and Blocked Me?
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I wasn’t really interested in meeting Ben at first, but he was rather persistent. Not creepy. Just persistent. I still wanted to delete the app because I was rather burned out and about to travel a lot for work. However, I decided to send him my number anyways and just see what happened. I also deleted my dating app as planned. Against my better judgement I decided to date this man. My guy the entire time was making me apprehensive.

What made me apprehensive? Not his consistent pursuit and attention. He called and texted every day, met my parents, and before we slept together on the 5th date we both bet open about what physical intimacy meant. For me, I said it was meaningful and not something I took lightly or casually. For him, he admitted I would be the first since his wife and that’d it’d be rather emotional, but we were on the same page. What made me apprehensive is he was recently divorced. I’m talking he sent me the first message on the dating 6 weeks post-divorce and his wife left him after she met someone else.

We only dated about 2 months, but I fell hard. Then it ended. I got back from a trip, we made plans for lunch the next day and he blocked me. Literally blocked my number. We were talking on the phone and texting as if all was fine up until then. He had a valuable piece of jewelry of mine. I was so upset that my mom had to call him to make sure I’d get the jewelry. Only then did he reach out and tell me “I was a wonderful woman, but he wasn’t ready. And he was sorry and he put the jewelry in the mail.”

I learned a lesson. A lot of lessons. I don’t want to write a novel to you though and I fear I already have. My question is, is it wrong to feel compassion for him? I mean blocking me after all that is a dick move, but I can’t help but want to just be his friend.

Thanks,
Jess

Sorry to hear your story, Jess. It’s an all-too-common-one (getting involved with a guy fresh out of a divorce), but your angle on it was unique, which is why I’m sharing it here today.

“Is it wrong to feel compassion for the guy who hurt me?”

No, it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s very, very right.

In saying this, let me be clear that:

I am not excusing his behavior.

I am not encouraging you to see him.

I am not recommending that you remain friends with him, like you asked.

All I am doing is something that seems to be rarely done these days – something you did naturally yourself – taking a moment to understand where someone else is coming from without condemning him or assuming the worst in him.

The reason your situation is a cliché is because it happens all the time – to both men AND women. You get out of a marriage that was dying for years, you’re yearning for attention, respect, affection, validation. You get on a dating site and you’re like a kid in a candy store.

Next thing you know, you dive into a relationship without knowing if you’re ready for it.

Next thing you know, you dive into a relationship without knowing if you’re ready for it.

Unfortunately, by the time you find out, it’s already too late.

You’re gonna end up hurting the person who took the plunge with you.

But that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It means you’re human. It means you wanted to be ready but weren’t really ready. It means you were sensitive enough to call attention to it after two months instead of letting it go on for two years before pulling the plug.

The way he handled this situation was abominable. There’s no spin on that. Kind people deserve to have breakup conversations in person and the opportunity for understanding, if not closure. He didn’t grant you any of that – which may say something about how he handles difficulties and what kind of husband he’d be.

But that’s a separate issue. You’re not asking if you should marry him. You’re asking if you should have compassion for him. And the answer is yes. Because every person you date is a human being, with flaws and blind spots and insecurities and strengths, just like you.

And if you want men to be compassionate when you make mistakes, you’re best served by being similarly compassionate when he’s the one who screwed up.

Again, doesn’t mean you should stay friends with him (I wouldn’t recommend it). But it does mean forgiving him for his mistakes in your heart and wishing him well as he figures out what his life is going to look like after his divorce. That’s the kind thing to do.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Michelle

    Agree with your approach to be compassionate. Sorry this happened to you.
    Agree with Evan that they way he handled it was not cool and a glimpse into his personality; and how he will handle other difficulties. It’s not a good sign. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad person but does show some immaturity that could impact other things. It’s a cliche but men are CRAZY right after divorce; no matter how dead the marriage or how much the divorce was wanted, they are not ready for anything serious and few exceptions to this rule. They may think they are ready and tell you the same with all sincerity but you can’t trust their judgement because they are not of sound mind. You need to be the sane one and wait it out till they processed what happened and not at your expense. Let them “process” with someone else not as savvy as you. . Men need at least 6 months to be ready again. The few exceptions to this rule are not worth the chance to get your heart broken by someone who is not ready. It’s def. a buyer beware sitch.

    1. 1.1
      Kath

      Agreed, Michelle. Six months at bare minimum, but after a long-term marriage (10+ years), I’d say give it 1-2 years. When I’ve met a man who can’t stop talking about his ex-wife and all that was wrong with their marriage, that’s a flashing siren he has no business pursuing a new relationship. He hasn’t healed emotionally. The same can be true for women coming out of long term relationships/marriages.

      1. 1.1.1
        Michelle

        Kath,

        Spot on. Yes 6 months is probably pushing it. Agreed, it’s the bare minimum. Women also go through the same thing. I think the more secure and grounded you are, the more likely you will heed the signs and move on or not start in the first place. So many women and men want someone in their life so intensely they ignore the signs; and that always spells trouble. It’s hard to walk away when you really fall for someone but it is a must when the signs are there. You def don’t want to be needy and “thirsty” around recently divorced people; it’s a recipe for pain. I’ve had too many gal pals crying on my shoulder after dating recently divorced guys. Many of them are over 50 and don’t think they have other options, but they do. Like damm girl, this is NOT the last guy on the planet. lol Confidence and a strong sense of self is very sexy. No matter your age.

      2. 1.1.2
        Clare

        Kath & Michelle,

        I agree with you 100%.

        Unfortunately, I’ve been in this situation a few times myself in my dating history. As Evan said, the guy is desperate for attention, validation, respect, affection, and he will swear up and down that he is ready to move on and get into a relationship. But no, you cannot trust his judgment. He *wants* to be ready, but he isn’t.

        Yes, much better to wait it out until he has fully processed and healed from his issues. In my experience, 6 months is not nearly long enough to get over a marriage or significant relationship. I would say 18 months – 2 years, and then you are starting to be ready to be available for and committed to someone else.

        The sign I always think is a dead giveaway that the guy isn’t ready is the way he talks about his ex-wife/ ex-partner. If you’re listening to his words with your heart, you can tell if there is a high emotional content to what he is saying. Men are not good at admitting that they are hurting, so you have to kind of deduce that for yourself.

        If you pick up that he is still bruised from it, or if it’s been less than 18 months, I’d say don’t proceed.

  2. 2
    Kath

    There are so many lost lambs who think they are ready for a relationship, but the reality is they are not. They haven’t done their inner work to be in an emotionally healthy place. Ghosting the way this guy did to Jess is the coward’s way. And as EMK stated, this is probably indicative of how he handles conflict and difficult conversations. Too often, men assume women will go apesh*t if told in person – and yes, some women will. But a well-grounded, mature, and emotionally healthy woman (like me) will not. I actually thank the men who have told me in person or over a telephone conversation. But for those men who did not, I forgive them and actually pity them for not being able to man up. One who ghosted me after two years wound up with a DUI a couple of months afterwards- obviously, he was not in a good place with himself. Forgiveness enables you to move on to find someone meant for you and is emotionally ready for you.

  3. 3
    makon

    What is the inner work needed to be in a healthy place? I know I’m not the best at communicating and would need some work. Also I don’t feel safe expressing emotions (like sometimes I feel a threat of maybe violence).

    1. 3.1
      Kath

      @makon,

      Consider reading “Attached” by Levine; and “Boundaries” by Cloud. Both books available on Amazon. I had several epiphanies while reading each of those. Once I understood, it made it easier to work on myself. I’m still a work in progress, but nowhere near the resentful person I was a few years ago.
      All the best to you-

  4. 4
    Emily, to

    Sounds terrible but what probably happened was the OP helped him get his mojo back after the divorce and then he began to look at other options.

    1. 4.1
      Kath

      @Emily, to –

      Could be; generally, you don’t want to be the rebound girl. And you don’t want to be among a string of conquests while he tries to figure out his life. If he ghosts, let him go. Don’t over analyze it. Forgive and move on.

      1. 4.1.1
        Emily, to

        Kath,
        “Generally, you don’t want to be the rebound girl. And you don’t want to be among a string of conquests while he tries to figure out his life.”
        I don’t know how you prevent that. In the OP’s situation, she waited until date 5 to have sex and they discussed what sex meant to both of them, which seemed to be more than shaking hands.

        1. Kath

          @Emily, to-
          It does happen that way sometimes, unfortunately. I personally will not have sex with a man until 1) he calls me his girlfriend; 2) there is mutual agreement of exclusivity/monogamy; 3) we both share recent STD testing results. A man who is relationship-minded and really into you won’t hesitate to do any of those. There is no guarantee he won’t flake out and/or ghost you, but if he does, then he just wasn’t the one for you. There’s probably nothing you could do to “prevent” that from happening. Jess, the OP, did nothing wrong. The guy was emotionally unavailable. NEXT.

        2. Emily, to

          Kath,
          “It does happen that way sometimes, unfortunately. I personally will not have sex with a man until 1) he calls me his girlfriend; 2) there is mutual agreement of exclusivity/monogamy; 3) we both share recent STD testing results.”
          You also probably want to get psychological reports and exit reports from the last few girlfriends to see how he handled himself at the end. 🙂 Hopefully, he didn’t act like the OP’s guy, who couldn’t even send her a text message. 100% pure wussy.

        3. Nissa

          Kath’s reply is completely in line with Evan’s advice. However, your comment seemed to imply she was being excessive.

          We can only control our own behavior. It’s no one else’s fault if we give at a relationship level before an actual relationship exists.

        4. Emily, to

          Nissa,
          “However, your comment seemed to imply she was being excessive.”
          Ah … I was joking. Thus the smiling emoji.

        5. Marika

          Emmanem

          If you do the old school winky face with the semi-colon and bracket it tends to work.. so you don’t get accused of being anything other than hilarious ;).

          On that note, lately there’s no formatting for me in the comments box? Can’t bold, italicize..etc. I miss it – sad face!

        6. Emily, to

          Emmanem

          “If you do the old school winky face with the semi-colon and bracket it tends to work.. so you don’t get accused of being anything other than hilarious ;).”
          Oh … I like Eminem. That boy is angry, which could translate well to other places. 1/2 🙂 (Poster’s subtext: I am only half-kidding.)

  5. 5
    Lurking

    Good thing I read 1962 “Sex and the Single Girl” when I was 19! Helen Gurley Brown warns women that “divorcing men” are not eligible bachelors. She states “chances are- he is still more married than single.” You hold his hand, cook his food, and reassure him that the kids won’t forget daddy. And, what does he do? Goes to their house for any reason, to mow the yard, mend the roof and have endless talks- when it’s supposed to be over. After a while, you figure its time to get a marriage license, he figures it’s time to see other girls- you remind him of that AWFUL transition period! I never forgot this. Ha. Miss you Helen.

    1. 5.1
      Kath

      @Lurking,

      HGB was ahead of her time. I miss her wit and
      candor; Cosmo was the best with her!

    2. 5.2
      Michelle

      Love this and agreed; HGB was truly ahead of her time and this advice is spot on 60 years later! The problem is women don’t listen or dont have the self discipline or self esteem to heed the advice and wait the guy out. Or they think their lady parts are so magical he will make an exception and fall in love with them. Then they are crying on someone’s shoulder 6 months later all bewildered by it all.

      1. 5.2.1
        Clare

        Michelle,

        I’m not disagreeing with you because I completely and 100% agree with everything you, Kath and Lurking have said about separating and newly divorced guys.

        However, this: “they think their lady parts are so magical he will make an exception and fall in love with them” is a little harsh, I think.

        As someone who has been in this situation more than once (yes, I know), I can attest to the fact that it is not necessarily the women willfully insisting on falling in love and thinking they can make the guy do the same. At least it wasn’t in my case. In the situations I was in, the guys went to GREAT lengths to show me and assure me that they were ready and were falling for me and weren’t going anywhere. They actively encouraged me to feel safe and invest in the relationship.

        Only to realise a couple of months later that they weren’t ready after all.

        It was difficult not to feel angry and betrayed by this. But I realised that most likely they didn’t think they were deceiving me, and they certainly didn’t set out to hurt me. They just had a very limited understanding of their own emotions and healing process and genuinely had no idea that they weren’t ready until it hit them like a ton of bricks.

        In my case, both guys committed to being my boyfriend, phoned and texted me everyday, made plans with me consistently, introduced me to their entire family and to their friends, and told me repeatedly how strong their feelings for me were. I had no idea anything was wrong until they suddenly started pulling away for no apparent reason.

        Anyway, my point was, don’t be so quick to lay the blame at the women’s doors. Yes, perhaps they should have known better. But the guys in these situations often go out of their way to act committed and break down the women’s defenses. In these situations, you have to trust your reason and what you know to be true, rather than any words or even actions on his part, and that is not always so easy to do.

  6. 6
    Noone45

    You can forgive someone while still cutting them out and closing the door.

  7. 7
    Selena

    What I considered about this letter was how many dating situations end around 2 months WITHOUT either party being recently uncoupled.

    Sure it’s possible he broke it off because he “wasn’t ready” for a serious relationship. Or he could have felt he dated the woman long enough to feel the two of them weren’t the best match. Or he found he had the opportunity to date someone else who intrigued him. Or, Or, Or…. Could be a combination of things, and she will never know the whole truth.

    Does it matter though? After two months of dating, abruptly blocking her without any explanation is shitty. No way around it. No one needs someone that cowardly.

    Which brings me to this quirk of human nature I’ve observed in myself and others: rejection stings, but rejection by someone one wasn’t initially interested in… but gave a chance to… seems to have an extra sting. Perhaps because when we go against an early “gut instinct” as we may think of it, we feel a need to rationalize why we did so?

    The LW Jess asks: “My question is, is it wrong to feel compassion for him? I mean blocking me after all that is a dick move, but I can’t help but want to just be his friend.”

    How about feeling compassion because he is such a chickenshit? Understanding if he could have done better, he would have, but at the time he just didn’t have the psychological skill? That’s compassion. Wanting to be his friend is not compassion, it’s trying to hold on; hoping to make a different outcome. Examine that and give compassion to yourself. Peace.

    1. 7.1
      Clare

      Selena,

      I don’t think enough airtime is given to the idea of “not being ready.” I think people are quick to assume it’s a euphemism for “just not that into you” or “met someone else.” But I’ve seen it often enough myself, in my own dating life and in the many dating experiences of my friends, to know that it’s actually a much bigger phenomenon than we give it credit for.

      I think the reason people don’t pay enough attention to it is because they don’t understand it well themselves. People think that if you want a relationship, and you are of a certain age, have a good job, etc. you must ipso facto “be ready.”

      I am 36, but I personally wasn’t ready until maybe 2 years ago. I didn’t know that, however. I’ve wanted a committed relationship badly since I was about 17, but I wasn’t really in a strong position to have one until recently. Sucks, but there it is. I married and divorced a wonderful man in my twenties, and had a few relationships that didn’t work out since then for a number of reasons, but I personally was not emotionally ready until a couple of years ago. I’m now finally in the position that I can be the kind of partner that a great person deserves.

      I wish more people would give thought to that. So many of the wonderful relationship-building blocks and skills that Evan talks about on this blog rarely even cross most people’s minds unless they’re lucky enough to devote lots of time to self-growth or reflection or therapy or simply learning things the hard way and growing up. Yet most people blunder through, causing collateral damage and hurting people along the way.

      Anyway, this essay was just to say that I wish *a lot* more time and attention was given to “being ready” for a relationship, rather than all the superficial stuff we like to focus on.

      1. 7.1.1
        Marika

        Couldn’t agree more C-ster (big surprise, right!!).

        Timing: so very important. Mrs Evan (sorry, unsure of her first name) said so herself in that post where she and Evan responded to a nasty comment about their marriage.

        I cannot fault my first long term bf. We only broke up because everything he was offering (all I wanted and more), I just wasn’t ready for. Then. You need a healthy dose of self-awareness to get that. Which I didn’t have at the time. Or else you just blame the other person. Unfairly. Which I did.

        I feel like you can go in and out of readiness. I was soooo ready to get married with my ex husband. I was ready again a couple of years later. Now 5 years post divorce I don’t feel ready. Atm I feel worried about hurting a great guy with my not -ready-ness like I did my first bf (like guys have done to me since – karma).

        So I firmly believe it’s a timing thing. In fact, rather than being JNTI any great guy I would shy away from making plans with right now – actually that guy could rest assured he’s the opposite – so great, I’m afraid of stuffing him around and ruining my chances forever.

        And no doubt men do the same…and deserve our compassion.

        1. Clare

          Marmaduke,

          “You need a healthy dose of self-awareness to get that. Which I didn’t have at the time. Or else you just blame the other person. Unfairly. Which I did.”

          I think so many people do this – either blame the other person or assume something is “wrong” in the relationship, when actually the problem could just be a lack of readiness or maturity on their part.

          “So I firmly believe it’s a timing thing.”

          I think timing is one of the most important forces in the universe.

          “In fact, rather than being JNTI any great guy I would shy away from making plans with right now – actually that guy could rest assured he’s the opposite – so great, I’m afraid of stuffing him around and ruining my chances forever.”

          I wish more people were this cautious and patient. Recognise that they’ve got an incredible, kind, wonderful person in front of them and be more afraid of stuffing that person around, causing them to take it slow and work out their own issues, than of not getting their own self, short-term needs met. (Sorry Marika, here I’m not explicitly referring to you – more to the many people who run headlong into the arms of a wonderful person, whom they subsequently end up hurting, straight on the heels of a painful divorce.)

          “And no doubt men do the same…and deserve our compassion.”

          Yes. To give credit where credit is due, I think most do realise it within a few months, and bow out accordingly. And yes, as Evan said, compassion and forgiveness is the appropriate response I think. We’ve all be hurt at some stage, and probably all tried to fill the void inside with someone else. Yet another reason to take it slow, steady and cool at the beginning of a relationship, I think 🙂

        2. Marika

          No need to apologise, Clare.

          I actually read your comment through twice as I couldn’t identify anything you’d need to apologise for, or I could likely take offense to. All seems reasonable to me.

          It’s just hard to explain to a person that you’re not quite ready and don’t want to hurt them or make them hate you, but potentially leave the door open to try again after you’ve sorted some s$it out (if they’re still single, of course). I would believe someone if they said that to me, and be open to seeing them again down the track, but I think most people would think it was BS and SJNTUY. Which is probably erring on the side of caution, but unfortunate for those of us who sincerely mean it.

          I’m actually dealing with it right now. Great guy, a single parent, funny, kind and attractive. I know he’s full-on relationship material, but I’m dealing with the fall-out of the last guy. The relationship guy is pushing (reasonably) to take things to the next level, but I’m just not ready. I want him to understand that without going into all that major buzzkill detail. And for him to fully believe it’s not him (it’s me). It’s a tough one.

      2. 7.1.2
        MilkyMae

        I take it that you met men and you were “not ready”. I’ve felt that feeling and heard people speak it. My question is :have you considered trying to re-establish a connection with the men you were not ready for in the past? Personally, I think vulnerability and honesty are elements of being ready.

        1. Marika

          Yes, I have. And I’m open to it when guys have come back (it’s actually happened numerous times!). These are the instances when it’s a hard no / I don’t even respond.

          1. They ghosted. In the day and age of every possible type of digital communication, there is NO excuse for ghosting. Send an email, something.

          2. Abuse, major incompatibles, anything illegal etc

          Otherwise I would consider it. Agree re vulnerability and honesty.

      3. 7.1.3
        Selena

        Hi Clare.

        I understand what it is like to be not ready for a relationship. I’ve been there a few times. I also know that not being ready may not not be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It may be one factor among others. Given how common it is for dating situations not to last beyond 2 months, it’s a perfectly plausible version of “It’s not you, it’s me.” Why not go with it?

        We feel what we feel. The OP feels compassion for the man. So?

        She ends her letter: “I mean blocking me after all that is a dick move, but I can’t help but want to just be his friend.”

        How can you be friends with someone who blocked you from contacting him? Did he unblock her? When he contacted her about returning her jewelry did he say he wanted to be friends? Sometimes when someone talks about being friends, it’s merely an attempt to soften the blow of breaking it off. Even if friendship was sincerely offered in the moment, sometimes they find they don’t want to put in time and effort with the person they previously dated.

        And sometimes…the person who agrees to friendship deep down holds hope that the other will give a romantic relationship a second chance if they stick around as a friend.

        Someone who makes lunch plans one day and blocks his lover from being able to contact him later is unlikely to work out as a friend. She doesn’t have to feel bitter to just move on from him.

        1. Clare

          Selena,

          Yes, I was just talking generally, not referring to the OP’s situation in particular.

          I agree with you that friendship is a particularly unlikely outcome in these types of scenarios. It’s a pity. I know that whenever I have made or accepted the offer of friendship, it has been sincere. I like having as many friends as possible, and I genuinely would be open to just hanging out over lunch or a drink somewhere down the line. I think it’s a lovely thing when two people were close and cared very much for each other once upon a time. In my mind, I am able to make the distinction and draw the boundary. However, I realise that not everyone is the same. Unfortunately, I think most people cannot.

          I’m going to go ahead and make a sweeping gender generalisation here and say that it is very, very rare for a man who once slept with you and had feelings for you to see you as just a friend.

          Referring to the OP’s situation specifically: The guy is 6 weeks fresh from a divorce. He is not ready. He’s not ready for a friendship either. He has another year to 18 months worth of healing to do, and the OP should not take this personally. I know it may not be a reaction that you, or maybe some of the other posters, understand, but I can understand the feeling of compassion and empathy that the OP feels for him. Yes it sucks that he was making lunch plans with her one day and blocking her the next day. That behaviour is inexcusable. I’ve been on the receiving end of it. I was dating a separated man and we made plans to go to my friend’s 30th birthday party. On the day of, he dropped me with no warning whatsoever. Just didn’t show up and didn’t answer his phone.

          It made me very angry and hurt me terribly and unnecessarily, but when the dust cleared, I *did* have compassion for this guy. It’s easy to say that him not being ready wasn’t “the whole picture” but I think when you see up close the hurt and devastation that divorce causes in its direct aftermath, you realise that none of that matters. The person isn’t emotionally available to you and that’s all there is to it. They’re not even thinking straight because they are hurting so much.

  8. 8
    Stacy

    ‘But I can’t help but want to be his friend’ after he blocked and ghosted you for apparently no reason.

    Why the hell would you even consider this man friend worthy? The truth is, you are looking for closure but there is none.

    It doesn’t matter his reasons. He does not deserve your company after this bs. You can feel compassion from afar when you are moving on with your life and entertaining other men who will treat you better.

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