What to do when he or she goes ‘poof’

Hi Dr. Ali,
Boy, was this a timely article! I was pondering sending a scintillating email to a wuss of a guy who’s gone “poof” on me after 6 dates…but I won’t.
What’s your take on these “fadeaways”? I thought it was going fine, a girl goes away for 3 weeks…then comes back, and he’s changed. Whatever the reason, JUST TELL ME STRAIGHT i.e. “it’s not working out”…instead of disappearing off planet earth for 2 weeks and leaving me wondering… And this is a 46-year old man!
I realise you’re very busy. Maybe you’ll address this in a future article as it seems to be a common occurrence here in New York at least
So I’m not saying anything about it at all. Clearly he doesn’t care enough to send a one line email, or call. That says it all. It’s just common courtesy, respect…
Thanks for the advice you’re sending on, it’s very helpful.
Sincerely,
Samantha

Samantha–

Thanks for the note!  Yes, it is tremendously frustrating to both the men and the women on the receiving end of The Disappearance.  I mean, what happened?  Did you get severe tendinitis in both hands so you can’t write or call?  Were you deported back to Sweden for your obvious abuse of our fabulous American health care system?  Did you die, without even having the courtesy to invite me to your funeral or give me dibs on your book collection?

So the first thing you can do about this is: DON’T DO IT TO OTHERS.  I know you’re frustrated, Samantha, and I’m also pretty sure you’ve blown off a guy at some point in your single career.  Y’all will reap as you sow, so sow good stuff, not so-so stuff.  The Buddhists say that all of your karma eventually evens out, so if you do something mean, it’ll hit you backside the head someday when you least expect it.

Second, set up a rule that you will give someone X chances to respond to your communication.  I mean, maybe his ship really did get stuck in an ice floe in Tierra del Fuego — you just don’t know.  Once, a girl wasn’t answering her cell phone because it really fell into a bucket of water.  I assumed she had good intentions and still wanted to see me, so I kept trying to reach her until I got through and the date was saved.

So assume good intentions, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and make 2 or 3 cheery attempts at communication, give it a deadline and see if they turn around.

The uncertainty is what gnaws at people’s minds — did he stop liking me?  Did her grandma die?  Did she get back together with her ex?  So put in a clause like this:

“Hey, if you’re no longer interested in hanging out, no problem.  And if you still do want to hang out, I’d love to hear back from you.  Either way, I’d really appreciate the courtesy of a response by XYZ date so I can tie up the loose ends.”

So I would say if you like the person who went poof and are willing to put in some effort towards seeing the bloke or bird again, follow this model:

  1. Have a set number of attempts you’re willing to make to wake this person up from sher* stupor.  Two is the minimum; max is 3.
  2. Be upbeat and lighthearted in your attempts.  Vindictiveness, judgment or neediness are not attractive.
  3. Be clear about what you want.  If you want a response, ask for it.
  4. Stick a deadline in there.  That way, it’s not something you have to fret about forever.  When the deadline passes, you’re free to move on.

With this policy, you give yourself peace of mind if the person’s truly gone, while giving both of you another chance to get together, get married, have 2.3 kids and a mortgage and traipse into the sunset laden with crippling debt happily ever after.

Carry on

AB

*What, you thought I meant sheer here?  Nope.  That is totally not a typo.  That is sher, my contribution to the English language, which stands in for his, her, or him.  If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to continue using the ultra-clunky him/her kludge (“I gave it to him/her“), or the abominable them or their for singular (“If you love someone, set them free” — whatever, Sting), which just makes the terrorists win every time you use it and also makes you sound like a goober.

25 Comments on “What to do when he or she goes ‘poof’”

  1. Tracey

    Actually, you had it at “sher”. It totally made sense that it was an equal opportunity possessive. Loved it! Be well, Tracey

  2. yah right

    I agree with the clunkiness of he/she and him/her and the grammatical wrongness of using them/their where there should be a singular … but we really need to come up with something more elegant sounding than “sher”… meanwhile I believe using the plural them/their will continue…
    “traipse off into the sunset” HAHAHA you’re the best!

  3. Betsy

    Enjoyed your article. I guess the above would apply to 3 great dates, where the guy expressed a lot of appreciation for me, and I to him. We’re both 66 and seemingly on the same life path. He is the one man in 3 years,and after dating multiple men, that I wanted to get to know better, then he says, “I’ll call you”. I heard it in his voice and body language that I didn’t think he would. That was 3 weeks ago. I am aware that I could have told him at the time that even tho’ he said he would call, it didn’t feel right. I could have expressed that if felt “off” to me. Next time something like this comes up, I will do that! (Oh BTW, mid sixties is comprable to “biological clock”……good, healthy, active years countdown!)

    1. Dr Ali Binazir Post author

      Need to set the trigger sooner than 3 weeks. 5 days is about right. That way you stew less, get an answer quicker, and get him off his butt if he’s really interested.

  4. Charles

    Just thought I’d share a funny one on this. I was happily emailing this girl and things were going well and she just disappeared. So I sent her this txt saying I appreciated if she was no longer interested but if would have been nice to know and that it had taken a lot of courage for me to get involved after my divorce etc. I got this response from her *mother* saying she was *unconscious* in a hospital bed…boy did I feel awful – she got in touch in a few weeks and yes, she had been pretty ill – was in a wheelchair for a while…guess this isn’t the norm tho hahahaha

    1. Dr Ali Binazir Post author

      Excellent example of why it’s important to keep an open mind and open heart. Suspend judgment indefinitely, give ’em the benefit of the doubt, and see what happens. Close one…

      1. Carolyn Stone

        Really working on the entire judgement issue. It is such an ugly trait and one I want to conquer.
        Any suggestions on how to begin? Any suggested books to read?
        I LOVE your sense of humor. So glad I found you

  5. Suzanne

    While I find the grammatical challenges of the singular gender-specific possessive fascinating, I actually just wanted to comment on the article itself — “What to do when he or she goes poof.” I agree that it’s good remember to treat others the way you want to be treated. But I just don’t see anything to be gained by attempting to re-establish contact in this kind of situation. If I suddenly stop hearing from a guy and it’s been two weeks, I’ve already got my answer. Sure, there are extreme circumstances (i.e., caught in the Haiti earthquake and remained there to assist with relief efforts & all outgoing communications were down.) But really? 99.9% of the time, the dude hasn’t called because he doesn’t want to. And any attempts I make to contact him will most likely be ignored anyway, because he doesn’t want to be straightforward with me, because if he did…….he would have called by now. I just can’t think of any explanation that would be helpful for me to hear from a guy who’s gone poof. I’d much rather put my efforts into trying to not take it personally or analyzing the hell out of it and instead work on making myself happy and staying open to new opportunities to meet a guy with more integrity and the smarts to know a great woman when he meets one. Thanks for the article!

    1. Dr Ali Binazir Post author

      Living well is always the best solution, and it seems that most of the readers get that.

  6. Brian

    If your going to invent a word I like hser better, (sounds like his/her) although them and their, contrary to the view of the previous poster, are semantically indeterminate either in number, or in gender.

    Example: “There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend” — Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene 3

  7. Karl

    I like the sound of shis better. Or maybe spell it shiz. Z’s are very popular now-a-days amongst us youth. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and refer to everyone as him because we are all men in the sense that we are all human. Their is the most correct verbage in this case though…
    Anyway, I find that when someone poofs the best way to deal with it is to forget about them right back. Go out, have fun, get laid, be with the mates, etc. Realize that you don’t need this person, and it isn’t your fault they flake like overcooked fish. If they don’t talk to you ever again, blah. Who gives a deuce? (You shouldn’t at this point, if you do go back a few sentences and try again.) If they do show up again well let ’em know that was a dick move and if that’s their style they can eat it. Metaphorically. I guess my point is to not let it bug you when people let you down. If you prepare for for the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised.

    1. Dr Ali Binazir Post author

      Agreed. Having the standard policy in place is similarly detached – it’s just normal operating procedure, and if it all happened because of a terrible misunderstanding, it self-corrects. See comment below on the woman who wasn’t answering because she was comatose, literally.

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Why thank you for your seminal contribution to the English language! And how do you pronounce that?

  8. Kelly

    Funny thing about time being a continuum..This post written a few years ago has arrived by synchronicity at the exact moment I needed to read it. Now.
    I haven’t had chemistry for months with anyone…. Finally an AMAZING date…and poof. Like a ghost he evaporates into thin air.
    Best guess by those who know him is he still might be having feelings for his ex-girlfriend of 5 years…Probably needs his time to sort it out. Recent breakup…
    I am assuming he is not into me or he would contact me. The truth is it doesn’t matter why he isn’t calling. The only thing that matters is he isn’t.
    I know for a fact he isn’t comatose….

  9. Anne

    Thank you for this article. Does your advise also apply to relationships? My boyfriend and I fought almost a week ago and despite my please, calls and texts, he still hasn’t replied. His best friend says my boyfriend knows our “tiff” is not worth breaking up over and that I shall hear from him soon. But when? The agony of the wait is killing me, I’m scared to breakup because it might be mistake. Help Ali I’m miserable. What do I do?
    Love and Light. Thank you in advance

    1. Anne

      {“Hey, if you’re no longer interested in hanging out, no problem. And if you still do want to hang out, I’d love to hear back from you. Either way, I’d really appreciate the courtesy of a response by XYZ date so I can tie up the loose ends.”

      So I would say if you like the person who went poof and are willing to put in some effort towards seeing the bloke or bird again, follow this model:

      Have a set number of attempts you’re willing to make to wake this person up from sher* stupor. Two is the minimum; max is 3.
      Be upbeat and lighthearted in your attempts. Vindictiveness, judgment or neediness are not attractive.
      Be clear about what you want. If you want a response, ask for it.
      Stick a deadline in there. That way, it’s not something you have to fret about forever. When the deadline passes, you’re free to move on.
      With this policy, you give yourself peace of mind if the person’s truly gone, while giving both of you another chance to get together, get married, have 2.3 kids and a mortgage and traipse into the sunset laden with crippling debt happily ever after.}

      I will be texting the template you suggested above to my boyfriend of seven months, whom I haven’t heard from all week despite my calls and texts…I’m absolutely devastated and the fear of initiating the break up and the possibility him not replying is driving me nuts. You’re right, it’s the uncertainty that gnaws at us…But the most horrible of all for me is him not replying at all, oh the trauma. What do I do then Ali? Am i doing the right thing? I want peace of mind, I want to be sane and happy.

  10. Anna Wells

    Happened to me, he poofed after a year. Gone without a word or explanation. With the wisdom of hindsight, who wants to be with a person like that? Spineless, disrespectful, cowardly, a snake in the grass. Plenty more good fish.

  11. Kelly

    THANK YOU…the man I was dating for nearly 6 months went poof emotionally & then physically…your insights were 100% correct and immensely helpful for me in dealing with the situation. Age may have something to do with my less emotional reaction as well…lol! We have since talked and I shared my opinion & feelings in a mature manner…and recommended your book for men as he needs to get clear on all of his needs and approach future relationships with clarity. And for me, a healthy break from dating right now…will definitely finish your book when ready to move forward. Namaste : )

  12. Aine

    I have to disagree with you, as I often do. As a woman, if a guy poofs, I just let him go. I would never write to him again if he neglected to respond to my email. He got the message. There was no “lost” communication. If a man is really interested, he’ll write. If he’s not interested, he won’t write. I have had men profess adoration for me until gave them my number (when they requested it), and then poof! Gone! So it doesn’t really matter what any man says in the moment. If a guy is into you, he’ll be consistent and he’ll write regularly and be a gentleman toward you. If a guy just disappears, he doesn’t deserve a call or email from you asking him what is going on. Just let him go — he will respect you 100 times more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.