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Disappearing Act, Part 2

by The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way,

I recently started dating someone. Things seemed to be going very well. We went out eight times in the course of three weeks. We went to dinner, told stories, and spent a day and evening at the beach. On the seventh date, we slept together. My parents were coming to town and I mentioned to him that I was having some people over for a casual brunch. I invited him and he accepted. Date number eight happened the night before my parents showed up. Then I didn’t hear from my guy. And then it happened. I got an email that said, “I needed some time to think. I know you’re busy but we should probably talk. Please call me or let me know when to call you.” I phoned him immediately and that’s when the disappearing act began. He called me back two days later, then sent an email saying that he didn’t mean to bail completely and that he wasn’t happy with his own behavior. One more voice mail from him and then … silence.

What’s with the disappearing act? I understand things were moving pretty quickly, but was I on an island by myself with this? And finally, how do guys so easily duck out and not feel bad about it? I’m sure it happens in both the gay and straight world, so I’d love to hear everyone’s responses.—EMS

Rebecca    The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

Oh my god, EMS, this is a train wreck. I only say that because I’ve been on this train myself. (What woman hasn’t?) It’s the Instant Relationship Express, and it chugs along full-steam ahead until one day, the tracks just disa-fricking-ppear without warning. You pick yourself up from the massive derailment, you look around, and you discover you’re the only passenger left on the train. WTF? Where’d the other passenger go?! Or did you just dream about him?

You were not on an island by yourself. You went to the beach! You told stories! He participated in this and was clearly enjoying himself. But here’s where I think things might have gone wrong: You slept with him. Now don’t panic, that part is perfectly normal and expected after such momentum. (And I certainly hope it was fun.) I think the sleeping with him followed by the invitation to meet your parents and all your judgey girlfriends might have freaked the guy out a little.

As we are all painfully aware, men and women often think about sex and relationships differently. Without over generalizing, I think men often see sex as the end of something (here comes the angry email), whereas women see it as a beginning, and unfortunately (thanks to the two gazillion books published about it), men know this. Even when they like us, it worries them a little after we do The Deed. Do I have to do stuff with her every weekend now? Do I have to hold her purse while she tries on clothes at Banana Republic? Will I have to … meet her parents?!

Now, you might not have had that “beginning” expectation at all, but I’m guessing that he thought you did and he freaked out when you extended a potentially Focker-like parental meeting and he pulled a David Copperfield.

I wish I could explain why or answer your questions, but I can’t. All I know is that a good guy—a guy you’d want a meaningful relationship with—wouldn’t have done that. A good guy would’ve picked up the phone and called you instead of emailing you. And he probably would’ve waited until after your parents were gone so he didn’t stress you out for your visit with them. I can’t solve the mystery, but I can give you some good advice someone once gave me: Stop asking “why” questions because you’ll never get an answer that you understand or that satisfies you. Instead ask yourself how you can move on and what you can do to cheer yourself up. Try not to let this one bad apple sour the ocean of available applesauce out there.

Check in tomorrow for the straight man's perspective by Chris Kennedy.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at rbrown@realgirlsmedia.com. To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.