“Dating in 2017: Let’s be friends, friends with benefits. I’m not ready for a relationship but I expect you to do things that should only happen in a relationship. Remember, we’re not together, you can’t claim me, but you can’t be with someone else. I need you to be loyal, but I’m free to do what I want. If you get mad, I’ll remind you that we’re just friends. If you catch feelings … I’m ghost. I told you from the start I’m not ready for a relationship” – unknown
Most, if not all, of my mom’s friends, are either divorced or, like her, widowed, as a result of which they are re-entering a dating scene that looks drastically different from what it was when they left the game in the 70s and 80s. Back then, concepts like friends with benefits, ghosting and situation-ships existed but weren’t so … mainstream. So, when I overheard my mom, aunt and their friends comforting a friend of theirs who had been ghosted (the guy hadn’t called for close to four months) by telling her to be patient with him and give him the benefit of the doubt, I couldn’t help but chime in by snidely whispering quite loudly that she had been ghosted or pie’d and that she should forget about him and move on with her life.
Needless to say, my mom and aunt gave me the “wait until the guests leave, you’re gonna get it” look that parents give when they can’t whoop your ass in front of company. My mom even said “what do you know, you’re a child” to which I laughed (internally though. I laughed internally. I was already pushing it by listening in on grown people’s business so I knew better than to be laughing out loud at my black mother). However, her friend, the ghost victim, was very intrigued by what I had to say and I will admit, as an attention seeker and sharp tongued proud truth teller, I felt like it was my duty to school her and the rest of the golden girls (they are young at heart) about the dating in 2017. Of course, my mom was sitting there mean mugging me the whole time. My aunt thankfully had been converted to my side and was ready to hear the gospel.
So, while I was googling the urban dictionary’s definition of ghosting to prove that my topic of discussion wasn’t something I imagined while I was waiting for my nail polish to dry, I started by telling the ghost victim that she shouldn’t take anything I say personally and that these were just the savage time we were living in. If someone doesn’t call you in four months, ya’ll aren’t dating no more. Four months ago is so far in the past, it might as well be in 2016. Next, I reminded them who this guy, who I shall refer to as ‘the ghost’ was because they seemed to have forgotten that he is notorious in their circle of friends. The ghost has been around and he has never been an ideal boyfriend to any one of the previously ladies, never really committing to anything and swiftly moving on when he felt like it. A notorious bachelor. The mistake my mom’s friend had made was to believe that she would be the one to change him. She frowned at me when I said it. My mom stared daggers. Still so unimpressed and surprised that I’m still taking part in this conversation.
I carried on. Reminding them that this was a man in his 40s who has never been in a long, serious relationship who has never in his own words or action told her that he was looking to change. He said he wanted to “keep her company”. What gave you the idea that you would change him, aunty? He is so grown. Dr Angelou was on to something when she said that “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time”. Believe them, don’t try to change them. Don’t make excuses for them.
Then I read them the definition of ghosting: The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.
My mom was the first to respond with a “who does that?” and then when she realised that the ghost victim was getting emotional, she said I wasn’t even making any sense and that the ghost victim shouldn’t listen to me because I’ve never really even had a man so what do I know?
I was rescued by the ghost victim herself, between her sobbing when she said that I was right. Then she added that she still believed she could change the ghost and she loved him and was going to wait and see. I gave up. Go ahead and get hurt, aunty.
After they left, my mom was actually not upset that I had “Iyanla Vanzanted” myself into their conversation, trying to fix aunties life, but rather concerned. She was more worried about how unbothered I was being about everything I was saying. She kept on asking “is that how you guys treat each other now? You just disappear? You guys have strictly sexual relationships and you are okay with that?”. The one that really confused her was how we can be with someone yet not consider them your boyfriend/girlfriend, you just spend time together, sleep together and be loyal to each other but not put a label on it or any serious expectations to this thing that you have. You make your own rules. It’s a “situationship”. These vary and people generally do what works for them. I know of situationships where the people involved don’t even like each other. They find each other to be quite underwhelming people, outside of the bedroom. My mom didn’t know whether to give me a hug and tell me she was sorry that this is the world we live in or to tell me she raised me better than to even have an understanding of these dating/mating practises.
Literally 2 days after I told aunty that “he’s just not that into you”, she ran into the ghost and in her attempt to get some kind of reaction out of him or make him jealous, she told him that she’d meet someone else, that she was very happy and that she wasn’t going to wait for him. It failed. He literally wished her well. A couple of days later, he bumped into my mom, where he mentioned that her friend (ghost victim) had told him that she has found someone else after which he had wished her well because I was over her anyway and was hoping that after 4 months she would have gotten the picture. Is that not ghosting?
Later when my mom and the ghost victim were updating me, it took everything in me not to say “but I told you so” but before I could say it, my mom admitted I was right. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon making the ghost victim feel good about herself and giving her the old “there are many fish in the sea” pep talk.
My mom and I were obviously giving off some really good vibes because her friend is now seeing someone else who actually acknowledges her and she’s doing quite good so at least there is a happy ending there but it is also a bit bittersweet because this whole thing has got me thinking about how if people in their 40s and 50s are still going through the most and seeing all sorts of flames, does it ever really get better or are we all screwed?
P.S don’t tell my mama that I put this on the internet.