9 Signs Somebody’s Keeping You On The Back Burner, According To Experts

It’s not always easy to tell when someone’s keeping you on the back burner. Do they have a lot going on? Are they just bad at texting? Or are they stringing you along while they weigh their other options? You may never know for sure, but there are a few signs a person isn’t invested or fully interested — and recognizing them can save you a lot of wasted energy.

“Being on the back burner means that you’re in someone’s life as a second (or third) choice,” Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. They maintain a relationship by communicating with you just often enough to keep you interested, but don’t show signs of fully committing. And this could be for a variety of reasons, including having you on standby should their current relationship fall through.

While it may not seem fair, “some people are fine being in a back burner relationship and accept that they aren’t someone’s priority,” Bennett says. This might be the case if you’re just casually hooking up, or taking things slow. And as long as you’re both clear about that, then it’s perfectly OK.

“However, if it bothers you, then you need to speak up about your feelings,” Bennett says. “In addition, it’s important to set boundaries. Usually, this means not giving time, attention, and emotional investment to people who aren’t willing to give you equal amounts in return.” Read on below for a few signs you may be on the back burner, according to experts, as well as what you can do about it.

1. They Take Forever To Text Back

Woman texting in her bed

Consider it a red flag if someone takes days to text back, especially if they don’t offer a good reason. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Everyone gets busy, so you can’t always expect someone to text back immediately, or maintain an ongoing conversation. But you don’t want to wait days for a response, either.

“Most people are with their phones all of the time,” Bennett says. “If you know the other person is free but you don’t get timely replies to your texts, it’s a sign that you could be on the back burner.”

Typically, if someone’s interested in developing a relationship, they’ll find the time to communicate — no matter how busy they get. So if they aren’t giving you the time of day, and you don’t like how it feels, it’s completely fair to move on.

2. They Never Make Solid Plans

If you’re on someone’s back burner, you might notice that they’re all talk when it comes to making plans. They might go on and on about vacation ideas, or claim they really want to see you. But if they aren’t setting solid dates, you have every right to wonder what’s up.

With back burner relationships, Bennett says, it’s not uncommon for the person to resist making solid plans. They might say they aren’t sure of their schedule. But in reality, they’re just stalling as they wait to hear back from other people, first.

3. They Text At The Last Minute

indonesia girl using cell phone in bed

If someone only texts late at night, you might be on their back burner. Photo credit: Shutterstock

If you only receive texts from this person at 11 p.m. on a Friday night, it can feel as if you weren’t their first choice for the evening. And you may very well be right.

One way to tell, Bennett says, is if they admit to feeling bored. While some people may find themselves with unexpected downtime and choose to reach out, it could be a sign they’re turning to you because they didn’t have anything else going on.

In these moments, it’s best to consider what you want. It can be exciting to finally hear from a person you’ve been interested in. But if the level of attention they’re giving you isn’t adequate, it’s OK to look out for your best interests, say no, and move on.

4. They Don’t Call When They Say They Will

If someone keeps promising to call at a certain time, but never lights up your phone, take it as a sign. When you’re on someone’s back burner, they’ll be flaky like this on a regular basis, Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, a licensed clinical psychologist based in New York, tells Bustle.

And when it comes to setting the foundation for a solid relationship, that’s not what you want. “If you’re on the ‘front burner’ or the top of someone’s mind,” Lopez Witmer says, “they are most likely going to contact you when they say they will and be as consistent as possible in communicating with you because they want to see you and have made it a priority to do so.”

5. They Reappear When They Need Something

Side view of thoughtful young woman with brown hair and smartphone in yellow sweater touching chin while sitting at desk with notebook in cafe

Consider it a red flag if this person only reaches out when they need something. Photo credit: Shutterstock

It’s possible you’ve ended up as this person’s go-to when they’re in need of help or attention, Bennett says. If they were truly interested in being your partner, you’d hear from them all the time, “not just when it’s convenient or beneficial for them,” he says.

Of course, you can still help them if they need something. But if you’re worried they aren’t viewing you as a potential partner, feel free to speak up. You can always ask where things are headed, and confirm if you’re on the same page.

6. Their Weekends Are Booked Solid

Unless this person works on the weekends, it might feel strange that they’re only available at very specific times, like a random Monday night. And you should listen to your gut.

“People generally use weekends for socializing and time off from a typical work week,” Witmer Lopez says, “so if the person you are dating doesn’t want to make plans with you then, you may start to wonder who else they’re prioritizing on those valuable weekends.”

It might very well mean they have a primary relationship that they’re investing more into, such as an actual partner, or someone they’re dating more seriously.

7. Everything Happens On Their Terms

Woman with phone at the public transport

If everything happens on the other person’s terms, it may mean your relationship is not their top priority. Photo credit: Shutterstock

A relationship should feel balanced most of the time, with both people making plans, and giving and taking equally. With back burner relationships, though, things can feel very one-sided.

“If the person only wants to spend time with you at the last minute or is only available to you based on their schedule, this is a sign that the person does not think of you as a priority,” psychotherapists Lin Anderson, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M and Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, tell Bustle.

To gather more info, consider your history. Has everything always been on their terms? If so, every plan you made likely fit into their schedule, with little acknowledgement of your calendar.

8. They Don’t Invite You To Important Events

After a few months, it’s only natural to expect the relationship to progress beyond casual hangouts and texts. So consider it a sign if they don’t include you in social, couple-y activities, like parties or work events, Dr. Catherine Jackson, licensed psychologist and board-certified neurotherapist, tells Bustle.

You might notice that they “consult you when they are making plans,” Jackson says, and that you only hear about these things after the fact.

If it keeps happening, tell them you’d love to be invited, and see what they say. It could be they just didn’t know what you wanted, and it might even start an important conversation about your relationship.

9. You Don’t Like How You Feel

frustrated young woman in depression sitting on couch and looking down

If you don’t like how you feel, it may be time to move on. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Sometimes, it isn’t about “figuring out” if you’re on someone’s back burner, but simply paying attention to how you feel. “The truth is you deserve to be accepted, respected, and loved for who you are,” Anderson and Sternlicht say. “Ask yourself, ‘am I happy in this relationship?’ [or] ‘Is this how I want to spend the rest of my life?'”

While the relationship may eventually progress to where you’d like it to be, it isn’t necessary to wait around while someone makes a decision. Express what you’re looking for, and be honest about your feelings. But if they don’t make any changes, or show signs of prioritizing you, it may be best to move on.


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6 Signs Of Gaslighting That Can Seem Like Innocent Behaviors, According To Experts

Gaslighting is an insidious, but unfortunately, not particularly uncommon, form of emotional abuse. And since subtle forms of gaslighting can often masquerade as being totally innocent, there are times you might not suspect it’s happening at all. Gaslighting is by its nature both incredibly confusing and difficult to spot. But if you are feeling increasingly unsure of yourself, or unsure of a relationship, it might be time to seek some guidance on what might be going on.

“Gaslighting is a manipulative way to create subtle chaos and make you feel like you are losing your mind,” Stephanie Campbell, MS, LMHC, of Blooming Lotus Counseling, who helps clients cope with toxic relationships and traumatic events, tells Bustle. “It undermines your self-confidence and makes you feel off-balance, which may result in your belief that you need your partner for survival.”

Simply put, Campbell says, a partner may habitually make you feel unsure of yourself or your sense of reality. It might seem like simple differences in communication or perception, at first, but overtime, it can really erode your core.

“Of course, miscommunication is not necessarily gaslighting. But if there are other red flags and you feel this is happening in your relationship, make note of instances that make you feel uneasy,” Campbell says.

If you are having major discomforts or self-doubts, reaching out to get some support and perspective can be a really productive option.

Below, some professionals help to discern more subtle, seemingly innocent forms of gaslighting.

1. They Tell You Negative Things Other People Say About You

Young Asian lesbian couple argue and turn their back to each other in the period of sad in the bedroom. LGBT couple sulky to another in the bedroom with a sad mood. LGBT lover emotion concept.


It might be framed as being honest. But sometimes that honesty can be really manipulative, and is a tactic to make you feel badly or get you to do what someone else wants.

Michigan-based psychologist Dr. Michele Leno, founder of DML Psychological Services, tells Bustle that your partner might be gaslighting you if they often tell you bad things people say about you, and then accuse you of being insecure when you question what they are saying.

“Does your partner regularly tell you the negative things that others are saying about you? Partners may use this tactic to ‘encourage’ you to doubt yourself and change for them,” Leno says. You then might go through the process of trying to prove how secure you are, or even go so far as to change yourself in regards to what they are saying.

Finding outside help and perspective from people and professionals you trust can help you find your footing and see what’s going on.

2. They Suggest You Seek Help For The Problems In The Relationship

This might seem like a helpful or loving suggestion, but do pay attention to why they are suggesting you seek help.

“Your partner says, ‘I’m concerned and maybe you should talk to someone,'” Leno says. “At a glance, this seems like a well-intended gesture. However, not all partners mean well and some may suggest you seek therapy as a way to say, ‘Our problems are your fault.'”

If they are suggesting that you seek counseling, help, or outside perspective for problems that are happening between the two of you, or for problems that you are bringing up about them, this can be an indication of subtle gaslighting.

Ask yourself, how do you feel about the problems? How do you feel when you are around your partner, and what is usually the outcome of your attempt to discuss issues?

3. They Block Your Growth

Sad woman sitting in cafe, painfully experiencing break-up, loneliness, crisis


Blocking or being unsupportive of your growth is another sign of gaslighting.

“If your partner is dismayed by your plans to change careers or return to school, or they are presenting ‘reasonable’ obstacles to discourage you, then remember that gaslighting happens in plain sight,” Leno says. “It’s easy to pull off because the gaslighter uses what they know about you, against you.”

While having someone who talks with you in a truthful and reasonable way as you try to work toward your goals is a good thing, someone who consistently creates more mental roadblocks on purpose is not a positive force.

4. They Say You’re Wrong When You Know You’re Right

Again, gaslighting is when someone makes you doubt your own sense of reality, psychologist Stephanie M. Kriesberg, who specializes in helping clients with narcissistic parents, tells Bustle. And this usually happens within the context of simple conversations.

Kriesberg says that a gaslighter might, when confronted with a plan you made together, pretend that conversation never happened.

“The gaslighter might say, ‘You thought I said I would go to your sister’s wedding with you? I never agreed to that. I’m going fishing. You must have misunderstood me,'” Kriesberg says.

Another tactic is changing the subject when you bring up something you want to discuss in regards to their behavior or your relationship. Notice if this is a pattern.

5. They Do Not Take Responsibility For Their Behavior

Pensive young African female is having breakfast in a cafe indoors of a mall or a food market and pensively looking aside while holding a cup of delicious coffee; a copy space place on the right


Gaslighters make you doubt the reality of your feelings by making it seem like their behavior doesn’t count or they aren’t responsible for it, Kriesberg says.

Anytime you bring up something that is not working for you, they seem to sidestep having anything to do with it, and find a way to lay the blame or reasoning on someone else.

An example might be feeling upset that your partner repeatedly cancels dates. Their response? Talking about what a difficult time they are having at work.

If that is a common pattern of communication, Kriesberg says, it’s worth looking at. It can’t always be someone else’s fault.

6. They Use Virtue-Signaling

The fact that gaslighting is an “ambient” form of abuse suggests something is there, but you are not quite aware of its presence, reverend and psychotherapist Sheri Heller, LCSW, who specializes in complex trauma, narcissistic abuse, and addiction, tells Bustle. “Nevertheless, it’s infiltrating your subconscious like elevator music or subliminal advertising.”

One way the “ambient abuser” tries to get the upper hand, Heller says, is by pretending to have your back and being committed to your growth and well-being.

“They present themselves as benevolent and insightful, even altruistic,” Heller says. “Virtue-signaling is a tactic used by ambient abusers. Virtue signaling is when one conspicuously touts their moral values and philanthropic activities so as to garner admiration and cultivate a false sense of security and establish trust.”

Virtue-signaling conceals the hidden motive to get the upper hand. If the way your partner presents themselves seems out of step with how they act or communicate, or how it feels to be around them, this may be a gaslighting tactic.

Understandably, coming to terms, or even being uncertain, about gaslighting, can feel very disorienting. It is important to get help from an outside source if you think this might be going on. You aren’t alone here.

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.



Here’s Why You Got Ghosted After a Great Date—And What to Do About It

When Maggie first met Ben* on a dating app, she had no expectations—in fact, she’d been casually seeing a couple other guys. But the two of them clicked immediately. “The chemistry was off-the-wall insane,” she says. “On our first date we closed the restaurant down, and it escalated quickly. We got drinks a few days later, had some deep discussions about work and life and family, and spent almost an entire three-day weekend together.” The romance wasn’t Nicholas Sparks movie-levels of epic yet, but things were promising. And then…well, nothing. Total radio silence. “I texted him to set up a fifth hang, and never heard from him again.”

It’s called ghosting, it happens WAY too often, and it occurs between friends and romantic prospects alike. It’s so common it’s inspired a 2019 TV reality series called Ghosted: Love Gone Missing, in which two hosts track down a person who’s vanished from someone else’s life—without so much as a Sex and the City-style “I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me” Post-It note—to sort out exactly why they did it. That premise is bound to appeal to the thousands of people who are checking their phones this very second, waiting for a message that’ll never come.

Here’s what an expert has to say about ghosting, why some people do it, and how to deal with the action.

What counts as ghosting in the dating world?

Ghosting is officially defined as “the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.”

While my most brutal ghosting experience wasn’t a date but a childhood friend who dropped me out of nowhere, it runs particularly rampant in the world of online dating. Stan Tatkin, psychotherapist and author of Wired for Love, says that’s because apps have created a consequence-free environment—or at least, the illusion of one.

“It used to be when we dated people, we met them at work, or school, somewhere in their neighborhood, friends of friends, and so on. So our behavior would reflect badly on us if we treated somebody poorly, such as just disappearing,” he explains. “It’s much easier today, because people are more anonymous, and they’re getting away with more.”

Maggie’s personal rule of ghosting involves what she calls a “two-date cutoff.” If either party isn’t feeling it after two dates, they can slip away without explanation. “After date number three, you’ve invested a not-insignificant amount of time and energy in interacting with this person, so the least you can do is send a quick text, call, or email saying you’re not into it.”

it’ not about a quantifiable amount of time invested; it’s about how their vanishing act made you feel—even if you were strictly exchanging messages for a few weeks. “If it felt to you that the person just disappeared mid-sentence, and you sensed the jarring effects, then yeah, that’s ghosting.”

What’s the psychology behind ghosting?

The reasons people choose to abruptly halt contact—meaning, the rationale they told themselves to justify it—can certainly vary, since no two situations are the same. But as Tatkin explains, many believe these budding relationships are somehow less real in the age of dating apps and text-based communication, and can be treated as such.

Despite Maggie’s negative experiences as a ghostee (Ben was just one of several instances), she says the majority of men in her social circle insist it’s become a perfectly acceptable practice. “My guy friends maintain that ghosting is a result of us becoming culturally desensitized to meaningful communication while throwing things around in a digital-only environment,” she says.

From a psychology standpoint, Tatkin believes there’s often a deeper motivation—especially for those who are habitual ghosters—and it has to do with something called an attachment style. Attachment theory is a psychological model that aims to identify the different ways people bond with others, going back to their earliest interactions with parents as a baby. In adult romantic relationships, the theory goes, there are four main attachment styles that affect everything from which partners you choose to why your relationships end: Secure, anxious/ambivalent, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant (read more about each attachment style here).

Ghosting falls squarely in the realm of “avoidant” behavior, Tatkin says. “People who are dismissive and avoidant are more likely to ‘rotate’ people,” he continues. “Ghosting is another way of basically not having any conflict, right? People who are conflict avoidant would be natural ghosters, because no muss, no fuss—you just disappear. So it’s ‘good for me, and if it’s not good for you, then sorry.'”

The bright side? You might have dodged relationship challenges down the road, had you continued to see each other. “The group of people who are most likely to do this have a hard time with dependency, and with commitment,” Tatkin says.

Some people ghost to protect themselves from rejection.

Here’s where Tatkin blew my mind: Some people cease communication not because they’re commitment-phobic, but because they’re scared you’ll hurt them. “There are people on the other side of the spectrum who are much more afraid of abandonment and rejection,” he says. Those with an anxious or ambivalent attachment style may ghost as a sort of preemptive strike—either out of fear that you’ll disappoint them in the future, or because of a perceived slight on your end (regardless of whether you actually did anything wrong).

“If I was really sensitive to abandonment, withdrawal, and punishment, I may try to get even,” Tatkin says. “So in doing that, I would ghost you, and that would give me some satisfaction—the idea that I’ve hurt you in the way that you’ve hurt me.”

Try not to blame yourself if you’ve been ghosted.

Due to what psychologists call negativity bias—the natural human impulse to dwell on negative events over positive ones—those whose texts and messages go unanswered often wonder what they did to deserve it. “What’s particularly cruel about this, is that without knowing why or what happened, the person is now left with their imagination, which is more likely to be negative,” Tatkin explains. “They reflect on themselves. ‘This person feels aversion towards me. I must be ugly, I must be stupid. It must be something I said.”

Tough as it is, the healthiest thing is to avoid self-blame, cultivate the self-love you deserve, and keep it moving.

Confronting them isn’t the best option.

Yes, telling them off would be a gutsy, *possibly* gratifying move. Or, it’ll reopen the emotional wound, particularly if the ghoster acts cagey about why they did it. “To confront somebody who’s ghosted you risks further rejection,” Tatkin says. “So it would take a lot of courage to do that, hopefully with the realization that it’s not going to turn out well.”

Getting even post-ghosting isn’t the best idea, either.

Calling them up to tell them off may leave you feeling worse, and spreading the news of their poor behavior might not make you feel better, either. “Some people will make sure this person has a bad reputation, if they can,” Tatkin says. But that won’t soothe your rejected feeling. “It just sucks, because ghosting is an aggressive, cruel thing to do. There’s no other way of looking at it.”

Surround yourself with people who care about you, and reconsider your dating strategy.

As with an actual breakup, this too shall pass, and in the meantime, you’ll want to spend time with friends who’ll build you back up. Trying to meet new people offline, while taking a break from dating sites, can’t hurt either. “If I’m going to play on a field that’s anonymous, then this is going to happen, because people abuse this whole thing,” says Tatkin says. “If you can be just a picture and words on a screen, you can be dispensed with easily.”

Know that ghosting in dating is absolutely rude.

Tatkin will say it one more time for the back row: Ghosting is lousy. “It should bother people doing it, and it should bother people when it’s done to them.”

As painful as it is, Maggie’s learned this herself. “It sucks to be on the receiving end, but it gives me clear information on where to direct my energy so I don’t waste any days, she says. “Ghosting is a really great way to tell someone that you don’t respect their time.”

*Name has been changed



Oh Crap, Now We Have To Worry About Being ‘Soft Ghosted’

Just when you got used to the cruel, crushing experience of being ghosted, there’s a new flippant, vaguely awful dating behavior to get used to: soft ghosting.

What fresh hell is this, you ask? Soft ghosting is essentially when someone “likes” your last message but never actually says anything. Technically, they did respond so they can maintain plausible deniability that they’ve ghosted you.

Overheard LA is seemingly the first source to call a thing a thing with this one.

** Check out our Story on @overhearduber for a chance to win a $250 uber gift card. Funniest submission wins Two Guys. West Hollywood. ‍♂️ Overheard by @bunnylikearabbit #softghosted #overheardla

Soft ghosting is basically ghosting with a thin veil of nicety. It’s texting purgatory, whereas hardline, original-recipe ghosting is just hell.

In action, it might look something like this. This poor fool (OK, it’s just me pretending to get soft ghosted with my sister’s help) had no idea that a double tap was the textual kiss of death.

Admittedly, this is a small potatoes problem. But our behavioral patterns are worth a little introspection sometimes. What compels us to play exhausting games like this when we could just own up to our disinterest?

“The simple answer is, we are animals designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain,” said Chantal Heide, a dating coach who’s based in Waterloo, Ontario. “I see this kind of communication all the time with my clients. Today’s communication has changed quite a bit as we try to balance phone life and real life.”

Everything is fast-paced these days, including our versions of rejection. Soft ghosting, any any stage of dating, is an easy out. That little thumbs-up softens the blow of the inevitable slow fade out. (While also leaving the door slightly ajar if you ever want to pop back in ― it’s a clever strategy, you have to admit.)

Soft ghosting doesn’t exclusively apply to romantic interests, of course. You can soft ghost anyone: your friends, your happy-hour-loving co-worker, your acquaintances.

Maybe your college roommate texts you: “I haven’t seen you in forever, let’s get together soon!” You, not wanting to do anything of the sort, come in quick with a double tap. Follow that up with deafening silence and you’ve effectively communicated, “Eh, hard no.”

Naturally, the sting of the soft ghost is worse when it’s a dating scenario.

In her dating life, Kandie Joseph, a blogger who runs the site Think Like Kandie, has been soft ghoster and the soft ghostee. (She, like Joni Mitchell, has seen both sides now, but instead of clouds and “dreams and schemes and circus crowds,” sub in deadbeat dates.)

“Once, I was talking to a guy who I felt wasn’t forward enough for me and didn’t initiate enough,” she told HuffPost. “He kept asking me where I wanted to go but at some point, I just wanted him to decide. He finally asked, ‘How about Starbucks?’ Instead of saying yes or no, I just ‘liked’ it. I thought it was better than insulting him with a ‘no.’”

I’ve soft ghosted and I’ve had it happen to me, too. It may be the nicest alternative, it may be the weak man’s out, but in my opinion it’s always clear as hell what they mean. Ariana Wist, a graphic designer in New York

When she was soft ghostee, she was chatting in-app with a Tinder match. (They hadn’t taken the conversation to text, so it was a low-level investment.)

“He was a really cool guy and it turned into a pretty deep conversation on the meaning of life, but then he ‘liked’ my comment and never replied,” Joseph said, laughing at the memory. “I got the hint!”

Modern dating can be crazy-making. To get through it, you have to learn to take no for an answer and no answer as an answer, said Ariana Wist, a single graphic designer in New York.

“I’ve soft ghosted and I’ve had it happen to me, too,” she said. “It may be the nicest alternative, it may be the weak man’s out, but in my opinion it’s always clear as hell what they mean.”

Here’s how to stop being a ghoster, soft or otherwise (and how to not take it so hard when you’re the ghostee).

The first step to disabuse yourself of your ghosting ways is to admit there’s a problem.

It might be a built-in behavioral pattern for you. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality suggested that people tend to default to a few strategies when ending things.

“Open confrontation” is when partners are more or less transparent about their feelings and end things out in the open.

Others use the “cost escalation” strategy. “That would be like essentially making the relationship so terrible that your partner decides to get out,” Tara Collins, the psychology professor who wrote the paper, told Science Daily.

Then there are those who opt for an “avoidance” strategy. These people taper off contact, dodge requests to meet up and disclose very little about their personal life. (“Wyd?” None of your business!)

Soft ghosters clearly aren’t as cold or calculated as the cost escalation folks ― a double tap is actually kind of polite ― but their behavior lines up pretty neatly with the “avoidance” description.

Ultimately, the trepidation associated with telling the truth is understandable. But there’s something liberating, even refreshing, about being honest in a world of ghosts. (Or at the very least, telling a kind lie: “I loved getting to know you but I’m realizing I’m not in the right headspace to date rn. Will text if things change!”) Do that and you’re pretty much above reproach, Heide, the dating coach, told us.

“You might even sprinkle in a little about what’s positive about the other person,” she said. “And you should feel free to block anyone who isn’t taking the truth with grace.”

If you’re shaken over getting soft ghosted, try to take it in stride. Certainly in the moment, don’t jump to conclusions; give the other person some time to reply. Yes, we have the ability to communicate all the time, but that doesn’t mean we’re available all the time.

Maybe even ask yourself if you’re peeved out of a sense of entitlement.

“Singles sometimes feel a loneliness void that they fill by seeking validation from other people,” Heide said. “That can go wrong or turn to anger when that validation isn’t turning into the instant gratification we’re conditioned to expect with texting.”

Sure, it would be great if your date was into radical honesty, told you how they feel and didn’t waste your time. But at the end of the day, this person owes you nothing, especially after a date or two. No one “likes” to be passed over, but keep your head up; there are plenty of non-ghosting fish in the sea.

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Maria – Chapter 7 – Ghosted

Hello phicklephilly followers. This is Maria’s story about what happened to her dating her boss.

I have the greatest respect for my my muse that inspired phicklphilly. I am just happy just to have lunch with her, but here is her tale of one of her romantic encounters.

We’ll leave it at that. I’m honored the one woman that inspired me to finally start writing again after 10 years was cool enough to share with me a dating story.

I think what this guy did to Maria is really shitty. Sad how one man’s inspiration can be another man’s folly.

This week, we have Kristin* (Who is my Maria the muse that inspired me to write phicklephilly) who was ghosted by one of the owners of the restaurant she works at after they’d been seeing each other for a month:
Hmmm… where should I begin?
I had started a new waitressing gig in Philly, and I was super excited abou…
— Read on www.elitedaily.com/dating/ghosted-dating-month-boss/1807692


Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day at 8am & 12pm EST.

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Annabelle – Chapter 14 – I Can’t Quit You Baby

Adults speak to one another and close the relationship. It’s wrong to put a person on a shelf like they are some sort of toy, and then think you can take them down and play with them whenever you’re confused or lonely. It’s just shitty behavior. The person you’re doing that to is a human being with feelings. You’re a rotten person if you think that sort of behavior is okay.

This is the most painful chapter I have ever written on phicklphilly. The pain and sadness Annabelle has caused me is immeasurable. But the saddest thing is she doesn’t even know it because she is so lost as a person. Just a fool running errands for others that are making fools art.

Annabelle had officially dumped me on Thursday, April 17th, 2014. She texted me a day after that, and we made arrangements for me to get what little stuff I had at her apartment. She was nice enough to tell me that she’d bring it down to me. It was just shirts and stuff so I was fine with it. I was happy I didn’t have to drag myself out to Northern Liberties to go get my shit because I hated going out there.

It was a sunny Saturday morning when she showed up and handed me a bag.  I thanked her and asked her how she was doing. She said a little sad and depressed. I told her I was too. (A bold-faced lie)

She asked me if I was hungry. I told her I was. She asked if I wanted to get something to eat. I told her I did.

It was an odd moment. She had broken up with me a few days ago and now here she was wanting to hang out with me. I didn’t mind. I eventually had a friendship with my ex before her and remain friends to this day. (See: Michelle – 2007 – Present – A Brand New Day)

It was a nice day in Spring so we walked up to DiBruno Brothers on 18th and Chestnut Streets. It’s a really nice food market and eatery. We both got some sort of salads and went upstairs to the dining room. There weren’t many people up there. Maybe just two other couples. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it was probably whatever shoot she was going on or what play she was working on.

When we were finished eating, she moved to the chair closest to me at the table. She started to kiss up on me. It was really nice. Normally we never did public displays of affection. But it was sexy and hot. It’s weird. Something’s not right about that.

But it felt good, and a day later we were eating at an Indian restaurant near my hospital and then went back to my apartment and made love. The sex was good like always and I actually said to her: “If this is what you breaking up with me feels like, you should break up with me every week!”

Be careful what you wish for. We’ve all heard that old adage. But I liked the new Annabelle. It was all the stuff I liked about her. Food, sex and spending a little time with a pretty young woman. But at that time back in the Spring of 2014, I didn’t know that I didn’t love Annabelle. I didn’t even like her. I just was in love with the idea of being in love with her. I had no idea what was happening to me at the time. Now I had the drug almost on my terms. I wouldn’t have to “put my time in at her shitty apartment”, or put up with the grinding frustration and disappointment of being in a relationship with her. All the responsibility was gone.

But if you go into a new love, (It had been 2 years since Michelle) you must go into that new relationship for the right reason. That’s why I always warn people not to “have sex on the 3rd date” and ask themselves, do they really have much in common with their partner. Like the same things, activities, shared some of the same friends, work and religious values can also come into play.

But your old pal Phicklephilly, plowed right into this relationship with this woman  25 years his junior, not thinking any of this through. All I wanted was to be romantic with a young woman and feel the rush of new love. I didn’t realize it but I had gotten hooked on a drug I had nothing in common with. The only thing Annabelle and I had was a common attraction to each other. She’d never been in love before and didn’t know how to love or what to do with her feelings. Me, I meet a friendly, tall, young blond bartender and I’m ready to go head over heels.

What a fool I was.

A week or so later, I met her at a bus station near 30th Street just to give her moral support for trip to New York to buy some lenses for camera she owned. I just wanted to make her feel calm before her trip, and it worked. You might think why wouldn’t you go with her, and spend the day?

Here’s the thing, if we could have just hooked up sexually and I didn’t have to do any grinding boring stuff I had zero interest in, the relationship could have worked. So there’s no way I wanted to go anywhere with her.

On another occasion, I met her at 30th Street Station for a quick-lunch, and I put her on a train to somewhere for a shoot. I remember her saying, “Let’s have sex tonight!”

I was fine with that at the time. We had dinner that night. It was like being back at the beginning when things were good. Then back to my apartment for passionate fun.

Here’s the problem with that. I was getting exactly what I wanted from her. I was getting the thing I liked about our relationship so for me it was perfect. I didn’t have to see her all the time and I was still being delivered the euphoric dopamine that I so craved. I had no idea how damaging this is to one’s psyche.

Then it started to become less and less. That’s when the withdrawal kicks in. I went from someone who was relieved when she ended it, and now I was really missing her. I was losing her for real now. But it wasn’t her I was losing, I just wasn’t getting my “fix” anymore. Normally I’m not like that, and I vow to never let that happen again. But I never realized the relationship was sick from the start and doomed from day one.

A month went by, and I was on that tour boat on the Delaware river with my colleague when she texted me that she wanted to meet up for dinner. I really wanted to see her, but had to do that, “don’t get right back to her” move. But when I did she got right back to me and we set it up. She wanted to go to dinner and then stop and Chris’ Jazz club after. I was down for that. Of course I wanted to see her.

We planned to meet over at Pennsylvania 6, which was a French and Southern fusion type place. I knew she’d like it.

I was actually sipping a Ketel One vodka martini straight up with a twist as I waited for her at the bar. My hands were shaking I was so nervous. Yes, this was happening to the experienced old lion. She came in and noticed it. I don’t know what I said to cover.

We had a lovely dinner and were very sweet to one another. When the meal was over, I asked her if she was still down for Chris’ Jazz. She stated that she was tired from the wine and could we just go back to my place and relax on the couch and chill in the AC. I was fine with that because I didn’t feel like hanging out at the Chris’ Jazz anyway.

We went straight to my bedroom and had sex, and she spent the night.

The dopamine drops again. We took a selfie in bed together the next morning. We went to breakfast and then I put her in a cab and off she went. She asked that I send her the selfies from earlier and I did. (It was just our two faces on the pillow. Nothing racy)

A few weeks went by.

Her Uncle came to visit one week and they were at Chris’ Jazz and I was at some food and booze festival half in the bag and she texted that she was missing me. I jumped in an UBER and hung out with them for a bit, then he left and I went back to her place. The usual acts ensued. I was so drunk that night, if she had asked me to come rob a bank with her I would have gone.

This sort of nonsense went on through the summer. But the in between times were the worst. Because she stopped planning things with me that led to sex, it was just random, drunken hook ups. The relationship was slowly being picked apart. It was like I’d get a little better hang with another chick, and then Annabelle could just swoop in whenever the mood struck her and she’d rip open the sutures of my healing love junkie heart.

All of my friends were telling me it was wrong and that I should cut her off. But I just couldn’t get off the smack.

One time I ended up drunk with her in Northern Liberties and we ended up taking a selfie of just our shadows on the ground. Ironic now how that was really all that was left of us. We both just fell into her bed and went to sleep.

The next morning I wanted to get frisky with her and when I tried to she said, “I can’t. I’ve been with someone, and I found out they were having sex with someone else. So if I have something I don’t want to give it to you.”

Well that was nice of her, but I still wish I could have had sex with her that morning as hungover as I was. I love morning sex. It just makes the rest of your day better. But you can see how reckless her life decisions are.

So I was a safe rebound after whoever she had been seeing cheated on her. I left and did the long walk of shame back to Rittenhouse.

We did meet for a really nice seafood dinner out at Doc MacGrogan’s in University City that September. I took a bus down to Old City, and then called an UBER and went to her apartment in Northern Libs. Picked her up and then had the UBER take us to the restaurant. She was once again exposed to what it’s like to be treated like a lady by a gentleman.

The dinner was nice and they were my client at the time, so I got the hookup. During dinner we talked about us. She said she missed me. I asked her if she wanted to try again. She said that she did but wanted to go slowly. I would have been okay with that with how turned around in my head I was at the time. But after I wrote it all down in these 15 chapters did I realize how wrong all of this behavior was. Adults don’t do that to each other.

I thought after dinner it would be back to the batcave for some frolicking and frivolity. I didn’t even get to ask if she wanted to come over. She feigned a headache and I got dropped off at my apartment and she went on home. She always pulled the “fake headache” move whenever she decided she didn’t want to do something. Lame, juvenile behavior.

After that she simply “ghosted” me. For those of you reading this that don’t know what that means, it’s when someone in your life simply vanishes. They don’t call or text. It all suddenly stops. Nothing. Just gone. This went on for months. I wasn’t going to contact her. She did this. I needed to heal. Adults speak to one another and close the relationship. It’s wrong to put a person on a shelf like they are just some sort of toy, and then think you can take them down and play with them whenever you’re confused or lonely. It’s just shitty behavior. The person you’re doing that to is a human being with feelings.  You’re a rotten person if you think that sort of behavior is okay.

It was a lonely, vacuous, depressing time for me, heading into winter. The darkness of depression closed around me like a black cloak.

Months passed, and I was at a toy drive to help kids in the hospital during the holidays. Me and my buddy Church do it every year for Children’s Hospital.

I get a text from Annabelle out of the blue. It sent a shock wave of anxiety searing throughout my mind and body.

After months of silence, I get this text:

“Hey! I’m in New Orleans and I’ve been thinking about you everyday. I even had a dream about you!”

Searing pain and fear. I’m trying to move on with my life.

“I’m working a Toy Drive for the holidays. Can I call you when I get home?”


I proceeded to try to numb the pain of this reopening of the wound by plowing Cutty Sark Prohibition based cocktails down my gullet. Church calls it “The Babymaker” because it’s 100 proof and makes you do crazy shit.

Maybe it was just the fuel I needed that cold winter’s eve.

Later when I got home, I called her I chatted as nicely as I could and then told her that I couldn’t keep doing this. I couldn’t live like this.

“So we’re not dating anymore?”

“No, Annabelle. We’re done. We’re done. I can’t keep talking about this. It’s all too painful to go on.”

I wrapped up the conversation quietly, and hung up. Then I proceeded to unfriend and block her on my Facebook, Instagram and finally block this selfish person in my phone.

That was the end of it.


You too, Michelle….


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Eliana – Part 3 – One and Done

Another tale of one man’s journey navigating his way through the dating scene in Philadelphia.

I had been having some reservations about Eliana. I liked her, but there was something missing. She was nice, attractive, and a good person. But there was just something about her that I just wasn’t feeling. I sort of knew it just wasn’t going to go anywhere. This has happened before with Valerie and June.

Eliana had been sending me pictures of herself topless. It was enticing, but seemed cheap. I decided to be direct with her. We were texting and I told her the next time I saw her I wanted to make love to her. Just came out and told her. She agreed and we set it up. Sometimes you just know. I had nothing to lose if I never saw her again, so why not?

Eliana drove down to the city. It was a Tuesday. She parked her car in a lot, and I came out to meet her. It was nice day so we strolled through the park. I felt kind of shitty about what I was about to do. I was sexually attracted to her but didn’t really click with her personality.  I have found this true with many Asian women I’ve met. I’d probably do better with a good, loyal black woman. There’s just something about the personalities of the Asian women I’ve experienced in this city. There is a certain juvenile quality about them. You would think I would like that, but it kind of annoys me.

We got to my apartment and went inside. We both knew what we were there for so we got down to it.

The sex was good. Not great, because I wasn’t that into her. But she seemed to need it and enjoyed it. Normally I will only sleep with someone I like and care about. I had run this by my friend Johnny R., and explained the whole situation to him a few days before. He said, if you want to just do a “one and done,” then I should just do it. (See: Johnny R. – 2010 to Present – One Vice At A Time) I know he would, because he’s a hound, but it’s really not my thing. But for some reason I just felt the power of being able to do this. So I did.

I’m not proud of this, but we’re both adults and I know we both wanted to get it on. But I somehow think she may have wanted some sort of relationship, and I just didn’t want that. Can you imagine that? Me writing phicklephilly, and every other week you’d have to read about this Filipino chick that I was banging? You’d all be wondering how I was going to get out of this hole I was literally digging myself into.

So now that I have shamefully spent these rounds, and put another notch in my very worn bedpost, I need to begin the fazing out part of my relationship with Eliana. I’ve relieved her of her most precious possession, and I’m done. What will my female friends think of me when they read this? That I’m just a slob like so many other men?

It will begin slowly. The long periods between texts. The missed calls. The dates made, and then broken, because “something came up.” We’re not connected on any social media. So I won’t have to unfollow, then block her. Come to think of it, I don’t even know Eliana’s last name. I’ll just one day block her in my phone.

It’s shitty. Why don’t I just tell her I just wanted her for sex, and nothing more. Because I don’t like confrontation. It would hurt her and I would be responsible. I’d have to witness that transaction. I guess I’m a coward when it comes to things like this. Sadly in this digital age it’s easy for me to simply disappear.

I guess I’m just fickle. A fickle asshole.


Update: I recently saw that Eliana is back on Tinder. Her profile says she wants to meet a gentleman for lots of laughs.

Swiped left.


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