As I sit here writing this I am a mixture of numb and angry. Two weeks ago my boyfriend of one year ghosted me. For five long days, I did not hear a word from him; not a call, or WhatsApp or even an SMS but he had time to post on Instagram. I did not reach out to him because he had pulled a similar stunt in December – two weeks after our first anniversary. Putting my pride aside at the time, I called him after two days of silence and he answered the phone like nothing was wrong. “Sorry for the silence,” he said, “I don’t have an excuse I have just been caught up.” Caught up with what I asked? Silence. Too caught up to WhatsApp and tell me you are caught up? Too busy to take two minutes out of your day to check on me?
I did not see this behaviour coming. During the course of our relationship, we spoke every day, in fact, multiple times a day. Our calls could be short two-minute calls or long winding 30-minute conversations, but the fact was we spoke every day and we saw each other at least three times a week made me think we had built a routine and that I was not in this relationship by myself. During this honeymoon period, I thought I had the most loving and attentive man in the world and then in November, I noticed something different. The calls did not stop but he was always busy – too busy to come over to the house or catch up for dinner – but we both had a lot going on at the time and he blamed the pressures of his new job. I believed him.
Then came the first silence… I was angry. We were supposed to meet up before I went off to Cape Town for holidays. On the day before I left, instead of making time for me, he chose to hang out with colleagues at a staff party that started at midday. He left the party at midnight – I know this because he posted his exploits on social media for me and the world to see. Hurt and in disbelief, I decided not to call him. I waited for him to call me and explain himself but for two days I got nothing. When we finally spoke I told him how his silence had hurt me and demanded an explanation. All I got was an apology. I asked him if he wanted to break up, “No, why?” he responded. So, I foolishly gave him the benefit of the doubt and things continued – we spoke every day, but a seed of doubt had been planted in my mind.
The seed grew into a plant when I told my brother about the situation; “Thando,” he said, “I have been in many relationships, yet I have never once broken up with a woman, but I have given my girlfriends reasons to break up with me. He is being an asshole, he won’t break up with you. You will have to do it.” I was in disbelief. Really? Then I remembered a story a friend told me that an ex-boyfriend actually came around to her house and broke up with her face-to-face. My friend had relayed the story to a male friend, who was shocked that her ex-boyfriend actually had the gall to break up with her to her face. “He is a brave man,” he told her, “We (men) don’t break up with women, we let them go gently.” I did not believe it at the time, but my experience with my recent ex-boyfriend, made me think twice.
Really? After being in a relationship for a year and meeting each other’s friends, did I not earn the respect of being broken up with face-to-face? Did I not deserve some kind of explanation? What was he afraid of – tears or having to face his own bullshit? When I relayed my ex-boyfriend’s behaviour to another male friend, he confirmed, that my now ex-boyfriend’s behaviour was part of the “bro-code”. “You act out and it is up to your partner to read between the lines,” he said before telling me, “Hard luck!”
Really gentlemen? Do we really deserve to be ghosted?
Let me tell you how it feels from the other side. Shit. For days, maybe weeks, we (women) question ourselves. Carry the responsibility of the break-up. Ask ourselves what we could have done differently? You see, silence is just as devastating as a conversation, if not worse. Worse because when you have been ghosted you never know the reason why. You never know what the other person is processing, but you have to get over it and keep it moving. I finally broke up with my dude via text after the second silence and asked for some of my personal effects back – bicycle, house keys, and books. My request has been met with silence. A loud deafening silence.