The Disappearing Act, Holiday Style

Fa, la, la, la, wha??? It’s the Disappearing Act, all dressed up for the holidays. Plus, what to do when he still has his dating profile up … and you thought you were exclusive.

Q: What does it mean when a guy you were dating stopped all communication with you out of the blue and then tells you a month later that he did it because he got scared and didn't know what to do and didn't mean to hurt you? And then when you see him a few days ago, he tells you that he is so sorry and didn't mean to hurt you but knows he did and knows that saying sorry will not help, so he wants to prove that he is sorry. He also said he needs you in his life and doesn't want to lose you, and wants to work on this because it's what he wants. Is he being sincere? – Fingers Crossed

A: Maybe he’s being sincere in the same way that your parents were when they told you that Santa Claus was real, no matter what that little brat on the school playground said. In other words, you wanted to believe, they wanted you to believe, but deep down everybody kinda knew it was only a matter of time before you found out the heartbreaking truth.

I know I sound like a total Grinch, and perhaps I’m wrong. But the scenario you described is a derivative of the Disappearing Act, when somebody just vanishes into the night like the bearded fat man. Instead of leaving enchanted kiddies in their wake, though, perpetrators of the Disappearing Act leave disenchanted daters. And with good reason: When somebody you think you’ve connected with, gotten to know, trusted, seemingly slips from existence with nary a word of explanation, it’s the ultimate insult. Yes, your guy did reappear, but just the fact that he’s capable of pulling the Disappearing Act is a little troubling.

One detail that would be helpful to know: Was your meeting a random encounter, maybe one that prompted him to spew out all kinds of lip service to ease his guilt upon seeing you? Or was it intentional — did he contact you and ask you to let him explain himself in person?

I hope it’s the latter, which would suggest he’s ready to back up his words with actions – the best measuring stick for sincerity. He’s said all the right things so far; time will tell if he does them. But if I were you, I wouldn’t linger too long under the mistletoe.

Q: I met a great guy on an Internet site about three months ago. I'd just left a bad relationship and I wasn't looking for anyone serious, but we really hit it off and I thought I'd found someone special. He travels lots for work during the week but the last several weekends we've spent the entire time together. Anyway, one night during the week I guess I drank too much wine and did some cyberstalking. I checked the site where we met and his profile is still up! I have no idea what to do. I'm really confused about what I thought was a positive progression with us, but maybe he's still out there flirting around online? Should I confront him, or just let it be? Or should I put mine back up to get even with him? I hate these stupid games! – Online Mystery

A: This isn’t a mystery that’s specific to cyberspace, sweets – the exclusivity issue is a conundrum that has been plaguing the dating scene through the ages and will continue to do so, whether the medium is carrier pigeons or computer mice.

I kinda suspect that if you two have been spending entire weekends together, he’s probably just forgotten that that pesky profile is still up. So unless he’s constantly online and shielding you from his laptop like it has rabies, I wouldn’t worry too much about it at this point. You’re still newly dating – there’s plenty of time for nagging and jealousy down the road.

I’m kidding … sort of. You mention you’re recently out of a bad relationship, so I can understand wanting to protect yourself. But you’re already considering “getting even” for something he hasn’t even done wrong. If you really want to know where things stand, tossing out a simple, “Hey, my membership on XYZ.com is up soon, but I think it would be a waste of money. Thoughts?” should help you get a feel for how he feels. But make sure it’s a conversation, not a confrontation.

You could also just make like the weather and chill out. Women are notorious for wanting to ramp things up romantically during the holidays, what with visions of happy intros to the family and sparkly gifts dancing in our heads, and that can put a lot of pressure on a guy. Sometimes offering the simple pleasure of enjoying the present is the best present you can give somebody you really see a future with.

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