Out in the jungle of dating there exists a little known species known as the 'disappearing date (AKA 'dead dog')'. Now you see him, now you don't! One day he's there, hanging with your friends, making plans for holidays, mentioning the parents and then... *poof* gone without so much as an 'it's not you it's me' text. Where do they go? It's a mystery, to doggie heaven perhaps!
Ladies beware, side-effects of the sting include all the usual marks of a Dog encounter (insomnia, depression, unusual attachment to Facebook) but this particular mutation can induce side effects ranging from mild hysteria to extreme obsession.
Yesterday I was sent a text conversation that was uploaded onto the internet entitled "this is what crazy looks like via text messaging" . In a nut-shell (no pun intended) a girl called JJ goes gaga after her one night stand blows her out. Now while this is all very amusing and the girl in this case is clearly insane, I'm going to use this extreme case as evidence of the effect of the 'disappearing dog' phenomenon. When a guy just vanishes without any explanation, the need for closure, and answer, an explanation... anything! Can drive otherwise sane self- respecting women into fits of feverish text frenzies.
"I just wanted my stuff back!" Said my friend, as she recounted the story of a guy she'd been seeing for several months.
"He told me he was going for a drink with an ex, texted me from the bar telling me how bored he was and how he can't wait to see me later, then nothing! I texted once, tried calling and assumed he got back with the ex. He still had a lot of my stuff at his so I called his mobile from my friend's phone and got as far as 'oh hey it's....' When I heard him gasp and he slammed the phone down!"
My friend never did get her stuff back, and to this day she wonders what really happened that night.
When a dog just disappears, he leaves a great big question-mark that wouldn't otherwise be there. With a question mark that big, the need to figure out why can become all-consuming; sending you spiraling off to Sherlock Holmes his Facebook for evidence of something (you'll know what it is when you find it) or e-mailing his work account (just in case he lost his phone). One friend was so confused by a sudden disappearance that she texted the guy's friend to see if he was still alive and OK. He was.
More-so than just closure, the reason why a disappearing dog has such an effect, is the utter non response to contact. It's the digital equivalent of someone sticking their fingers in their ears and going "I CANT HEAR YOU!" Take JJ-loco above, the lack of reply from her Kevin was the catalyst to crazy-town. Could that really be any of us?
In the Ye Olde dating times you communicated on the phone or in person, but now it's so easy to delete from Facebook, so simple to ignore a message that the need to actually step up and be honest is diminishing.
The recent launch of a website helping dumpees communicate with their dumpers has unsurprisingly been a success. Only two weeks after it launched, www.wotwentwrong.com received over 28,000 hits. That's 28,000 people who would happily pay to have a site message their ex and have them fill out a questionnaire on why they ended the relationship. The figures smell suspiciously like disappearing dog. When a relationship ends, there is always 'the chat'...right? Or is the phenomenon of the D-dog more widespread than any of us feared? Has the rise of digital communication created a monster?
I'm going to stray from the point a little and recount the events of last night, when my very own disappearing dog, non- other than Prince Charming (remember him?) wagged back into my life. I knew he would be at the club so it wasn't a shock to see him there, all dazzling and chatting to some girl he'd no doubt just met. My phone vibrated and I had a moment of utter confusion when the name flashed up, because how he could be calling and standing in front of me at the same time? Then came the realisation that the guy busy charming every poor girl in the club was his identical twin.
Yes there are two of them. Two sets of chiseled cheekbones, two sets of piercing blue eyes, two heartless bastards. Could this be any more Dynasty? Apart from the whole warehouse in north west London, overflowing toilets and lack of toilet paper... so maybe more Dysentery than Dynasty but anyway, awkward encounter with Prince Charming's equally evil twin averted, I turned my attention back to my phone where a message just appeared. PC wanted to know if I fancied coming round to his to 'hook up'.
The reason for the story is this, first of all to exemplify the fact that if a dog disappears he's probably not the kind of dog you'd have wanted around anyway, secondly that if there was no explanation given, perhaps instead of resorting to sending a questionnaire out (www.how-to-lose-your-dignity-in-one-easy-step.com) you can come to terms with the fact that finding out why, will not make the disappearance any easier. Had Prince Charming sat me down over a drink and explained that he didn't actually want to go out with me because he only picks up girls for sport, maybe even elaborated that he has mother issues or a complex about being just a little bit fatter and shorter than his twin, would that have made any difference at all?
Back to the text, I was surprised at how keen he was to meet up especially considering the fact that every time I'd seen him previously he'd been quite happy to parade his gaggle of blondes right under my nose. Had things really got that bad? Or had he just slept with and not called every girl in Essex?
Even more curious was my realisation that not replying to him was actually getting a reaction! We're not talking JJ-Loco but it was something!
"I give up!" he texted despondently. Then shortly after, "Kind of thought we were more grown up than this."
I could have done one of two things. The first was to give him a taste of his own medicine, the guy stood me up twice, embarrassed me and hurt me he deserved to be ignored, but then would that be any better than a disappearing dog? It's so easy to ignore a text message, to leave the words and the question dangling in space, forever echoing and never answered. I'm sure that it didn't matter to him anyway whether I replied or didn't, but in a world where common courtesy can so easily be forgotten, I decided to reply.
"I'm sorry... it's just that that ship has sailed... and I'm not really the booty call type... Friends? Xx"
It was hardly a drink flung in his face, but to me it felt like closure, and that was antidote enough.