This excerpt from The Dot Spot: Adventures in Love and Sex has been published with permission from MFBooks Joburg, an imprint of Jacana Media Ltd. Now available from all leading stores.

If you’ve been single and dating for a while, you’ll recognise that feeling where you want to run around like Will Ferrell screaming ‘ARE WE ALL IN CRAZY TOWN OVER HERE?!’ because you can’t get a handle on the mixed messaging you’re getting from the Mr Mens around you.

I think these behaviours are all a complicated mix of game-playing, ignorance and lack of valuable life experience.

Also, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that people are often just weird and don’t have any manners. Luckily, you really don’t have to stress your head about their nonsensical ways, you can just move along the moment you see the red flags.

Unfortunately, many women confuse these red flags for ‘normal man behaviours’ and think that within this context they’re acceptable. Worse, because they’re normal and acceptable, that it’s something that should be adapted to. Not so.

Use this as a poophead-spotter to save you valuable time and energy.

The hit and run.

You meet, he asks you out, says you’re amazing, smses like a man possessed with the spirit of a digital Don Juan, says he’s so into you, says you’re the best thing since PS2, you have a great time, you laugh and laugh … you never hear from him again. What? I remember a date where Mr Man was all over me, talking spiritual connections, soul mating, and that he wanted to feed me love and peyote.

A week later, after dropping off the radar, he cancelled a dinner date because of a ‘rash’ he’d suddenly developed. I never heard from him again. I found out later that the rash was a friend of mine he’d hooked up with.

The call and cancel.

Plans. They’re like the plague. This man doesn’t touch them and if he does, he seems to forget them almost immediately.

At one stage, I got so used to guys cancelling a date (IF they could even bring themselves to make a date in advance), I started making backup plans expecting them to cancel five minutes before we were supposed to meet.

No. Unless someone has died or they’re in hospital, one cancelled date is as far as it goes.

Bare minimum is best.

It appears that many men especially believe that, ideally, they should do nothing to attract or keep a mate. They don’t have to express any form of interest in you after the initial contact.

The mere fact that they exist in your life is ample proof of their attention. If any effort is made it’s because you called, suggested something or got into your car and drove to their house.

I’ve had men (plural) thinking a suitable ‘date’ is me keeping them company while they’re stoned or drunk on the couch watching TV. Grown men, actual date ideas.

Hot and cold.

I have blaring sirens going off in my head when a guy comes on too strong in the beginning. When you reciprocate, you can lay a bet that his interest will dissipate. Then, when you back off, he’s suddenly all over you like white on rice, answering your messages in a blink of an eye.

When you’ve decided to give him a chance, your messages are suddenly invisible again. Yawn. This is just boring.

All-for-nothing man.

This is the guy who will tell you off the bat he’s not looking for a relationship, but he wants the girlfriend experience.

He wants you to sex him, listen to his stories and work through his issues, go for dinner dates and to the movies; he expects monogamy and massages – just don’t be going your crazy way with that ‘we are a couple’ yadda yadda. At some point he’ll probably tell you the pressure (of you wanting more) is simply too much and he’ll disappear.

So, I know I’m guilty of one (or two) of these emotional misdemeanours. And if you’re behaving like this, stop. However, if you’re on the receiving end of this, don’t take it personally. You don’t have to stretch your self-esteem across the rack and weep buckets of self-indulgent pity because some guy you maybe liked didn’t know what he wants or how to speak his mind.

Whatever their complex reason is for behaving poorly, you’re not required to give one jot. You don’t have to figure it out, indulge it or allow it. Just leave him to his silly ways and move on.

Ghosting and the ‘Well Actually’ game
The ghoster. For those of you who don’t know, ghosting refers to that thing people do when they don’t want to hang out with you anymore, but don’t tell you that. Instead, they just disappear. They go silent; they don’t answer your calls or your emails. You’re left having to assume the connection is over simply because there is no one to have a connection with anymore.

They’re MIA. Gone.

Ghosted. *poof* And you know the sucker is alive because social media has confirmed it. I’ll be the first to say that ghosting is a dreadful way to call off anything – a date, a friendship, a relationship. But I’ve ghosted. I admit it. At least I can console myself with the fact that I never ghosted on a serious love affair, and that the person I didn’t want to hang out with anymore was crap to hang out with in the first place.

Mostly, in the (very) few times that I’ve ghosted, I simply didn’t want to deal with more angst and drama that was likely to come with the ‘I don’t really want to …’ conversation. I’m not trying to make excuses here, but sometimes there’s a point to just cutting and running. Maybe you’re not feeling safe, or there is abuse, or you want to avoid the drama, or you’re just not interested in the dick who compared your vagina to his ex’s. Isn’t that okay too?

Anyway, I’ve been ghosted on before and I know how horrible it is. The difference is that as a ghoster myself, I know when to back away. And to make it easier for myself, I even have a little mental tap dance for it called the ‘Well, Actually’ game.

Instead of feeling poorly and responsible for the guy’s sudden disappearance, you use your rich imagination to make up a reason for why he’s not calling or answering your messages. For example: You meet Mr Perfect. It’s going wonderfully and you’re planning your future together. You’re so well matched, you laugh all the time, you talk more, the sex is great.

Suddenly he stops answering your calls, doesn’t text, doesn’t email even after you’ve followed up two or three times. You know he’s not dead or maimed. Although those would be the only viable reasons not to contact you. Suddenly it dawns on you that while you were seeing rainbows and happy endings, he was only seeing his next score. Now it’s time to play ‘Well, Actually’ game.

Your friend: ‘What happened to Mr McFuckFace?’

You: ‘Well he didn’t call again. He’s just disappeared.’

Your friend: ‘Oh no, that’s terrible! I’m so sorry. Are you okay?!’

You: ‘Well, actually, after he left my house that night, while driving home, thinking that he’d met the woman of his dreams, he was kidnapped by the Russian mafia who strung him up by his balls in a dark basement somewhere terrible, where he still hangs today, upside down, crying his body weight in tears every hour for not seeing me ever again.’

Your friend: ‘Oh, that’s all right then.’
You: ‘Yes. Shall we have some Champagne?’
Your friend: ‘Yay!’


The end.

You can make up any ending that suits you. You can make it as funny, self-aggrandising and mean as you want. Have fun with it. But don’t chase ghosts. Don’t beg. Don’t stalk. Don’t moan, don’t whine. Respect yourself and put the phone down. If someone wants to be with you, they have the personal agency to make that happen if they wanted to. You don’t have to hold onto the one little fishy that’s trying to wiggle away.

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