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Home: The Toast

Previous Ask Bear columns for The Butter can be found hereIf you have a question for Bear, The Butter’s advice columnist, send it along to asking.bear@gmail.com.

Dear Bear,

I had a thing with a boy. In the way that one does sometimes. To make a long story short it turned out that he wanted more from the situation than I was willing to give, something he made clear via a multiple paragraph Facebook message, and so I ended things. I very specifically ended them. I have not responded to a single message since.

There have been lots of messages, however. At last count 48 messages that have gone without a response. Yet here I am months later and messages keep coming. What do I do? I was clear when I ended things, and have ghosted for like five months now. But it’s not working. I don’t want to have a conversation, I just want to stop getting text messages from this boy (I would use the word man but it seems like an exaggeration considering the above mentioned behavior, though he is for sure old enough to be a man if he had those skills). How do I make it stop?


[Dear Brave Correspondent, thank you for your letter. Since you’re not actually the one who requires the advice here, I am choosing to write to the one who does – this boy person. Just forward him the link.]

Dear Misguided Dude,

Well, here we are. You’ve clicked the link that that girl sent you, and now you’re reading an advice column. Are you a little unclear still on what’s happening? Here’s the advice: stop messaging her. This includes Facebook messaging and texts and Instagram comments and kik and whatever else has developed in the eleven hours I have been out of the country. Including notes in her locker/on her bike basket/on the windshield of her car. Stop it.

But I don’t want to just drop a bomb and then dip, plus that’s less “advice” and more “bad news.” So, today, I am going to teach you about how to tell whether someone actually likes you/still likes you and wants to hear from you or not.

I only partly blame you for not knowing, Misguided Dude. Media is saturated with these narratives of girls who don’t especially like some boy until he gets worrisomely close to stalking her, whereupon she suddenly becomes impressed with his devotion and magically understands that she has loved him the entire time? So I kind of get why you could imagine that forty-eight unreplied-to messages across four different platforms since March might constitute optimism and dedication, as opposed to what it really is (hint: some bullshit, is what. Humans do not work that way.)

So: how do you know? Here are some things a girl or woman might do, if she likes you. (Really, they’re things a person might do, but since I was handed a heterosexual pairing I am going to carry on with it to avoid confusion. Many of these will cross apply, fellow homos.)

She will reply. She will respond to your messages. She might not reply immediately, even if she has seen them and you can tell because the internetly devices like to let you know exactly when an eyeball may have skimmed your message. But if you message her today, during daylight hours, you’ll hear back today before bedtime unless she is out of the country or similarly in extremis. If she doesn’t respond to a single message, it’s cool to follow up with a couple more. After that, babe, either she dropped her phone in the toilet or she doesn’t like you back.

She will counterpropose if she has to say no. Let’s say you text her with an offer to grab breakfast on Friday morning (I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you know to suggest an actual plan). If she writes back and says “sorry, can’t,” she might like you back, or she might be hoping that you’ll get a hint soonish. But if she likes you, and she has an important meeting or morning prayers or has to take her kids to school or whatever, she will counter propose: “Can’t manage breakfast Friday, sorry. Lunch? Or breakfast Tuesday?’ That’s someone saying “Hey, I want to hang out with you, I just can’t at the proposed time. But soon?” This is a good sign.

She’ll suggest or accept dates that have no built-in fun, only what the two of you bring to it. When you say “Hey, I need to go pick up my pants at the tailor. Want to ride along? It’s annoyingly far, but I’ll play you good music!” she will say yes. She’ll say yes to tagging along on ridiculous missions, just for the company. She will invite you to do things like help her pick out shoes for her cousin’s Bar Mitzvah.

Here’s what she won’t do, Misguided Dude. She won’t mysteriously be busy all the times you ask her to do something, she won’t take days to return a text (or fail to return it at all, or fail to return it and forty-seven of it’s misguided brethren, dude, seriously). She’s not playing hard to get, her phone does work, she’s not (unless she has previously mentioned it) on a last-minute work trip to the interior of Ghana or upstate New York (Finger Lakes Region, I’m looking at you). If she really wants to hear from you, she will stand on one leg on the roof of her kid brother’s playhouse to make sure she gets her texts, you can bet on that.

Now, listen. I know this is hard news. I don’t mean to be abrupt with you, but I am concerned about this thing where months of silence after being told it was over doesn’t seem like a compelling argument to STOP. But I do know how hard it can be to like someone who doesn’t like you back. It’s an awful place to be, in the longing and longing, like someone pried open your ribcage and left it swinging wide while they went to see if there was any more beer. I don’t envy you, and I hope it’s over soon. But please, Misguided Dude, don’t also make things hard for her by not taking the hint. Frock up, take this one on by yourself, and in the fullness of time there will be another chance to try again fresh with someone else. Pinky swear.

(BUT ALSO DON’T TEXT HER TO SAY THANKS FOR THE LINK. JESUS HARRIET CHRIST SINGING BITCH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY WHILE GOING OVER NIAGARA FALLS IN A BARREL WEARING A FRUIT HAT, SON, PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN.)

(AHEM.)

Love and courage,

Bear

S. Bear Bergman is an author, editor, storyteller, publisher and loudmouth.

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