Imagine this: You have been on a dating app for a while and have gone through a lot of left and right swipes. In that process, you meet a lot of possible matches that quickly ask you to shift to Instagram or Whats App.
Why? Because it's not convenient to text here. Since you are looking to make some real connections, you agree.
Soon, what seems promising on the dating app starts to fizzle out very soon. After a few online rendezvous, it quickly moves on to sharing memes (hopefully) and then *poof* either one of you backs out.
However, if your connection gets past the first ghosting phase there is always the possibility of the second ghosting benchmark.
Enter the third month.
Well, let's be honest. Three months into someone it's not exactly a relationship. Over the years, especially after the pandemic, the meaning of the term relationship has gone over a lot of changes. I would like to call this more like a situaitonship. Don't know what that is? Here, find out!
Well, whatever you might like to call it, you may have fallen for this guy, but he decides to go AWOL. But, let's not name him things yet. Because science has a perfectly logical reason as to why he is ghosting you exactly after 90 days.
Enter evolutionary psychology. The theory of evolutionary psychology according to mental health counsellor and psychotherapist Jack Worthy basically suggests that humans predominantly engage in two different mating strategies — short-term mating and long-term mating.
Short term mating:
Short-term mating is the kind of mating when you only look for sexual chemistry like fast-dating, hook. It is the kind where you do not wish to find strong emotional bonds or foster a great friendship before moving forward. But rather quickly move from being acquaintances to dates and then intimate relationships. There is hardly any kind of understanding required from the partner and you might often ask questions to each other like, "What are your plans for the evening?" "Can we do this on the weekend?"
Long-term mating is starking different from short-term mating. It is the kind of relationship, where people look for more in-depth connection and exclusivity (not always a clause) but it's when people are looking for a permanent suitor. These kinds of relationships require a lot of commitment and effort and are surely anything but a cakewalk. It requires a lot of future planning and goal alignment too. You might as questions like, "Where do you look at yourself in five years?" or "Does this relationship look like a part of your future?"
But this is all science and biology. Most species follow this rule of evolution and stick to it: Penguins, seahorses etc. However, humans do both. Humans enjoy both — long-term and short-term mating, sadly simultaneously.
Especially in males, considering how their hormones work, "male sexual psychology can confuse short and long-term attraction early in a relationship,” says Worthy.
What? So men are complex too!
Science explains that a biological man feels emotions differently than women do. Especially in the first three months. “The first wave of male attraction tends to be more physical and unconscious. It’s an intuitive, animal draw. And if you feel that draw towards someone with powerful intensity, you might believe that you’re falling in love,” says Worthy told Cosmopolitan.
Focus: They *believe* that they are falling in love.
However, women develop a sense of physical attraction much later than men. They take their time to understand a person's character, habits and thoughts before they begin to feel a sense of physical attraction. While women are busy trying to understand how the man is, men are preoccupied with their animal-like instinct of physical attraction.
As time progresses, and the relationship hits the 90-day mark, the euphoric feeling of being in love starts to fade away, and reality sets in. The physical attraction might also fade away to some extent and then the intentions of dating become clear. At this point, the man evaluates how exactly he (the brain and heart) feel about the woman.
Sadly, by this time, the woman has already decided if she likes the mate or not. However, if there is conflict in these feeling, you are most likely to be ghosted, if not, then maybe you are in for a long-term mate.
Don't fall for the lines: "I think I am falling for you" or "I have never felt this way before" or even "I have never really connected so well with anybody" Mind you, this is not their brain or heart talking. This is just their hormones. If the person you matched with is telling you all these things, make sure their actions are backing it up too.
Ask yourself, are they taking any efforts? Or is it all talks and no action? Give them time to make efforts for you. Even if it is all online, make sure they are taking as many efforts as you are.
Don't get over-involved: Keep your apprehensions about the new person in place at least for the first 90 days. Do not make them your whole world. It is possible that when you meet someone new, especially after being single for a long time, you would want to enjoy the company that they are there to offer. But keep your guards up high. Invest in meaningful conversations and get to know the person. You can also keep it casual to OTT and music suggestions. So if it does end, you at least got some good music out of them.
Hardballing: The pandemic has taught us that drawing boundaries is important. You are the only one who can decide how much time and energy you spend on someone and that applies to every aspect of your life. It is important to lay down expectations in the first few weeks so as to be sure that the other person knows what you are looking for. Go forward only if your expectations align.
Prioritise yourself: Irrespective of the kind of relationship you are looking for, it is important to prioritise yourself first. It is not wrong to look for a companion. But it is also important to remember that you might not always get what you want when you are looking for it. Spend time with yourself and focus on your work. Dating apps are a good way to meet new people, especially when you start working and have little social interactions outside the office. You don't need to find someone there. You can just be there to make friends or find new people to talk to.
Finally, it is important to remember if someone ghosts you, it is a problem with them and not you. Maybe they changed their mind, or maybe they found something else. Or maybe it did not work out for them. No matter what it is, it is healthier to talk things out and end this mutually than ghost. So you do not have to blame yourself for being the one that tries.