Dating the (Somewhat) Disappearing Man

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Has the man you’re dating disappeared… but only sort of? There’s a good chance you’re being Pinged.

Whether you’re 20 or 50, you probably have had a pinger in your life. Maybe he’s still with you. Here’s how this goes:

You meet him and spend a few terrific nights or weeks with him. He calls when he says he’s going to, he takes you out, and he tells you how great you are. He seems like an overall fantastic guy and you’d gladly jump into bed with him. And you think: he could be the One.

Then… he fades. Your dates are few and far between; if at all. But unlike the others, he doesn’t quite disappear. Every so often you get a text or email that goes something like: Hey babe. I’m thinking of you. Maybe he calls occasionally and tells you how much he’d like to see you, but just can’t right now.

And then he follows several days or weeks later with Hey babe, what are you doing tonight?

You figure he’s busy, but still interested. After all, he’s going out of his way to stay in touch. He’s not like those other guys who simply vanish. He’s making an effort. He gets points for that.

On and on it goes; for a few weeks or a few years. He keeps in touch and appears to be making a huge effort to fit you into his life; but somehow he just can’t seem to do it on any regular basis.

You remember those great times with him, and you think of the potential… so you hang with it. You look forward to his texts and calls. You hope each week is the week he frees up to take you out Saturday night. You jump to meet him at the last moment when he tells you he wants to see you.

You, my friend, are being pinged.

Here is the definition of pinging (which I happen to know from my years in the technology field):

A computer network administration utility used to test whether a particular host is reachable across a network and to measure the round-trip time for packets.

Interpretation: a signal sent to see if the other object is receiving and test how long it takes to respond to a request for connection.

Getting my drift?

Pingers want to keep you out there and available. Pingers get in touch just enough to make you feel wanted and set you up to receive. Then, when they are ready, they send their request.

Sometimes the request is a date. Sometimes it’s simply the ego boost of hearing your desperation in wanting to see him again. It only takes moments, but fulfills a huge need for those guys who are looking for adoration and sex.

Pingers don’t all of the sudden decide that you are a priority in their lives. In truth, the mere fact that you put up with his nonsense is exactly why he will not move into any committed relationship with you. The sad irony is that by sticking around you have lost his respect.

This is a warning to all of you ladies who are waiting for your guy to go back to “how it was.” Chances are it really never was; it’s just your wish that that were so.

So…the next time you get the ping, do not return the signal that you received it. Dump your pinger.

I suggest you also read my article about the importance of commitment.

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  1. says

    Hi Bobbi,
    I believe that I may have found a pinger and, yes, what I realize is that I really REALLY like the “idea” of him based on the few times we have spent together. Like all your other examples, he started out great but over the past week he was sick and now busy. Very frustrating. He checks in with me everyday but it’s more like status updates about how busy he is than anything else. It’s only been a week but this pinging thing is getting real old, real fast however I don’t like to give up that easily. I’m still dating lots of other guys but can’t get him out of my mind. I’m not convinced he’s actually a pinger (yet) and I’d like to push it a bit to see if he’ll step up. The man I was married to for 20 years started out this way but when I confronted him it got his attention and he became 100% committed very fast. It took time and patience but it was worth it.

    So, my question is this:
    I want to know what kind of things we can text back to these guys to kind of gently confront them and ask them what’s going on, let them know we like them but that we’re not going to wait around much longer foolishly hoping for a chance to get to know them better.
    I have lots of options with other guys but I know myself and I know that simply “moving on” without a word or an attempt to get to the bottom of things will haunt me and make it harder to make room for another guy.

    • says

      Hi Tracy! If it’s just been a short time he may just be busy, like he said. You can respond to one of his texts with something like “I’d like to get to know you better. I find phone or in person works better than texting. Are you game? Here’s my number. Hope that works for you.”
      One more thing: Never let a man you hardly know (like this guy) haunt you in any way. Not a good use of your energy, right? Hugs, Bp

  2. Bren says

    Do some inquiry into narcissists…..this is them…run fast, they’ll play with you till you go crazeeee. Codependents get hooked in…this is not who you want to be with……move on. They are wasting your time.. The minute they got you, they pull away. These are the boys, not the men. Sorry but this is it.

  3. K says

    I agree with this the majority of this article but I know from personal experience that even men who really care about you can act like this. I have had this happen many times and every time the reason is different. Some (or maybe even most) are stringing you along, trying to keep the door open without actually dating you, but others might not be emotionally ready for a relationship despite wanting more with you. I once dated a man for a year who did this and it wasn’t until I started dating someone else that he told me that I was the love of his life and he was going to try to win me back. He acknowledges the fact that he was scared and as a result lost me. He told me that I’d always be the one that got away. I guess you can’t really ever rely on these types of people to snap out of it until it’s too late so I agree with you in the sense that you should walk away but don’t shut the door if you feel there is a connection. Sometimes people just need to time to know you aren’t going to disappear on them.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, K. It’s good to hear your story. Thing is, after a year if a guy needs you to leave him in order to realize he wants you…is he really the MAN you want? Either he is present and steps up, shows up and acts grownup, I don’t think you should waste your time. Good for you for moving on! Hugs. Bp

  4. tracy says

    Well I can say exactly if he’s a pinger but let me describe.He doesn’t call for 3days.texts me mosts times in d evening with just a few words and sometimes doesn’t call or text for the whole day and he’ll be online.Then wen he finally calls,he’ll talk to me as if nothing happened.I have complained a number of time. He gives me the excuse that his not very good at chattin.he prefers a face to face conversation.When I do,he gets impressively better which only lasts for a maximum of 3days and then his back to himself

  5. tracy says

    Well,I realize dat am with a pinger.All the time am always havin to reevaluate our relationship and all.I’ve tried breaking with him once and he came back begging.I took him back,he was good for a while and then he started again.the problem is if I ignore his pings as you said,he’ll know something is up and beg anyway,is there not anything else I can do as a remedy

      • Mari says

        Hi Bobbi:

        I am 45, divorced for almost three years. I would very much like to be in a relationship so when I see a chance, I take it. So far with no luck though. I agree with you. I wish I had seen this sooner. I met a 45 year old man back in July. At the beginning, we would talk, text every day and we would see each other on weekends. Soon enough, he continued calling, texting, but could never commit to a set time or date to see me. I knew something was wrong, asked him a couple of times, gave him plenty of chances to leave without the need for an explanation but he wanted to stick around. Many times he told me I was the only pleasant thing in his life and that only with me, he felt at peace. He does have a complicated situation between work and family so I gave him a chance. The Friday after Thanksgiving I found out that he had been in a relationship with a coworker and the woman was pregnant with his child. Far into the pregnancy (before we even met) but still. Ever since I found out (one of my kids bumped into them at the supermarket) he has been calling maybe once a week, texting maybe a few times during the week, and for the entire month on December I saw him twice. I have not met any of his friends or family. But I know I only have myself to blame. I should have ended it way back then but I liked him and I figured relationships take time, etc. :(

  6. jo says

    Thanks Bobbi
    I think someimes we know in whats really go on. Well i certainly do but it just nees for someone else to say it. Thanks for the hugs and back to the dating we go.. x

  7. jo says

    Is this guy a pinger or ???
    First two weeks of chatting, he emailed everyday. Even when he was away. Couldnt meet up because he had family commitments the two following weekends. We arranged a date for the friday, which went well enough for us to spend the day together on the sunday. After he mentioned us doing something else. His little girl was back last friday and he has both of them all this week. But … he has changed his communication no texts in the morning and only one or two in the evening. i dont instigate texts, saturday just gone was the first day we had no contact at all in three or four weeks. i did send him an email that went
    Just popped in to say hi :)
    Hope you have had a nice weekend.

    Hee hee i felt like a little kid today went to the park and had a go on the swings,
    was funny and got a couple of funny looks lol. But was so worth it.

    Forgot to say last weekend .. cute bum by the way 😉 hee hee
    and yeah i checked it out … lol..

    Maybe we can do something again (doesn’t have to be anything to do with motorbikes lol)
    But only if you fancy it of course.
    I did use some tips from some of the articles i wrote. Any input would be brilliant. Thank you

    • says

      HI Jo: Well, if he comes back every so often with a text or call but can’t make dates, then he’s likely just stringing you along. But it sounds more like he may have just made a choice not to pursue you further. Doesn’t mean anything other than something else came up, he realized something that he thought made you an unrealistic match…whatever. Sounds like he may have changed his mind. Doesn’t mean you did anything wrong btw. Just that this nice guy (who you hardly knew) may have moved on. So…good for you for connecting with him! And now…you move on too unless you hear back with some solid plan to see each other again. This is dating, sister: Meet men, be real and be your best, have some fun, go through a bunch of “no’s” (some from you; some from them) until you get that one final Yummy Yes! Hugs, Bp

  8. Monica Sancio says

    Now that I am meeting the right guys- finally- I am very grateful for this advice… I am happy for the girls/women who get it now, because I certainly wasted some precious time with a few of these…
    This is my first visit to your blog, thanks to one of Stacy´s tweets… And I love it, it´s down-to-earth truth that I certainly appreciate… It shows what a great person + professional you are… Thank you again, Bobbi!

  9. Confused says

    I’m wondering if an older man (20 yr difference)wanting a couple of weeks to think after two months of good times together is a really bad sign? Does this mean I’m being pinged or is he just scared? How should I handle this situation so that I’m respecting his needs and feelings without neglecting mine?

  10. Andrea says

    I never once heard of this word before. “Pinger.” It sounds innocent, but in reality, it’s horrific. It’s sad. After reading this article, I realized that I was with a Pinger for 1 1/2. I was always so hopeful that one day my [then] guy would come around and realize that he wants to be with me in a committed relationship. After many heartaches, he ended things, and my hopeful dreams were dashed. I was torn. But, I didn’t know there was a description of a type of guy like this. I just thought, maybe, this was his “not being ready because of his past” :(

    • says

      Hi Andrea – Thanks so much for commenting here and for being so honest. This really isn’t a known term – I kinda made it up — but it certainly fits the description of some guys. We’ve all had them, and we’ve all stuck around too long waiting for them to “come around” and realize how fabulous we are. Don’t feel bad…just focus on what you’ve learned from it and let it help you spot it if there is a next time. (I’m sure you won’t let it happen again.) Great to meet you!

  11. John says

    I’m going to offer another point of view. A pinger is also not there when “you DON’T want” him. That may be a good thing for some fabulous independent strong willed women who don’t want to alter their lives so much for a relationship. And when the pinger does ping, then by all means, let him rock your world. Unless “you want” much more than the pinger is willing to give, what’s so wrong with that? (Key concepts: It’s about what “you want” and what “you DON’T’ want”.)

    • says

      You know I always appreciate your POV John. I agree with your statement, although most of us here are looking for a life partner…something meaningful. So I stick to my dating advice to stay away from these guys. And if you think you can just “play” with one of them until Mr. I Love You comes along — think again. Sex = connection for 99% of women. So don’t do it unless you’re sure he’s someone who is honest and looking for the same thing you are. (And, btw, that doesn’t mean that you guess he’s looking for the same thing as you are; it means you actually had a conversation with him.)

    • says

      I know; it’s sometimes not easy. Here’s my question to you: do you really like him? Or do you like The Idea of Him? Take some time to reflect on that question. What has he actually done for you to warrant your adoration? How does he show his interest, caring, respect for you? How do you feel when you’re with him and when you’re not? So often we fall for these guys at the beginning of our “relationship” and refuse to let go of the wish and dream we conjure up about him. What is the reality? Good luck Stacy.


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