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Some people ghost when they aren't comfortable enough to express their feelings.

Today, let’s look at two different questions from two different clients. As always, if one person asks, I can only assume it is applicable to a larger audience. And, interestingly enough, you’ll see that these questions are applicable to any gender and any age.

Q: This message is very appropriate to the season. I am convinced that online dating is haunted, based upon my experience with ghosting. You are aware of some of my earlier otherworldly experiences.

When last I wrote, I talked about my first computer-facilitated date. All told, we had our initial meeting and we agreed to go out again. Next, I took her to a nice restaurant. Our third encounter was fast casual dining followed by bowling. When we parted after that third meeting, she said an out of town daughter was visiting and she would be tied up for most of the next week. I refrained from texting her until just after I thought her daughter had returned to her out of state home. I was met with stone-cold silence and have not heard from her since.

Undaunted, I continued to send messages to matches from various sites. I landed a date for lunch with another lady. We seemed to hit it off and have made arrangements to meet for a dinner theater date. Perhaps, she too shall ghost me. “The day may come when the courage of men fails ... but it is not this day!” I shall carry on.

— Thomas, 76

A: I appreciate the update. And sadly, some people ghost when they are not comfortable enough with themselves to express their feelings. It’s really unfortunate. Go into your next date with a positive attitude, not projecting past experiences onto new people. It’s only fair.

I do have one issue with what you said, though: “I refrained from texting her until just after I thought her daughter had returned to her out of state home.” That was a mistake on your part. You can always reach out. It’s the receiver’s decision if and when to answer. A text is not intrusive — it’s thoughtful. I have a feeling that in your not texting her for all of that time, she assumed you were not interested, and in return (not that I think this is right by any means) met you with silence to “give it back” in a way. If I were you, I’d reach out one more time — via a phone call, not a text — apologize for waiting and expressing that you would have enjoyed seeing her again. So many things can be chalked up to small miscommunications. Let’s use our words vs. making assumptions. (I wish I could tell her the same.)

Q: I wanted to have a conversation with (him) about his more long-term goals with a relationship (i.e. his thoughts about kids and marriage and where does he see this type of relationship going overtime), but I’m unsure how to have the conversation without it being completely direct or sounding off-putting. He tends to overthink things, so I don’t want it to be a conversation that causes undue stress, but I think it’s important to know.

Also if there’s an answer like “Oh, that’s something I never want (even though it was on his profile),” what are good ways to respond?

— Rachel, 29

A: First, I’m glad things are still going well! It’s been how long now? You definitely have every right to bring up future goals/plans, as that’s something that’s important to you. All you can control is how and what you put out there, not how someone reacts to it. So, I would recommend the next time you see him in private saying something like, “I’ve truly been enjoying our time together. I just wanted to ask what you’re looking for long-term to make sure we’re aligned.” It opens it up without asking specifics about marriage and kids.

And make clear that it doesn’t mean you want all of that today. You just want to know that there’s a trajectory. Once you open up the conversation, you can start asking more specific questions about the future. I know it’s scary, but we can’t control whether he’s stressed about it or not. I don’t want you walking on eggshells since it’s something that’s really important to you. Once you see what he says, then you’ll take in that information and decide the best course of action for you. (I don’t want to plan what you should say since we don’t know how it’ll go.)

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.

Tribune News Service