To All the Boys I've Been Ghosted By Before
We wrote the letters so you don't get tempted to.
Image: 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' / Netflix
Summer is pretty much over, isn't it? The nights are beginning to inch in on us, and there’s a chill lingering in the air. This is significant for two reasons: firstly, it means that very soon, nobody is going to want to go anywhere without a duvet and the sweet embrace of central heating, and secondly – and relatedly – it also means that cuffing season is due to rear its head any day now.
The beginning of cuffing season is an important time in one's emotional calendar. If you're single during this month of September, there's a strong likelihood that you'll experience the following scenario: on a chillier-than-usual night, you’ll find yourself alone, having eaten a handsome amount of nugget products in bed, longing for a soul to eat breaded snacks with you. Maybe, in this low moment, you might find yourself scrolling through texts and WhatsApps and dating apps, looking at the collateral damage of your summer, and thinking wistfully of the ones that got away (or, as they’re otherwise known, "the ones who never texted you back even though they told you they were really into you and even really nicely let you sleep on the one pillow they own that time??").
While you’re doing this, you might also find yourself catching up on all the internet you missed while you were having your temporary, weather-enabled life. Maybe you’ll flick on Netflix. Maybe you’ll watch a movie! Yes, that’ll be good. Lovely chilled out film. What’s that one everyone’s been talking about on Twitter? To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, is it?
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is Big Online to the extent that it has spawned its very own meme. A central plot point of the film is that the main character, Lara Jean, writes letters to all the boys she has a crush on, presumably as an attempt at catharsis. And you, lying there, prone, a belly full of nugs and a head full of manic explanations for why you were ghosted over the summer (was it the time you put "lol" twice in the same text? They probably hated you after that!), you are inspired. You’re going to write letters to the people who ghosted you! Amazing. Then, instead of letting them be seen by the people they’re about, like foolish Lara Jean, you’ll just burn them and immediately be self-actualised and independent! Haha! Brilliant!
This is where we have to step in. We know you will have this exact thought process at some point over the course of the next month. We just do. We’re really single. And so, as a sacrificial act of warning, we have written letters to people who’ve ghosted us and put them on the internet just to show you how truly bad doing that is. Then, when you’ve watched the movie and got the urge, instead of putting pen to paper, you can remember us, laid out on the altar of public embarrassment to save you, and just fervently type out some fanfic about Peter Kavinsky instead. Trust us, we are just doing what is best for you.
It feels like almost yesterday we were chatting frequently on Bumble before it suddenly crashed to a halt. Oh wait, it was only two weeks ago.
In many ways, it feels like the end of something that could have been great. We both joked about It's Always Sunny episodes and you seemed so manly and tall. What went wrong?
We were supposed to meet for that Great Gatbsy immersive play (your idea), which only made me think you were literary and spontaneous. Also, my flatmate said the tickets cost £30 each, so also potentially very generous.
On the day, I borrowed an embellished jacket from my friend, threw my makeup in my work bag and mentally prepared myself for the date. Our messages had grown increasingly sporadic during the week, but I thought meeting in person is always better anyway. It got to about midday when it occurred to me that we had never set a location to actually meet at, so I double-messaged to check details.
A few hours ticked by and then the message came through – you said you had to leave work early, get an emergency appointment for a tooth abscess and were in horrendous pain. I felt awful, as obviously a date was the last thing on your mind. At first I felt nothing but sympathy, but since then this has transitioned nicely into complete confusion, since you've not messaged again.
I’ll be honest: I'm a bit sceptical about the tooth.
Dear Ben Zho,
I remember it well. Me, sitting in Soho House (your choice) with you, a drug dealer-cum-painter/decorator-cum art history student, drunk out of my mind. You'd sold me some valium a few weeks before and we bonded over a shared and mortifyingly embarrassing love of averagely translated French poetry (also, you were stunning and I wouldn’t be mad if the follow up text dropped tomorrow - four years later). Anyway, it turned out you obviously hated me from the get-go, having evidently googled to find the cringiest shit about me online (I was a VICE columnist, it wasn’t hard) and then almost immediately raising it as we sat down to a disgustingly overpriced meal.
You paid your half of the bill in £50 notes, can’t imagine why. Afterwards, we went to the Curzon to "catch" Leviathan, a two-hour and 20-minute long excruciatingly boring (fucking come at me) Russian drama that I was too drunk to focus on the subtitles for. We did snog fairly ferociously as one of the characters gutted some fish loudly on the screen, but honestly I could have been snogging the cupholder for all it was worth. You left promptly in a cab and I never heard from you again, despite increasingly thirsty texts. Apparently you showed up at a party that same night and tried to get with a friend of mine. Still, just emphasising that I wouldn't hate a follow up text.
Dear ghost emoji,
The only time I've ever been ghosted by a boy is you, but the ghosting was so wild it made up for a lifetime of not having been ghosted before or since. We'd been together for a year-and-a-half, a mixture of long and short distance, both pottering arm-in-arm through the no man's land of uncertainty that is life right after university. The one thing I was sure of was you.
We had our problems, one of which was your refusal to come to any social events with me, preferring instead to lie in bed and eat snacks because you're a stereotypical Taurus. I, on the other hand, am a Libra, which means that I am incredibly popular. Eventually, I had enough of you making excuses as to why you couldn't come to any of my parties, and motioned calling off the relationship. You begged me not to end it and promised to do better. I foolishly agreed.
A few days later we went to the cinema together – you even held my hand in public – and when you left mine in the morning we had made plans to go to a party together on Saturday. I was feeling hopeful – excited, even – until Friday, when you tweeted that you were going back home for the weekend. I texted you for an explanation and received no response. In fact, I never received a response from you ever again, and subsequently went on to suffer the greatest heartbreak of my life. It would have been nice for you to give me some closure without me having to lie in ambush outside your house one evening a month later, but we all make mistakes when we're young, don't we.
–– Nilu Zia
Dear long lost lover,
It has been many years, but the memory of the day has stayed with me – I had only been at this school for a month, and we were on a coach on our way to Alton Towers for an ICT field trip. Everybody was Bluetoothing messages to each other on their Nokia flip-phones, so I decided to join in.
Your name – Olly14lovesrugby – popped up, followed by: "Do you want to go out with me?" Who was this boy? I had absolutely no idea! But I was 12! And might actually be fancied by an actual boy!!!
Panicking, I quickly tried to think of some appropriate text slang to send in reply, and settled on a nonchalant "yh x" (didn’t want to appear too keen). Five seconds later, you appeared on my screen again "Olly14lovesrugby": "Yay baby ly.|
My heart pounding, I replied: "Xx"
The rest of the day was spent in a similar vein – talking about "Olly14lovesrrugby", thinking about "Olly14lovesrrugby" and texting "Olly14lovesrrugby". But one fact remained: I wasn’t sure which boy, out of the 50 in my year group, you actually were. When I got home my phone had run out of credit, so I borrowed my dad's. I couldn't bear not to say goodnight to you.
I lay awake until 2AM, creeping up and downstairs to check his phone, which he had left on the hall shelf. But a reply never arrived. I think you were the Olly with the blonde hair who liked rugby and stole Freddos from the tuck shop, but to this day I cannot be certain.
Till we meet again.
–– Saskia Rowlands
You sent me a Simpsons GIF when we matched on Tinder (acceptable in this case because I actually like The Simpsons). We swapped numbers and were texting; things were actually going alright. But we were mid-conversation when you just stopped replying.
It's fine, really – I’m not that upset about the ghosting. But weeks later, maybe even a month, you sent me a set of four texts, minutes apart:
"I got hit by an uber and ended up in hospital."
"While I was cycling!"
"Broke my wrist and dislocated my collarbone."
"How are you?"
I mean. It is a phenomenal lie. It has it all: you were hit – not just by any ordinary car, but an Uber; the unnecessary exclamation mark; your poor broken bones; your hospital stay; earnestly trying to segue back into normal conversation.
You could have just said something about how you thought you replied but the message somehow didn’t send, you know? Instead you went all out, you decided that being hospitalised with broken bones after being hit by a car (probably a Prius) is the only good reason for avoiding me. So thank you, it’s literally the most effort any guy has ever put into (not?) dating me.
Out of the two guys who have ghosted me, you’ll always be my favourite. Nothing but respect for my ghoster.
P.S. If you really did get hit by an Uber, I hope you’re doing alright lol x
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.