You've been there-slash-know exactly how this goes down: Girl meets guy, guy asks girl on first date, they have a bomb ass time. Guy asks girl on second date, makeout sessions ensue. Guy asks girl on third date, which also goes swimmingly, and then girl never hears from him again. He might have died for all she knows. This leaves girl bummed/hurt/confused/and repeatedly asking her friends "Why would he do that? It's so unlike him!"
Now's the time to remind yourself that you didn't invest that much time into this relationship, and that this scenario unfortunately comes with the territory of dating. But that doesn't make it feel any less crappy after someone disappears after the first few dates.
To understand the male brain a bit more, Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of He's Just Not Your Type (And That's A Good Thing), explains just why he might go MIA:
1. You're not in a relationship yet.
"Three dates is an arbitrary timeline," Syrtash says. "The first two times you meet up, you're having fun and learning about each other. Generally speaking, the third time you hang out is when he might put pressure on himself to make a decision because he doesn't want to send the wrong signal. After that, when the fourth date would usually occur, the feeling he may have is that the two of you might be heading in the direction of the relationship, which he might not be ready for."
2. The timing isn't right.
Typically, if he falls off the face of the earth and the two of you had an amazing time on the first three dates, it's safe to assume that this has NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with bad timing.
3. There's someone else.
Of course there's always the chance that there are other factors in his life that you're not aware of, like an lingering ex-girlfriend, a crazy work schedule, or maybe he has his eye on someone else. When the latter comes into play, it's not about your connection with him, whatever that may be, it's about him having a deeper connection with someone else.
4. Men are avoiders.
Would you have felt better if he called—or texted at the very least—and said, "Hey, I'm really sorry, I think you're a great girl, but I'm just not ready for a relationship," instead of falling into a black hole? Yes. "But men are often avoiders, so they would rather just disappear than have a conversation," Syrtash says. They do this for two reasons: "One: they might feel it's presumptuous to have that kind of conversation, and two, they don't want to have to explain themselves—especially if they think you're going to talk them out of whatever they've already decided, so they cut bait."
5. He isn't ready to put in the effort a relationship requires.
"Men communicate with actions more than words, so to figure out where you stand, look at what he's doing or not doing to pursue you. With a person who is relationship-ready, there won't be so many games." If he isn't giving you the attention/respect you deserve, taper off your interest until he steps up. Then, if he doesn't make the effort, you'll end up less hurt in the end, because you weren't always available and investing more than you should have been.
6. He decided he likes hanging out with you, but he's just not into you that way.
And that's OK. You're not for everyone and everyone isn't for you. Most dates are designed to fail, she says.
7. Unlike Aretha, he doesn't know a thing about R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
If someone disappears and you find it disrespectful, look at it as a blessing in disguise. This is someone who didn't treat you with the respect that you deserve up front, so moving forward you'll know that you need someone who respects you enough to communicate.
8. He's chock full of false promises.
Guys who make false promises and don't follow through are worse than guys who don't promise anything. False promises equal a false reality. In this case, someone doing the gentle fade out versus telling you things he doesn't really mean, leaving you hurt in the end, is actually a good thing.
9. He might have some growing up to do.
Chances are if he leaves you hanging, he's immature and you dodged a bullet anyway. Who knows, if he is a good guy at heart, perhaps he'll grow up and you'll give him another chance. If he's lucky, of course.
10. You've been dating the potential, not the person.
"Like I said before, look at what he's doing and ask yourself how is he acting now and then go from there," Syrtash says. "If his actions are lining up with what he says, he's legit.
11. You have mutual friends and he's not sure where the relationship is going but he wants to avoid making it weird if it doesn't work out.
This is the risk you run when you date your BFF's boyfriend's friends, so beware. But if the person you're dating is in the same place you are, this kind of scenario could also be a win-win.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor changes have been implemented by Cosmo.ph editors.