04.18.13 Love

How to Handle a Houdini: What to Do When a Guy Pulls a Disappearing Act

How to Handle a Houdini: What to Do When a Guy Pulls a Disappearing Act

BY Mandy Hale

There’s not a woman alive who this hasn’t happened to. Regardless of looks, personality, career path, success level, place in life, none of us are immune. And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, you can rest assured…it will. What is this phenomenon I speak of?
The vanishing act.

You’re dating someone new (or you’ve maybe even been dating someone for awhile), and things seem to be going well and progressing nicely when suddenly your love interest starts to pull back a little. Then a lot. Then, before you know it, you look up and he’s gone. Disappeared into the night with the stealth of Sherlock Holmes. No phone call, no explanation- not even a Post-It.

A lot of “experts” will tell you that you could be to blame for a man disappearing on you; you were too needy, too clingy, gave too much too soon– but I’m here to tell you that there are instances when a man disappears for the simple reason that he’s too weak or afraid to tell you that he doesn’t want to pursue the relationship further. Of course neediness and clinginess and giving too much too soon can certainly be factors in the demise of a relationship. However, don’t get caught up in blaming yourself, because at least as often as not, a man vanishes due to his own shortcomings rather than yours.

Here’s the bad news: once a man pulls the vanishing act, he rarely ever reappears. In fact, I’m convinced there’s a remote tropical island somewhere that houses all of our ex-Houdinis. I like to call it “The Island of Misfit Boys.”

But here’s the good news: 1) There are red flags you can look for that will alert you to the fact that you’re dating a Houdini, and 2) There are ways to respond to the vanishing act to ensure that just because your Houdini vanishes, he doesn’t take your dignity with him.

First, let’s look at the warning signs that your Romeo might in fact be a Houdini:

A Houdini typically appears out of nowhere, showing up in your life with the intensity of a freight train or a storm, taking you by complete surprise. The downside of this is that his sudden and unexpected appearance in your life can often trick you into believing it’s fate or magic at work. But here’s what you’ve gotta remember: Houdinis will vanish from your life just as suddenly as they appear.

A Houdini moves at warp speed. Everything about the relationship will feel rushed, from the first time he calls you “baby” to the first time he meets your parents to the first time- and probably last time- he vanishes from your life. As a woman it can be flattering to have a guy who seems so intensely INTO us that he can’t wait to take the next big step; but as the old love song says, “Wise men say, only fools rush in.” Bottom line, most people simply don’t Khloe and Lamar their way into TRUE love. Love doesn’t rush. It takes its time. Infatuation rushes, and most often burns out.

There will come a very obvious and defining moment in the relationship when a Houdini will start to back away. His calls and texts will dwindle. He’ll grow increasingly distant. His sweet lovey-dovey tone will change to more matter of fact and unattached. You’ll noticeably feel the currents shift. When this happens, ladies, the vanishing act is imminent and there’s honestly not much you can do about it. Men who pull the vanishing act typically aren’t mature enough to realize that a simple conversation respectfully ending the relationship is a MUCH kinder, gentler way to make their grand exit than simply dropping off the face of the earth. Or they DO realize it but they just don’t care. Never is a person’s character more evident than at the end of a relationship- and the bottom line is, if he’s the kind of guy who feels okay about just disappearing from your life, you’ve gotta be the kind of woman who loves herself and respects herself (even if he doesn’t) enough to let him stay gone.

Here’s the really ironic thing about the vanishing act that most men don’t realize. At least a decent percentage of the time that a man’s not feeling us, we’re not feeling him either. We ladies are highly intuitive and gut-driven, and we know when a connection is off with a man. So most of the time, the vanishing act isn’t even necessary, because it’s not like we’re going to go chasing after a man we don’t really want, anyway.

For women, the vanishing act isn’t painful because we’re gauging our eyes out or weeping and wailing and gnashing our teeth that a man doesn’t want to be with us; it’s painful because we don’t like being treated as though we are disposable. Frankly, we deserve better. I don’t know about you, but when I close a chapter of my life, no matter how short, I like to do it with respect and dignity. I feel like both myself and the other person is worthy of a better ending than a text message or a vanishing act. However, when that better ending is not available to me, I like to deploy what I call “The Graceful Exit.”

The Graceful Exit realizes that she’s worthy of an explanation, but that she may not get one. The Graceful Exit seeks closure, but not at the expense of her dignity. The Graceful Exit doesn’t cry, yell, bring drama, throw fits, or try in any other way to manipulate a man who doesn’t want her into sticking around.

She makes a solid effort to reach her Houdini in a calm, rational, classy manner and ask for a few moments of his time, either by phone or in person, whenever possible. Why? Because frankly, I think the “He’s Just Not That Into You” culture has given men too much of a pass. We’re allowing men to simply vanish from our lives with zero explanation or accountability, shrugging it off as “Well, he’s just not that into me.” NO. This is not okay.

If a man has been actively pursuing and wooing and doing everything in his power to stir your affections for him for a week or a month or even a DAY…he owes it to you to tell you in a direct and upfront manner when that pursuit is coming to an end. If a friend just disappeared from your life without explanation, you wouldn’t just let it slide, would you? So why are we so quick to do it with a man?

She realizes that once she has done all she can do to give the Houdini a chance to explain himself, and he’s still hedging… the only thing she can do is let it go. The thing is, most of the time a Houdini is a well-oiled machine. He has a “love ‘em and leave ‘em” operation that he’s been running since LONG before he made you his latest target, and “Explain yourself to the girl you just bamboozled” isn’t typically on his to-do list. So if you make contact in an effort to gain clarity and closure and he responds with excuses and evasiveness and shadiness, do yourself a favor and LET HIM GO. You have done your part. You have been every inch a lady, and you’re far too dignified to keep wasting time trying to teach him to be a gentleman.

When all is said and done, a Houdini actually does you a MONUMENTAL favor by disappearing from your life before you could get any further caught up in his not-so-magic tricks. Houdinis aren’t always bad guys- they just haven’t reached a level of maturity that allows them to see that any boy can woo and pursue a new girl every two weeks, but it takes a real man to dedicate himself to just one woman.

After all, the most magical thing about love is that it doesn’t take tricks and pizazz and abracadabra to win a woman’s heart. All it takes is a man who realizes that the catch is even better than the chase.

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mandy hale
Mandy Hale is affectionately known around the world as "The Single Woman™.” In just over two years, Mandy has garnered a massive Twitter following of nearly half a million people from across the globe. In her home state of Tennessee, only Al Gore and Dolly Parton have more followers! With a heart to inspire single women to live their best lives and to never, ever settle, Mandy cuts to the heart of the matter with her inspirational, straight-talking, witty, and often wildly humorous take on life and love. She’s also not afraid to talk about the many realities of being single in a world that still asks, “And WHY are you still single?” Less of a life coach and more of a big sister, best friend, or mentor to women as they walk the single girl walk, Mandy is the voice of every woman experiencing the incredible, beautiful, magic, tragic highs and the many challenges of single life. While she doesn’t have all the answers…she’s brave enough to ask the questions. Whatever life and love throws at her, she maintains her fierce belief in happy endings; and every column, Dash of Sass, or 140 character encouragement she sends comes straight from an honest, real, authentic place. Connect with Mandy online at TheSingleWoman.com, Facebook or on Twitter @TheSingleWoman.


  • SB

    Two year I was with this man. He was even charting my fertility making a point to meet up when I’m most fertile. We spend 3/4 days out of the week together for two years. I had this gut feeling that he was not telling me his real name just recently I said screw it and paid to find out if his band on his phone record was him. Even tho things seemed perfect like to good to be true. I don’t know why I had this feeling but I did. Sure enough my intuition was dead on. Two years with a man trying to have a child , is not the man I thought I was in love with. However I let it slide. I figured there must be a reasonable explination as it was just the first name. Not the last name. Last name was as he told me. When I confronted him he just ignored me and the question. Acted like he didn’t hear it. So I sent him the proof o found. Then he vanished for a few days but popped back up. Then he continued to try hang out. See me and of course try get in my pants but I put my foot down, I haven’t been feeling well and I told him this. Then he tells me spontaneously he is leaving Canada for a month and that he will stay in touch with me. He hasn’t kept in touch he has vanished completely. Then I was able to contact him on what app and he would message me back but days before a resonds.
    Now… I’ve found out im pregnant. And I fo t know how to get a hold of him:( what to do:( I don’t believe in abortions … Im so depressed and upset 2 years… And then he disappears all over a name inquiry. I did further reader h to find out he wasn’t using a second name like Se ppl do when they have a very odd different first name. What would explain this:( im so over whelmed and taken by surprise, and my hormones aren’t make matters any better.

  • RamboAmy86

    You say that houdini’s never reappear but for me, they always do. Two weeks….two months…however long, they are like boomerangs. But Im always conflicted about if I should allow them to come back or not. Especially if I liked them a lot. Usually they comeback when I have completely forgotten about them as if the universe gave them the signal that I no longer care and that they should comeback and play with my emotions one more time.

    But I think most houdini’s have emotional baggage with another woman and since they don’t want to ruin the chance of coming back to you, they don’t tell you the truth. If a man disappears with no explanation it is always because of another woman!! ALWAYS…ALWAYS…ALWAYS. I had a guy that I was dating for a few months completely disappear out of the blue. Later he admitted that his ex came back wanting to work things out and since he had been chasing her prior to us dating, he dropped everything to be with her. Of course, they didn’t work out and he tried to come back to me but I was over it. What happens ladies is that the woman he’s been chasing has finally given him the green light so he’s going to drop you for her.

    Doesn’t mean she’s better than you or that she’s the right one for him. She could be a total disaster for him!! But men have a tendency to get caught up in the chase. And even if you are the better woman overall, he will chase what he can’t have. And from my experience, once the chase wears off and he starts to have problems with her, he’ll say, “I wonder what happened to that one girl. She was so fun and interesting, maybe I should see how she’s doing?” Then that’s when he calls you, days, weeks, months, and even years later! It sucks being that back burner girl but just know that it’s not about you…men like the women who are difficult and elusive so he’ll chase the difficult and elusive woman but then come back to you when he gets tired of chasing her or when he finally realizes what type of person she truly is.

    Also, many men are simply testing the waters and weighing their options. This guy I went on one date with said that he broke up with his girlfriend because he was bored. I knew immediately that we wouldn’t talk again. That is a man that is just out to see if there is anyone better. It really sucks for us ladies because we tend to be very loyal and we usually aren’t trying to weigh our options. It’s very black or white, yes or no for us. So When we find one guy that fits our criteria, we are dedicated to that guy. Men are always questioning, even if a women is amazing and is everything he could ask for, he’ll still wonder if it’s the best he can do. Men are always stuck in the maybe zone. The only time men stop doing that is when they finally loose something good and it hurts them really badly or when their friends start to settle down in serious relationships or get married. Once that happens, they seem to all of the sudden be ready to commit. I have a friend who is a big time player and now that his friends are engaged he’s finally talking about finding a serious girlfriend. Monkey see, Monkey do! And my cousin who is also a player, lost a woman that he had been stringing along for years with his indecisiveness. She married another man and it broke him down completely so now he says that he will truly value the next woman he’s with.

    Long story short, Men are indecisive and they wander and they are more afraid than women are. Men are also prone to chasing and they can get lost in the chase, even if the woman is a bad match for him. So ladies don’t blame yourself, we’ve created a generation of lost men and our so called “progressive culture” has given men a free pass to be detached and elusive and indecisive.

  • Guest

    Thank you, this was a really great article and totally epitomizes my recent situation that I’ve decided to let go of. I haven’t reached out to him as I realise that he is very immature and that he has actually done me a favour so it’s better for me to accept the vanishing act. I like the Houdini metaphor as quick in to your life as he is out – I’ll remember that.

  • Chiara

    Thank you :)

  • Ashley

    My life is restored for good. I want to share to the world on how Almighty Prophet Iyare Helped me reunite my marriage. To cut the long story short, after 2 years of break up with my Husband with no phone calls or email messages. when i read about great Prophet Iyare I decided to contact him in his website because I saw so many testimonies of his help in the the internet. so i contacted him for help. to my greatest surprise, 2 days after i contacted him my Husband called me and started begging for forgiveness,at first I shed tears because I was shocked! i am now a happy woman with a beautiful baby girl. all thanks to Prophet Iyare. if you need his help to get any of your problems solved just Google his name ( Prophet Iyare ) and you will get all his details you can use in contacting him, his help is assured and guaranteed.

  • Ann Brown

    Houdinis DON”T care. They got the sex they wanted and pooofff, gone. This happened to me. I have to take the blame on this one. I let him in. I had men act the way Mr. Houdini did but I was not attracted to them. My cryptonite was that I found Houdini attractive, charming and said all the write things. I was blind sided. Lesson learned here.

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