Left On Read


Service charges may apply.



You realize that the night is winding down and your plans seem to have fallen through. It’s 2 am and you’re back in your common room. You’re not yet tired enough to just pass out and call it a night, but you’re also not conscious enough to put in much effort. Cue the booty call to Ol’ Reliable. Maybe they have a different name or emoji in your phone but we all have one: they’re that one person you don’t really want to grab brunch with, but you love trying out the wildest stuff with them. Plus, you know exactly where their room is and that they’ll make the travel worth your while.

The problem is, Ol’ Reliable doesn’t immediately deliver. It’s not the first time you’ve been slept on but it is one of the first times they were literally asleep for it. The 2 am “u up?” (or equivalent, if you’re somehow still creative at that hour) goes unanswered until the next morning. Unfortunately, by the time you get an equally excited and typically raunchy reply, it is day.

When your iMessage notification pings with that dirty offer, you’re already a Child of God™ now. Those desperate urges you had are long gone and in their place is a sense of regret and shame. Instead of replying to find a time to reschedule said rendezvous, you feel the urge to call your mom so she doesn’t suspect anything of you or find an online chapel to visit for confession. They have practically presented you with a doodle poll for when works to get off and you have even less interest in filling it out than you did for the meetings with your distant adviser from freshman year.

Maybe Ol’ Reliable and you tried to make it work once but you ultimately realized your favorite part was them going down on you because their mouth was too busy to talk. Every time you send a late night “u up?” text to them, you remember how, on one of your first dates, you went out for sushi and they admitted that they one time watched tentacle porn “on accident” while shoveling, hopefully unrelated, calamari into their mouth. They also went on to mention that they were 1/68th Native American, but (even though the impossible fraction they just claimed to be irks the hell out of you) they were still paying for your meal and you were still trying to get dicked down so it wasn’t the right time for principles. They don’t fully realize that you’re only in it for the orgasms anymore. Around the time you admitted you didn’t have time for another date because your gcal was too full but flirtily suggested something else that could use filling, you gave up on trying to get to know them better. You already know how many siblings they have, why their parents never let them get a dog growing up, and what they’re doing after graduation – what else really matters?

The times that Ol’ Reliable does come through for you, it’s great. The best part is that Ol’ Reliable is into some wild things. The slight history you’ve racked up with them accompanied by your lack of caring about their opinion of you at this point makes for a pretty good experience. They just kind of get you at this point. It’s like how Spotify now plays music it thinks you might like after your playlist ends: You didn’t ask for it and it’s kind of just taken control, but you’re actually really into it even though you wouldn’t have ever asked for it on your own. You were just making out and the lights aren’t even off yet but their hands are kind of tightening around your throat? You didn’t really see it coming but also you’re really into it. It wasn’t even just a leap, it was practically Olympic pole vaulting but you’re actually feeling this dominant move on their behalf. But times like this when they don’t, you’re pretty hesitant to make any plans while sober and past the desperation.

You’re immediately brought back to trying to sneak out after he took a post-nut bathroom break but he caught you and asked, with those puppy-dog eyes, if you really couldn’t just stay a little longer to hang out. Yeah, so maybe 95% of the reason you usually spend the night was because of their full-sized bed and mattress pad but that doesn’t change the fact that you know the sheets are permanently dingy and always seem to have crumbs in them. You’re already fully dressed and edging towards the door as you come up with a story about how you just really have an early morning and should get some rest. You start to reassure them that you remember where the door is and don’t need them to walk you out when they start trying to schedule a next time with you. Unfortunately, the syllabus for this relationship is still being updated and you can’t really commit to anything.

You know it’s easier to just leave them on read but you also don’t want to remove them from the roster just yet. Yeah, they’re not the MVP but they’re a pretty good understudy and might make it up to Varsity once your faves graduate. You know you’re going to text them again next weekend to see if they’re prepared to Uber back to your dorm when you get back from a party anyways.

Hunter Richards (hrichards@college.harvard.edu) is probably ghosting, R.I.P.