July 20, 2017

I scheduled a coffee date for 1 PM Thursday with someone on Bumble. We arranged this through the dating app the night before around midnight, ending with, “I’ll see you then!” At 11 AM on Thursday, the day of the date, when I was at the gym and couldn’t reply, I got a, “Still on for 1:00?” text. Hadn’t we just confirmed less than 12 hours ago? Had I not replied at noon saying that it did, in fact, still work, would he not have shown up?

In another instance, I scheduled a date for a Thursday evening. We confirmed the date, including the time and location, on Monday evening. On Wednesday evening, I received a text asking, “Still interested in meeting tomorrow evening?” Didn’t we already go through this? I suppose I get tired of other people’s propensity to bail (or flake or whatever you want to call it) being projected onto future dates… in this case, me. Could be worse, yes, but could also be better.

I give the advice to my clients to use the “confident confirmation” of “Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow” vs. the weak “Are we still on?” In talking to both male clients (since I generally recommend the man confirms a day before the date) and friends, I know that many take this “weak” approach because they are afraid that if they say, “Looking forward to seeing you,” and don’t get a response, then their date will not show up. Let’s stop the madness!!

I realize that I’m somehow now in the minority of people who do not cancel plans. I have a strong sense of obligation (guilt?), even if I don’t know the other person, to uphold a promise I make. I write my plans in stone (which perhaps leads to a heavy day planner!), so I, as both a dating coach and a person, have a hard time with the way plans are no longer set in stone for most people but more set in quicksand… fleeting at best.

Very sadly, we live in a world full of flakes. What’s at play here? Smart phones, for starters. You can cancel on someone without seeing his or her reaction. You don’t have to incur the ire of someone if you bail and then turn off your phone. But, remember that there is an actual person at the end of that phone. A person who has set aside some time in his or her life to meet you. A person who now has to find other plans or not have any plans. Sure, there are valid reasons to cancel—your child is sick, work put an unexpected deadline on you, your pet snake Marcy got into a catfight—but even if you have one of these valid reasons, remember that your time is no more valuable than someone else’s.

Here are some rules:

1. If you need to cancel the day of the date, call the person. 

Yes, call. Just last night, a client told me that her date canceled on her 45 minutes before a date—via text—with nary an apology in sight. Have courtesy.

2. If you’re canceling and you still want to see the other person, then propose a new date at the time of the cancellation.

3. Add an “I’m sorry” into any cancellation.

I once received a cancellation three hours before a date saying, “I need to rain check for tonight. I’m dealing with a work situation that will require my attention.” That’s fine. It happens. But, I read this as “Me me me. I am important. My work is important. Your time isn’t as important.” Just apologize.

4. Don’t cancel!!

Earlier this month, there was an Op Ed in the New York Times called The Golden Age of Bailing. The author, David Brooks, says, “All across America people are deciding on Monday that it would be really fantastic to go grab a drink with X on Thursday. But then when Thursday actually rolls around they realize it would actually be more fantastic to go home, flop on the bed and watch Carpool Karaoke videos. So they send the bailing text or email: ‘So sorry! I’m gonna have to flake on drinks tonight. Overwhelmed. My grandmother just got bubonic plague.…’”

Whether it’s canceling on someone at the last minute, which so many of my own dates and my clients’ dates have done, or ghosting (the deplorable act of “ending” a romantic relationship by simply no longer responding), remember that no matter what you call them, they are still bad—very bad—behaviors.

I was watching Master of None last week on Netflix, and Aziz Ansari’s character of Dev had asked a woman to go to a concert, but she didn’t reply in a timely fashion, so he asked someone else. At the 11th hour, woman #1 (aka the flake) came through, and Dev had a dilemma: Go with woman #2 as planned even though he prefers woman #1 or cancel on woman #2. There should be no dilemma. Woman #1 didn’t answer, so no date for her. Dev rationalizes with this sequence below:

Dev: Ah, it’s pretty rude to flake, man.

Friend: Bro, listen to me. How many times have girls flaked on you? Think about all that emotional stress they caused.

Dev: I’m hearing what you’re saying. Eh, maybe I’ve been looking at this from the wrong angle. I mean, whatever. We can be shitty to people now, and it’s accepted. It’s one of the great things about being alive today.

This made my brain hurt!! Bad behavior should not be replicated because people have bad behavior!

Dev, and all the dates out there who are thinking about flaking, either don’t (the optimal answer) or don’t schedule dates you don’t want to go on! And, if you do need to cancel, remember that there’s a person at the other end, with real feelings and real things to do besides wait around for you.

I welcome your comments below.

Are We Still On? Dating in the Time of Flakes.

21 thoughts on “Are We Still On? Dating in the Time of Flakes.

  • Pingback:Are We Still On? Dating in the Time of Flakes. - Zagadis.com

  • July 20, 2017 at 9:28 pm
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    Erika,

    I completely agree with your analysis. There are indeed times when unforseen events compel cancellation. I think it essential that when someone cancels, that person should propose a new date at the time of the cancellation. Otherwise, it is reasonable to assume lack of interest.

    Any chance you can make the type appear darker in your web articles? Medium gray on light gray is hard to read!

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • July 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm
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      Thanks so much for your thoughts… and the notes about the color!

      Reply
  • August 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm
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    I’ve been stood up twice recently.

    Once I texted to confirm 30 minutes before the date (because he still hadn’t chosen between 2 of the proposed date spots) and he texted to say he was still at work. He didn’t actually cancel, just stopped responding to my next texts. Then I texted the next morning, and he apologized profusely and asked for another date. Nope! He still sent several “hi” “hey” “hello” “it’s going to rain tonight” “:(” texts afterward. Sigh.

    The other time, we agreed to meet at a spot the day before, and I showed up at the designated time and spot. I texted him and waited 45 minutes, and left in tears. A couple of hours later, he texted me saying that because I hadn’t sent an additional text confirming the day of (not a response to a text he sent, as he didn’t communicate that day), he decided to read his book and take a nap. He blamed me!

    This trend is making me not want to go on dates anymore.

    Reply
    • August 12, 2017 at 5:47 pm
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      This is awful, and I’m so sorry it happened to you. But, don’t stop dating because of two sub-par men. For every two jerks like that, there are also amazing men out there who can’t wait to meet you… and they’ll show up! We can’t change other people’s behavior, but we can do things on our end moving forward, like confirming a day before (with specific language) to try to prevent this. Should you have to do that? No. But for your sanity, it might be worth it.

      Reply
  • August 17, 2018 at 10:47 pm
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    I have yet to meet a truly amazing man. I’ve had 4 serious relationships in my life of varying lengths and each and every man turned out to be classs A jerks!!
    I give up!

    Reply
  • November 2, 2018 at 2:32 pm
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    Lots of articles about what to say to cancel, but I’ve yet to find an online opinion about someone who doesn’t call to cancel, when the situation is it’s inescapable you’re going to see each other again regardless for social reasons.

    Let’s call them ‘the woman.’ The date time and place is her suggestion a week earlier. The other person, let’s call them ‘the man’ makes a call 6 hours ahead on the same day to share some details because they haven’t been in contact since the date was made. This is when she drops that she can’t make it.
    So if the guy didn’t make his call, was she ever going to let him know on her own volition?

    Reply
    • November 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm
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      I wish I could answer that question, and from “the woman,” I have to wonder, if she doesn’t send a day-of confirmation, was he going to do so or simple show up… or not? The only think I can preach is to be kind and responsible.

      A client of mine god stood up yesterday, with him saying “he forgot,” which is unacceptable. I told her to call him and say, in no uncertain terms, “Your time is not more valuable than mine.” This did this and sent a text. He never responded again.

      Reply
  • December 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm
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    I have just come out of a long term relationship and I feel so sad that this is now the state of things.
    Before I met my ex, I think I went on about 30 dating app dates with different men, with no cancellations or flaking. Now i’m back out there and it seems that everything has changed.
    In just ONE month I have had three different guys flake on the day of the date! One of these has really affected me as we have been chatting online for weeks and I really felt that we could have a connection, in fact I still do. But there is nothing I can do. He ignored my message asking ‘how come?’ when he flaked.. and thats it. I would love to get his attention again, and its actually driving me a little crazy. I consider myself confident with a lot to offer to a relationship with the right person… but when a match refuses to even meet up I literally don’t stand any chance at all!! WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO! (I am very close to just hanging around near where he works and jumping out on him with a couple of takeaway coffees and force a date on him!)

    Reply
    • December 17, 2018 at 2:52 pm
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      Ugh — I’m sorry that happened. I agree that times have changed, and technology makes it too easy to simply “poof” and disappear. Do not (and I know you know this already) show up or stalk him. You can, however, get closure for yourself, which is what I recommend a lot of people do when this happens. Keep in mind, though, that this is for your peace of mind only, not for him, and he will still not answer (as in, DO NOT expect a response — he’s too weak to send one). Text this, “When you canceled on our date, I was pretty disappointed since I had been looking forward to it. I do wish you had either rescheduled or told me why you had a change of heart since it was so abrupt. All the best to you.”

      Reply
  • March 23, 2019 at 7:06 am
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    I just had this happen to me. Met a guy through a dating app and chatted, only to have him ask me out for the next day. He said he believes in meeting people in person right away. We had that date which was great, and decided we wanted to see each other again. The next weekend we each had plans already on different days. He asked if he could come over Saturday night after my plans ended (I had an event that lasted until 10). I said yes although it was going to be late. I texted him around 9:45 pm to say the event was wrapping up and he said he was too tired to come over. On one hand, great that it wasn’t just a booty call, but I thought it was frustrating that he only told me that he wasn’t coming after I texted him. We got together two more times that next week (Monday and Wednesday) and again had a great time. Made a date for the following Friday. We didn’t say where or what time but said let’s go out. Friday rolls around and I texted him a general “Hey! How’s your day going?” message. He answers that it’s fine and asks how mine is going. I answer, waiting for him to bring up our date that night so we can hammer out some details. Nothing. I texted “So what are we going to do tonight?” with a smiley face (of course to keep it breezy) around 1:30. I hear nothing back from him. He has been a consistently slow to reply texter the whole time I have known him except for the very first day we chatted. At 5 pm, I called him but got no answer. I texted again saying “Hey, I thought we had a date tonight. What’s going on?” He replies 20 minutes later “Ugh I have the flu. I think I caught it at school yesterday.” (He just started a night class at a college the night before). I sent a text back saying “Why didn’t you let me know? I mean if you don’t want to go out with me you can just say so.” I immediately felt like I went overboard – what if he really WAS sick but would want to see me on another day? I sent another text saying sorry for that knee jerk reaction, and how I thought he was blowing me off. I said I hoped he isn’t blowing me off because I had a lot of fun with him and would like to spend more time with him, and chalked this up to me being newly back into the dating world. No reply and I’m not surprised. But I’m sort of kicking myself for my response. Although at the same time, it seems like he SHOULD HAVE let me know if he was truly sick. It shouldn’t have been a reply to MY text. Am I crazy here?

    Reply
    • March 27, 2019 at 11:33 pm
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      You are not crazy in the least. Your gut was 100% correct — he wasn’t being respectful of your time. The only thing I would have suggested to do differently is not second-guess yourself for telling him to just be honest with you. Sick or not, he left you hanging. I’m pretty sure sick people still text. You want to be with someone who prioritizes you, who respects your time, and who — at a minimum — has the maturity to kindly let you down if he’s no longer interested.

      I’d like for you to worry less about how something comes off to a guy (you have every right to ask what’s going on with your date — it’s your schedule too) because he clearly didn’t care how something came off to you! You’ll see how someone who truly wants to spend time with you treats you, and there won’t be guessing games.

      Reply
  • April 13, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    I just wish I knew why. I messaged and then texted with a guy for a few weeks. We flirted a bunch and he kept saying he couldn’t wait to meet me in person and suggesting all these things we could do in the future. We had one date scheduled but when I sent a “Looking forward to tomorrow “ text the day ahead, he said he had a family thing, apologized several times, and we tentatively scheduled another for today, with him saying he’d let me know for sure. We texted about other things yesterday but no mention of yes or no to date. I haven’t heard from him, though he’s posted online so I know he’s not in a coma or unable to access a device. He’s the first guy I’ve actually been interested in since I started dating again. I really didn’t think he was the type to ghost or leave someone on the hook but I guess I was wrong. Do I text him at all? Ask why he never decided about today? I don’t want to waste my time, but something keeps telling me to give him another chance, even as several other guys have asked me out, so it’s not that I’m just desperate for a date. Help!!!

    Reply
    • April 14, 2019 at 11:34 pm
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      Sorry I’m just able to get to this now! What ended up happening? No one should leave you hanging like that. As with Maggie, you need to know your plans. What if it were reversed? You, of course, wouldn’t care if he followed up to ask what was going on. So why shouldn’t you? But, know full well that if someone wants to see you, he will make the time and not flake. I’m sorry that happened!

      Reply
  • May 19, 2019 at 2:22 pm
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    I’m seeing a really great guy (when I actually get him in person), but who is a flake. He suggests a date but gives no info on place or time. I end up chasing for an update, since I like to plan my day. Often it ends up nothing happening or work/family took over – like a lot of overtime work. My last date I sent a firm text saying this isn’t on, and my time is valuable and do you really want to see me, what do you really want text. I haven’t heard back from him. Part of me worries I was being too heavy. The other part, this is getting beyond a joke. When he is with me and texts, it’s like really romantic and wonderful. But the flaky date thing really gets me, and its starting to give me a bit of anxiety because I don’t know whether the date will go ahead. The trepidation takes away from the experience of just enjoying the process of dating. Is there ever hope that a flake will buck up? Is it time for me to walk away?

    Reply
    • May 21, 2019 at 5:18 pm
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      Some people are just bad at planning, and some will be flaky when they’re just not that into you since you’re not at the top of their priority list. Regardless of which it is, it’s annoying, especially for a planner like you. You were not too heavy. I truly believe that you get what you allow, and not enough people (especially women) express what they need. I’d send a final text, “Hey there. I was really enjoying getting to you know, but all the wishy-washy plans made me feel like I’m not high on your priority list. I’d love to be wrong, but either way, I wanted to reach out to share my thoughts. If you don’t want to continue seeing each other, please let me know, and I’ll gladly respect that.” For the record, you should not *have* to do this. It’s simply closure that you’re giving to yourself since he’s not providing it.

      Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 2:19 pm
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    This actually happened to me very recently….got chatting with a lady on a dating app, had a phone call, date arranged for 3 days later. A day before, I write to say I had found somewhere to go and got no response. I gave her the benefit of the doubt, called and text the day of the date to confirm times, still no response…..it’s just rude, people are commoditised by these apps.

    Anyway I now have a date fixed for next week with someone who seems nice…….just hoping there isn’t a repeat!!!

    Reply
    • August 20, 2019 at 3:00 pm
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      You call it rude; I call it cowardly. Either way, it had nothing to do with you. Good luck next week!

      Reply
  • August 23, 2019 at 5:26 pm
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    I was flaked on recently by an online date. He asked me out, we made plans for the following week. He said, oh, I have to wait so long, lol. He wished it was sooner I guess.
    Either way, he texted almost daily before the date with hey how are you doings, cute photos, compliments, etc. He continued to say we still on for the date, he seemed very interested. He even confirmed the night before.
    Date night rolls around, I’m thinking it’s happening, and crickets…no text, no call, nothing. I had been the last to text him the night before, so it was definitely on him to reply by then.
    I finally reached out over text at the end of the night, knowing I was flaked on, and he called me right away. Said oh yes, we are hanging out sometime, work was crazy tonight, etc. He immediately said are you free the next day, or the weekend.
    At that point, I was unenthusiastic about it, even though he sounded as cute as his pictures were. So I said I don’t know and it was hard to be free last minute.
    He said he would call me back after work, never called back. He did text after to say sorry for cutting our phone call short. So I said call me back later. If not it was okay.
    Never heard from him again. A shame because it seemed like it had so much potential going into it, but people cancel, flake and ghost now all too often.

    Reply
    • August 29, 2019 at 6:23 pm
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      I hate this. But he disrespected your time, so I’m glad you found out early. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating, though!

      Reply

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