I wasn’t sure what to say when he stood me up right before our first date so that he could go out drinking with his friends (mind you, we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, but let’s forget about that small detail right now).
Like, uh, okay?
Thanks for letting me know while I was getting ready instead of when the date was supposed to happen, I guess?
What the hell are you supposed to say when someone cancels on you at the last minute?
He said that he and his friends needed a final hoorah before the bars shut down (again) because of the spike in COVID cases after Thanksgiving.
When I told him that “canceling day of to go out with friends is kind of lame” and that I didn’t really want to entertain his offer to reschedule, he responded with “I mean they’re my friends but ok. I guess we don’t have to reschedule.”
I literally didn’t know what to say…and I’m not usually one who suffers from a lack of words.
I didn’t know how to explain to this stranger how not only was a last-minute cancellation for a non-emergency rude, but it also gave me the impression that he wasn’t all that interested in getting to know me at all, if a last-minute offer to go drinking friends took priority over plans we’d made several days prior.
Initially I was kind of upset when he cancelled on me. I had set aside time to get to know him that evening, not to mention all of the time that led up to him asking me out…but after giving it some more thought, I was happy that he did this now, and not five or ten dates in.
For the better part of a decade, I’d pleasantly forgotten what an emotional rollercoaster it is to put yourself out there…between the outright rejection and dandruff-like flakiness, dating (at any point, but especially after a LTR (longterm relationship)) is pretty much the worst…right up there with spinal taps, root canals, and those hangovers even a greasy brunch and bloody mary can’t fix.
There’s the build up and excitement of getting to know someone new, but for every person you match with and strike up a conversation, there are ten who’ll leave you hanging at some point in the exchange.
You’ve got the ghosts, who abruptly stop replying for no reason…and then almost always slide back into your dms when they’re lonely and combing through their inboxes to revive old conversations like corpses without pulses.
Then you’ve got the last-minute cancellers (like this one) who are likely a combination of cold feet, non-committal types and immature boys who will drop anything (even you) for some last-minute invitation for room temperature beer and bar nachos with the boys.
I guess the truth about dating after a longterm relationship is it’s messy. It’s filled with endless potential, unmatched disappointment, and a constant balancing act between realistic expectations and wondering if you’re enough.
After I sent him the text that it was lame to cancel on me to go get drunk with his friends when we’d made plans, I started second-guessing myself.
“Maybe I wasn’t being understanding enough?”
“Maybe I should have been cool with him at least offering to reschedule?”
WAIT A MINUTE. What he did was shitty, plain and simple. I didn’t owe him anything.
A decent person would have kept plans, even if seemingly “better” plans presented themselves.
Maybe that’s not what everyone would do, but that’s how I was raised. If two birthday parties were scheduled on the same day, you went to the one you rsvp’d to first. If you made plans with someone that you weren’t stoked about when they rolled around, but you committed to, you still showed up (barring a legitimate medical excuse or other major emergency).
Maybe it’s old-school, but I think integrity is a quality more people should invest in, and if a first date starts off on the wrong foot, it’s fair to say any hope of a relationship thereafter would follow a similar pattern of him cancelling on you when something better inevitably comes up.
I let myself have a pity party of one for ten minutes before I ordered some takeout and deleted his number. Life is too short to waste your energy worrying about someone else’s missed opportunity. The right guy (or gal) will show up when they say they will, and they’ll continue showing up for as long as they’re interested in getting to know you. It might be two hours, it might be two years…but if they start out wishy-washy, you can’t act surprised when the tiger doesn’t change his stripes later on.
I’m not really sure how to navigate all of this, but I do know I want to be someone’s first choice and not a standby option if something better doesn’t materialize.
So a toast to the almost maybe’s and I’m so glad I didn’t’s; 20 year-old me definitely would’ve held out for a second chance…almost 30 year-old me would rather spend a night writing about a dodged bullet than triaging its shrapnel later on.