How to Cancel A Date Without Being A Douche
I got stood up this weekend. It’s not the first time. I know it’s wishful thinking to declare that it will be the last time, but I’m a wishful thinker generally, so for shits and giggles, I’ll declare it the last time. Anyway, I was way more emotional about it than I logically should be and I had to look within to figure out why. At first, my wishful thinking made me think that maybe I had a deep connection to this guy even though we’d just met, so his actions affected me more profoundly than they should affect me. Then, my brain kicked it and ruled that out as idiotic. This guy is just a guy. I’ve dated better guys. Yes, that’s me throwing shade, but I think I’m entitled to a little shade throwing.
Next, I thought it was because he told me a blatant lie in order to cancel our date. I reasoned that I got so upset because he underestimated my intelligence. I think that’s a solid reason for being upset, but something inside kept nagging at me that that wasn’t it. If I was just mad, it might make sense, but I wasn’t just mad. I was sad. I ate ice cream and listened to sad Anita Baker songs. I posted inspirational quotes on social media. You know I’m going through it when I start posting inspirational quotes online! I actually cried . . . like water tears. That’s more than mad and it’s way too much over some guy I just met.
I had to figure out my emotions. Could it be that I spent time getting ready? That’s annoying, but it’s par for the course for doing anything outside of the house. Could it be that I turned down dates with other guys and rearranged my schedule to accommodate him? It’s always bothersome when this happens, but those guys were still around and I had enough time to figure something out in lieu of the ice cream, so I had to rule that out. I went to bed without figuring it out, but I woke up feeling great and everything was going fine until I saw a text . . . from the guy . . . who stood me up asking me if I was mad. OMFG! The emotions flooded back. I busied myself with work, then all of a sudden the real reason that I was actually mad and sad and disappointed hit me so hard that I had to write it down to get it out of my system. It hit me that I was crying and emotional because I felt rejected, but not singular rejection. The rejection I felt from this guy cancelling at the last minute with a lie wasn’t just about him to me. His rejection was a pile on from all of the times that this has happened to me in the past. Suddenly, it all made sense, which was cathartic in a way. My tear filled ice cream night with Anita Baker makes way more sense when I’m mourning a series of the identical treatment from multiple men, than if I was mourning over treatment from just one guy, who I barely know. This makes me feel way less crazy.
The details of each occurrence are different of course, but the overall story is the same. Guy make plans. Guy cancels plans. Of course, Girl is a bitch if she doesn’t empathize with his “emergency”. When she doesn’t ask questions, he offers more information and apologizes profusely. Somehow, it’s never profusely enough to pick up the phone, but it’s as profuse as one can be over text. If Girl asks questions to poke holes in his easily pokable “emergency”, then she’s difficult and it gives him the perfect reason to not deal with the difficult, distrustful woman. What kind of Girl questions another person during an emergency? An evil, thoughtless one. If this happens once or twice, it’s not necessarily anything that deserves heightened emotions, but when it happens consistently, it makes you start to blame yourself.
There was a time when I would have replayed everything in my head and blamed myself for this guy’s actions. The last time I got stood up, I was 15 minutes late and I kept thinking maybe he was there and if I hadn’t stopped for gas or done my nails, I would have gotten there before he left. It’s ridiculous. He didn’t come. If he was there, he should have called. He’s an asshole. The first time I ever got stood up was on Valentines Day when I was 16. It would have been my first date. I spent $40 on gifts for my “boyfriend” and he just didn’t show up. My family felt so sorry for me. I pretended that I was okay, but I wasn’t. I can’t remember his excuse, but it was a lie. I kept thinking maybe I should have told him that I had gifts for him, then he would have shown up. I really could write a novel about all the times that I’ve been stood up. I actually did a video about one time. The subtitle is “No this Mo Fro Didn’t”. I can’t give those plentiful instances energy though. Once I publish this, I’m going to focus on all the great guys who have not cancelled because I believe that you attract what you think about, so I’m going to think about making a positive, measurable contribution to mankind.
This time, I did replay everything in my mind and I did make some questionable choices, but I don’t blame myself for anyone else’s actions anymore. If you are a woman reading this, please don’t blame yourself either. It’s not fair to blame one guy for the actions of all the other guys who do things like this and it’s also not fair to blame yourself for another person’s insensitivity either. You made a date with a guy who would rather do something else. Who cares? There are plenty of men. We all have to start focusing on the positive men in our lives and it would be even better if we stopped focusing on men and started focusing on ourselves. It’s okay to care about how we feel and it’s okay to keep our hearts and minds safe from people who don’t treat us the way we treat them.
I have to really quickly share one of my new pet peeves. It used to be funny to me, but now it’s irksome. I would like men who cancel dates to stop being typical and take the time to be more creative with their lies. Actually, I want all people who lie to be more creative and I really want people to stop hurting the older women in their lives. When I was a teacher, whenever there was a test or a project due, multiple students’ grandmothers and aunties got sick, fell down or died. Why does the grandfather never die? As an HR Director, whenever I schedule a day of screening interviews, at least 50% of the candidates mysteriously have a grandmother get sick, fall down or die. Do these people think that we don’t have Grannies that fall, get sick or die? Why do they spend days with their sick Grannies, but other people only spend hours? My grandfather and my grandmother both died. My aunt who raised me got Covid. I drove to Texas and back twice. My relatives have been sick and somehow, I’ve managed to date, take tests and go on interviews. I guess I’m Superwoman.
I know what happens. Guy decides that he doesn’t want to go out or he gets a better offer, but instead of being honest, he morphs grannies’ ailment into his attempt to not be seen as the asshole that he emcompasses. One man should not be lambasted for the failures of past men, but we should all be able to agree that when a man (or woman) cancels a date with you on the same day, he is an asshole. If he uses Granny as an excuse, he is a bigger asshole. Newsflash: Granny has made it for years without you, your presence does not make or break her and the reason you all kill off and hurt Granny so much is because you’ve probably made peace with her not being around. You could create a fake best friend that you’ve never met or kill off your mother. You don’t use either because you would rather kill off Granny than your fake bestie and even halfway lying about your mother being sick is out of bounds for all of you. However, no one sees the harm with hurting, killing or exploiting a prior injury from poor old granny. It’s elder abuse.
I will conclude with a public service announcement. The steps to properly cancel a date are detailed below. But first, I need to make two things very clear. 1) You are not responsible for anyone else’s emotions. Even an asshole should not be burdened with such a heavy responsibility, however assholes are responsible for their own actions. 2) It’s okay to not be into someone enough to want to spend your limited free time with the person. It really is acceptable. It’s okay to think you want to spend time with them and then change your mind. You don’t owe anyone your time. It’s okay to decide that you’d rather not spend your time with the person who you made plans to go out with because it’s your time.
The purpose of cancelling in a respectful manner is not to take accountability for someone else’s emotions, it is to take accountability for your actions.
Here are the proper ways to cancel a date:
If you never want to see the person again, the minute you start conjuring up a way to work Granny into the situation, STOP and write the following text: “Hello <insert name>, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to go out tonight. I know that you would like a more detailed explanation, but I don’t have one for you. I wish you love and success in the future.”
A phone call is best, but if you are the kind of person who would cancel hours before a date, I know you’re not going to call. Is the person getting this message going to be upset? Hell yeah, but he/she should be able to respect the fact that you didn’t lie to them and if you actually just stay the fuck away from them, they will be able to move on. Will they think you are an asshole? Of course. Let’s be honest here. You are an asshole because you shouldn’t have waited to cancel and/or you shouldn’t make plans with someone then blow them off because something better came along. To summarize, you are an asshole, BUT you are entitled to your choices and this method makes your asshole choice less maddening because it is not infused with lies. Stop worrying about being seen as an asshole. It’s who you are. Own it or change it, but don’t make up lies in order to get some person who you don’t care about anyway to see you as something different. There is nothing worse than an asshole trying to parade around like a good guy. Seriously, I know good guys. They don’t cancel. They literally show up without confirmation, on time, because they care about other people’s feelings. You don’t. Own it and be responsible for your actions.
If you would like to see the person again, the minute you start conjuring up a way to work Granny into the situation, STOP, then START searching your calendar for a substitute time, date and activity. It’s not acceptable to cancel without suggesting a solid backup plan. “Let’s play it by ear”, “I’ll make it up to you”, or any non-specific platitude is NOT acceptable. Your text should say “Hey <insert name>, I can’t make it tonight. I apologize. I’ll tell you everything when we see each other. Are you available on <day> at <time>? We can meet at <place>. Let me know.”
There’s nothing funny about it, so we don’t need any jokes. The text needs to be direct. It needs to have a time, date, location and apology. That’s all. No one with their own life to live wants your long explanation. Whether the person responds or not, the text should be followed by a phone call. Sending the text without the follow-up phone call makes sending the text pointless.
Finally, if you have to read this to know how to cancel a date without being a liar, there’s nothing in a Medium article that can help you gain traction with a woman who has self respect. When my confidence was lower, I accepted all kinds of bull excrement from men, but one day, I started liking myself and because I like myself, it makes it very difficult for me to be around people who show that they don’t like me . . . for free. As I grow into my awesomeness, I tend to attract awesome people and my positive attributes have helped me realize that I’m too amazing to waste time with people who treat me in a manner that I would never treat them or anyone else. Amazing people do cancel at the last minute, but they don’t lie about it.
I guess the fact that you read this far means there’s hope for you, but be aware that you may be displaying your asshole tendencies in ways that are not detailed in this blog. Meditation works wonders.