We’ve all done it: Made up some excuse as to why we cannot go on a date. Maybe you were “sick”, lost your phone or it died, had an emergency, or just forgot. But, why do we do this? What is so daunting about telling the truth?
The Little White Lie
I recently reached out via social media and invited my friends to share the worst lie that they have told to get out of a date, and I got some great responses! The catalyst for this social media experiment was that one of my guy friends shared with me his frustration with the excuses he had heard recently, and I found this topic extremely interesting. He had been seeing a girl for a couple of weeks and asked her out for another date two days in advance. Her answer: “I need to check to see if I have plans. I usually don’t make plans that far in advance.” So… let me get this straight: You need to see if you’ve made plans, but you don’t make plans in advance, so how would you have plans in advance that you don’t make? Hmmm… the logic just isn’t there.
Another excuse was even more shocking; he had a woman tell him that she couldn’t go on the date because she had a bad case of diarrhea. So, you’d rather gross the guy out instead of tell him the truth? Maybe she’s thinking this will turn him off and ensure that he won’t want to ask her out again. Well lady, it worked, but come on, you had to be lying. No one would truthfully use this excuse because of how embarrassing it is. If you really had diarrhea, you would make up a different little white lie to tell.
On social media, I heard some other great excuses. One person said that a man told her he didn’t want to go out because it was raining and he didn’t want to ruin his hair. A MAN. Is this the male version of “I have to wash my hair”? I would expect this from a woman, but come on! That excuse is lame, and if it’s the truth then you need a reality check. I, for one, could never date a man that is more high maintenance than I am, and I am super low maintenance, so that bar is already set pretty low. A couple other common themes were using your sick pet or plans with friends that you forgot about as scapegoats.
Then there are the easy-outs:
“I need to focus on me/my job right now and I don’t have time for a relationship.” Then why are you out there pursuing one? Do us all a favor and take a break from dating until you’re ready. Or are you just trying to get laid? That’s fine, too, there’s someone out there that will fulfill your needs, but be up front about it.
“I just don’t feel a connection.” OK, I’m guilty of using this one because, technically, it is the truth. If you don’t feel a connection, then you don’t feel it. But the downside to this one is that it’s extremely vague and leaves the person more confused and just wanting to ask more questions, which has happened to me.
I told a guy that I had previously dated years ago, and tried to reconnect with recently, that I just didn’t feel the same connection with him this time around. Then the questions began: “Why didn’t you?” “What’s different this time?” “Is it because of how things ended before?” “Well what exactly is it that you’re looking for then?” This opened up a can of worms. I couldn’t explain exactly what it was or what I was looking for because I really didn’t know. Did he have some of the qualities I’m looking for? Yes, but he had changed.
He was over-the-top into working out (there’s a point at which this obsession becomes unhealthy, i.e. when you start taking steroids or testosterone to bulk up) and this, to me, was a red flag. Then I just wasn’t as physically attracted to him as I was before. And finally, I didn’t appreciate how he kept referring to the bartender at one of the bars we went to as “captain douche bag”. I was previously in the service industry for 10 years and did not think this nickname was funny, but rather degrading and rude. I tried to rationalize my decision to him, but eventually I just stopped answering his questions because I didn’t know how to answer them without hurting his feelings. So, it’s fine to use the excuse of “I just don’t feel a connection”, but respect the person enough to expand on your reasoning, trying to give them as many specifics on why you didn’t feel a connection, without eroding their self-esteem.
Then there’s the infamous, “It’s not you, it’s me.” This could mean one of two things. First, this means it is you, but I’m too chicken to tell you why. In this scenario, it is you, but they’re trying to end things without hurting your feelings. They think they’re protecting you but again, this is way too vague and doesn’t give the person who is getting dumped any closure, thus making it harder for the dump-ee to get over the dump-er. They’ll wonder what went wrong and start blaming themselves for why it ended, taking them down a dark path of deconstructing the relationship to pinpoint where they messed things up.
Second, maybe neither one of you did anything wrong to end the relationship, but the person initiating the “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation was just the first of the two of you to realize that the spark just wasn’t there anymore. In this scenario, maybe it really is “me” because “I” was the first to acknowledge these feelings. Someone can be perfectly lovely and date-able without being the right person for you.
So why do we lie, and who are we trying to protect? We’re going to end up hurting the other person’s feelings either way, so why not tell the truth? Why are lies our go to cop-out?
The Cheese Stands Alone
So what is worse, making an excuse for cancelling a date, or just not showing up at all? To a lot of people, not showing up is exponentially worse than a lame, cop-out little white lie. They don’t even get the opportunity to attempt to connect with that person. But why do we stand people up? There are an infinite amount of reasons behind this one:
#1 You were too nervous
#2 You really weren’t that interested in the first place
#3 You showed up and the person looked nothing like their online profile picture, so you left without saying anything
#4 You had a true emergency
#5 You over-booked and your first date of the evening/day ran late
#6 You honestly forgot about the date
#7 You were abducted by aliens
#8 You were kidnapped
#9 You were incarcerated
#10 You… died?
OK, the last 4 are obviously jokes.
I am reminded of an episode of Sex and the City where one of the characters, Miranda, had a first date lined up with a man and she was stood up. She was pissed off, confused, and wasn’t going to let him treat her this way. So, she called his phone. A woman answered who said that she was his mother. Miranda then went off on her telling her that she basically did a poor job raising her son, only to find out that he had just had a heart attack and died. Yes, it’s far-fetched, but who knows? It could happen.
So how do you cope after your date is cancelled by a little white lie or you’re stood up? You bounce back. Don’t criticize yourself or wonder what’s wrong with you. Don’t call and leave an angry voicemail or send a nasty text message. Fight all those toxic, knee-jerk, angry impulses and take 15 minutes to yourself to calm down and be at peace with the situation.
After you’ve gotten over your initial reaction, give the person the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to explain themselves. Send a calm text like “Hey, I’m here at the restaurant. We were meeting at 8, right?” Or maybe you say something like “Did I get the day/time wrong?” You don’t want to be overly emotional just in case the person is worth your time and there really is a true explanation. Then hear them out and decide what you want to do with their response. If they apologize profusely, saying they had an emergency or got the days wrong, give them a second chance. We all have busy lives, and wouldn’t you want a second chance if you honestly forgot or had a legitimate reason or not showing up? If they don’t answer or give you a lame excuse, then end it right then and there. You deserve better than that.
If you are still out there in the dating world, I have one crucial piece of advice for you: Treat others how you would want to be treated. If one of these things has happened to you in the past, and it made you feel like shit, don’t treat someone else that way. Be the better person, don’t stoop to their level, and take the high road. No one deserves to be disrespected, unless they’ve truly wronged you in some way. Have respect for people you’re talking to or going on dates with. We’re all human and we are all out there trying to survive the single life together, so have some compassion.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou