The ‘cancel culture’ of dating and why you should avoid it

Technology makes it too easy to cancel a date or just not show up

A former client sent me a screenshot of a conversation she had with a man who she had not yet met and asked for my advice. At 9 p.m. Thursday, he suggested a day (Saturday), time (3 p.m.) and location (cute coffee shop). All of the details were set! At 7 a.m. the next day, she replied with, “Perfect! I will see you then!”

But she didn’t see him then. Why? Because she didn’t show up. She was waiting for yet another confirmation on the day of. I told her, as I would tell anyone, that once something is confirmed, which this date was, then you show up. Pure and simple. If you’re not sure, you ask. Stop testing people. We are so quick to dismiss, disqualify and think the worst in people that she ended up standing up her own date, thereby making herself the person she wanted to save herself from.

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I give the advice to my male clients to use the “confident confirmation” of “Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow” vs. the weak “Are we still on?” But in this case, I do believe one confirmation was enough.

In talking to both male clients and friends, I know they 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 I’m somehow now in the minority of people in not canceling plans. I have a strong sense of obligation, even if I don’t know the other person, to uphold a promise I make. And I respect that in other people.

Very sadly, we live in a world full of flakes. What’s at play here? Technology. You can cancel on someone without seeing their reaction or even giving a reason. But remember that there is an actual person at the end of the phone. A person who has set aside some time in their life to meet you. Sure, there are valid reasons to cancel, but even if you have one, remember that your time is no more valuable than someone else’s.

Here are some rules:

1. If you need to cancel within two hours before the date, call the person. Yes, call. If it’s more than that, you can send a text. But follow up to make sure the other person received it.

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 “I’m sorry” into any cancellation. Those words go a long way.

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Whether it’s canceling on someone at the last minute, which so many of my dates and my clients’ dates have done, or ghosting, remember that no matter what you call them, they are still bad behaviors.

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Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.