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Is it okay to renege on a date that you didn't know was a date?
July 2, 2012 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Is it ever okay to renege on a date if you didn't know it was a date in the first place?

A few days ago someone I don't know very well invited me out to an event. I said maybe and told the guy I'd get back to him once I knew my schedule. I was under the impression that this was to be a group outing, so I asked a mutual friend about when she'd like to meet us there and she revealed that she wasn't going because this is really a date and that this guy has been smitten with me since we met a year ago. (I haven't seen this guy since that first meeting.) Apparently he's been planning this for a while, which is sweet and everything, but I have no interest in dating this guy whatsoever.

Is it going to be bad form to reneg on the outing now that I know what I know? I've been pressured into going on dates with people I don't like before and I really don't want to do it anymore. What can I say to this guy so he understands?
posted by iLoveTheRain to Human Relations (55 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Honestly... he sounds creepy. I would say you know your schedule now and can't make it, and then avoid him in the future.
posted by DoubleLune at 12:18 PM on July 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


To answer your first question, sure, you can back out and it's "okay," especially since you said "maybe" in the first place.

If you're sure this "smitten" information is right, you can say "Hey Guy, it's come to my attention that this may be more of a date and less of a group outing. If that's the case, you should know that I'm not really interested in dating you." Then, if you want to do it as a group thing, say that. If your schedule is full, say that. But be explicit, don't say "oh sorry, I had said maybe, but my schedule is full" and then have a full schedule whenever this guy asks you out. Nobody benefits from that situation.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:18 PM on July 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


If I'm reading this correctly, your mutual friend (and perhaps others) are sort of in on it. While it seems romantic, I'm not sure tricking someone into dating you is the way to go.

I don't think it would have been bad to reneg on it if you knew it were a date to begin with or it were really a group event, so I think it's perfectly ok to say "No, Thank You" in this situation too.
posted by aristan at 12:19 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it going to be bad form to reneg on the outing now that I know what I know?

Learn the wisdom of The Brady Bunch: something suddenly came up.

DoubleLune: "creepy"? For asking someone out on a date to a public gathering who is mutual friends with others that the OP knows? Come on.
posted by deanc at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2012 [21 favorites]


General rule of thumb? It's always okay to renege on a date. It's a minor social obligation, not a contract. I can't name a single one of my friends who did not either flake on a date, or had someone they had a date with flake. It's par for the course and most people just shrug, say "well, shit" and make other plans.

What can I say to this guy so he understands?

So that he understands what? That you don't want to go out with him because you have no interest in dating this guy? I mean, "sorry, dude, I thought this was going to be a group thing" is really good enough.

Just make sure not to say stuff like "you're nice but..." or "this is really sweet but..." You want to cut this off at the root and trying to be nice about it is going to make things worse in the long run.
posted by griphus at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Under these circumstances, it's perfectly OK to call it off.
posted by Zonker at 12:20 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Sorry, didn't realize this was supposed to be a date. I can't make it."
posted by oceanjesse at 12:21 PM on July 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


its okay to renege. 100% OK.

but, why not go on the date and then tell him you're not interested after it. That way you're in the clear, and you never know. . . .
posted by Ironmouth at 12:22 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Er, sorry: "It's always okay to renege on a date if you're feeling weird about it."
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly... he sounds creepy. Huh? Exactly what did he do that was "creepy"?

Yes, it is very ok to say no thank you. "If this invite is for a date date I am going to have to say no thanks, that's not something I am interested in, I'm sorry if my misunderstanding mislead you."
posted by Cosine at 12:27 PM on July 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Your mutual friend has been a useful conduit so far. Asking her to convey your renege might keep the egg off everyone's face.
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:28 PM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this drives me crazy and I pull the "didn't realise this was supposed to be a date, sorry can't make it" line.

Pro tip: If you want to ask someone on a date? Do them the courtesy of letting them know so they can say no. Don't try to spring it on them later.
posted by fshgrl at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can't "renege" because you only said "maybe". Just tell him you decided to do something else by yourself. If he wanted to be let down gently he would have had to have summoned up the skittles to tell you he wanted to go out on a date with you in the first place. If he pursues further after this rather unsubtle dis your quickest route to unambiguous territory is to tell him flatly that you're not interested in dating. If you haven't already you could make it clear to your mutual friend that you're not interested as well as there since he apparently talks to her about his secret feelings.
posted by nanojath at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


That way you're in the clear, and you never know. . . .
The OP says this: "I've been pressured into going on dates with people I don't like before and I really don't want to do it anymore. "

I think she does know.

And yes, OP, you can back out of a date that makes you uncomfortable at any time. "I'm sorry, it seems like we've had a misunderstanding. I agreed to go because I thought it was a group outing. Thank you for asking, but I'm not interested in going on a date."
posted by rhythm and booze at 12:29 PM on July 2, 2012 [34 favorites]


I almost want to say you should decline and tell him that secretly making dates when on the surface it is friendly plans is a not-cool thing to do and to stop taking his social cues from improbable rom-coms, but that might be too confrontational for you.
posted by elizardbits at 12:34 PM on July 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


First, you're not reneging because you never said yes to the outing.

What can I say to this guy so he understands?

"I'm didn't realize you were asking me on a date, and I'm not interested."
posted by mikepop at 12:34 PM on July 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Except "I" not "I'm" since you want to use clear English
posted by mikepop at 12:36 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Definitely get out of this and don't go. The direct approach is better than making an excuse, or he may just try this again another time and you'll waste precious energy trying to decide if his next invite is a trap or not. I have found anyone who thinks springing stealth dates is the way to get someone interested in them is bad news. Super bad form.
posted by griselda at 12:36 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


My gut reaction is that if you said you would "maybe" go, you didn't commit to anything and should call him and say, "yeah, it turns out I definitely can't make it." No guilt.

Something like this happened to me a while back -- a male friend/coworker asked me to "have a drink" some night after work. I said yes, because I am socially clueless. I arrived for our drink in ordinary clothes, sweaty from riding my bike, expecting to pay my own way. It turned out to be a serious Dinner Date at a rather nice restaurant I couldn't entirely afford to splurge on with no notice (protip: don't ask someone out for a casual drink when what you mean is a sit-down dinner date). It put me in a really weird situation. I'm still not sure how to deal with this person and mercifully have not really seen him much since this happened.

All this to say: feeling awkward and put on the spot sucks. If you have a bad feeling about this, bow out.
posted by Sara C. at 12:36 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can always not go on a date, for any reason.

It's not a wedding, bar miztvah, funeral, family reunion or a ride from the airport.

Dates have perhaps the lowest possible 'threshold of exit' of any social event.
And that's a good thing given the sexual connotation dating has.

plus you said maybe. maybe means "yes or no depending" now it's a "no" easy peasy.
posted by French Fry at 12:37 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, what this guy did IS creepy. Subterfuge is not a path to a good relationship.

Tell this guy flat-out that you're never going to date him. And, while it may *feel* awkward to you, you're totally in the right to call this thing off.
posted by Citrus at 12:38 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


deanc: DoubleLune: "creepy"? For asking someone out on a date to a public gathering who is mutual friends with others that the OP knows? Come on.

It seems to me that it was implied to be a group date, but is not. So while iLoveTheRain would be expecting to find all her friends there... she'll only find this one guy who she really doesn't want to spend time with.

Last time I checked, that was lying and lying is a little creepy. I know the guy probably thinks it's romantic, but there's a fine line between romantic and creepy sometimes.
posted by aristan at 12:40 PM on July 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


It seems to me that it was implied to be a group date, but is not.

Well, we don't know what the guy said, exactly, only that the OP interpreted it that way, possibly filling in the blanks herself, likely influenced by the fact that she had no romantic interest in the guy.

Yes, purposely misleading the OP would strike me as creepy, but I don't see any actual evidence of that (which is not the main point of the question, which is whether she can renege on the date, which she can, no questions asked, simply with a, "It turns out that I can't make it that day! Sorry!")
posted by deanc at 12:45 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Might I add, this is how I'd approach this: "Hey guy, I was talking to friend about the event you invited me to and she implied it was a date of some kind. Like you and I were going on a date, except I didn't know because I got the impression it was a group thing. Is that true?"

If he says yes, it's a date: "I would have appreciated it if you'd made that clear in your invitation. I'm sorry, but I'm not interested."

If he says no, it's a group thing: "That's great because I really hate it when people try to trick me into dates. It's so rude! What, like they don't have the balls to ask? I'm relieved. I'll tell friend she's mistaken and see who all can go."

I'm pretty adamant about stomping this behavior flat. Other people might be nicer.
posted by griselda at 12:51 PM on July 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


You're perfectly within your rights not to go. So as not to have any misunderstandings in the future, and to be completely above-board, just say, "Hey, I checked my schedule and it doesn't look like I'll be able to make it. You know, I asked some of our mutual friends about this and I think we had a misunderstanding. I thought it was a group thing, but it appears that it was a date. I'm so sorry for the disconnect, but I'm not really up for dating right now. Thanks for asking me, that was really sweet."

That way he knows that you don't want to date him, but that you're not adverse to group deals. Hopefully he's a grown up and won't get all huffy and stuff.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:52 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would just tell him you're not available after all and you don't owe him any further explanation.

He doesn't get the straight-forward "no thank you, I don't want to go on a date with you" response until he asks you out on a straight-forward date.
posted by juliplease at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2012 [17 favorites]


After receiving the following message from him, I wrote him immediately and said that something had come up (with no other explanation):

"Hey! I happened to be at a party with some of your work friends and I thought I'd check with them for you to see if you would be free to go out with me on Saturday. Turns out they don't have anything planned for you so you're free to go! I'll pick up tickets and make reservations for dinner if you don't have anything else going on."

He sought out my coworkers to ask if I was scheduled to work. I'm gonna go with "he's creepy" and be done with it.
posted by iLoveTheRain at 1:04 PM on July 2, 2012 [55 favorites]


Yes, I now absolutely stand by my assessment of "has watched and been unduly influenced by too many terrible movies to function normally in society".
posted by elizardbits at 1:08 PM on July 2, 2012 [18 favorites]


Wow, I just read your update. That message is seriously messed up. He is being a creep. I'm glad you don't want to date him, it suggests you have good instincts. I hope he gets the message from your "something came up" response. If he persists in asking you out, consider whether you need to bluntly tell him that you aren't intersted in going on a date with him.
posted by Area Man at 1:09 PM on July 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I thought I'd check with them for you to see if you would be free to go out with me on Saturday. Turns out they don't have anything planned for you so you're free to go!"

Oh wow, that is totally not OK.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:10 PM on July 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


He sought out my coworkers to ask if I was scheduled to work. I'm gonna go with "he's creepy" and be done with it.

Yeah that's the creepy-controlling-manipulative trifecta, yikes. I'd follow up by asking my coworkers to please not share my work schedule with other people.
posted by headnsouth at 1:11 PM on July 2, 2012 [30 favorites]


Hey, wow, that's really fucking weird. To answer your next AskMe: tell him under no ambiguous terms and no filler that you are not and will not become interested in this personal romantically. I can almost assure you that this dude thinks perseverance is the key to your heart and you don't want to deal with that.
posted by griphus at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


I was going to take issue with all the "he's creepy" assessments going on in here, 'cause from your initial post he didn't sound creepy to me at all. Then I read your update, and got mad creeped out.

Yeah, this dude telling you that you're free to go out with him? You are not only free to call it off, but smart to do so. Furthermore, you should call him on that shit and tell him to go kick rocks.

Creepy.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:14 PM on July 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


DoubleLune: "creepy"? For asking someone out on a date to a public gathering who is mutual friends with others that the OP knows? Come on.

I've been 'tricked' into a date before, and only realized I was on a date about a half-hour into it. It's a horrible feeling. Your entire mental space just immediately fills up with plots about how soon you can get the hell out of there. The guy wasn't being mean or even creepy, just heinously clueless, but it still made me feel taken advantage of.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I totally agree with the consensus here. This guy's smit with you needs to get squished right quick after he presumed to do all that to not only trick you into going out with him solo, but then checking to see if you had any other things standing in the way of him going out with you.

"Yeah, there's something huge in the way of me going out with you: YOU!"

Make it devastatingly clear how not okay this was. Then cut him off from future contact with you.
posted by inturnaround at 1:16 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, given the update, I vote "creepy and unable to functional normally in society." But as I said, it's an expected that a possible outcome to receive a response of, "something came up and I can't make it!" (caveat: his pre-existing problems might mean that he doesn't "get" this)
posted by deanc at 1:17 PM on July 2, 2012


this guy has been smitten with me since we met a year ago. (I haven't seen this guy since that first meeting.)

Oh my god, I have just reread the initial question and now I am even more creeped out. You met this guy ONE TIME, a YEAR AGO, NEVER saw him again, and in the interim he has obsessed about you such that he is now suddenly monitoring your weekend plans with your coworkers and making stealth dates with you?

ew ew ew ew ew ew.
posted by elizardbits at 1:25 PM on July 2, 2012 [27 favorites]


"Talking to my coworkers was completely out of line, never do it again. I am not interested in dating you and will not be going out with you." End of email.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:28 PM on July 2, 2012 [24 favorites]


Okay, at first, I did not see that you had provided any information to suggest that he had misled you. Without that information, I assumed that you had just gotten your wires crossed.

It is unfortunate that your mutual friend knew he had a crush on you before you did, however, it's also within understandable bounds for one friend to confide in another. He really should've vented to someone who didn't know you, but I don't think blabbing his feelings to one friend is a firing offense.

So, if that had been the way of it, I'd have advised saying, "are you asking me out on a date? If that's the case I am flattered but I must let you know that I'm not interested." Making an excuse is just unfair to someone who may have feelings for you - although I'd generally be cautious about any "feelings" that aren't confessed to you directly by the person having the feelings, but, you know what I mean.

But now he's, ew, gone to your COWORKERS to ask for your hand?!? He went to your COWORKERS to get a date with YOU? He's monitoring your schedule to find out when you're free and when you're not?

EW EW EW NO NO NO CREEPY AS HELL

I would say "I do not want to go on a date with you. I do not want you to contact me again. I do not want you to approach my coworkers for information about me again." Then I would go so far as to report to HR that a man has been pursuing you with inappropriate attentions and has used social engineering tactics on your coworkers to find out your schedule. Do this factually and unemotionally, of course, but you're gonna need a paper trail.
posted by tel3path at 1:30 PM on July 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Talking to my coworkers was completely out of line

Should be "talking to my coworkers about my schedule was completely out of line" since they're mutual friends.

I'd also tell your mutual friend that this situation is not cool or funny or cute and that she should not pass information along to him about you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:30 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wasn't creeped out until the update, because I thought it was just a "miscommunication" type of thing, now I'm thoroughly creeped. Also your friends/coworkers need to not be so free with your information or setting you up. I don't know the context of how he asked them or what they actually said but make sure your people know that you don't want to be set up and you definitely don't want to be set up with this guy.
posted by sm1tten at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it ever okay to renege on a date if you didn't know it was a date in the first place?

It is always okay to renege on a date if you feel uncomfortable going for whatever reason. If someone has shelled out cash at your express request - not them, say, buying a ticket for you without asking - pay them back. If you knew it was a two-person outing and you're backing out last minute, maybe do them the courtesy of recruiting a mutual friend.

But no - if you don't want to go, don't go. There is a big difference between being selfish and simply recognizing that your feelings should not be considered beneath someone else's.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 1:49 PM on July 2, 2012


He seems like the sort that takes cues from romantic comedies and is likely to be persistent. When you tell him no don't be ambiguous, don't say you're busy and don't say 'not this time'. Tel3path has a good script to use.
posted by Laura_J at 1:50 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like a lot of people I thought you were overreacting a bit the first time, or that you left out something where it was clear he was trying to mislead you. But the update is -- creepy as hell, but also weird. On a lot of levels, but in particular why would he think that the only option you have for socialising is hanging out with your coworkers, and if they say they're not seeing/working with you, you have to be free? That's bizarre.

Say you are not free. You should try to be unambiguous, but I'm pretty sure that even unambiguous no's mean yes in romcom world.
posted by jeather at 1:59 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh Dear.

Well, problem solved. Have a chat with your co-workers about not giving this guy any information about you.

I feel like I need to sanitize myself. Gross.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:07 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay - just read the updates....and....gross.

Don't tell this guy you are "busy" - he doesn't deserve that response. He deserves the response that his asking about you to coworkers is super creepy and stalkerish. Guys like him will simply continue asking until you are not "busy", becoming more and more persistent and asking more and more people about your schedule.

Once you tell him block him from your email/phone, because he still won't enjoy what you have to say.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 2:09 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, ew, no. Watch yourself around this weirdo.
posted by Occula at 2:16 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought I'd check with them for you to see if you would be free to go out with me on Saturday. Turns out they don't have anything planned for you so you're free to go!

Hoo boy. Well I predict this one will decline to "get it" without being delivered a straightforward not interested in you, never gonna be at some point. Seriously what is wrong with people. As soon as he comes back for approach number two (and I just know he will - he will probably try to turn this refusal into a "reschedule") - tell him you're not interested in dating him, no ambiguity, watering down or embellishment.
posted by nanojath at 2:26 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


WHAT JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE HOLY HELL

"I talked with your coworkers"?

"Since you don't have plans with them, you're free to go out with me?"

PEAK CREEPY HAS BEEN ATTAINED
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:59 PM on July 2, 2012 [23 favorites]


I was going to take issue with all the "he's creepy" assessments going on in here, 'cause from your initial post he didn't sound creepy to me at all.

Rule of thumb: If person A proposes an outing to person B, and person B has good reason to believe that a large group of friends and acquaintances will be coming on the outing, and meanwhile person A has gone to the other friends and acquaintances and told them "Don't come on this outing because I dig person B and I want to get them alone" that is motherfucking creepy as fuck right there.

That said, my jaw dropped when I saw the level of creepy this dude was actually capable of. I may be going to pull the covers over my head forever now.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:03 PM on July 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wow, my Creep-o-meter has gone right off the scale from 'inappropriate' to 'be careful'. You've never even had a date and he's already checking up on you and manipulating you? Run, run like the wind.
posted by Jubey at 5:18 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Holy hell.

Thank that little voice in your head that said "I don't want to do this" and stuck to it in the face of "that doesn't seem creepy!" Trust that instinct going forward.

This guy's got boundary issues and then some, and I'd damn sure tell your coworkers not to participate in any more of this back channel bullshit. This is the kind of person NO MEANS NO was designed for, and I'm sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by Space Kitty at 6:04 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's always ok to back out of a date.

This wasn't a proposed date, this was someone exhibiting stalker tendencies. Any further contact should get hard-line, unambiguous, permanent rejection.
posted by ead at 6:15 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


A guy who is "smitten" for an entire year after a single meeting and does nothing, despite having mutual friends, until he finally works up the courage to arrange a sneaky stealth date is probably creepy. This guy has now registered off the creep scale. If he persists further in his pursuit of you, then in addition to telling him yourself, tell your mutual friend to let him know he really needs to leave you alone.
posted by hazyjane at 10:30 PM on July 2, 2012


Although, the good thing is this is the best kind of confirmation you could possibly have that your instincts are accurate and worth trusting.
posted by Laura_J at 1:59 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


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