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How do I act around someone who cancelled last minute?
May 15, 2014 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Usually people who have this problem were cancelled on by someone they were dating online or otherwise won't see again, but my problem is that I will see him around a fair bit.

We are just friends and went out impromptu one night. He is male, I am female. We don't know each other that well, but have a fair number of mutual contacts.

After that night, he asked me out to a meal. I set the date (perhaps too enthusiastically) but then rescheduled the date. He agreed. We did not set a time and place.

I made the mistake of messaging a few times, and didn't notice until too late that he took hours, up to an entire day to reply. I wasn't sure if it was a date or not, but I didn't care either way because I wasn't that keen on dating him.

The day before, I messaged to ask if he was still going the next day. He didn't reply until the day of, where he said he'd fallen sick. I replied cheerily to feel better soon, but I was a little disappointed. He did not reschedule or message me after that.

All this is no problem to me. I don't doubt he has no interest in me. I had no intention of setting any more outings. And I'm not romantically interested in him although I am upset at being cancelled on so unceremoniously. I messaged him a few days later to find out how he was (also to bring some normalcy back into our..."friendship?") because he posted a cryptic status update on the Facebook newsfeed. He hasn't replied for a few days now. I am of course taking this very personally, and as a rejection. I cannot face him now because, well, so awkward.

I don't know what he's thinking, but I don't really care because I'm not that invested. But I have some degree of social awkwardness so I don't really know what to do in every situation. He hangs out where I live (a hostel complex) because he has friends here.

My question is: When I see him, what do I do? I've seen him twice since and I simply pretended I didn't see him. These days I've been cooping myself in my room to avoid seeing him downstairs, and when I go out I feel like I'm afraid to run into him so I just run past the lobby and end up ignoring friends because I don't look at anyone anymore, and it's really cramping my style. To the more socially-adept MeFites, can you please suggest what I should do? I definitely don't want to contact him anymore, and I haven't told anyone about this (nor do I need to talk to anyone about it).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am of course taking this very personally, and as a rejection. I cannot face him now because, well, so awkward.

I don't know what he's thinking, but I don't really care because I'm not that invested.


I'm sensing a contradiction here.

I think this is a simple case of a guy having second thoughts and then flaking out rather than saying so. It happens ALL the time, and shouldn't be construed as a personal insult or a judgement of you as a human. There are ten thousand possible reasons, some perfectly understandable, some which would make him a total asshole, none of which you need concern yourself with.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:03 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


Your personal style equivalent of playfully punching him in the arm and saying, "what the hell, stop ignoring my texts just because you don't want to date me!" with a smile.

That, or just look him in the eye, smile and say, "Hey, John," next time you see him, and then go on to talk to whoever you're there for. And keep doing that.
posted by michaelh at 7:05 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


If I'm reading correctly, this happened once, and isn't a pattern yet?

It wouldn't be inappropriate at all to say, next time you run into him and there aren't a bunch of people around, something like, "Hey, so what happened [Night X]? Is everything OK?"

He may offer an explanation, which you can then choose to believe or not. If it was me, I'd probably accept it just to end the awkwardness.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:06 AM on May 15


Can you be just as friendly as you were before you tried to go out?
Because, really, that's where you are at the moment--back to being acquaintances.
posted by calgirl at 7:06 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Just nod and say hi like you would to any other neighbor. Smile if you want. Give the impression that you have so much self-confidence and care so little about this guy that the canceled date had no effect on you. Hiding in your room and averting your eyes when you see him gives him way too much credit.
posted by payoto at 7:07 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I think the thing you REALLY need to do is be honest with yourself about how you feel about this guy.

No, hear me out - I find that a lot of times when I'm fretting about something and can't shake it it's because I'm trying to deny the way indeed about something or pretend something's not bothering me when it is. And when I finally admit to myself how I feel, that's when the feeling finally starts going away and I can more clearly see what to do.

I suspect that's what's going on here, because you're doing all sorts of verbal gymnastics to convince us that you're not interested in the guy, like, THAT way, but you're trying so hard it's coming more across like you trying to make YOURSELF believe that.

This guy has gotten under your skin somehow, and I think that maybe figuring out the root of what you feel about him and accepting it will help you start accepting how he feels too, and then from there it'll help you feel more comfortable about accidentally running into him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


He's just a guy. Try not to let your head get weird about this.

How do you act around everyone else who's just a guy? You say good morning if they're in your direct line of sight or if they've said it to you. You don't go out of your way to engage. You don't spend your time or energy worrying about them. You don't build up stories about them.

For a day he was a guy you might go out on a date with, that you weren't even excited about, but he never even turned into that. He's just a guy.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:08 AM on May 15


I think it would be helpful to force yourself to go downstairs and hang out, so you start to feel more comfortable leaving and entering your own home. Are you friends with the people he hangs out with? If so, I'd be polite to him—not ignore him—and focus more on the others. It seems like the best course for your own sake would be to forgive him and not try to avoid him.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:08 AM on May 15


If you can reasonably ignore him (eg you're with a bunch of people, he's on the other side of the street) then ignore him. If it would be impolite to ignore him, say hello, and keep walking.
posted by pianissimo at 7:08 AM on May 15


You are giving this guy way too much free space in your head, way too much of your time. And he doesn't even know about it.

Talk to people. Talk to him less than the other people.

See where it goes.
posted by RainyJay at 7:09 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Smile, wave, and do what you normally do.

Also, yeah, getting major mixed signals from the post. So what if he flaked out? Don't worry. Such is life. Take some deep breaths, acknowledge that you're irritated at the flaky, and stop letting it bother you :) Ball is in his court, it his turn to play, however you want to say it, so just... let go.
posted by Jacen at 7:11 AM on May 15


You came across as too eager and scared him off. The best thing to do now is to back off and just go back to being friendly acquaintances. When you run into him, pretend that you never had this exchange and be as you were before.
posted by alusru at 7:14 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Keep ignoring him, IMO. Not worth it. Maybe bring a really good-looking date around while you're ignoring him, couldn't hurt.
posted by quincunx at 7:18 AM on May 15


Break this!

If you summon enough courage to make it out your apartment, don't go talking to him. Print out this exact question (do not edit it at all) and go directly to a qualified therapist and place the print-out squarely in her view. She will likely know exactly what to do. Be honest and vulnerable with the therapist. You want a proper healthy solution that benefits your future.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:20 AM on May 15


Just act like you did before. Smile and wave when you see him. Be cordial, but don't pursue conversation with him beyond what's absolutely necessary. He will likely afford you the same. Acting like you don't see him is just weird, and will only make things weirder.

Are you currently taking any steps to address the social awkwardness you're talking about?

I ask because I'm seeing lines like these:

I set the date (perhaps too enthusiastically)

I made the mistake of messaging a few times

These feel a bit significant, and their actual meaning would affect the way you should handle the situation. I can't tell what you mean by too enthusiastically, or what you said in these several messages. You say you're socially awkward and don't know what to do in every situation. It seems like it may be possible that you're not completely aware of how you're coming off to other people.

If you don't want something like this to happen again, and if you have insurance, it may be a good idea to sit down and talk with a therapist, or someone along those lines, every other week or so.

I say this because there's another question underneath the one you're asking, and it's one that is beyond the scope of what the internet can really help you with. This is a guy who wasn't super into you, and you keep insisting you weren't super into him, but his lukewarm rejection has caused you to retreat into your room and not see any of your friends anymore because you're terrified of running into a guy who hasn't done anything wrong.

I mean, seriously, look at this:

I don't know what he's thinking, but I don't really care because I'm not that invested.

and this:

I've seen him twice since and I simply pretended I didn't see him. These days I've been cooping myself in my room to avoid seeing him downstairs, and when I go out I feel like I'm afraid to run into him so I just run past the lobby and end up ignoring friends because I don't look at anyone anymore, and it's really cramping my style.

If these two selections could be compressed down into two single words, those two words - whatever they were - would be antonyms. In addition to everything else going on here, I don't think you're really being honest with yourself. The reaction you're having, even for the "socially awkward," is not a normal reaction.

It can seem like a lot of work, but it's worth doing and it means that you become much less likely to have to deal with this kind of thing again. You can do this. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:28 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


When I see him, what do I do? I've seen him twice since and I simply pretended I didn't see him.

This is incredibly childish. If you want to go back to a friendly (or at least non-awkward) relationship, say "Hi" when you see him and smile.

I don't know what he's thinking, but I don't really care because I'm not that invested.

I don't want to discount your feelings here, but you've written several paragraphs about how offended you are by his flaky behavior and how you feel rejected by him. I think you could benefit, as EmpressCallipygos suggests, from thinking carefully about what you wanted from this dinner, why you're so torn up about his (irritating, but sadly not unusual/unprecedented among humans) behavior, and why you're reacting in this way.


Look: this would grind my gears, too. I think you're right to be a little peeved at him. But making A Big Thing of it isn't doing you or anyone else any favors.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:33 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that you're taking this waaaaaaay too personally. He doesn't respond to texts quickly? So what? Not everybody checks their phone at a rapid rate. I've received texts that I haven't even noticed until weeks later.

He canceled saying that he was sick? And you're mad about that? Maybe he was sick. Just throwin' that wacky theory out there as a possibility.

He posted something cryptic on Facebook? And you assume this cryptic thing is, what, about you?

And even if you're right, and he did do all of this as a way of passive-aggressively cancelling? So what? You say you're not interested in him anyway.
I am of course taking this very personally, and as a rejection.
"Of course"?
My question is: When I see him, what do I do?
"Hey, Ralph, how ya doin'?"
posted by Flunkie at 7:41 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


"Hi! Feeling better? Oh, good! See ya round."
posted by ulfberht at 8:15 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Oh, I see I missed the part where he said he was sick. I'm sorry - that negates my previous response.

For the sake of avoiding awkwardness, you must take that at face value, even if you don't believe it. If you feel you need some closure on it, ask him if he's feeling better, but then that has to be the end of it. Trust me as a fellow member of the Awkward Brigade - it will blow over if you let it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:44 AM on May 15


I don't think there's much of a contradiction between saying you don't care if you date him, and feeling embarrassed at the thought of bumping into him. I think you feel some kind of shame that you think you showed too much, that this guy will think you have crazy unrequited feelings. Even if you don't. Dating palaver throws up a lot of opportunities for shame and anxiety so maybe just accept that it happens.

Who care what it looks like. Just let it go. Recognise that you feel a little bit embarrassed to come off looking like you cared more than he did, or looked like you cared more than you did. So what? You made some effort for someone. Big deal. He doesn't get you, so forget it.

If you pass him in public be nice and don't feel remotely embarrassed. Say hi, how are you, bye. Next boy please! Dating is always going to be the dance of rejection and such, so keep moving.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:04 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


You didn't do anything wrong. He's the one who committed a social faux pas.

You don't need to do anything. You're fine. If anything he probably feels awkward around you because he knows he was rude to you, but that's not your problem.
posted by Asparagus at 9:05 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Oh, and please stop hiding out in your room to avoid him. Reclaim your space. Again, you're acting like you're the one that messed up, but he's the one that created this awkward situation.
posted by Asparagus at 9:11 AM on May 15


Don't worry too much.

He feels as awkward as you do - he asked you out to dinner and then flaked! You're probably right that he decided he wasn't interested, and he knows that he handled it rudely and poorly rather than like a grown-up.

His version of this AskMe reads "I screwed up and cancelled rudely last minute on a friend. I feel so awfully about how I've been ignoring her; she's a friend and I didn't know how to explain that I had decided I wasn't interested in dating. How can I fix this? I've just been avoiding her completely because I feel so awkward."

I think your instinct to be more aware of whether or not someone is replying and how quickly is right on. Let him generally text you first, and if he doesn't answer the last text, don't initiate again. (At least at the beginning of dating until you settle in with each other).
posted by amaire at 9:12 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I do get the feelings you are having of awkwardness. One thing that really helps me is to remember that this feeling will pass. Probably in under a week, if not just a few days. Knowing this, I sometimes have a mantra of 'live with the discomfort', until that few days is up. Go downstairs, see him, say hello, feel ok with feeling wierd. The next time will feel less weird, and so on. Usually, it won't take long to pass the awkward stage if you just let it happen and get it over with.
posted by Vaike at 9:14 AM on May 15


Be normal, and there is a good chance he will be impressed by your maturity. He will still feel attracted and then he will feel doubts over whether he was stupid to flake.

Or at least you can fantasize about that. Tell yourself an inner dialogue about how you are an awesome catch and he is going to be kicking himself, just like the no-name actress who rudely dumped Brad Pitt in his early 20s after he spend most of his money to go see her in Europe!
posted by cheesecake at 9:41 AM on May 15


I agree with urtberjt, behave as if you take his excuse at face value. Hey, maybe he really didn't feel well. But the ball is in his court. Let him make the next move, if there is going to be one.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:24 AM on May 15


Keep your chin up.
He's the one who should feel awkward, not you. He's doing the "slow fade" so F*ck him, he's obviously a cowardly guy and not the man for you!

You don't need to feel anything other than happy you dodged the bullet, and so, just keep your head held high when you next see him, act normally, be confident, smile and don't mention it!
posted by JenThePro at 11:41 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Smile, say hi if he acknowledges you, then keep walking. The only person making this awkward is you.
posted by Solomon at 1:53 PM on May 15


Here's what you do:

Big smile, while walking with purpose. As if you have somewhere to be and you aren't late, but if you stop and chat you will be.

Wave, smile the whole time, confidently and clearly, "Hey how are you doing? I'm good. I've gotta run. See you later!" Keep walking and don't look back.

Remember, you don't actually give enough of a damn to even remember that was rude to you.
posted by whoaali at 9:07 PM on May 15


[This is a followup from the asker.]
Thank you so much for your helpful answers. They helped me to see my overthinking, and definitely helpfully pointed me in the right direction. I do think I need to meet a professional and address the thought patterns I may have about certain things. And yes, this truly got under my skin more than I'm willing to admit, and more than I wish it did.

Someone asked me what I texted in those messages. They were to ask what he was doing at the time. He took a day to reply, so I ended up replying the next day. And then the next day to ask if he still was going. By too enthusiastically, I meant that I didn't let him plan when and where to go. He asked me when do we go have x meal, and I replied x date, then changed it to x day of this week. But I really should have let him plan it.

I saw him again tonight waiting downstairs with a friend, and I said hi, and I think in a pretty friendly manner. I was passing by to go to class. His friend sitting next to him heard me and looked up, and although I said hi again he himself didn't look up from his phone. I walked on to go meet another friend also at the lobby.

So I'm truly bewildered now. But I guess I'll just keep up the distant-but-friendly behaviour (hi when I see him, walk away) towards him. Thank you guys again.
posted by cortex at 9:13 AM on May 16


By too enthusiastically, I meant that I didn't let him plan when and where to go. He asked me when do we go have x meal, and I replied x date, then changed it to x day of this week. But I really should have let him plan it.

Nah. I said it before and I'll say it again: you didn't do anything wrong. When you're making plans with someone socially, it doesn't matter who picks the day of the week or whatever. At least when you're making plans with someone who is a reasonable normal human being.

His friend sitting next to him heard me and looked up, and although I said hi again he himself didn't look up from his phone.

Yeah, there's something wrong with this guy. If I were you, I'd probably get up in his face and be like, "Dude, do you have a problem with me? Did I do something to offend you? Let's sort this out." But you may not feel comfortable being that confrontational, and it's probably not worth the aggravation anyway so it's probably better to just ignore him.
posted by Asparagus at 11:26 AM on May 16


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