What do I do when okcupid intersects real life?
April 17, 2014 8:43 AM   Subscribe

So, I was always terrified of this happening, but then I got over it. Well, it turns out I was right- eventually, if I stay on okcupid long enough, I'm going to hit the end of single men my age in my city.

I made friends with this chick a couple months ago, she's swell, we're both 26 and single, we get along great. I needed new girlfriends because I was new in town (again) and she needed new girlfriends because "all of my friends are guys I know through my brother." Well, she had been talking about inviting me out with "the boys" for ages but it never happened, until Tuesday. I went out, and met "the boys" who it turns out all work at the same software company. Throughout the night they say things like, "You haven't met Dan yet? You need to meet Dan." or "Does she know Matt? You'd love Matt." (names changed) Blah blah blah, I have a good time and it's fun.

I get home, and add them on Facebook. New friends! In my city! Guys who know guys! What could ever go wrong, right? Great news, right?

Turns out, through Facebook's ever-so-helpful "people you may know" filter, one of the absent "boys" is this guy I totally brushed off for an okcupid date last month.

Seriously, yikes.

It probably wouldn't be a big deal, except I actually responded to him and then set up a date and then cancelled it. We also had some chit-chat back and forth and exchanged names and numbers. I know, I'm a terrible person- seriously, I felt terrible about it at the time- I just didn't think there would ever be real-life consequences. Well, there are. Now I'm not so new-in-town and the city isn't a glittering fun bowl of anonymity anymore. Shit just got real.

Realer: We're going out on Friday (tomorrow) because it's one of their birthdays. The rest of the absent "boys" are probably going to be there.

I mean, we'll be drunk and dancing so it might not be terribly awkward, but then again, it might be.

The right thing to do is completely ignore it and pretend it never happened, right?
posted by quincunx to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I personally would be torn equally between pretending it never happened and preemptively sending a note along the lines of, "Sorry I blew you off! I feel like a real jerk. Blah blah blah...". Not sure what I would do at the end of the day -- I guess it depends on your tolerance for uncomfortable social situations.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:46 AM on April 17, 2014

Own up to it. Hey Matt/Dan, yeah I totally bailed and I'm sorry it was inconsiderate. I feel badly about that. Let me buy you a beer.

No deep explanations or heavy bad feelings, have a beer, shoot the shit, and that'll be the end of it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:46 AM on April 17, 2014 [47 favorites]

Stuff happens. I wouldn't bring it up unless he does and then play innocent / laugh it off. "Oh man yeah, I remember that! Sorry! Next round's on me to make up for it."

I'd bet that he won't remember or won't bring it up if he does.
posted by Diskeater at 8:52 AM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

Hey, if you legitimately cancelled (not stood him up) it will be totally fine. People understand that OKC is weird and not like real-life.

It goes down two ways:

1. He is a confident charming guy who brings it up himself. He'll probably be like, "Oh hey. This sounds weird but are you the Quincunx who cancelled on me on OKC?? Big mistake, yo. I'm pretty great." *grin*

And you'll be all faux-flirtatiously looking him up and down, "Oh yeah, BIG MISTAKE. What was I thinking?" *Grin* "No but seriously, things have just been so busy. OKC can be kind of overwhelming on the ladies' side of things. Glad I'm finally meeting you in person."

2. He's a little more shy and nervous, isn't messaging with very many girls on OKC at once, and actually felt rejected. You get to take the lead and say to him (quietly by the bar, where his friends can't hear), "I think you're the Ryan who I was messaging with on OKC a few weeks ago, right?"

Him: "Yeah..."

You: "Sorry I cancelled on you and we never managed to meet up. Things have been so busy with work and since I just moved here a few months ago, and dating has been kind of weird. Glad we're finally meeting as friends now."

I would NOT agree to go on a date with him now - he might try for a Take 2. Don't do that anytime soon because you just discovered this rich vein of cool guys, and you need to take it easy and figure out WHICH ONE you want to explore things with before you kiss one of them and damage your chances with all the rest.
posted by amaire at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2014 [24 favorites]

The right thing to do is to not do anything, then when you see him in person, just be friendly and cool and be like, "It's so cool that we get to meet in person after all, internet dating is such a drag, but meeting people in person is the best!"

I don't think you even need to mention cancelling on him, you were in your complete right to do so, and he might have done the same. It's internet dating, easy come, easy go.

Just be open and friendly in person and if you feel the need to bring it up (if he brings it up) then do so, otherwise just have fun.
posted by Locochona at 8:53 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Cancelling a date is not the same as standing someone up. You cancelled. That's it. It happens a million times in the world. Be happy you didn't stand him up.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:54 AM on April 17, 2014 [17 favorites]

It's not that big a deal. You could always say, "Last month was horrible, luckily I'm back in the swing and have more time to meet folks."

Honestly, I doubt he'll carry a grudge overit.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:55 AM on April 17, 2014

I personally wouldn't play dumb. Even if its just online, people are people. Plus if you're new in this social group, you want to start on a good foot with everyone.

Bonus: when you own up to it, it ups your classy level 2 points, even when your original cruddy action wasn't particularly considerate. Who knows it might be a funny 'how we met' story.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:56 AM on April 17, 2014

a beer and a brief, casual statement of regret/apology is full penance for this minor indiscretion. we all commit horrible social gaffes. cultivate imperturbability.
posted by bruce at 8:59 AM on April 17, 2014

I've had a few awkward encounters like this, via OKCupid and real life intersecting. Never this exact thing, but stuff like this.

I find the best way to deal with it is just to be upfront.

I feel like if you flaked on a date, it's probably fine to just apologize and give a stock reason like "Work has been so busy lately" or "I came down with the flu that week" or whatever.

I like St. Peepsburg's script. Own up, acknowledge it was a shit thing to do, buy him a drink or other token thing to seal the friendship deal. Then you move on.

However, I think there's probably an elephant in the room -- why did you really blow him off? If it's because you realized you're not attracted to him, and you really in person are not into him at all, you might need to spend a little more time massaging the situation so that he knows you're not interested without it becoming a whole Thing. I would probably just lay on the Just One Of The Guys thing on really thick, but then that's my go-to thing I do when I don't want to date somebody. And it might backfire if you do want to date some of these other dudes.
posted by Sara C. at 9:01 AM on April 17, 2014

This is how I'd handle it:

"Hi, you're Kyle! I'm quincunx and such a shit. Let me buy you a drink."

Accept that you were lame, own up to it, sheepishly chuckle, and drop it.
posted by phunniemee at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

"It's so nice to get out with people. It's been such a crazy couple of months."
posted by rhizome at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't avoid or tip toe around it. Dive into it! Swim in your embarrassment and awkwardness. Along yourself to enter into and have as much fun as it's possible to have being on the receiving end of a chain of karma you initiated all those months ago. Drink deeply at the magnificent lesson you have learned, that everyone is a human being and deserves consideration and respect.

Humbly apologize when you first meet. Be prepared to make fun of yourself and/or be made fun of. Then move on and have a great time, free of your guilty burden.
posted by jasper411 at 9:18 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

No! No ! No !!!!

What is there to own up to???

You made plans, something came up, you politely let the other person know.

That's fine. That's appropriate!!

You are not "flakey", a "shit, "cruddy" or rude or ANYTHING pejorative.

You were 99% more polite than 99.9% of the people dating online.

Go make friends! And feel free to either bring it up first, or talk about it if he brings it up. You can blame it in work obligations if he asks for a reason.

Asking for a reason from you would be rude of him, and if he does it, feel free to pat yourself on the back for choosing to keep this guy an aquaintance and not make him a potential boyfriend!

Go have fun. You are fine!!
posted by jbenben at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2014 [17 favorites]

Message him before and ask him if he's going. Say that you're glad you're going to have the chance to finally meet him, and hope for the best.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2014

Wow, yeah, you are going around the bend of shame for no reason. Please stop hurting yourself!

Let me give you my favorite technique. It is executed like this, in your case: "Oh hey! We were supposed to go out once and then I canceled on you!"

It *looks* like you're apologizing, except you're NOT. You're merely narrating the events of what happened—with a slight spin, perhaps. But you're addressing it, and setting people at ease—and letting him rise to the occasion as well. If he can. And also it keeps you in the driver's seat. Basically, whatever he says next, you just laugh. And maybe hoist a glass at him. Ta da! SHAME-FREEEEEEE.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2014 [15 favorites]

I would go for a "Hey, you're [username] from OKC, right?" when you meet and leave it at that.

(For the last six months I have been dating a guy who I randomly met in person after ignoring him on OKC. For me it was easier because I didn't realize I'd seen him on OKC until I'd known him for a month or so but it was still a little awkward.)
posted by mskyle at 9:43 AM on April 17, 2014

What is there to own up to???

You made plans, something came up, you politely let the other person know.

That's fine. That's appropriate!!

You are not "flakey", a "shit, "cruddy" or rude or ANYTHING pejorative.

Possibly but his feelings might have been a little miffed, and so it's classy of her to acknowledge it and try to make it better. Yes she totally played by the rules. And its really good to consider his side of things. Especially if this looks like a good friend group to be in with.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:16 AM on April 17, 2014

Did you cancel because you decided he was out of consideration, or because you just didn't feel like a date? If you decided you didn't want to go on a date with him, then no problem, he can be a possible friend now. If you would still consider a date, then you just hit the jackpot -- you get to see how he interacts around a shared group of friends and can decide whether or not he'd be someone you'd be interested in dating.
posted by mikeh at 10:17 AM on April 17, 2014

This happens in Austin so often that it is totally not a deal. You're fine. Enjoy the new opportunities!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2014

If it helps, the reason why I cancelled on him was because I had a really bad habit of scheduling two okcupid dates on the same day (my day off) - I swear MeFi, I'm not a player! - and I liked the other guy enough that I didn't want to complicate my life more at the time. I can't really tell him that, but it definitely wasn't "he's ugly" or "he's creepy" - he's actually cute and a cool guy.
posted by quincunx at 10:33 AM on April 17, 2014

Also, the only reason other guy was date # 1 and this guy was date # 2 was because he was out of town until late late that weekend. So, basically, total chance.
posted by quincunx at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2014

My best friend is about to marry a guy she flaked out on with OKC. When they finally did hang out together, accidentally at a party, things clicked for them. OKC brushoffs aren't the end of the beginning.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

also in austin, so maybe that's a thing? i dunno.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:49 AM on April 17, 2014

Canceling the day of for things that aren't late-breaking emergencies isn't great, but it's not awful. Assuming you were appropriately apologetic at the time, I don't think you need to continue to apologize at this point. If you didn't really apologize, well, then you have an opportunity to do so now, but you don't need to be abject about it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2014

Yeah, you totally have nothing to feel guilty about. He was probably disappointed at the time, but hey! now you get to meet in person anyway! Best to acknowledge what happened casually when you meet in person:

"Oh, we met on Okcupid! Geez, I'm sorry I cancelled on you at the last minute, work was crazy last month. Glad we get to meet anyway."
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:50 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Actually I think it's perfectly OK to say that you were seeing someone else at the time. It's understood that people using the site are actively dating and potentially meeting a lot of people all around the same point.

It also puts a pin in future stuff between you, which is good for your goal of wanting to meet more people to potentially date.
posted by Sara C. at 10:55 AM on April 17, 2014

Nthing the chorus of "It's not that big of a deal!" You'll meet him, maybe acknowledge and apologize for your prior flaking, be totally happy to get to meet him now, and have a great night. Don't worry!
posted by JuliaIglesias at 10:55 AM on April 17, 2014

Admittedly, I'm a 52-yr-old married dude, but.

If I were in his position, asked about it, and you said cheerfully, "Hey, sorry I had to cancel, something came up suddenly," and then offered to buy me a beer, that'd be the end of it.

I can't imagine being boorish enough to press about what exactly came up suddenly. If the dude does press you about it, well, you've learned something about him.
posted by chazlarson at 10:59 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't lie about crazy work or anything like that. Casually say you met someone and pursued it if you even feel the need to explain.

I've actually had this scenario happen to me before. Austin just isn't that big!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:08 AM on April 17, 2014

I've run into OKC prospects/contacts while on OKC dates. And they knew each other. Yeah, it's weird and a bit awkward, but it's the modern dating world and life goes on. I think amaire has it closest.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2014

Whatever you do, DO NOT make a big deal about how bad you feel about it or whatever. Beyond the fact that you don't have anything to feel horrible about, it might also put him a bit on the spot or even make him feel defensive. Imagine if you'd been cancelled on: let's say you were miffed at the time, but then got over it and met the person through friends. If they made a big deal about how bad they felt about it, you might feel 1. that you had to make a similarly big show about how it wasn't such a big deal or even worse 2. a little offended that they felt that they'd hurt you so badly, etc. I know the second is kind of silly, but online dating can bring out the silliness.

So yeah, what most people are saying here: bring it up if you want, but do so in a cool, low-key way and then move on.
posted by lunasol at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Why lie?

Actually I think it's perfectly OK to say that you were seeing someone else at the time.

I guess it is, but then you'd have to explain why u set up a date with this other dude. Makes it look as if u bailed on him, because u found someone better.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:13 PM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't see why you need to apologize or buy the guy a beer. You scheduled a date and cancelled it. Happens all the time in online dating. The last thing you should do is agree to another date or do anything else that leads him on.

I think it would be fine to just explain the situation. You went on another date with someone you liked and didn't want to waste his time. (You don't have to say when the other date was.) No big deal.
posted by cnc at 12:24 PM on April 17, 2014

This happened to me, and I didn't really explain anything. I just said "oh hey, sorry we never got to go on that date," and that was pretty much the end of it. I wasn't particularly sorry, but it felt okay to acknowledge it in some way that implied that I was still interested in going on a date if he was. YMMV.
posted by sm1tten at 5:11 PM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

There is a 75% chance no one will give a shit. A decent chance he doesn't even remember you. Maybe this is just NYC (which is really small, in a way), but I've been tossed into social media interactions with guys I flaked on (or vice versa), out with mutual acquaintances of guys I flaked on, even walked to the subway stop ALONE, AT NIGHT, with guys I flaked on, and it might have been excruciatingly awkward or a few seconds but not the kind of awkward that anyone ever said anything about. (also they tend to have had other girlfriends, which makes it a different kind of awkward, but the point is this is not a unique horrifying situation but more just dating in the Internet age and its particular brand of fun.)
posted by dekathelon at 10:59 PM on April 17, 2014

Ditto for this being an Austin thing. Totally has happened to me before, and now I'm super-good friends with the dude. The Austin okcupid community is REALLY small and really fun and chill.
posted by superlibby at 9:57 AM on April 19, 2014

I swear I'm not a player or whatever either but this has happened to me so many times and it's only ever been awkward this once:

One time I went home with a girl I had been dating and her roommate was someone I had very briefly dated like 3 years before. The girl I was currently seeing thought it was hilarious but her roommate was completely mortified. She was SO weirded out when I was at their place that she wouldn't even look in my direction, just run off to another room if she saw me coming. I really just wanted to be like "oh hey isn't it funny how small this town is how've you been?" and shrug it off, but nope.

Every other time I either didn't acknowledge it and it was fine (the time a girl I canceled a date on started working for one of my clients, and I couldn't quite figure out why she looked so familiar...) or just did the "oh hey funny to run into you, small world, how've you been" (the time a girl I went on a terribly boring date with showed up at my friend's party because they're on the same bike team). I've been on internet dates where I ran into someone I previously dated, or the bartender was someone THEY had previously dated. It happens all the time.

I think no matter whether you acknowledge it or not, it doesn't really matter as long as you show you don't think it's A Big Awkward Deal and just have a normal conversation.
posted by bradbane at 6:58 PM on August 12, 2014

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