Nooope. Not going through this again.
April 22, 2014 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Actively dreading an upcoming date -- probably not a good sign, right? What's the best way to proceed?

He's a friend of a friend and I met him a week ago at their weekly pub night. We hung out with the group that night and he invited me to hang with another group of friends the night after. Right from the start we were weirdly PDA and physically close (yay, alcohol!) but I didn't feel like we connected that much one-on-one when we were just talking. Some talk was made about catching up later in the week, but no date set. So I was completely meh about it until one or two days after, when my dumb brain kicked in and went "hey, why hasn't he texted you? Why aren't you guys chatting? If he were into you he'd totally be texting you!" And, because I have issues (that I'm working on!), lukewarm/zero demonstrations of interest from a guy are still like catnip to me, and now I have done a dumb thing, which is plan a meetup when I'm really not feeling it.

He did text to invite me out the day before, but it was very casual ("I'll generally be around X if you want to join me") and he failed to give me any sort of time frame, and then ended up not being able to make time at all, asking if he could see me in a few days after he got back from the country (without suggesting anything specific). Given how lukewarm he seemed, at this point I thought I would give him an out by, paradoxically, actually proposing a date for when he got back. I was expecting him to politely back out, but to my surprise he agreed.

It was passive aggressive on my part and I'm not proud of it. Ordinarily I would just go on the date and see what shakes out, but this whole situation has already set off my panic buttons, and I'm getting the kind of socially anxious heebie-jeebies that I haven't gotten in years. I know it's just for coffee. But I'm not 100% or even 70% emotionally healthy right now, I've already obsessed over this too much to come back from it (it hasn't even been a WEEK, I'm pretty sure we don't even get along) -- I don't have a good feeling about this and I can't deal with having unrequited feelings again right now. I'm tired of the 'what-if's and not willing to bank on the 0.0001% chance that he's just busy/shy/taking it slow/not into texting, and maybe something magical will happen and we'll turn out to be perfect for each other. I'm not looking for anything casual. So... I would really like to cancel this date.

Should I be honest and tell him I'm just not feeling it? Or cite some other commitment? I honestly feel crappy cancelling given that I suggested it, so maybe I should just go. :I I know this situation could have been handled much better, but like I feel like I'm still climbing out of a mental rut right now. Any advice would be appreciated. FWIW, we're both early-mid 20s.
posted by cucumber patch to Human Relations (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Text him and say something came up and you have to cancel. I'd much rather have someone cancel a date on me that go on it and be miserable the whole time. He'll be able to tell you're not into it. Ask me how I know.
posted by jabes at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2014 [15 favorites]

I honestly feel crappy cancelling given that I suggested it, so maybe I should just go.

Going on a date out of guilt is the worst possible motivation to go out on a date. It's not fair to either of you.

Personally, I would say that you're sorry, but something came up. Don't say anything about rescheduling. If he's as lukewarm as you say, he'll just drop it, and problem solved! Otherwise, you're really busy for the next X weeks and then just do the slow fade.
posted by desjardins at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

He cancelled something he initiated. It's no biggie. Just message him (no sense in getting your guts in a knot about it,) just say, "something came up. Another time perhaps.) Then let it go.

In the future, sometimes kissing dudes in bars is just that. No future implied or specified.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:36 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's not great to cancel a date you suggested.

It's really shitty to go on a date you don't want to go on, be miserable, and waste someone's time who wanted to go on the date.

Do the less-crappy thing.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2014

If you didn't connect well but were still super PDA-yl on the last date, it's entirely possible that he's agreed to this one in the hopes of some sex at the end.

N'thing that you should just say something came up. It's just coffee.
posted by Bardolph at 8:37 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sorta sounds like you're just going through first-date jitters, same as with any other first date: you don't really know the person ('cause jeeze, it's the first date!) so you're all nervous about being with a near-stranger, and will they really like you, and how's it all gonna turn out?!?

Okay, sit down and take a big breath. Relax. Go, but go with the expectation that you will have a good time --- don't go expecting to be miserable, because if you do, you will! (And no PDA this time, okay?)
posted by easily confused at 8:38 AM on April 22, 2014

Do not lie. There's no reason to, and if you say something came up, he might ask for another date. Just say you can't make it, and if he REALLY presses, say you're not feeling it.

Every time I go on dates when I'm actively not wanting to go, it goes very poorly.

edit: I don't think this is first date jitters. I know the feeling very well. You don't want to go, but your anxiety led you to making the plans and feeling horrible if you go or if you cancel. Yay anxiety!

edit2: You guys have no idea how frustrating it is for someone to say "Another time perhaps" when they have literally no intention. Can't we all be adults and just be polite while not leading people on? You don't have to give him an entire life story on why you're not into him.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:39 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

it doesn't sound like you're in any kind of condition to date anyone now.
posted by bruce at 8:40 AM on April 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Take a deep breath. Give it 24 hours. If you still feel anxious and miserable, cancel.

Consider that it might be worth giving him another chance, and it's just coffee.
posted by amaire at 8:43 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you proposed a specific date/time and he accepted, his stated interest level went up ever so slightly above lukewarm/zero. I think that's why you want to back out now.

PDA the first time you meet someone, but you're not looking for anything casual? Serious mixed messages. This proposed date and time for a getting-to-know-you get-together would be an appropriate first stop on a normal, straightforward relationship progression from just met to who knows. I think that's why you want to back out now.

If you don't back out, if you sit with your anxiety about it, and make an effort to be pleasant (not that I think you're unpleasant, just trying to say that "meh" is good enough--don't push for "magic"), I think you'll be really proud of yourself. Regardless of whether anything magical happens with dude or not, it would be a concrete action toward getting out of the mixed message mental rut.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:48 AM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

It is okay to cancel on him. You know you're not up for it. Don't do things you're not up for.

Tell him something came up, cancel, you're all set.

If you were just nervous about the date, I'd say you should go through with it, but it sounds like you're dreading it, so no. That's a bad thing to do to yourself or to someone else.

It also sounds like he didn't really do anything particularly wrong here, and your anxiety may have played a pretty big factor in torpedoing this in your brain. Have you given any thought to maybe talking to a therapist for anxiety?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:50 AM on April 22, 2014

Honestly, there is a part of me that wants to go in case something good does happen. It could be more of a "I'd be interested if you're interested" kind of thing, which wreaks havoc with my anxiety because I'm used to playing it safe by being pursued. Something similar happened earlier this year with an ambivalent guy, whom I gave a good-faith second chance and it turned out he wasn't that into me after all, which really hurt. I guess I just wanted to avoid that again.

And yes, I'm seeing a therapist currently -- not till next week though.
posted by cucumber patch at 8:55 AM on April 22, 2014

Usually the polite brushoff would work, but it won't in this case. If you say that something came up, you'll just keep dealing with the "omg he's not into me??? MUST PURSUE" thing. Off-and-on dudes are also my catnip, so I know what I'm talking about.

Text him "I need to cancel our date. I'm not looking to date for personal reasons. This decision is final, so I don't want to string you along by offering to reschedule. Thanks for understanding, and hope you have a great week."

Then delete his number, email address, any emails with his contact info, etc.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:58 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I guess something good could happen, but something good could happen if you just hang out at home and watch a good movie or whatever. It doesn't sound like the situation will be healthy until you get your anxiety under control, and I am confident that you will. But this scenario--with a guy you're not even that into--is not really going to do anything but distract you.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2014

Worrying that you're possibly missing out on something incredible to the point that you freak out internally is definitely unhealthy anxiety.

I made myself miserable with all the expectations and disappointments regardless of any outcome or decisions I made. You might want to try some CBT here. Take a lot of deep breaths, clear your mind and write down everything you're thinking in sort of a conversation for yourself including "It is not a big deal if I go or don't go." Then do what you want.

The book Feeling Good helped immensely in dealing with these crippling thoughts.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:05 AM on April 22, 2014

One thing jumps out at me.

You met at a group thing. He invited you out again.

Is he maybe waiting for you to reciprocate by asking him out?

While, yes, you want to see that your partner is interested by the fact that they ask you out in a clear and specific way, the converse is also true. It's like a game of tennis. You have to hit the ball back.

That's why he readily agreed to a date when you asked for one. He's probably been hanging back, himself, saying "Well I said I wanted to see her again, and I left the ball in her court, and nothing. She's obviously not into me."

Go on the date. Put aside your frustration that he wasn't super decisive about things that one time. See if you have a good time, just based on your actual reactions to each other in the moment, not based on rules and overthinking.

I would keep an eye out, though, about whether he's a serial non-planner and always waits for you to invite him out. That's not a great sign. Where you are right now, at the second or third date, it's expected for you to ask him out to show your interest. If the fourth, fifth, and sixth dates are all planned by you, that's not great.

Also, a bit of advice if you frequently find yourself hurt when you meet someone and it doesn't progress beyond the second date: try online dating. Go on twenty first dates. Go on a bunch of second dates, too. Realize that meeting someone you don't vibe with isn't the worst thing in the world. You don't have to be quite so protective of your heart as you're being right now.
posted by Sara C. at 9:11 AM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is coffee. At worst you both waste a couple of hours. You don't know this person yet. Maybe they are wonderful and you haven't been able to see that yet because he is so new in your life. Maybe after you still aren't feeling it and that is the last date you go on. It isn't fair to waste his time. But it also isn't fair to not give him and yourself a chance provided he isn't a total creep.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:15 AM on April 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

I once went out with a guy and thought the date was such an obvious non-starter (nothing against him, just ... a non-starter) that I was COMPLETELY unprepared when he asked me out again. So ... I said "yes." And then I spent the next several days being like, "Well ... huh." And knowing, deep down, that I should cancel and not waste the guy's time, but super-dreading calling and saying, "You know when I said 'yes'? I meant 'thank you but no.'"

(This entire thing was completely, entirely my fault. Completely. There was nothing wrong with him at all. I should have politely and kindly declined.)

The happy ending is that later, he canceled. So it resolved itself.

I tell you this story mostly to say this: I understand how you feel. But you gotta cancel. It's terrible, but you gotta.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:29 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

If the only reason you can find to go is because of what you might get out of it: someone to pursue you, someone interested to spark your interest -- don't do that.

If you go, go because of what you can give. Doing the decent thing by following through on an invitation. An opportunity to get out of the house. A conversation with a fellow human. Plan to have a good time, make it brief, and then not make any more plans with dude after this.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 10:02 AM on April 22, 2014

I'm going to preface this with the fact that you absolutely don't have to go if you don't want to, and there would be nothing abnormal about just canceling and ghosting. No one signed a contract here, and this is super casual very-beginning stuff.

That said, as a guy who's been confused in situations like this who is a bit focused on not being too pushy, weird, or clingy seeming early on this seems normal to me. I would also think the ball was in your court after i cancelled the first plan just in general and because i wouldn't want to seem desperate or anything.

I also totally hate that "I'm the girl, you're the guy. if you don't text we're not talking today" kinda stuff. He might have just been really busy during the week, texted when he got some time, had to cancel and then felt a bit awkward and also wanted to see if you would respond and actually want to talk. Obviously i didn't see the texts, but that seems really plausible to me.

From his perspective, you responded positively and made new plans and now he's like "Oh cool, it worked out and it wasn't a big deal that i had to cancel because of XYZ".

I'm definitely not seeing any weird baggagereclaim kind of "blowing hot and cold" stuff here, this all reads as pretty normal to me.

As i said, don't go if you don't want to go. But i don't really see any bullet to dodge here. If you bail do it because you don't feel up to it or it just isn't something you want to do, not because the guy might be a skeezy manipulator or something weird. Because really, i'm getting the same kind of read on this that bentobox humperdinck did above.
posted by emptythought at 10:44 AM on April 22, 2014

You want to cancel, so cancel. You can be perfectly honest and it's early enough that he shouldn't be hurt. Text him this: "Hey, let's cancel that date. You're a nice guy but I don't think it's a good idea after all. Have a good week!"
posted by Dragonness at 10:55 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

My suggestion, based on the below excerpted blog post:
Here are the basic guidelines:

1) Pay more attention to people's actions than words. If the object of your affection has said maybe, but no actual dating has occurred, it's not going to.

2) Observe the three ask rule. If you ask three times and get three "nos" (of any variety, hard, soft or maybe), stop asking and move on.

3) Observe the three ask rule, inversely. If you are asked out by someone who you don't like, say no, gently, every time they ask. After you've said no (busy, maybe, etc.) three times, if the person is still asking, it's time to tell them to stop.

4) If you have a so-so date and aren't sure what to do next, do nothing! If she asks you out, you can say yes or no. Lean towards yes unless your gut is screaming no. Never ignore the gut. [emphasis mine]

5) If you have a so-so date and are sure you don't want to see the person again, do nothing! If you feel extra generous, you can send a friendly, "nice to meet you" follow up email. Do not hint at any future getting together, though. (This is more appropriate coming from a man, sadly. The friendly follow up from a woman to an "any contact is encouragement" type man would be a mess. Women tread lightly.)

One last thing, if you're truly getting mixed signals, from both actions and words, what does it mean? It means the person has mixed feelings about you. Do you really want to pursue someone who isn't sure if they're interested? I didn't think so. Time to rely on my favorite dating guideline: do nothing!

Grateful for: the ability to say no.

Do nothing.
If you're not sure, do nothing.
If you're unsure, then the answer is no.

And these things all take time to learn, and require practice.
posted by simulacra at 11:32 AM on April 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

If you're convinced that it would be a waste of time, go ahead and cancel. You can tell him whatever you want as a reason, regardless of whether it's totally true.

If anxiety is the main reason you don't want to go, I think it would be a helpful exercise just to go and practice being in these situations. If you go, act exactly how you feel like acting. Don't do anything special to impress him, don't worry about coming off as awkward or anything, realize that the stakes aren't so high and you're just going for the hell of it. If you do that and he still seems interested, and you start to like him more, then maybe there's more potential here than you thought. And if not, it truly doesn't matter.
posted by cosmicbeast at 11:57 AM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I literally accidentally said yes to one of my exes. We were friends and I was trying to set him up with a friend of mine, actually. He asked me if I wanted to see this movie we'd been talking about, and I said I did, and then he said, "Like a date?" And my brain just went )#@$(D)(UWS and I squeaked out "sure!" before I had any idea what I was actually saying. I basically went on that date out of guilt.

That turned into a good relationship. Granted, though, he was actively pursuing me.

If I were you, I'd probably go, unless I got a better offer in the meantime or got really tired. I'd try to be super low-key on the date and just let my weirdness hang out and be friendly but not try to impress him that much.

Also there's nothing wrong with wanting the dude to pursue you a little, if that's what you prefer. I won't get up on my rules-y soapbox but that "old-fashioned" stuff definitely has some things to recommend it.
posted by quincunx at 12:52 PM on April 22, 2014

Just be honest but vague. "Hey, some personal stuff has come up and I need to cancel our date. Sorry!"
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:37 PM on April 22, 2014

By an amazing coincidence, you just got a 24-hour flu, and then work is about to get really busy. He'll get the hint.
posted by paultopia at 4:06 PM on April 22, 2014

It could be more of a "I'd be interested if you're interested" kind of thing, which wreaks havoc with my anxiety because I'm used to playing it safe by being pursued.

I say you go for it. There's always a chance of getting hurt with every situation, so you have to take that risk to meet folks.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:09 PM on April 23, 2014

Thanks guys. I think it was just anxiety -- I went after all and it was okay. We ended up going out a few times after that, but it never really got off the ground. Still, I don't regret it. :)
posted by cucumber patch at 3:43 AM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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