early-stage dating communication
April 15, 2017 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Is this early-dating/flirting behavior a red flag? If not, how do I keep from getting anxious?

F, 38 here-

recently I sent a FB message to a FB friend (M, mid-30's) that I don't know well,but with whom I had had a few flirtatious exchanges with both on FB and in person. We had never chatted much nor hung out one-on-one.

So I sent him a FB message to say that I had stopped by the coffee shop where he works (and from where we know each other) but he wasn't there. (i had stopped by incidentally)

He replied enthusiastically that we should "make a reunion happen" and told me his schedule there. I replied that I thought I could stop by on one specific day. That day I texted him beforehand, and he replied, "oh shit! got the schedule wrong! How can I make it up to you??" and suggested some days he'd be there. I said I could probably stop by Sunday, and he said he'd be in touch. However, nobody got in touch and I didn't stop by Sunday (because I hadn't heard from him).

After that I was bummed, and didn't send any messages for a few days. But finally I figured maybe it was a misunderstanding and could be worth a last-ditch effort, so I sent a message essentially saying that I wasn't sure if he'd be busy that Sunday, but that it'd be cool to hang out with him, and did not need to be at the coffee shop.

He replied, "I'd certainly be down for that. Shoot me a text sometime!" and sent his number.

So, I texted him a few days ago, and we had a continuous text conversation for more than an hour, during which he was enthusiastic and flirtatious. He suggested us getting together and asked when I was free, and we set up a date. His language was quite flirtatious, he asked lots of questions about me, told me about his life, sent me links to funny things. He ended the conversation because he had to go to sleep (coffee shop hours) but said he'd "shoot me a text tomorrow".

"Tomorrow" came and went, no texts from either of us.

The next day, I sent him a text that was commenting on one of the links he sent, but that was over 24 hours ago, and there hasn't been a response. Our "date" is supposed to take place in a few days.

Should I be concerned? I mean, I know I shouldn't worry either way, but is this a lost cause,or too early to tell? I really enjoyed texting with this guy, and think he is attractive and seems nice/interesting. He seemed interested too. But I have dated my share of avoidant/flaky guys, and I am pretty wary at this point.

ps-he lists himself as "single" on his FB page.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
posted by bearette to Human Relations (32 answers total)
Honestly, I don't think there should be so much drama early on. He's clearly either not that interested, or not that great with following through on things and neither of those make for a great relationship.
posted by scrute at 12:36 PM on April 15, 2017 [26 favorites]

In my experience behavior like this is a test to find out how much work you are willing to do to get together with the other party. His passivity might portend some social awkwardness, anxiety, or maybe even a low level of interest. Heck, he might be super-hot for you. But. What is he willing to do about it?

The real question is one you will have to ask yourself. Am I willing to be the pursuer with this person?

From my perspective, dude has already ruled himself out. Your mileage may vary, obv.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2017 [8 favorites]

ps-he lists himself as "single" on his FB page. You're putting too much effort into this -- if anything is a red flag, it's that.

My best friend once told me when I was endlessly justifying my ex's habit of not texting me for days, "Someone who wants to be with you will make that a priority." While it is possible that his phone died or something like that, this is not the behavior of someone who has much interest in hanging out with you.

Now I'm going to give you a sideways answer: clearly this isn't sitting right with you, so how will you feel if everyone here says this is 100% completely normal early dating behavior? Will you keep contacting him because we all said this is a good idea?

Forget our thoughts -- what are your thoughts about this?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:38 PM on April 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

I don't know whether to cast this as a red flag, but I do know that he is showing you the kind of communicator that he is. I guess it's a red flag to the extent that you would find it hard to be in a relationship with someone who is forgetful, and not proactive, and who will ghost on you from time to time.
posted by janey47 at 1:06 PM on April 15, 2017 [21 favorites]

Oh boy, that sounds exhausting. I'd let it go for now. If he picks it up again and can actually schedule something, great. If not, just go on with your life. Maybe see how things go the next time you see each other in person.
posted by lunasol at 1:09 PM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yuck. Nah. He's not available, you're doing all the work. Move on! His behavior is extremely unattractive. He's unattractive. Don't be attracted to this.
posted by jbenben at 1:57 PM on April 15, 2017 [12 favorites]

how do I keep from getting anxious?

Forget about him, pat yourself on the back for cutting and running, and recognize this type of behavior is obnoxious and if you ever encounter someone else who does this, you know to steer clear.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:22 PM on April 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

I said I could probably stop by Sunday, and he said he'd be in touch. However, nobody got in touch and I didn't stop by Sunday (because I hadn't heard from him).

After that I was bummed, and didn't send any messages for a few days.

If you want to connect with this guy, I will suggest you need to be less passive. It was a coffee shop. You could have shown up without a confirmation from him. You also did not need to stop messaging for days because you were bummed.

He could easily be running a similar question past his buds:
"Hey, guys, I told this girl to drop by, then I got busy and didn't confirm. It's a public coffee shop. I didn't think it would be a big deal. But she never showed. She says she is interested, I have been as enthusiastic as I know how to be, but we are not connecting. Should I continue pursuing this or is she just a tease/leading me on/some other ugly assumption?"

If you two are going to connect, one of you needs to step up to bat here. It does not have to be him. You seem to need a very high degree of affirmation from him. You text him before you go to a meeting that was already agreed upon to confirm. Hey, that can have its value, but it only works if you both ascribe to the same expectations and are both incredibly reliable people. If either of you is forgetful, busy, shy, or any number of other things, this just adds unnecessary friction.

There can be good reasons for adding that friction. But you haven't really given any reasons why you handled it this way (like: The coffee shop is an hour out of my way and I didn't want to spend that much time if he wasn't going to be there). So, I am inferring there are no compelling reasons for this pattern of behavior beyond habit.
posted by Michele in California at 3:13 PM on April 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh no, I have a friend who went through this with a very similar sounding guy. The horrible part wasn't just the many almost-dates ruined by poor scheduling and untimely communication, it was that he seemed so sweet and interested when they did talk, so it kept my friend on tenterhooks for much longer than he should've been. This is classic intermittent reinforcement and it can create addictive behavior. It doesn't matter whether he was doing it on purpose or not - I don't think he was - it was causing my friend a lot of angst.
posted by AFABulous at 3:14 PM on April 15, 2017 [21 favorites]

I think it's weird that everyone is writing him off as flaky and not interested. I think he's just busy, and not too into keeping an ongoing and committed chat. Some people are more aggressive texters and prefer to initiate contact, other people prefer to be more passive. Maybe he's had his share of avoidant and flaky women and doesn't like to maintain much contact until he knows the person better. Also, trying to make plans around his work schedule was just an excuse to flirt and to establish interest - seeing him at his workplace wasn't really going to be a date. The good thing is that you suggested a real date and now you have one.

I think we spend too much time trying to analyze what the other person is doing and why - and we should just focus on what we want for ourselves and why.

Do you only want to date guys who do all the work? Do you want to date someone who won't contact you if you don't reach out first? Do you think he's interesting enough and attractive enough for you that you are willing to push a little bit more in order to get to know him and see what he's really like? What do you want for yourself?

Ok. Crazy idea - what if you just called an hour or two before the date, just to confirm or check on plans to decide what to wear, etc. On the phone everything will be perfectly clear. And you will have a date, or not have a date and either way you will know how to proceed. Call him assuming obviously that the date is on - not checking to make sure.

Right now you don't really know if the anxiety is from something he's doing, or from your own personal dating history. Getting to know him in person is the only way to get more information.
posted by Locochona at 3:20 PM on April 15, 2017 [18 favorites]

I think most people are on their best behaviour early in dating/flirting, so this doesn't sound good. However I get the whole not wanting to text too much before the first date, so that's one reason maybe, plus it's Easter weekend so maybe he's just busy with family stuff?

Go on the date if he texts you back to confirm, don't sleep with him on the date.
posted by lafemma at 3:41 PM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think it sounds especially unusual. "I thought I could stop by" isn't exactly a commitment. He's replying in kind. You can't really be all casual about it on your side, and expect him not to be. Now you've made an official date with a location, date, and time*. He'll either show up for it or not.

His conversational engagement in the meantime isn't unusual either, it's just something you like or don't like. It's perfectly ok to not like it and find someone you like better, but it doesn't necessarily make him avoidant or flaky. I think at this point he's not that super-smitten, just merely open to seeing what happens and not getting his hopes up too much. That could change after the date. Or not. That's one thing dates are for, getting to know the other person. Not everyone likes to do that by text.

(* but did you? "Sometime Sunday" still isn't a date, it's a "maybe, if it works out")
posted by ctmf at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

The nearest you've managed to a commitment is "probably stop by Sunday", which you flaked on. The next commitment you've made is the date in a few days. I can't see anywhere else where you specifically committed to meeting him at a particular time.

Are you playing "The Game"? Because I suspect that's what it looks like to him. If you're interested, make something happen.
posted by tillsbury at 5:41 PM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tillsbury- I'm not playing any games. I was just confused as to why he hasn't texted back after our lengthy text conversation and whether this indicates avoidance on his part. What else can I do to "make things happen"?

Nope,we haven't set a time,or a (specific) place. My plan as of now is, if I haven't heard from him by the day before the date, get in touch as see if we're still on and settle specifics.
posted by bearette at 5:48 PM on April 15, 2017

The first thing that jumped out at me is - You visiting him at work doesn't really align with "date." Therefore it seems odd that you are putting so much advance planning into this. Just stop by and see him.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:06 PM on April 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

It seems I need to clarify: the date we set up is NOT at the coffee shop.
posted by bearette at 6:09 PM on April 15, 2017

Please don't get in touch anymore. Don't check in. Don't try this one last time.

You have done all those things and you're still exactly here. Whether he likes you or is just flirting or whatever .... it really doesn't seem like he's going to get it together.

You might manage to corner him into an actual date and it might go really well - then you're really In trouble, because it'll probably be more of the same. BUT YOU HAD THAT ONE GREAT DATE. Ugh.

You've put in a lot of work. If you reread your post, you'll see that. There's no more work you can do. Except to find someone better!
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:32 PM on April 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

Gaaa! I've been going through a similar thing. I know it's cheesy, but I always return to "He's Just Not That Into You." If a guy wants to see you he will find a way.
posted by bluespark25 at 7:48 PM on April 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's objectively wrong for him to communicate this way. I'd personally not be able to handle it long term.

Go on the date and see what happens. If the communication doesn't change after, then I'd take the advice to see this as an incompatible communication style.
posted by ramenopres at 7:53 PM on April 15, 2017

I feel like with modern dating there are two kinds of texters.

The who-what-when-where texters and the constant-ongoing-conversation texters. Some people place a lot of value on the back and forth and take that as a gauge of interest, some people just want to know when you are hanging out next in the real world.

"Do you want to do X on Y date and Z time?" See what happens.
posted by bradbane at 8:41 PM on April 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm confused - HAVE you successfully gone to see him at work? When's the last time you actually saw each other in person? Is it possible that he doesn't have enough info to know if he's into you or not? Perhaps he hasn't been specific about setting up an actual date because you haven't seen each other in person in a bit, so he's not sure how he feels about you, and he doesn't want to lead you on?
posted by destructive cactus at 10:34 PM on April 15, 2017

Oh for Pete's sake go to the coffee shop and get a coffee once in a while. Less texting drama, more in-person communication, and then see what happens. Good lord. The red flag I see here is your obsession with the meaning of every single text/lack of text. You aren't even dating! Chill out!
posted by Capri at 11:41 PM on April 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Argh, are people reading my question? Or Was i not clear?? (Not a rhetorical question, i really am not sure!)

We set up a date! Not at the coffee shop! This is in the question. Perhaps i wrote it in an unclear way, and that is my fault.

I used to go to the coffee shop, i moved,it's now not in my way so i rarely go unless in that neighborhood.

I can see the point of me being flaky by not going in when i said i would, but again, but is out of my way so i didnt want to go when we talked about it unless he'd be there. He may have thought i still live nearby, now he knows i don't.

So i haven't been to visit him there recently. However, he gave me his number after
I suggested meeting again, told me to text him, and then he suggested getting together. We discussed and activity and a day, and agreed on it, but not a specific time. He was super flirty and told me he'd text me the next day (not about the date, just cause)

But he didn't - not necessarily a big deal, i didnt text him either. I did the following day though, about something not related to the date we had set up, and he hasn't replied to that (it was a couple days ago).the day we planned to meet is coming up.

Is this any more clear? I'm starting to think i was not clear in my original question hence the disparatenature of the replies.
posted by bearette at 12:03 AM on April 16, 2017

I understand that the date is not going to be at the coffee shop. However it seems like you have put a lot of effort into coordinating when you are going to go see him at his place of employment. It seems like you may have the propensity to plan, and he is definitely showing that he is not a planner.
posted by pintapicasso at 12:03 AM on April 16, 2017

Or to go back to your original question, yes this is a red flag. Communication shouldn't be this fraught and it's very, very nice to be with someone on the same wavelength as you.
posted by pintapicasso at 12:06 AM on April 16, 2017

Oh for heaven's sake. Call or text saying you'll meet him at ____ on _____.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:28 AM on April 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

You've made plans twice, and both times he hasn't gotten back to you when he said he would, to execute on those plans. He has told you he's available, and then made himself unavailable. Once is a goof, twice is not.

Stop texting him. If he gets back to you about the date you've arranged, then proceed from there, but at this point I'll put on my Carnac hat and say he will, once again, mysteriously fail to text you.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:14 AM on April 16, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh no, I was sort of this guy when I was asked on a hangout/date. I liked the guy who invited me out, but I wasn't super interested, so I would trail off my texts or just forget to respond until a couple days later (which I sadly tend to do from time to time.) eventually, the guy was like "hey, I'm not sure if you're still into this but if you are, let me know. It's fine if not." That snapped me out of it and I apologized, went on a date, and a couple months later he is now my boyfriend. Whom I text everyday because now getting to know him, I really like him!
So I don't know if it's a mild lack of interest, but I think you should just ask for confirmation of the date and go from there. Also, I and many of my friends hate texting a lot before dates. I feel like I run out of things to talk about or learn about the other person if I text them frequently. After we've been dating, then I feel alright about texting more often.
posted by buttonedup at 7:19 AM on April 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

This whole thing is way WAY too much texting. An hour of it?! In that time you could have arranged to meet for a drink.

I tend to default to "not that into you" but I think you may keep wondering if you don't confirm the real date. So the day before the date you're supposed to go on, if he hasn't confirmed, send him one (just one) text saying "are we still on for tomorrow? Where should I meet you?" and that should put the whole thing to rest. Either you guys will go on a date (at which point you'll know if you have fun together in person, and you can ask him if he prefers not to text so much - maybe he's just not as tied to his phone as you are) or he will flake and that's the end of it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:09 AM on April 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd wait until the date to make a judgment. It's early days, and you guys don't know each other very well at all yet.

You didn't meet him in a 'dating' scenario, so he may not be as enthusiastic as you. If it was someone you met on OKC, then yes their lack of enthusiasm is a definite nope, but because it's a friend you are pursuing for more, then I feel you need to give them a bit more time to get on the same page. It's also not a red flag necessarily, you're looking for something more, they may not be-- despite being flirty with you, etc.

But some people take a while to get enthusiastic. It's a little bit unrealistic to assume someone you know pretty superficially on FB should pursue you to the extent you're pursuing them at first. It took me a while to get to know my now-fiance when we first started dating, as he was the interested party at first, and was definitely more interested than me. However, after our first few dates, I responded in kind. So see how the date goes, and if he's still flaky after that. If he still is, cut your losses and move on.
posted by Dimes at 8:24 AM on April 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

We set up a date! Not at the coffee shop!

No you did not! You said, "Nope,we haven't set a time,or a (specific) place." You haven't made a date, you've narrowed down the time when you COULD have a date. More communication is required to have an actual date.

Look, you're being too wishy-washy with this to be analyzing as much as you are. Text him right now and say exactly this: Are we still on for Sunday? What time/location? If he doesn't answer THAT, that's an answer, and the answer is no. If he does answer, make a REAL DATE and go on it. See what happens after that.
posted by ctmf at 9:00 AM on April 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I agree with ctmf, though instead of asking him what time and location he fancies I'd propose a time and place that you like so you don't get trapped in an endless back-and-forth of "I dunno, where do YOU want to go?" "Oh well wherever's convenient for you is fine with me" etc. etc. If your proposal doesn't work for him he can say so.

He may well be a flake and not worth the effort, but I do think it's worth being a bit more direct yourself before writing him off completely.
posted by thrungva at 10:42 AM on April 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

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