How To Deal With Being Stood Up

Did your date pull a disappearing act before you even got the chance to know each other? Take heart — you might've just dodged a bullet! Here's how to keep it from throwing you off your dating game.

By Matt Schneiderman

t's happened to all of us: feeling excited and hopeful, anticipating meeting a potential mate, only to arrive at the appointed time and place to discover no sign of him or her there. Five, then 10 minutes pass. Texts and calls asking "I'm here, where are you?" go unanswered. Your thoughts bounce
Bail — and thank goodness you got out while the getting is good.
between frustration and concern: Is she not coming? Did something happen to him? By 20 minutes past the appointed meet-up time, there seems little point in waiting any longer; a final attempt to get in touch yields nothing. Then you realize... I've been stood up. Here's how to deal with it — and tips designed to help you avoid the same thing happening again.

Are you being stood up?
Perhaps you're reading this while the minutes tick away, marking the time past which you were supposed to meet your date. Kiai Kim, AKA "Wing Girl Kim" and author of AlphaDog: Get the Bitch You Want, advises you to wait 20 minutes — but no more. "Fifteen minutes is generally a decent amount of time to wait before trying to call," says Kim. "Leave a voice message if there's no answer telling the person how much longer you will wait unless you hear back." Mira Kirshenbaum, author of the upcoming book, I Love You but I Don't Trust You (Feb, 2012), believes that being kept waiting just 10 minutes is disrespectful: "If the other person is more than 10 minutes late without a call with a believable excuse, you need to treat it as if you've been stood up. If [someone's] late when [he or she] should be trying to impress you, how will it be when [this person] starts taking you for granted? Bail — and thank goodness you got out while the getting is good."

Leave it up to the other person to make the next move
When your date doesn't show, don't make the next move. Instead, let him or her explain what happened. "You can send a simple email saying, 'Sorry we missed each other. Hope you are OK,'" suggests Kim. "This lets the person know that you're not self-centered, have genuine interest in him or her, and that you're not a pushover." Even that may be unnecessary, according to Julie Orlov, psychotherapist and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationship through Self-Discovery: "Chasing down a jerk is lose/lose, as you lose power and self-respect." Regardless of whether you send one last message or not, take the opportunity to treat yourself using your newly created free time. "We have to nurture ourselves to have the dignity necessary to not feel hurt when a date does not show," says Kim. "Have a nice dinner or spend time at the spa."

It's not just you…
Nearly everyone has a stood-up story of their own. Take Lauren Preiser, 42, of Los Angeles, CA, for example, who was stood up on a date arranged by a professional matchmaker: "I agreed to meet Wayne [not his real name] at a Starbucks. We had spoken on the phone and exchanged physical descriptions. There were only a few people in the Starbucks when I arrived, and I quickly determined he wasn't there yet. Then a gentleman walked in who looked like Wayne's description. I smiled. He walked by and ordered a coffee. I approached him and said, "Wayne?" No reply. I asked again; no reply. I thought I'd been mistaken. I called Wayne's cell but received no answer. I left after waiting half an hour. Later when I did reach him he said he had been waiting at another Starbucks nowhere near where we had agreed [to meet]. I didn't take it personally, but I do think he lied about being there and seeing me. That clearly showed lack of character." Not even an
There are countless reasons why a person would not show up…
apologetic explanation can make up for the residual disappointment for some daters. After Ruth Cohen, 55, of New York City was stood up, the man she was supposed to meet stayed in touch with her via email. "Weeks later, he told me he'd met someone and fallen in love, which was too bad, he said, because if he'd met me first, he was sure I would have been The One," Cohen recalls. "I told him, 'No, it sounds like I dodged a bullet.'"

Don't ask why it happened
It's OK to be curious, but don't expect a wholly satisfactory explanation. There are countless reasons why a person would not show up — and none of them involve you personally. "Whatever you do, don't ask, 'Why?'" says Kirshenbaum. "Will you care why if you go into labor and he's not there to take you to the hospital? A date is a test of respect and responsibility, not about his ability to come up with excuses. You can't be with someone who can't get the job done, and here, his job is to show up for your first date." If you're really intent on making final contact, Jane Atkinson, author of The Frog Whisperer: A 3-Step Approach to Finding Lasting Love, has a softer alternative: "Send one last email saying, 'I was there, you were not. What went wrong?' Maybe he or she will respond, maybe not. But by sending that, you're saying: 'What you did was not cool.'"

How to reduce your risk of being stood up
Here a few tips to limit the likelihood that future dates will flake out on you:
  1. Plan for a face-to-face meeting sooner than later. Says Atkinson, "Push relatively early to go for a face-to-face [meet-up]. If he or she is uncomfortable with that, that is a warning sign. Maybe he or she is self-sabotaging, or maybe he or she started seeing someone else."
  2. Have a short phone conversation beforehand. "Make sure you talk on the phone," advises Kim. "If a phone conversation is refused, that is a red flag. It doesn't have to be a long conversation. Explain that you only need less than 30 seconds on the phone to simply confirm the day, time, and location of your first meeting."
  3. Confirm plans the same day you're supposed to meet up. "Most dates that go awry are due to miscommunication," says relationship expert Alison Blackman ( "Make sure that you confirm the details of your date that day and that both of you have directions as to how you are supposed to meet, plus a good idea of what your date looks like." Texting what you're wearing and where you're waiting for your date can also relieve the pressure on both of you to recognize each other based on photos if you've never met in person.
  4. Give your date an "out." Tell your date it's OK to bail out, advises Julie Orlov. "When you're confirming details, say: 'If you need to cancel, please let me know by such-and-such a time.' That way, if he or she has second thoughts or cold feet, he or she can simply say, 'Something's come up.'"
Look for the silver lining
Though it may seem like an impolite (and perhaps even deliberate) waste of your time, consider this experience a prerequisite for finding love. "Be grateful!" advises Kirshenbaum. "The key to finding a great mate is to weed out all the duds fast — the faster the better. The sooner you find out someone is a flake or a jerk, the sooner you can move on to someone who does like you, whom you really like, and who will show up when and where [your date] says he or she will." Having a sense of playfulness about the experience can also relieve the negativity that's been aroused in you, says Atkinson: "Have a sense of humor, chalk it up to someone or something looking out for you, and move on to the next adventure."

New York City-based freelance writer Matt Schneiderman has written for Stuff and Sync.
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