As a veteran of the online dating scene, I am fully subscribed to the idea that you should meet in person as soon as you are able (and comfortable enough) to do so. A lot of my friends will spend weeks texting with someone on the app, not exchanging phone numbers or even last names, before they feel comfortable enough to set a time and date and see someone’s face in real life. This is, to me, the death of all possible chemistry. If we can’t meet within about a week of matching, it’s just never gonna’ work for me.
Every once in a while, I’ll match with someone on a dating site and plan to meet them, but something will stop that meeting from happening. And often it’s something the guy has done that makes me really just not want to meet up with them. Here are a few examples.
Too Much Too Soon
I matched with a slightly older guy, Brad, on Bumble, and after a bit of back and forth (the ol’ “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”), we agreed to meet for pizza in my neighborhood on a weekday evening. We kept the conversation on the dating app, because, why not. After we set up the date, I went for a run.
I don’t get notifications from my dating apps, because they annoy me. I’d rather have control over when I see my matches and my messages – when I have time to open the app. While I thought our conversation was at a good stopping point, Brad proceeded to ask me a few questions.
In the span of 20 minutes, he asked three or four questions, and then asked why I wasn’t responding. He then asked if I had decided I didn’t want to go on the date anymore.
When I finished my run, I decided to open the app back up (which I absolutely didn’t have to do! Imagine if I hadn’t!). I saw the messages and decided, no, I didn’t really want to go on the date anymore. Someone who was insecure enough to need immediate responses to messages on a dating app from someone he didn’t know – and entitled enough to feel that I owed him all of my time, before even meeting him – was not someone I was interested in meeting in person.
“Well that’s fine,” said the man who could not come up with a plan of where to meet, “it annoyed me that you wouldn’t come to my neighborhood anyway.”
Cat Scratch Fever
Tim was a nice enough seeming guy that I met on OKCupid when I was living in New Jersey. He lived in Brooklyn and was a few years younger than me, and was both a nerd (a plus for me, usually) and a cat lover (which can’t ever be bad, can it?). I’m more of a dog person, although, at the time, I was a bunny person. I’ve never disliked cats; I’ve just never lived with them. I think anyone who loves furry animals probably has a good heart deep down.
Tim and I planned to meet in The City for a drink on an innocuous night (probably a Friday). One or the other of us had work trips or plans that delayed this meeting for at least two weeks. So we continued to email each other or text or whatever was en vogue for OKCupid members to do for communication at the time.
One evening I saw that I had missed a call from Tim while I was out with some friends. He’d left a two-minute voicemail, which was a lot, given how small voicemail storage generally was in the early 2000s. I took a break from my friends and went outside to listen to the voicemail.
“Hi, Kat,” it started, in a very high pitched voice. It was Tim, but… not Tim? “This is Tim’s cat, Fluffy. I just wanted to tell you that me and his other cat, Ginger, are excited you’re going to meet him. But we wanted to give you some tips.”
The rest of the voicemail was, as you can guess, a lot of silly puns and jokes from the perspective of a cat, full of “purrs” and “meows” and references to catnip. Which was, actually, a cute concept. However, the execution was extremely creepy. The length of the message, and the content and “advice” therein, made it increasingly weird.
I went back into the bar or restaurant where my girlfriends were hanging out and told them about this most recent entry into the “wow online dating sure is weird, huh” archives. They both agreed: I should not meet up with this guy.
I called Tim and thanked him for the, uh, fun theatrical attempt, but I was no longer going to meet him for that drink. He asked if it was because of the cat thing, which his roommate had told him would be a cute thing to do. I can’t remember if I admitted that yes, it was the cat thing, or no, I just … got busy. But in spite of his ongoing explanations and apologies, I stood firm. We didn’t meet. And I never heard from him again.
I matched with Matt on Bumble in Austin. He was an entrepreneur and a fitness enthusiast, and wasn’t drinking alcohol at the time. Which was fine by me! We scheduled a first date for a Sunday afternoon, but kept the plans loose.
On Sunday morning (later in the morning, I’m not a maniac), I pinged him and asked him what he would like to do for our first date.
“I don’t know, what about you?”
Ah yes, the classic millennial problem… We have no plans, no idea what to do with ourselves, and absolutely do not want to have to come up with ideas for anyone else. (This, my friends, is why the most erotic three words in modern dating are “I have reservations”.)
I rattled off a few options.
“We could get brunch,” I offered. “Or grab a coffee.”
“I’m not hungry,” he came back, “and I don’t drink coffee.”
This was all over text. I waited a moment to see if he’d counter with his own ideas. None came.
“We could meet up to walk my dog,” I offered.
“Why would I want my first date to be meeting your dog?”
Instead of responding with, “Why would you want it to be anything? You apparently don’t do anything and expect other people to come up with ideas for you!”
I said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t going to work. Let’s cancel.”
“Okay, fine,” he responded. I could feel the saltiness through the text. But I didn’t care.
The thing is: if it’s going to be this hard to plan a casual Sunday afternoon meet up, there is no way we’re going to be able to figure anything else out for the rest of our lives. No, thanks.
The Wrong Person
Larry seemed like a really cool guy, but right after we made plans, I got a big health diagnosis and told him I needed to postpone. He was very understanding and told me to reach out if I needed anything (which is just the polite thing to say to a stranger who has just been diagnosed with a big health problem… or so I thought).
Several months later, when I had healed from said health problem, we re-matched on whatever app it was (Bumble? Tinder?) and started the conversation up again. I said I thought we’d matched before, because lo and behold, I had his phone number saved in my contacts!
We agreed to try again on meeting up for a quick drink on a Wednesday night somewhere. We kept messaging casually, since we hadn’t met yet and didn’t quite have a rapport or a list of things to talk about.
The Tuesday before our Wednesday meeting, Larry texted me:
“Can I ask you something? Why didn’t you reach out after your health scare? Why did we have to rematch on the dating app?”
I stared dumbfoundedly at the phone. What did he mean? Like, why didn’t I ask him to drive me to the hospital? Or why wasn’t he the first person I thought of when I got out of surgery? Or was I supposed to message everyone on every dating app I’d ever met to let them know I was okay now?
“Because we’d never met and I didn’t know you,” I responded. “And that felt kind of weird and out of left field to me.”
“But we did meet,” he answered.
Uh. A bright red flag popped up in my head. He thought we’d met?
“No, we didn’t,” I assured him.
But he was adamant.
I went back into our message history and checked. Nope, there it was, right there, we had canceled our date and never messaged again until we rematched.
An actual argument ensued, where he accused me of lying. I screenshotted our conversation and sent it to him as proof. We had never rescheduled.
“We never met, dude,” I said.
“Don’t call me dude,” he responded.
I said I didn’t think this was a good idea and canceled our date, again. It was just a little too weird for me. He was salty about it, but he hasn’t contacted me since.
VERDICT: Trust your gut. You’re allowed to cancel on a date for whatever reason. Your time is valuable to you, and always should be. There are polite and kind ways to cancel on someone, but even those won’t always be received well. Also: don’t be a weirdo. Even if you think it’s cute. Save that for halfway through the first date at the earliest. That way you can at least practice having a normal conversation with a human being, rather than just texting them weirdly.