DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: Been reading your stuff for awhile and it’s been really helpful. I’m a 28 year old male that’s been in a dating drought for about 3 years now, but this summer has been quite a bit different.
So I’ve gone on a couple dates with a girl from work over the course of this last month. I wish I could say it’s been smooth sailing but it hasn’t. I asked this girl if she wanted to go to a friend’s birthday party, which she agreed. As the night went on, we were flirting and ended up having a very passionate make-out session (Awesome!), after which we planned our first actual date. Before the date, we texted frequently and she talked about how excited she was, but also told me that she’s terrible at texting, hasn’t dated in awhile, and considers herself a “work in progress.” I thought these might be red flags, so I ignored them.
The first date went great, I cooked for her, we watched a movie, made out, then went on a walk and were totally into each other and planned for a second date the following week. She went home and thanked me for a great night. The day after our first date, she got some bad news that she didn’t get a promotion that she was lead to believe was in the bag for her. She was pretty devastated. I was unaware of this and she didn’t communicate much during this time which was leading me to believe she wasn’t interested. But she told me she was still interested and wanted another date. So we planned for the next week. The day of date 2, comes by and she cancels on me saying she’s sick with food poisoning. My BS detector was giving me a strong indication that this was in fact, BS. The BS detector was validated when I saw later that day that she posted on Instagram about how hard she worked out at the gym, the day of our date, “sick with food poisoning.” Nice.
But I’m a hard learner, so I stuck around. The only reason I decided to stick around was because in the text, she wanted to reschedule for the next Tuesday when we were both off. So I figured I’d see what happens. The few days before the rescheduled 2nd date she had apologized and explained the whole thing about not getting promoted and that she’s not a flaky girl, so I was cool with that. She took me to breakfast for the second date and it went well enough. The next day or so I asked her out on a 3rd date which she happily accepted. I texted her the day before our date to firm up some details about if I was picking her up, and she took FOREVER to respond, like 7 hours. I try not to double text and not come off as needy, but I had to in this case. She sent a super brief text claiming she thought she responded (I’m sure) and was cool with me picking her up. So the day arrives, I’m supposed to take her to dinner after she gets off work but I already get the feeling it’s not gonna happen. I send her a text the morning of to confirm that we’re still on for the night. 6 hours goes by, not a word. Then about an hour before shes supposed to get off work she calls me and all I could hear was her crying, trying to talk to me but I couldn’t make out a word. So she sent me a text saying she had a sore throat and wouldn’t be able to do our date but didn’t want me to think she was lying and was struggling that day.
I thought this was pretty genuine and we rescheduled again for the next week. As this week went by we texted every couple of days and I would see her at work and we’d chill in the breakroom if we were both in there. Everything was cool. I call her 2 days before our date to firm up our plans and she was excited and totally down. We talked for a little bit and everything seemed peachy. The day of the date arrives, I send her a text that morning (about 10 a.m.) saying good morning and asking her what time she wanted me to pick her up. Now based on my previous experience with her terrible texting behavior and the fact that she was all for our date and flirty at work, I didn’t stress about not getting a response for a few hours. By 3 p.m. I started to think this was looking like a repeat of last time. By 4:30 pm I finally sent another text asking if she was still wanting to go out tonight. I saw that she was active on Instagram so I knew she wasn’t dead. By 5:30 pm I called and didn’t get an answer. Then I followed up with an “Are you ok?” text that I wish I could take back because it’s lame and was sent in a moment of desperation. I finally admitted to myself what was happening so I completely deleted her from my phone and unfollowed her on Instagram so I couldn’t send anymore texts.
So yeah, I was lead on for weeks and then ghosted on the 3rd date by someone I’ll see at work pretty frequently. I’m beyond confused as to why she would do something so rude and I’m not sure how to deal with this when I see her again at work. I want to confront her about it, but that seems pointless because in the end I’ll still want nothing to do with her. So I’d like to take the high road, but I don’t know what that looks like. Thankfully I’ll be quitting in 5 weeks when school starts back up and then moving onto a new job, so I’ll never see her again. But until then, I’ll see her a lot.
Any sage advice?
DEAR GHOST BUSTER: That is some odd behavior, GB. Generally when someone’s going to ghost on you, they go radio silent, or say something like “check in with me on the day of”. What they usually don’t do is constantly kick things down the road and keep giving every indication that they’re excited for the next date. So what gives?
The first possible option is that things are exactly as they appear: she’s horrible at texting, is a little flakey and there’s just been a long string of bad luck. Despite as improbable as it may sound, s
t does happen and life just keeps kneecapping your plans every time you turn around. I’ve had times where it took over two months to finally make date happen with someone I’d met on OKCupid because something went wrong every single time one of us proposed another time. We eventually managed to get together and had a laugh at how much of a struggle it was.
The second possible option is that she’s the sort of person who can make plans but freaks out on the day of. Maybe she had every intention of going out on that date with you but ran out of spell points (or spoons or whatever metaphor you prefer) and couldn’t quite bring herself to say “I can’t make it.” Maybe she has anxiety when it comes to social engagements and makes excuses because she’s embarrassed.
The third option is that after the first date, she just wasn’t feeling it but couldn’t quite bring herself to tell you. The fact that the two of you work together makes just flaking on you trickier, especially if you’re going to see each other on the regular. Inventing a plausible excuse and begging forgiveness gives a socially acceptable way of saying “thanks, but I’m not feeling it” without inadvertently insulting you or making things awkward at work. (Whether this actually works is another question entirely but, it’s something many people do.)
Meeting up for breakfast is a low-investment, low-intimacy sort of date that limits potential shenanigans afterwards and fulfills her obligation of having agreed to the date in the first place.
But what about the flirting and the makeouts? Well, sometimes that’s just all somebody wants; the makeouts were nice, but they don’t want to take it any further. They may have been into it in the moment but on further reflection – or dates – decided that they just weren’t feeling it. Or you may have said or done something that ultimately made them decide not to go out with you again, but not so egregious that they couldn’t talk to you in person.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, either she’s not interested or she is interested but just doesn’t have her life together enough to date. Regardless of what the truth is, the only thing to do is just accept it with a shrug and move on. As much as it may sting your ego to have been rejected like this, this is honestly fairly minor as far as dating mishaps go. The best option is to drop the subject and just be polite and cordial at work. Don’t feel like you have to talk about what happened – or rather, what didn’t happen – and just stick to pleasantries about work. Five weeks isn’t long in the scheme of things, and afterwards, you won’t have to deal with her again.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I salute you from an lost island on the Mediterranean Sea. Apologies in advance, English isn’t my first language.
I’m a 25 year old man and I’ve been studying and practicing about all this dating world for a while. I’ve finally gone from zero to “Hey, it’s a date”. But I’ve never been in a relationship
Now I’ll explain the dynamic. The date begins, all is going great, I add up a little of humour but, like a loose saltcellar, it spills everywhere. The next day I wake up on the dreaded Friend Zone (nothing bad in making new friends).
Every of my friends knows how to use the humour to flirt, they tell me to be more smooth, maybe give me some advice or two. Others don’t say a word because their techniques are “top secret”.
I’m not a handsome boy, but at least I fullfill the basics (on taking care, getting fit, etc). Despite that, I don’t have many opportunities to get a date or a “match”.
The problems comes when my brain tells me: “Ok, It’s time to flirt” and then I go blank. I understand the dynamics of push-pulls, but in practice, nothing comes out. I don’t know how I’ve to flirt, or be playful. If I compliment her looks, ends with me being “so polite”, If I try to being a little dirty, it ends on an awkward moment.
And, I do not why, sometimes I start the “automatic comedy routine” so I end up in Friend Zone. On Tinder is a little bit more difficult, a bad move leads to ghosting (anecdotally, where I live, is full of people from around the world on vacations, so you need to be chill in various languages and having translated bios)
Help me Doc, I want to be smooth, I want to have fun making little dirty jokes with a girl and she responding on the same way. My objective is not to write this to complain, is to know how can I practice this and not staying blank. I’ve been putting a lot of effort in my dating life, and I know I can do more! But I want to be sure that these efforts are on the right track.
Thanks for your time.
Tongue Tied and Twisted
DEAR TONGUE TIED AND TWISTED: A couple thoughts, TTT. The first is that you need to separate the process from the outcome. Part of why you’re going blank is because you’re so caught up in the outcome. You see flirting as being the key to success, so you have put monumental importance on it. That, in turn, puts immense pressure on you to Not Mess It Up. So now you’re thinking about what to say, how to say it, what your date is going to say and now you’re all “daaaah how do words go?” It’s the Centipede’s Dilemma: you were doing great until someone asked you how you kept all those feet in synch and now you’re tripping all over yourself.
Think of how you talk with your friends, male, female and otherwise. You’re not so invested in the outcome, so it’s easy to just relax and let the banter flow. You’re in the moment, not constantly analyzing every single word and phrase coming out of your mouth for maximum impact. So it is with dating and flirting; the more that you can be in the moment and not thinking about how to maximize your flirting potential, the better you’ll do overall.
The next is that you need to find your flirting style. There’s more than one way to flirt. Some people do well using humor to flirt; they’re great at banter and wordplay. Others do well with more sexual flirting, able to make ribald or even overtly lascivious comments that women love. Still others are straightforward and complimentary. It’s all about finding what works for you and with your personality. Forcing a flirting style that isn’t in line with who you are is like trying to jam your feet into shoes that just don’t fit. You might be able to make it work, but it’s going to pinch and rub blisters and generally make you miserable in the long run. The more the way you flirt meshes with your personality, the more natural and authentic it feels and the easier it will come to you.
The third option is that you need more practice flirting. Flirting is a skill after all, and like all skills, it’s one that eventually becomes part of your muscle memory. Finding opportunities to flirt for fun and practice – as opposed to when it “counts” – gives you a chance to work on your flirting without feeling like you need to perform perfectly. If things go well, then hey, bonus! If they don’t and you trip over your tongue? Well, it doesn’t matter, because it’s just practice.
Just remember: regardless of your flirting style, flirting is supposed to be fun for everyone involved. Lean into the fun side of things, and you’ll do much better… and not freeze up as often.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)