How To Know When It’s Time To Bag Him & Tag Him

Fuck this guy


Name: Katie
Question: Ok, Moxie – this one has me really stumped, and I don’t know who else can give me some no-BS advice on this  except for you and your savvy readers.

I go through phases where I use Tinder fairly actively, and then I get burned out and take breaks and start over. About a month ago (April 2), I finally met someone I really liked and the feeling seemed to be reciprocal. We both live in DC -within 2 miles of each other, actually. However, I have a fairly typical government job where I rarely travel and I go into the same office every day $0 hrs/week – M-F). He is in sales for a consumer products company and usually travels during the work week, either Monday – Thurs or Tues-Friday. He’s 37, claims to have never been married or engaged, FWIW….

At the end of our first date, which was 7 hours long and super fun, he said he wanted to see me before he left for Las Vegas. So we had our second date 4 days after the first. It was amazing. At the end of that date, he said he wanted to see me the night he got back from that trip – which fell on a Wednesday. He texted me every day he was in Vegas.

Here’s where things go wonky….

During all of this texting while he was in Vegas, there was no mention of the date the night he got back from Vegas. I didn’t bring it up – I just made other plans. On Wednesday, he asked if we could get together on Friday instead. No probs. Friday comes along, and at 11 am he texts me to say we should pick a place with an outside patio since it’s so nice out. Perfect. By 3 pm, I get a text that he’s all of a sudden not feeling so well and he’s going to take a nap. I don’t respond (I’m cynical) and I wait it out. An hour later, he says he’ll rally and we’ll meet at 7. At 6:30, he calls to cancel. All weekend long, I get a string of texts about how sick he is with the flu, including pics of digital thermometer readings of his temperature (overkill). At a certain point, you run out of ways to say “that sucks – feel better” to someone you don’t know that well.

The nonstop texting continues and by Monday, he lets me know that he’s feeling better but he’s off to Charlotte for work. There’s no mention of rescheduling our date. Here’s the thing, Moxie: I get that people get sick, but if I’d gotten sick and had to cancel a date 30 minutes before a date, I’d be making every effort to reschedule – at least if it was someone I liked. The texting with no talk of plans went on for a few more days before I texted this:

“Hey, I had an amazing time the 2 times we went out and would have loved it if a 3rd time had worked out. If you ever decide you would like to go out again, I would love to hear from you…but I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense to text just for the sake of texting.”

I didn’t hear back for nearly a day, but when he did finally write back, he agreed and that he appreciated the straightforwardness…that he enjoyed being around me as well and genuinely wanted to know how I was doing and wasn’t texting for the sake of texting. He said he wanted to get together that next weekend if I was up for it. He said he would call me (as in, on the phone – not texting) which he did – and we made plans, and we went out a third time. Another fun time.

And now…. we’re in the same damn place!! At the end of the evening, he said he was going to Pittsburgh the upcoming week but he wanted to see me the same day he got back – one week from then (a Saturday). Texts me all week long, no mention of Saturday. Friday morning comes, he says he can’t do Saturday because he has “to take a client to the game on Saturday” but that maybe Sunday would work and am I available. At this point, I call him on the phone and I say basically the same thing I’ve already said in my previous text (ie., if you’re not interested, cool – but stop with the texting). He assures me he’s just busy. Says he will call me on Saturday to make plans for Sunday. I get a text at 5 pm (PM!) on Saturday saying he has dropped his phone in the sink and that he’s just gotten his old one up and running, which is why he hasn’t been in touch sooner. Oh, and now Sunday won’t work either because he has to fly to Chicago to be with his Dad at a medical consultation at
Northwestern. (I did know the dad’s medical issues were legit and he sent photos of his boarding pass AND a picture of the dad in a wheelchair in a respiratory mask. Again, seems like overkill, but whatevs).

This guy has texted me every day since I’ve met him a month ago and we have been out 3 times, I date enough to know what being blown off feels like and this isn’t it, but it’s also not unabated interest. I’ve already communicated once very clearly that I don’t want him texting me if he’s not interested, and he claims to have gotten that memo. I’ve given him a million opportunities to bow out gracefully or ghost me, and he won’t. If i tell him to stop texting me unless it’s to make a date, I just sound pushy. I don’t want to have to twist someone’s arm to go out with me. At the same time, I don’t believe in texting someone every day until that person is legit your boyfriend. He’s now got a 50-50 (at best) rate for keeping plans and the constant texting creates a false sense of intimacy and only makes it hurts worse when he breaks plans. My thinking is that I have to stop responding to the texts, but that will suck because it will convey disinterest and I am interested. But I’m
feeling jerked around and that’s worse. If this were an episode of Catfish – the sick father, the flu, the phone in the sink – I’d be like “you lonely idiot! This is a scam!” the only difference is that I have gone out with him 3 times in person in a month.

I feel like maybe he likes me but he’s not really available – i.e., has another GF on the side.

So Moxie, WTF? Are his reasons for cancelling legit or is this guy another shady guy from Tinder? And what do I do? I feel like not responding now is my only option… at least until he makes plans he’ll keep.

Give it to me straight, Moxie!
-Quasi-Dating a Phantom via Text
Age: 34

I think his reasons for cancelling are legit, believe it or not. But I also think his schedule is not conducive to conducting a relationship. He apparently hasn’t accepted that reality and is blindly continuing to date as though he’s actually available.

He’s not.

Yes, you need to stop responding to his texts. Every time you respond, your original no nonsense stance erodes a little bit further and he continues to disregard your boundary.

People get busy. Their jobs take them all over the place, they have deadlines, etc. But they should know what they can offer and what they can’t and act accordingly. This guy is dating as though he has a relatively flexible schedule. He doesn’t. Instead of just slightly detaching from the situation, he’s turning up his efforts. That’s a sign that he’s only thinking about himself.

The guy can’t offer you more than the occasional night out for drinks. So either take it at face value and lower your expectations or get rid of him. Personally, I see red when people cancel and reschedule plans. My initial reaction to this saga was to say, “Fuck this guy.” Because, really. Fuck. This. Guy and his crazeee schedule and constant texts. Who has the bandwidth or tolerance for this nonsense? And the excuses? The dropped phone, the sudden illness, the sickly Dad. Like, get your life together, dude. Stop inflicting your bullshit on other people. And really…stop with the texts. How lame. How very Tom Hardy’s brother, Try.

You feel jerked around because you are being jerked around. Between the super busy schedule and what appears to me to be the fact that he’s juggling multiple women (just a guess) I think this guy is totally taking advantage of your interest. Bag him and tag him. He’s constantly screwing up the momentum that you two build with his scattered behavior.

Finally, let’s be honest: you’re tolerating this bullshit because he’s in that upper echelon of Tinder guys: good looking, good job, etc. That’s the other reason you’re experiencing this. As I just said: if you choose to date those guys, then plan on constantly being back – burnered and rescheduled.



Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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35 Responses to “How To Know When It’s Time To Bag Him & Tag Him”

  1. Maria Says:

    I don’t know sounds like he’s married or In a relationship or maybe juggling a lot of women and cancelled on you bexause a new option came along. Nobody who is sick remembers they’re sick 30 minutes before a date. Just doesn’t happen. And for him to be sick that often? Again this doesn’t happen. The reason you’re being jerked around doesn’t matter but you are being jerked around. Moxies advice was spot on–he can’t / won’t offer you more than an occasional date when his schedule allows. If you’re fine with this then keep it going but doesn’t seem like you are ok with it so don’t continue it

  2. bbdawg Says:

    OP it sounds like this is keeping you as an “option”. Meaning he is probably out on Tinder now and meeting women when he travels. Men who text about nothing are a bit of a red flag to me. It sends the signal that they are very adept at juggling and have the ADD-like dating mentality, where it’s all distraction and no consistency or quality. I hate texting as is, and I don’t text with people I don’t know well because…it’s a WASTE OF TIME. You want see me? Show up. That’s the point of dating to me. If a person is not showing up they are not interested.

    Having said that, the biggest issue with your letter is the fact that he cancels repeatedly and does not seem to respect your time. I don’t think the biggest issue really is, if he is juggling other women or not, the bottom line here is this guy cancels constantly, in a way that is really inconsiderate. Flip this and imagine, would YOU do this to someone? I don’t think I have ever done that, and if I did, it would be immediately clear to me that I don’t care about the other person. Therefore, I would rather never see them again than do this.

    What do YOU want in general though? Do you want something casual? If you do that’s fine. If you want a “relationship”, move on. This guy is juggling several women right now and he is not respecting your time. You can do better than this, I am sure.

  3. BostonRobin Says:

    How have you lasted this long with him? I could barely get through the letter after his weekend of “sick” texts. That, btw, was nothing but overkill to distract you and lure you in more. Think about how a fisherman will jiggle the line now and then, just to keep the fish around.

    Is he dating multiple women? OMG WHO CARES. All that matters is that he’s rude and flakey and weird. This is the MO of a lot of online daters, and those of us who value our sanity and self-respect learn to dump them early, fast, and hard. Don’t overthink it or send flaming texts, just vanish off the face of the earth.

  4. Eliza Says:

    OP, that advice above and of the readers here are as straight forward and on point as anyone can be. I learned to never make someone a priority that does not make me a priority. Of course, if you are cool with just being super casual…and being cancelled at the very last minute…and do not take it personally, proceed with this guy from Tinder. But he is juggling, and I often find that some men will mention they travel for work — just so they can use that as an excuse for unforeseen last minutes hitches, so they can juggle other women, or perhaps they do have a girlfriend, but not fully content and want to test the waters. Whatever reason is not important…you seem annoyed by this type of arrangement (otherwise you would just date others and take it at face value and not write in), so yeah, move on. The endless texting is very childish as well.

  5. Yvonne Says:

    7 hours for a first date? Why? That’s overkill in my book. Then I notice that every time this guy cancels on you, you are available for whatever alternate date he has planned, even if it’s last minute. You’re letting him know that you have a completely flexible schedule and and are available to him at his whim, whenever he wants to to see you or reschedule. Stop being so easy-going.

    When you finally put your foot down a little, it doesn’t change anything. You shouldn’t have to tell a man how to treat you this early on. If he doesn’t his A game in the beginning, he’s not going to bring it later on. This man sounds inconsiderate and selfish, and I don’t know if it’s because he’s juggling other women, doesn’t really have the time or interest in dating consistently, or is just, you know, inconsiderate and selfish. That doesn’t make for a good catch even if he’s good-looking and has a good job.

  6. Katie Says:

    OP here. Thank you to Moxie for her super quick and thoughtful reply to my question and for the 3 readers who endured such a long post and provided their input.

    I guess the reason this wasn’t so obvious for me is that I’ve been doing this online dating thing for longer than I’d care to admit and I actually don’t find that this MO is typical. Getting backburnered? Absolutely. But someone can backburner you or keep you as an option by texting you once every other week or even every month. I have an ex who does it every 3 weeks, almost to the day. But once a day and sometimes morning, noon and effing night? Just to keep me as an option? But…I get it. That seems to be the consensus here, and he’s definitely not following through so on actually seeing me so… that’s that.

    And bbdawg is right— no, I would NEVER do that to another person (cancel at the last minute)- in a dating situation. (And btw, he apologized profusely about the flu, but not so much as an I’m sorry for cancelling because of the game he had to take the client to, the phone he dropped in the sink, or the last-minute trip to Chicago. No apologies there. I have felt sick going into dates that I didn’t even know why I’d agreed to in the first place because I felt that lukewarm about the person – but I went because I’d agreed to go. I’ve gone on not one but two dates when my mom was in the hospital, which probably makes me both an awful date AND an awful daughter. But I don’t even like giving the appearance that I’m flaking. Same if I make plans with a girlfriend- when I say I’ll be somewhere, I’m there. So you’re right – he’s kind of an a-hole anyway.

    But now that we’ve agreed that this dog just won’t hunt, can I just ask two more questions on how to handle it: do I really just ignore the texts, or can I say something to end it. And does anyone ever advise blocking the number, just to remove the temptation – or is that overkill?

    (What can I say – hope makes us stupid sometimes.)

    • D. Says:

      Honestly, I think the guy is interested. I just don’t think his life is currently in a place where he can act on that interest beyond texting a bunch.

      If you want out, I’d say you can approach it two ways.

      1. Ghost. Stop replying to his texts. If he continues blowing up your phone, block his number if it’s really that annoying and he’s not getting the message.

      2. Tell him that you like him, you get the sense he likes you, but his life seems a little chaotic at the moment for dating. If things settle down and he has actual availability, give a yell. Then just ignore what he says unless it’s an actual invitation (and even then, maybe have a “plan B” in place).

      The two things that got me about the story were the one where he had to take a client to a game, and the one with his dad. People get sick and have to cancel sometimes. Shit happens. People drop their phones sometimes and are unreachable. Shit happens. But the stuff with work and with his dad sound less like one-off events and more like structural problems in his life that could pop up and derail dates in the future. That’s what makes me think he’s not in a place to really date. The other one-off stuff…eh…shit happens. You reschedule, life goes on. But those others could be constant sources of annoyance.

      • Katie Says:

        I actually perceived those things differently – I think the “having to take the client to a game” was a giant bag of bullshit – I think THAT was a situation where a better option came along. I also think dropping the phone in the sink was a load of BS. I wouldn’t actually care about the travel during the week (I’ve been on my own for awhile and seeing someone too much too soon would be annoying right now) and I have aging parents with health issues myself, so I’m sympathetic to that.

        When I wrote in, my main question was… does this sound like this guy is lying? Because I can deal with a lot of stuff — After three dates, I can even deal with only being one of a couple. But I don’t have the patience or time for half or partial truths, and I definitely see red if someone blows up my weekend – which, in this most recent case, I would have spent with my own aging parents with health issues had I not had plans with this a-hole who cancelled on me at the last minute.

        Thank you for letting me rant, guys. It helps.

        • Goldie Says:

          I was going to say the same thing about aging parents with issues. Personally I have an aging parent (fairly independent, but who knows what tomorrow will bring), two kids in their early 20s (same thing), had a terminally ill dog up until June of last year, so I am pretty understanding of a date/partner who’s battling the same issues.

          And as far as his illness goes, I’d rather have a guy cancel a date due to illness, than go ahead with it while being contagious and give me whatever the hell he came down with (which happened in one of my LTRs and frankly I’m still fuming about it three years later.)

          It did not sound to me that the guy was lying.

          What I would like my date/partner to do differently if he were that guy would be to give plenty of warnings, plenty of heads-up, give the other party an opportunity to say: sorry, your schedule really isn’t working for me. Best of luck, and let me know if things ever change. My last ex had a super hectic schedule. But he made me fully aware of it before he and I got together. I knew what I was getting into. With this guy, it looks like he schedules a date with you for a Friday night, knowing full well that there’s a 50% chance of something else hijacking his schedule on that night, never mentions this 50% chance to you and just goes on with his life, hoping nothing will happen at the last minute that will make him cancel. Then acts surprised when something does happen at the last minute.

          “which, in this most recent case, I would have spent with my own aging parents with health issues had I not had plans with this a-hole who cancelled on me at the last minute”

          I’d be mad too!!! I would go ahead and tell him about it. This is a real problem that he’s causing, even if for legitimate reasons. How is he planning to deal with it? Basically, D’s option 2 from the comment above.

          • Katie Says:

            I agree with the comment about the hectic schedule – I feel like if you give the person a bit of warning, it can be ok and doesn’t seem as flakey. I went on a really long vacation a few months in to dating my current guy (like 3 weeks out of the country, without text access) but I told him about it when I started dating him. He knew he wasn’t going to see me or talk to me for 3 weeks, but we both wanted to see each other when I got back. And we did. I think he probably would have been less accommodating if I had sprung it on him a few days before I left.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          **I think the “having to take the client to a game” was a giant bag of bullshit – I think THAT was a situation where a better option came along.**

          Yeah. He sent you pictures of his sick dad (OMGWTF) but not pictures of, “Having a great time at Wrigley Field, wish you were here”?

          I think KK has a good point that he could already be in a relationship (like, long-standing, committed relationship, not just “seeing where it goes” with some OKC randos). That would explain last minute cancellations.

          Although…the reasons shouldn’t matter. You feeling unhappy and annoyed should be more than enough reason to just pull a, “Later, dude.”

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Also, was he posing with this sick dad, or was it some stock photo image he found of, “Ailing patriarch with oxygen tank”?

            That is just so weird and kind of inappropriate. How are “sick pics” even a thing unless you’re very, very close to the person (i.e., his dad)? I just lost my mom and I know she was extremely private about her health matters, to the point of getting kind of angry if you asked how she was feeling (I think it was just feeling uncomfortable with mortality, but anyway).

            • Katie Says:

              OP here: could have been a photo of any old guy in a wheelchair wearing a hospital gown and a respiratory mask. And he sent me a picture of his boarding pass from
              DCA to O’Hare too. And when it was the flu, he texted me a photo of the digital thermometer reading of 103.5.

              Yes, folks – I’m an idiot.

              • fuzzilla Says:

                I admit I might be more suspicious and untrusting than the average gal. But setting that aside – his behavior is weird and you’re not happy. Good enough reason to cut bait.

        • D. Says:

          So, here’s the thing. Although I mentioned the “why” of his cancellations (work, sick dad, etc.), the end result is the same: he cancels, you don’t see him, and he blows up your phone for another week or two before you see him again.

          If, on top of that, you just don’t even believe his reasons for canceling…then just stop responding. There’s no point in trying to build any kind of relationship — casual or serious — with someone whom you already don’t trust. No need to leave a door open for future possibilities. Just walk away.

    • KK Says:

      I don’t think blocking the number is a good idea, because then when you are feeling sad you can unblock his number and call or text him. Delete his number.

      I think ignoring texts is really rude and inconsiderate, especially since you have gone out with him. End it with him, Then delete his number.

      I actually don’t think you’re a backup plan or anything, as yeah, he is texting a lot. It sounds more like he is already in a relationship.

      • Missy Says:

        Wait, can’t you delete it (from your contacts) AND block it (essentially removing yourself from *his* contacts)? If you don’t block it he can just text you again…and it sounds like he will. I am also of the opinion that this kind of behavior at the beginning of a relationship is not fixable; there’s nothing you can say or do that will get this guy to think ahead and respect your time. In a more established relationship, if someone starts doing this when they haven’t before, it might be possible to get them back on track.
        Honestly, I’d just block him and move on.

    • mxf Says:

      Hey, I’ve been there. Great prospect and a fairly good early connection, but their behavior is getting in the way of progress in some way.

      In your case, I don’t know that this guy is juggling a bunch of women. He legitimately sounds like he’s a messy person or isn’t all that organized. He reminds me a bit of a friend of mine who was diagnosed with ADHD in his twenties. He takes meds to manage work days and he has some other coping mechanisms, but his life still seems to include a lot of forgotten last-minute things or sudden tasks that just came up. I’m not saying your date has anything like that, but I do think some people are more comfortable living with a certain amount of chaos. It sounds like you aren’t built like that – wouldn’t it be a constant source of stress to put up with it?

      I like closing things out, so I’d write a final text, nothing dramatic. I would let him know I enjoyed the dates but was looking for something/someone more consistent and his life doesn’t seem to allow for that. But that’s a personal preference, and I think others here wouldn’t bother. Also, you might have to ignore follow-ups from him where he disagrees with you. I’m sure he thinks all these events ‘happened’ to him and were beyond his control.

      • Selena Says:

        “…but I do think some people are more comfortable living with a certain amount of chaos. It sounds like you aren’t built like that – wouldn’t it be a constant source of stress to put up with it?”

        I was thinking along the same lines. I’ve had friends who seemed to almost thrive on a certain amount of chaos and so bored without it. In one month you’ve seen what this guy is about, there is no reason for you to expect change. If you want a more calm and consistent life, let him go. And you can tell/text him THAT is the reason.

        • Selena Says:

          And just musing here…the pic’s of his thermometer with a temp, and Dad in an oxygen mask? Who thinks to do this?

          Maybe someone who has been disbelieved by previous women when he had canceled and is making a “preemptive strike” before he gets called on it again?

          • Goldie Says:

            That’s what I was thinking.

            I posted on here once about a close friend of mine whose relationship of six months ended because he has a weird and crazy work schedule, has to drive all over the state for work, put in a lot of overtime, some of it on short notice, gets called in on weekends etc. The woman accused him of seeing someone else on the side and lying to her about being swamped at work. Of course my friend would not ever think of supplying photographic evidence, doctor’s notes and whatnot to his next gf – she’d be free to either trust him or walk out.

            • fuzzilla Says:

              I assume decent people with legit busy schedules just don’t make plans they can’t keep, or at least it isn’t a pattern that happens more than 50% of the time (in a MONTH, OMG).

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      Just don’t respond so quickly to texts. Play the game a little.

      • Goldie Says:

        Right. Aside from the playing the game aspect, if you respond quickly, he responds quickly to that and so on, that’s a good way to spend every waking minute of your day texting back and forth with this guy. And who wants that?

    • Eliza Says:

      OP–hope is a good thing, but it can be blinding too. Nothing wrong with using cell options – like blocking. I have done it–and it worked just fine. No need to explain via text by you are ghosting.
      Tinder man doesn’t deserve or probably care for an explanation either.

    • Zaire Says:

      Ignore. You really don’t have to explain anything. It’s obvious why you wouldn’t be interested. If he’s that in the dark abut how he comes across then you’re definitely better for cutting him off. This isn’t hard at all. Someone starts acting weird this early on just ignore, block, delete and move forward. There’s no need for a “talk”.

      • Eliza Says:

        I agree with Zaire. It’s an easy solution. Just cease all communication. Unless you like playing childish guessing games.
        That’s the beauty of these digital devices people have grown to rely upon. And besides, he should have no issue at all with the lack of communication, since all he knows how to do is text, and ghost himself. Why give such importance to those that disregard you?

  7. D. Says:

    Another possible analysis:

    The guy genuinely likes you, genuinely wants to see you, genuinely wants to stay in touch with you, but his life is too screwed up right now and he doesn’t actually have the time to date (or at least, not to date the way you want).

    My guess is that the texting is partially to let you know he’s interested, but might honestly be because he just likes talking to you and wants to stay in touch.

    Now, all that aside, it sounds like this guy’s life is pretty out of control. The constant rescheduling, and the last-minute nature of it all makes normal dating extremely difficult, and sends seriously mixed messages. While it seems like his excuses are legitimate…at a certain point, so what? Dating requires that you actually, you know, go on dates together. Like, in person. If you can’t manage that, regardless of the reasons, then you’re not in a position to date.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Yeah, even if she were okay with, “Let’s just enjoy this for what it is and do occasional drinks and sexytimes when you’re in town,” all the constant re-scheduling kind of cancels out anything that would be appealing about that. (And anyone who is okay with something super casual is not putting all their eggs in one basket – they’re either dating others or are super wrapped up in demanding jobs and just want some occasional low-stakes fun).

    • coffeestop Says:

      I disagree, texting to convey interest is the most low effort option. If he wanted to see her he would see her.

  8. ATWYSingle Says:

    Before the comments devolve into a bunch of theories and opinions of things that have no actual relevance to the story, allow me to say this:

    He cancelled on you multiple times. Cancelling is rude. Don’t date rude people. The end.

    • Yvonne Says:

      Not only that, but she suspects the guy of lying to her, so she should trust her instincts. Reason enough to back away from the phone, no need for any further explanation.

    • BTownGirl Says:

      And he knows it was rude and it may have looked suspect, because why else send picture-proof? Only people who KNOW they are unreliable do something like that. So, he knows he’s wasting her time and is still texting. Not saying he’s an Ohmygod Terrible Person, but…NEXT.

    • Katie Says:

      Agree with Moxie. Doesn’t matter the reason for his cancellations, he keeps cancelling and isn’t worth it. Unfortunately the ease and simplicity of the dating apps out there (especially Tinder) makes it really easy for anyone use and match with someone, no matter how busy or messy their real lives are.

  9. coffeestop Says:

    Anybody who cancels more than once in a short span of time is a flake and should be treated that way. I would stop responding to the texts. Either he is doing this to everybody or he is dense as hell. I don’t have endless texting with people I hardly know, I don’t get it. The only people I ever consider putting time and energy into are people who make plans and then actually follow through with them.

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