Why Do Men Keep Cancelling On Her Last Minute?

Frustrated businesswoman worrying in thought bubble

Name: Andrea
Question: What’s with the resounding fade after a strong come-on? Here’s a typical scenario:
Guy contacts me with a string of superlatives about my looks and/or profile (good start). I respond politely and with measured compliments of my own. A friendly and upbeat back-and-forth ensues, and soon  we have a date for coffee or brunch or a drink. Meeting time nears and often within an hour of the appointed time something comes up and meeting has to be canceled.

And I never hear from him again.

Most of the time I don’t even initiate contact (but always rely positively if contacted) between when the date is set and the actual meet-up for fear of seeming needy and/or demanding. I’ve don’t that in the past with equally unsuccessful results.

Is this just a repetitive case of bets-hedging? Hedge-betting? Haha

How can I inoculate myself from either being disappointed, or angry with myself for YET AGAIN looking forward to some imaginary date, and formerly, as I try not to do this anymore either, having adjusted my schedule to accommodate it and spent sometimes *hours* (not to mention $$ for hair, nails, makeup, what-have-you) planning, procuring outfit etc and preparing myself to look my best… FOR NOTHING.

I’ll save my next question about the post-great-date fade another time. And won’t even mention the post-great-sex fade… I have learned my lesson and will never do that prematurely again (as in fewer than  three dates, Period. Been fooled twice. Never again.

I know I probably sound jaded and bitter. But how to maintain a lightness and optimism with such shabby male treatment? Over and over? What gives? Shall I chuck the whole baby (bathwater, get it?)?
Age: 60

having adjusted my schedule to accommodate it and spent sometimes *hours* (not to mention $$ for hair, nails, makeup, what-have-you) planning

Let’s unpack this bit first. You need to understand that any money you spend preparing for a date is on you. What you do have a right to be offended by is the misuse of your time. Time can not be replaced. There are no refunds for wasted time.

I’m going to speculate that the key to this mystery is in those intro emails, specifically all the effusive drooling over your looks. There are only two types of people who do this: the desperate ones and the disingenuous ones. Stop replying to men who start off conversations by commenting on your looks or body. Certain guys say stuff like that waiting for some woman to take the bait.

I don’t know the time line of these interactions. If you’re messaging with a guy and he tries to get you to meet him out that same day, then you can be sure he’s just looking to get laid and messaging as many women as possible.  But if these dates are being scheduled a few days out and these men keep cancelling, then the answer is the guy wasn’t all that interested in the first place.

I’ll save my next question about the post-great-date fade another time. And won’t even mention the post-great-sex fade… I have learned my lesson and will never do that prematurely again (as in fewer than  three dates, Period. Been fooled twice. Never again.

Because you can’t get blown off after three dates? The number of dates is irrelevant. The sex is irrelevant. Men are cancelling on you and ghosting after sex.  You’re picking the wrong guys. That’s the common denominator here: your taste in men. That and you investment level.  It sucks that we now have to keep our expectations to the bare-minimum, but that’s dating in 2017.  Unless you enjoy getting dressed because that makes you feel extra confident, stop doing that. Stop investing more time and effort than is absolutely necessary. That’s how you avoid feeling like crap when you get blown off. I say blown off because, let’s face it, if they cancel a first date, it’s highly unlikely you’ll end up meeting them.

I truly understand where you’re coming from. I get so hurt when guys cancel last minute. Ashamed is a better word. I feel ashamed for hoping and believing in the possibility that this time might be different. I just had this happen to me a few weeks ago. Had tentative plans with a guy. He told me to text him after my class to let him now what time I could meet. I text him and now he’s suddenly has to to ABC but he’s trying to rearrange some things blah blah can I give him a half-an hour or so. Sure. He then calls me with alternative plans.

“I have to be on the West Side at 5 to ABC. So I could either drive over to the East side to meet for a drink but couldn’t stay long…”


“Or you could meet me on the West Side and…”

“No. I’m not going all the way across town to feel rushed. Some other time. Buhbye.”


If they’re not able to follow through on the first planned encounter, you can pretty much scratch them off the list. I hung up with that guy and headed over to Burger King to eat my feelings. Had he mentioned the plans earlier I would have gladly re-scheduled, but the fact that the plans suddenly materialized made me wonder if maybe he was just looking for a way out. I’m embarrassed at how hurt I was, but that’s on me. Not him. That pang was my loneliness manifesting itself. I can’t hold that against him, just like you can’t make these men you meet online responsible for your feelings, Andrea.

The way to avoid feeling hurt and disappointed is to find other things to fill that void so that you won’t invest so much hope into an interaction with an internet stranger. That’s why you’re getting burnt out. Take all that energy and channel into something productive, something that will provide return on investment: exercising, volunteering, a class, a side job or project, some kind of self-improvement group/class. You’re expending too much thought and emotion and time and money on men that haven’t earned that level of effort yet.

It’s okay to be lonely, to want someone, to crave a connection. Allow yourself those moments and remind yourself that they are temporary. You have control over just how sad or happy you can be, whether you realize it or not.



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24 Responses to “Why Do Men Keep Cancelling On Her Last Minute?”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    I’m going to add to this by saying that there are an incredible number of scammers and fake profilers on dating sites and apps now. The first thing that scammers do right out of the gate is compliment you on your looks. It’s a dead giveaway, in fact. Genuine, decent guys don’t start conversations with empty flattery like, “Hi, gorgeous”, or “How can it be that a woman as beautiful as you is online?” Someone who’s sincere is interested in more substantive and respectful conversation.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      He suggested a drink. I had to cover for a host and handle a fencing class. He said text when i was done and he could meet me. My work comes first, always.

      Cool theory though.

      • Nessa Says:

        Of course, but you could’ve just planned a date for a time when you were truly free, for example, a day you weren’t working. You could’ve easily said, “I’d love to have a drink, but I may have to work. How’s Sunday?” But, by essentially telling him, “I’ll let you know”, you’ve given him free reign to make other plans. There was no guarantee you’d be free so he went about his day.

        If the genders were switched, I doubt you’d advise a woman to put her life on hold for a guy who wants her to wait around until that evening, for whatever reason. I know I sure wouldn’t wait. I’d make other plans too. And, I would be creeped out if the guy became huffy about it because that would demonstrate that he thinks his time is more valuable than mine.

        If you’re not cool with a guy doing what he did, you can’t make tentiatve plans. It sends the message that the date isn’t a priority for you. Perhaps you were super pumped about the guy so you tried to meet up as soon as possible, but if he’s that into you, he can wait until the date/time you’re *actually* free. However, he is not required to put his life on hold. No one should be obligated to do that so early on. And, when you do make tentative plans and they don’t work out, you shouldn’t be hurt either. Just make real plans with him in the future and take things from there. Then, if he flakes on the *planned* date, I’d raise an eyebrow. Planned meaning the date, time, and place has been predetermined.

        • Laura Says:

          I don’t know. I guess it all depends on just how tentative those plans were. Some flexibility is fine, there should be something between “We should meet up one of these days” (and then following up 10 days later suggesting a meeting in half an hour) and “I want to meet on Thursday 7 PM at XYZ, take it or leave it”.
          Agreeing on date and place and then having to work out the specifics of exact time point can well be taken as tentative plans, but it doesn’t have to be totally unreasonable, depending on circumstances. Of course, the other person should not be expected to sit around all day long waiting for you to call them, but an hour or so leeway is not too big a deal. I could see myself both suggesting it and agreeing to it.
          And if the guy was aware of it in advance and agreed, and then turned it around in the last moment, I’d be annoyed too.

      • Yvonne Says:

        My comment was directed to the OP’s situation, not to yours.

  2. Nessa Says:

    To be fair, ATWYS, it’s not really a planned date if you don’t have a set time. There is no such thing as tentative plans. There are plans, and there is, “we’ll meet up eventually”. I’m not sure who suggested texting him after your class to let him know when you could meet, but that would’ve been a red flag to me. Either you were cool with placing him on the back burner until after class (I.e., you weren’t interested enough to schedule a date for a specific time) or he was still weighing his options for that day. In any case, neither of you seemed that pressed to meet so it’s bizarre that you wrote him off for doing the same thing you did. While dating, I have realized that the men who made tentative plans were extremely disorganized/unreliable and/or had entitlement issues (“why can’t you wait around for me to get back to you?”). Perhaps he thought the same about you.

  3. ATWYSingle Says:

    I wasntthe one to say “let you know.” He was.

  4. UWSGal Says:

    Somehow, it seems to me that keeping your expectations low and not putting in any effort to look your best is not a dating plan that will lead to any desired outcome. I would propose something radically different:

    Keep your expectations high (of the quality of men you would be with, that is), and keep looking your best. Do some reprogramming in your head to not get excited over a first online date. These people are strangers, just options on the screen. Nobody is real until they’re sitting in front of you in the flesh, looking like their photos. So don’t lower your expectations of men, lower your expectations of the early stages of online dating experience. If a prospective online date blows you off the last minute, **go out that night anyway**. Call your girlfriends (or make plans beforehand anyway for, say 2 hours after the proposed date time), or simply go out alone. Go eat dinner at a bar counter at a restaurant. You can chit-chat with bartenders, people around you, and may be even meet another guy right there (this happened to me). Don’t let that manicure go to waste! And most importantly, never ever rearrange your plans for a date with a stranger. If you’re doing yoga every Wednesday night, you’re doing yoga every Wednesday night. He can see you some other day. There will be time for compromise later.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Exactly. Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

      • KK Says:

        Hoping for the best and planning for the worst is really difficult when “the worst” happens again and again. Regardless of all the fun activities you have planned, it’s hard to feel ok when one feels discarded over and over again, which I think is what happened with the writer.


        • Parenting Says:

          Then look for dates offline. Maybe its just my unique experience but Ive found that people are remarkably less shitty when they meet you through an activity that doesnt have the words “dating” anywhere in the title.

  5. fuzzilla Says:

    Yeah, I get how aggravating tentative plans are. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but there was a dude who drove me batsh** with that kinda thing (“Either you are, or you are not inviting me to hang out with you and your daughter. If the answer is no, I’m totally cool with that, just stop giving me this maybe crap and expecting me to sit by the phone waiting for you, worrying about how well I’ll bond with your kid for no God damn reason.
    Consider someone else’s point of view every once in a while”).

    As for the OP, it doesn’t sound like she’s doing anything wrong, per se – setting a specific date and time, keeping in touch between setting the date and time of date. I think Moxie’s right that all the “hey, gorgeous” crap is a red flag that the men aren’t that genuine or invested – in other words, it’s a man picker problem. Don’t message endlessly, but chat enough to get a sense of who they are as a person.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Hi, it is been a long time… I cannot say much about the first part of the question, but I wanted to contribute what a guy told me about the second part. He says that he vanishes after sex in the first dates, simply because he just didn’t like it. He says the number of dates doesn’t matter. It is not because it is slutty to have sex after one or two dates. It is because he didn’t like it. He says if he had liked it, he would have stayed and explored the relationship. Thoughts?

    • Yvonne Says:

      So this guy thinks it’s ok to disappear because HE didn’t like the sex? Sorry, but the other person still deserves some kind of explanation. He doesn’t have to say that’s the reason, but he still should offer a cursory explanation for leaving. Not doing so is disrespectful and cowardly.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Yes, I agree with you. But he just told me that, “If I don’t like the sex, I don’t see any potential, so I don’t call her any more. Why bother.” It looks like that for him, sex is part of the screening process and it should be done as soon as possible… It is pretty sad. But I just wanted to bring it up, because many women wonder what they did wrong, they wonder if they were slutty, but, at least according to this guy, the reason was something else.

        • KK Says:

          Some guys might not call a woman again because she’s too slutty. I don’t know any guys like that but they exist. Most guys it’s because the sex was not good or she was not cute enough.

          I can understand wanting to wait to have sex. SOME people, and I think this is more common in men that women, do not want to invest emotionally in someone if there is no sex involved, and so they want to have sex ASAP, to see if there is a relationship worth pursuing. Other people, and I think more women feel this way than men, do not want to have sex until they feel an emotional connection. (I know plenty of women who want to have first, to see if there is compatibility, but I do not know any men who want to wait for sex.)

          I think the first option is becoming more and more common. That is fine. The problem is if two people date, and one is a “let’s see how the sex is” person and the other is a “emotional investment” type of person. It won’t end well.

          • fuzzilla Says:

            **The problem is if two people date, and one is a “let’s see how the sex is” person and the other is a “emotional investment” type of person. It won’t end well.**

            True. I think you should proceed as if the person you’re dating is whatever type doesn’t mesh with yours until they give you clear reason to believe otherwise. Give them a chance, gather your info, and hope it won’t be a disaster, but be prepared for that to happen (hope for the best/prepare for the worst). I mean, most dates and relationships don’t work out even if no one is an awful person.

        • Yvonne Says:

          Does this happen to this guy often? Just how bad is the sex he’s having? For myself, I can only think of a couple of instances where sex was so bad that it threatened the whole relationship. In one instance, the man and I were pretty connected; we both knew there was an issue and we were able to talk about it. People who don’t know each other very well don’t have the kind of connection, communication, or history that would help them deal with that kind of problem.

          • Anonymous Says:

            Oh… I don’t know… It didn’t occur to me to ask (maybe I was afraid?) But I wonder if a person has too many bad sexual experiences, maybe they are the ones with a problem? Anyway, again, as I said, I mentioned it because many times I see women just wondering what happened, and this is the first time someone has given me an explanation, I like it or not. It does sound scary for me, though, because I am one of those people who expect a strong connection first.

  7. Laura Says:

    I believe the OP is having a common problem of mistaking the expressed level of interest for actual interest. It’s totally understandable why it happens, I mean, there’s really little to go by except for what they say. But, after a while you become able to pick up some little clues and signs that indicate how serious they actually are and then you realize that coming on strong and showering you with compliments on your looks is not, in fact, “a good start”.
    Talk is cheap. And looking back at my own experience, most of the time a guy blew me off I could actually see beforehand that it’s more talk than substance, but I chose to ignore it. It gets better in time.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Well, your 60. I am 63 and dating gets harder.
    I think at our age we are one hand eager to get in a relationship, as time gets shorter, yet much more set in our ways and hesitant.
    I think we are actually more fearful of getting involved in a relationship that isn’t right, so we are eager up until to moment of truth then we think we should bail.
    We think we can deal with just about anything then we over analyze every minute detail and hesitate.
    At least that’s what I see happened to me. Looking back I could just kick myself for the dumb reasons I did not follow up on a relationship. (I’m not one to bail at the last minute, nor do I sex and run – I just didn’t let it go that far).

  9. Speed Says:

    As to Moxie’s dealing with her date, I see no error. Based on what she’s shared on this blog, she’s never blown off a date for some trivial reason. In fact, in my opinion, she’s given some extra chances to guys who would’ve been much better spiked to trees.

    As to wishy-washy men the OP meets, or on dating sites in general (or wishy-washy men in general), I’m not sure there’s any comprehensive theory. I guess some are:

    –super-hot dudes trying to juggle as many women as possible

    –married or otherwise taken

    — holding weak social and organizational skills, easily distracted

    –dealing with various problems or addictions

    –typical Americans who “love choice but hate choosing” as one researcher wrote

    My completely unscientific theory is that these sort sorts of guys are heavily overrepresented online, the same way women are who are “looking for my Matt Damon” (curse you, Matt Damon!)

    Moxie wrote in the last couple of posts that it’s a matter of “keeping plugging,” and I want to run that kind of positive thinking.

  10. 40something Says:

    I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of keeping your expectations low per se. I think it may be more about reality and accepting we have zero control over others. And don’t change your plans for some guy! That lays the foundation for bitterness or resentment particularly if he bails, ghosts, benched or whatever clever word we use to describe rude or simply uninterested. I think at this point in life you should accept that people will behave the way they behave. I’m not advocating accepting bad behavior or being a door mat. Just realize that someone’s behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of you, although I understand it’s difficult not to get your feelings hurt on occasion. I read that caca that says peeps disappear because they don’t want “confrontation.” Are some folks bath$h!t and might send crazy messages? Yeah. If it bothers you then block them. The end.

    Otherwise, I’ve never understood why we act like we are expecting someone to conduct neurosurgery when a simple “can’t make it” or “nice meeting you but I don’t think this is a fit” text. But maybe that’s me.

    If you want love, then dudt yourself off and keep going.

  11. Steve from the city next door Says:

    This is just so common behavior now.

    I think I have said it hear before — earlier this year I realized that last year I had more no-show and last minute cancellations then I did first dates that happened. And most of those I had met in real life – not just internet first meets.

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