A Dater's Life

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Which came first...the chicken or the flake?

the al.leged date

A declared meeting between two people that doesn't exist until it actually is proven to have taken place

the al.leged dat.er
A person who isn't afraid to schedule dates but rarely makes a physical appearance at the dates

A few years ago, during one of my first forays into the on-line dating world, I went out with this Australian guy. I don't remember much about him, other than the fact that he was Australian, but apparently, he was interesting enough that I decided to go on a date with him. We were scheduling our first date when he unexpectedly disappeared on me. He re-appeared a few days later, claiming that he had had a friend who had a heart attack and that he needed to prioritize his best friend over a woman he had never met.

Okay, seemed fair enough (though really, how difficult is it to send someone a quick e-mail?)

We met for drinks, had an enjoyable time, such an enjoyable time that drinks turned into dinner. We decided to meet up again for a second date. There was a film festival in San Francisco, and we agreed that it would be fun to go for drinks and then go to one of the films. He e-mailed for my suggestions; I e-mailed him back a possible meeting place, time, and movie choice. This was Sunday. The date was supposed to take place on Thursday. Monday passed. Tuesday passed. Wednesday passed. Thursday afternoon, two hours before the date was supposed to take place, I hear from him that he had another movie in mind and that he couldn't meet me for drinks beforehand.

Needless to say, I did not meet him as planned.

I wrote the whole thing off as the guy being a flake. But now that I'm back in the world of on-line dating, I'm realizing that the experience was not an anomaly. In dating, especially in on-line dating, flakiness abounds, and all scheduled dates are suspect until after the fact. In a courtroom, a murder suspect is an alleged murderer until proven guilty; similarly, dates are alleged dates until sufficient evidence proves their existence.

Example: I've been e-mailing this guy for about a month now. Three weeks ago, he asks if I'd like to meet for drinks. He says that he's heading out of town for a few days and that he'll e-mail me when he gets back to the city. I say, "Sure, sounds good." Next e-mail, he says that he's been held up with work and hasn't yet made it out of town yet, but that we can go out as soon as he's back. I say, "Not a problem."

A week and a half passes. I figure he's gone to the island of lost men, when I get an e-mail from him (as if no time has passed at all) saying that he's still out of town. I'm hesitant, I wait a few days, but I e-mail him again. He e-mails back right away, saying that he's back in San Francisco and would I like to meet up early next week? I say, "Sunday afternoon or Monday would work best for me."

It's now Sunday afternoon. I still haven't heard back from him.

In part, I blame the internet. Whether it creates more flakiness or simply highlights already-existing flakiness, the internet -- and on-line dating -- is the place where the flakes come to roost. One would think that with instant access in our face that people would be more reliable with communication, but it seems that for the alleged dater, it's the reverse.

How do you know if you're dealing with an alleged dater? They aren't so easy to spot right away. Unlike your typical slacker, drugged-up, unreliable loser that you dated in your 20s, the one who you already know will disappear at a whim and reappear when he needs a sofa to crash on, the alleged dater usually presents himself as a guy who has his life together. Here are some signs and some pointers, which hopefully will help you keep your sanity should you find yourself face-to-face with an alleged date.
  1. Alleged daters can be found anywhere, but typically gravitate toward on-line dating, where they can safely hide behind the anonymity of the internet (and where there are new dating prospects arriving daily). All on-line dates should be regarded as alleged dates.
  2. Alleged daters will use real-life excuses to postpone their dates or to disappear unexpectedly (usually to resurface with a new excuse). Popular excuses include: travel, death, work, Burning Man. It is fine to give someone a second chance, but if this happens to you, beware that you might be getting ready for an alleged date.
  3. Often when alleged daters reappear, they act as if nothing has happened. They might give a reason for disappearing, but they rarely offer an apology. Alternatively, they might offer a pathetic, insincere apology that indicates they haven't taken your time or your life into consideration.
  4. Alleged daters usually have real jobs. They often own property. They are typically in their late 30s-late 40s and claim that they're looking for a real relationship. Just because a man seems to have his act together does not mean that he won't be an alleged dater.
  5. When your alleged date turns into a non date, your impulse will be to blame yourself. You will re-read your last three e-mails, looking for some sign that you have offended your potential match. Try and resist this urge. Sure, you might have said something offensive, but you might simply be dealing with an alleged dater.
We don't know what's at the root of the problem -- hung up over their ex girlfriend? hung up over Giselle? engaged? married? juggling three relationships? body issues? performance issues? commitmentphobia? mother issues? daddy issues? It doesn't matter. It's not your problem. Just remember that somewhere out there is a real-life dater who isn't afraid to step out of the alleged world of dating into the real world of dating.



At 3:54 PM, Blogger Meryl said...

Holy Shit. I am anxious about dating just reading your post. That sounds like utter hell.

I've never done on-line dating, and hopefully never will. My anxiety couldn't handle it.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger TessaJ said...

Dating is exhausting and anxiety producing, that's for sure. Sad when things like this become the norm and not the exception!

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my. As a person who has had at least 50 internet dates in the past 2 years, I LOVE your blog. Tonight I had an alleged date with an alleged dater. I didn't know what it was called until I read this post and I just howled with laughter and felt much better about the whole thing.

The AD and I met per usually on a dating site. He lives in the next town over and invited to me to see a local band play. That town is happening so justified the trip (even though I told myself I would never do this again based on prior terrible experience.)
We exchanged pleasant emails throughout the week-nothing too heavy where the date was alluded to and expressions of interest were declared on his part but never the finer details as oh date and specific meeting place were announced.
Friday rolled around and he wasn't online. Hmm that's strange, isn't it? Well, maybe he was out. It was Friday you know. So I just shot a brief email that said Hey whats the plan?
Saturday came and stupid me did the dating ritual of nails being done and shopping for a cute top. After all that consistant communication who would poof?
Well apparently this guy. When I got home, I notice he had logged in and not replied to my mail.

I would love to say this was a one time experience. No, it's not. I mean come on. Just call and say your grandma is sick or that you have to take care of your nighbors chiuhuhia. I don't care, just don't go to the island of lost men.

So I type flaky internet dating into the old search engine and found your blog. We are both the same age and I think we have dated the same men! Wven my last interlude of a relationship (who I also met online) was a Mr. Nice who tried to make it work but just wasn't ready (unbeknownst to me because he acted ready)

At 9:22 PM, Blogger TessaJ said...

Glad my blog can provide you some relief! Alleged dating is one of the main reasons I try not to establish any sort of emotional attachment before I physically meet a guy.

Odd, but I didn't notice this sort of thing happening when I did on-line dating a few years ago. Seems it's a relatively newish phenomena, and spreading.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger TessaJ said...

(And I'm sorry about your date -- hopefully you have some vodka and a good movie to cheer you up!)

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I got over it quickly and he resurfuced last night with a very lame email about how he was just so sorry and he didn't do it on purpose, but it was a horrible weekend and he had to help a friend. He also asked for permission to call and explain. I thought it over and decided well, if something really extreme happened, he should grovel grovel grovel! So I said, "What you did was really disrespecful. My time is valuable. However, I do know that sometimes things really happen, so yes, you can call me. However, if you are just being flakey because you got a better offer, don't bother. He immediately responded again how sorry he was and he was going to be on his very best behavior from now on. THat was all. Has the phone been ringing? No, just crickets chirping there. Whatever! Next!


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