After a months-long flirtation, I had a great first date (yes, date!) with a guy who I know through mutual friends. He picked me up for dinner, we talked all night, and then we made out at my place. But after that, I didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks.
Finally, I texted him on a Thursday night to see if he wanted to get a drink. He was out of town for his brother’s graduation but said that he would love to take me to a baseball game on Monday instead.
Monday at 4pm, I still hadn’t heard from him. I texted him, “What’s up?” and he wrote back immediately to say that he was stuck in traffic. Then, instead of mentioning that he would have to cancel our plans, he asked how my weekend was. WTF?! So I asked if he wanted a raincheck for the game, and he said definitely, apologized for not calling me sooner, and asked what I had on tap for Wednesday.
Here’s my question – if he calls to confirm for Wednesday, should I go? Or should I give him a dose of his own medicine and blow him off? Or should I write him off completely and move on? In my dah, he’s my Boyfriend Prospect. Not only is he attractive, but I think we might also be compatible in other ways…
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I have a confession to make! I must admit – I struggled with this one. I went back and forth on it, and I forced myself to question my advice-giving instincts. Because what we’re talking about here are games…and I hate playing games. They make my brain explode in weird, fizzy, uncomfortable ways. And you blowing this guy off, just because he blew you off, well, that’s a game.
Why do I hate games? Because, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a big proponent of organic, authentic connections and interactions. I may love ambiguity, and the expansive options and honest soul searching that come of it. But deception and power plays and purposeful mindf**ks are different. They do not, in my opinion, lead to intense and exciting connections – just to miscommunications and missed opportunities. So choosing to not hang out with someone whose company you enjoy, just to send some kind of message or regain some imaginary upper hand or get them to like you more (!), doesn’t jive well with my value system. This is probably why The Rules and I don’t get along so well.
That said…I don’t think you should hang out with him on Wednesday. (**gasp!**)
Don’t “forget” or cancel on him at the last minute, of course. Regardless of his previous actions, that’s just lame and disrespectful. But if you don’t already have other plans for Wednesday – make them. Go see a movie with your Ego Booster. Accompany your Accessory to a dinner party. Sub on your roommate’s volleyball team and party with some Super Horny Guys (I just interviewed a great couple in Wisconsin who met this way! But more on that in another post)
In other words, don’t meet up with him on Wednesday. If and when he calls to confirm, make it clear that you have other plans. Don’t be a jerk about it! You’re just busy now. Sorry! Bummer. Some other time.
Here’s my reasoning, and why I don’t think this counts as manipulative game playing. It all has to do with the end goal, really. And it all comes back to Dating & Hookup.
You say that this guy is your Boyfriend Prospect. But there are actually two key parts to having a guy be your Boyfriend Prospect…and he’s not doing so well on one of them.
One trait of the Boyfriend Prospect is that he’s someone you really like. You can see a potential future with him (whether that “future” stretches two weeks or two decades, your call), and his presence gives you butterflies. You can see what a relationship with him would look like, and it’s easy to imagine what an awesome, kick-ass couple you would be. Ultimately, the idea of foregoing the rest of your dah to be with only him doesn’t cause you to panic and go text your Hot Sex Prospect. Because you have – or feel like you eventually could have – real feelings for him.
But here’s the second part: your Boyfriend Prospect should be acting like a Boyfriend Prospect. This is a guy who you’re considering building a relationship with – so he should be behaving like someone who’s potentially ready and willing to be in a relationship. He should be showing you that, if you did in fact end up together, he would treat you with respect and consideration and a massive amount of excitement that you chose HIM!!! to go to dinner with, or text before falling asleep at night. He should be showing you that he wants to be your Boyfriend Prospect.
At the very most, this might mean that he steps outside of his comfort zone to pursue you, or opens himself up to the scariness of unambiguous rejection by you, or does more than he “needs” to do to impress you. On the other hand, at the very least, this should mean that he makes an effort to spend time with you and shows up when he says that he’s going to. Even a good Career Booster or Ex-Boyfriend Who’s Still Around would do that!
Are you getting the hint? This guy should not be your Boyfriend Prospect. At least not right now. From not contacting you after your date to not giving you a heads up that he’d have to cancel the baseball hangout, he’s falling behind on that whole behavioral thing.
So you need to figure out how to stop thinking of him as your Boyfriend Prospect! Again, at least for now.
Sure, you should keep him in your dah. You definitely DO NOT have to stop speaking to and/or hanging out with him. Ignore the traditional dating lore and all those oversimplifying friends and He’s Just Not That Into You-philes who will chastise you for not completely cutting him off. If you think that you two have a potentially great connection, and that there’s still more good than bad in your dynamic, and that timing might be playing a role, then just give it some space.
Timing matters – on the WTF?! tour, I’ve met quite a few fantastic couples who had to dance around tricky timing issues at the beginning of their journeys. “Timing” isn’t a catch-all phrase for being blown off; sometimes, it’s just a reason to chill the f**k out and give life a chance to do its thing. And that’s the fun of Dating & Hookup – you get to continue exploring connections and relationships that might not be perfect (right now), but still have lots of lessons to offer and fun to be had.
So keep him in your dah for now – but switch up the way that you think of him. Until he starts acting like a deserving Boyfriend Prospect, you need to relegate him to another role. And one way to do that, especially when you’re still crushing on him, is to detach yourself a bit. To give him the time and energy that you might set aside for a nice, supportive Career Booster or an interesting-but-tangential Unavailable Guy. Focus on the other guys in your dah, reach out to them more, cultivate those relationships in meaningful ways, and stop thinking about him in such a serious, hopeful way.
a.k.a – don’t hang out with him the next time he asks. Be that Wednesday or another day.
It’s not a game because you’re not blowing him off with the goal of playing hard to get and piquing his interest. You’re not trying to get caught up in a hot-and-cold goose chase. You’re actually just trying to shift your attention and get him out of that mental Boyfriend Prospect territory. You’re allowing yourself to be in control of your dah, instead of letting it control you. You’re being smart about your time and your options and your willingness to seriously invest in guys who may not be worthy or ready for it yet.
You’re just kicking him out of the Boyfriend Prospect role for now, with action (and not only intention, which we’re all too often able to talk ourselves out of). His dah role might evolve in the future – no one is ever stuck in one spot, and any guy could move (back) into Boyfriend Prospect territory with the right timing and circumstance and effort. But for now, he’s a non-Boyfriend Prospect and should be treated accordingly.
WTF?! Bottom Line: If he calls to confirm your hang-out, say no. Be busy (and don’t lie – actually be busy, please!). Decide that he’s not going to be your Boyfriend Prospect right now, and then figure out where else he might fit in your dah. Finally, to make it stick, shift your focus to the other guys in your life – and of course, to the other guys who you might be meeting at any moment. Like when you’re out being busy on Wednesday.
Worried that he’ll never ask you to hang out again? That you’ll ruin your one chance at amazing, epic love by making other plans? Don’t be.
Consider this a test of your connection. You don’t want a guy asking you out simply because it’s easy and he knows you’ll say yes, right? Or because you played hard to get and he’s intrigued by the chase? If the connection between you two is real, then he’ll realize what he’s missing and work a little harder for it next time. And assuming that you’re not busy with your next Boyfriend Prospect by that time…who knows what will happen then.
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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