He’s slumped on the couch, head back, feet up, eyes closed. His laptop is nearby, along with cables and cords and gadgetry I don’t fully understand – nothing, next to the devices his friends tool around with.
“Why are you still here?” I ask. “I thought you had a date.”
“She flaked on me. Again.”
So he was stood up. Sort of.
His voice is flat. He seems resigned.
Considering she had rescheduled and flaked on him previously despite one pleasant date, I can’t say I’m surprised. And I will add – whoever she is, I’m not impressed. I doubt my son is impressed either.
Why Do Teenagers Flake on Dates?
My kids and their social lives?
I don’t ask a great deal. They volunteer what they wish, and at this stage there isn’t much I can add to the conversation unless explicitly asked. Long ago we discussed the emotional aspects of dating, the importance of protecting and respecting feelings as well as one’s health, teenage sex at home, and their right to privacy.
But as I see my son’s bewilderment and disappointment, I ask myself why teenagers flake on dates. Are they disorganized? Unable to keep the times straight? Are they impulsively swept off into another activity, and dismiss the impact of pulling a No Show on the guy or girl who’s left waiting?
And as I’m the family bank and every dollar hard won, I resent seeing my sons spend money on dates who don’t seem to appreciate it, or more importantly, them.
Ever Been Stood Up?
I recall the Sex and the City episode in which Carrie is stood up, and it’s a blind date at that. It hurt, leaving her feeling raw and wanting to withdraw from socializing altogether.
Haven’t we all been stood up at least once? Or flaked on, which is basically the same thing?
Speaking of Sex and the City, there was another episode in which Miranda was stood up, though it turned out her date had died that afternoon working out in the gym. They played it for comedy as she says: “No wonder there are no men in New York. They’re dying on us.”
So just how many legitimate reasons are there for pulling a No Show, or a No Show with a call 10 minutes before a date?
Flaking on Online Dates
The blind date dilemma is something else. You don’t know who you’re meeting. You may have a mutual acquaintance. You may be an online encounter finally ready to meet in the flesh.
You – or your date – may show briefly and exit quickly. Does that count as flaking? It certainly hurts. After all, it’s not like it’s someone you really know, right? And something better may come along.
But what about the planning, the preparation, the arrangements, the expense, the anticipation – of the other person? In the case of the single mom, the expense of a babysitter?
Are manners a thing of the past?
It Feels Lousy When Your Date Flakes
For adults, I like to think pulling a No Show doesn’t occur as routinely as it does with teenagers and those in their early twenties, though my own post-divorce dating dramas indicate that plenty of men using online dating will flake without a second thought. I can only imagine the same is true for the women.
I don’t remember being stood up as a teenage girl, but I remember it at 21 or 22 – and I remember it again when I was dating after divorce in my forties. How many times after a fantastic first date with the promise of a second or even a third are we left wondering why he didn’t call or worse why he never shows his face?
I never understood “what I did wrong” and of course I assumed (at first) that it had to be my fault in some way. Then again, I could never fathom why someone might like me or not. Either way, an adult ought to be able to say “I don’t see this continuing” or “I’ve met someone else.”
How to Deal with Being Stood Up
Flaking? Standing someone up? Constantly rescheduling?
It’s a sign of disrespect to the other person – their time and their feelings. It’s also a sign of the culture we live in, less likely to feel bound to keep one’s word, distracted by too many potential choices, and over-scheduled even when it comes to leisure.
But when we’re stood up for a date, we’re left feeling foolish for believing – burned, vulnerable, angry, disillusioned. We may hesitate to make a move (or accept one) when the next opportunity rolls around.
An adolescent, even more so.
My prescription: a little brooding, talking it out, laughter if possible, and knowing we haven’t done anything wrong; the other person has exhibited callousness and bad form. We need to shake it off, listen to our gut, and not resign ourselves to accepting bad behavior.
Teenage Dating Rocks! (Teenage Dating Sucks)
Our kids are smarter and more sophisticated than we were 30 years ago, but they’re no less susceptible to bruised feelings.
And those who do the flaking? Are they learning it from their parents, or is that too simple an assumption? Will they grow out of this dismissive habit, or continue it into their adult lives as long as they can get away with it?
Sure, things happen. But most of the time when someone flakes, it’s due to selfishness, narcissism, thoughtlessness. It may also result from the simple absence of being taught respectful behavior. Couldn’t we model more civil (and honest) interactions? Couldn’t we keep our word if possible? Couldn’t we teach our kids not to take others lightly – not their time, and certainly not their feelings?
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