Last Friday, my friend Brian had a date with a girl he was pretty excited about. He had met her at a party for young alumni, they had hit it off and exchanged contact information. During the week, they arranged to meet at 7pm Friday night at his place and take things from there.
Around 6pm Friday, Brian calls her to confirm and make sure she has directions. No answer. He calls again at 6.30 — still no answer. At 7.15 he gets a call from her saying that she fell asleep — so sorry. By this time, Brian has already made plans with me to go watch a movie, so her loss is my gain. He’s in a pissy mood, because he feels as if he’s been stood up, and that’s never a good feeling, and it’s making me reconsider that whole gain thing.
Levity aside, what’s the optimal response here? What do you do when a woman flakes, or just plain stands you up?
Let’s take a deep breath together — ahhhh — and consider the situation. Because if you’re the one who’s been flaked upon, chances are you’re feeling an interesting mix of frustration and rage, which is not conducive to clear thinking.
Now let’s use some game theory. Your ideal outcome is for her to come hang out with you so you both have a great time.
So what you definitely do not want to do is to to wig out, lose your cool, tell her off, say nasty vindictive things, or otherwise go ballistic on her. It may feel good at the moment, but it kills your outcome. The payoff is zero. If you’re thinking about doing anything foolish like that, do it away from email or a phone. Allow a few minutes for yourself to chill out and allow a cooler head to prevail.
Because she hasn’t shown up, it’s great in a way because now you have nothing to lose. She’s already flaked! This means that you can be a little cheeky and demanding in the next round. If she responds, great; if she doesn’t, you lose zilch. In poker, this is called free-rolling, and it’s a great spot to be in.
So you wait a day or two, or wait for her to call. Now you tell her matter-of-factly that what she did was pretty bad, and you have no idea how she can make it up to you. If she’s not genuinely contrite, you’re done — this is not the class of woman you want to spend your precious time and energy on.
But if she is a quality woman, she will want to make it up to you. In the case of Brian, she apologized profusely and volunteered to drive the 2o miles from her place to come hang out in his hot tub — which is what happened the subsequent Tuesday.
So, to summarize: stay cool, call her on her bad behavior in a non-emotional way, and wait for her response. If she responds affirmatively, feel free to escalate and become more demanding — “Well, that’s a good start, but I’m not sure if that’s going to cut it” — until you reach a suitable equilibrium.