Last Wednesday, I was supposed to have dinner with a friend. She had told me about a new place she wanted to try, but we hadn't discussed the details yet, so around 2 pm, I texted her: "Where's the restaurant?"
A few hours later, I texted her with my email address, letting her know that she could email me if she was having phone troubles, as her service is notoriously wonky.
An hour later, I texted her this: "..."
I actually texted an ellipses! That's how pissed off I was with my friend. I have never texted an ellipses in my life before! The worst I usually do is the all lowercase "ok." When someone types "ok" in a serious discussion, they are fucking PISSED, G!
When my workday ended and I still hadn't heard from her, I hung around the office for an extra 45 minutes before deciding to take the train home. By the time I go out of the subway, I figured, I'd surely have a text back from her and could head straight to meet her. You already know how this story ended. No text, so I just went home, BUMMED.
And look, there's a time when this wouldn't have bothered me so much. When my overwhelming response to someone flaking on me was relief that I didn't have to be the one to do the flaking this time. But I'm a mom now, and a night out is no longer a casual thing. There are preparations involved. I only have a small amount of precious free time these days, and my friend had just cheated me out of some of it.
Not to mention that if I'm NOT going to be out with you, I'd actually really prefer to be home hugging my kid rather than killing time waiting around for you.
It's even worse to get stood up by an actual romantic date person. The one time it happened to me, it was a similar "never getting in touch on the day of a date" stand-up/blow-off combo, and I gave the guy another chance after making him grovel appropriately and tell me how pretty and sexy I am. (He also made me a cake on our next date.)
But the classic, romantic comedy "I'm sitting in a restaurant and you never showed up" stand-up is an unforgivable dealbreaker in my mind, short of the kind of really good excuse involving a hospital and a coma or broken texting thumbs. (Is this even a real thing that still happens, in the age of the smartphone? Or is the blow-off the modern stand-up?) To be honest, either scenario should probably be a dealbreaker, but I really wanted that cake.
When it comes to dating, I'm a firm believer in the idea that we teach people how to treat us. Overlooking disrespectful behavior, especially in the early stages, is like saying, "Hi, I don't value myself, and you don't have to either." Accepting lateness, rudeness, last-minute cancellations or anything else that makes you feel like shit sets a precedent for more of the same. You have to know what your boundaries are and enforce them, like, all the time. (Ugh, boundaries are so hard.) It's not about trying to change that person, it's about you and what you are willing to tolerate.
That said, there's such a thing as being TOO rigid.
Once I showed up 20 minutes late to an Internet date -- It was pouring rain and the trains were running screwy. As I walked from the train to the coffee shop, I pulled up the dating site on my phone and tried to message the gentleman I was meeting, only to discover that he had already BLOCKED ME on the site. He, of course, wasn't at the coffee shop, and I never got to apologize or explain my lateness because I had no other way to contact him. He had already cut me the eff off. That seemed a little extreme, but hey, that guy clearly had some CAST-IRON boundaries around lateness.
I was totally gonna put out, too.
As for my friend, she finally texted me back late Thursday with a convoluted excuse about her phone. We'll still be friends, I'll just lower my expectations, like with that one friend who always says she's coming to your event or birthday party or whatever but never, EVER actually shows.
How do you handle flaky friends? Have you ever been stood up on a date? Would you have forgiven the person for cake? There's not that much I won't forgive if someone bakes me a cake.