In a 1997 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the eponymous host reflects on one of the most important lessons she learned from Dr. Maya Angelou while seated beside the poet herself: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” It’s a vital lesson in self-preservation with many applicable uses. But does it apply to men from Tinder? Do they count as people, too?
I’ve been thinking about this lately because earlier this week an app-man bailed on me the morning of our date. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal, if it weren’t the fourth time he’d done it. I was annoyed with him and annoyed with the situation—I was ready! I was into him! If we’d met at a bar, I probably would’ve gone home with him!—but mostly I was annoyed at myself for letting this happen again. He’d proven to be flaky from day one, and I just kept giving him a second, a third, and even a fourth chance. Fool me once, etc. When a man from the apps shows you who he is, and so on.
As I thought about it, I started to wonder if maybe I was the one who was in the wrong. Sure, his four consecutive first-date cancelations were irritating and inconvenient, but maybe he didn’t think the same thing about flaking on a first date four times in two months without asking to reschedule. Perhaps he might welcome it! I reached out to the man from Tinder to see if he wanted to explain his side of things, though I didn’t hear back—not surprising, since the last text I’d sent him told him to “never text me again.”
Without a clear explanation to cling to, I began coming up with theories of my own. Perhaps he was anxious, I thought, or that maybe this was all some sort of kink.
“I don’t think it’s a kink,” says Gregory Wawa, a Brooklyn-based DJ who likes using Tinder as a way to meet new people. “It’s probably a bit of an anxiety thing, a commitment issue. I do think there’s an earnest intention of meeting up, but then as that moment gets closer they psyche themselves out.”
That’s fair, but if nearly two decades of hanging out with queers has taught me anything it’s that having anxiety is no excuse for being annoying and bothering people—much like I’m probably doing to you, dear reader, by once again downplaying my role in my own repeated misery! He flaked, and I said one more time! Again! And even again! I should’ve been wise enough to call it quits way sooner than I did, but when? After the first time? The second? The third?
According to a Quora contributor named Patricia Abbott, who answered more or less this very same question last year, you should give the flaker a second chance. “And if that doesn’t play out run away far far away.”
A lot of the users on the r/datingoverthirty subreddit are considerably less generous. “I had someone do this last year,” wrote RandomAmericanGirl about a year ago. “Something came up once. I gave him another chance. You know what happened? The same thing. So I was done. He tried for a few months to reach out and try again. I just ghosted.” Another user, captnunderpants, echoes Abbott’s two-strikes rule: “I would typically give them a second chance, if he cancels or tries to reschedule a second time I’m out.” My friends and coworkers I checked in with about this question more or less backed this up. “[I’d give them] a second time, but I don’t know how many more times I would give it,” says Hannah Smothers, a senior writer here at VICE. “If I can’t get this person to hang out with me now when interest is at a high, are they going to hang out with me ever?”
So, I guess I have my answer. If someone you’d been planning to go on a date with cancels on you last minute and you definitely still want to see them again, go ahead! Give them another chance! Just don’t give them a third or a fourth…unless you really want to bone.