The text is still vivid in my mind: the brightness of the screen, the tiny notification, and the Message icon on the left side. When I read it, I felt butterflies in my stomach. The information was too much to digest.
“I’m sorry, but something came up. I can’t make it tonight. ”
The sender? My boyfriend, Jonathan. It happened years ago, right after we met, back when we were still getting to know each other. You know, in the early times of the relationship, when you do your best to impress the other, everything is new and exciting.
Finally, I had found a decent guy to date. And what’s best: he seemed to like me back! I was helplessly falling for him.
For our second date, Jonathan had invited me to watch a play. After I told him about my short-lived career as an actress in my high school play, he was determined to take me to the best play in town. So that night was special for me.
When he canceled, my first reaction was to feel frustrated. I opened up to this guy and created expectations just to have them crushed.
Then, I took a step back. I opened a bottle of wine and called my best friend, Linda. We spoke for the next hour and went over the situation. When I hung up, I was revigorated, ready to enjoy the night.
Here’s what I did when Jonathan canceled our date:
Don’t take it personally.
When someone fails with you, it’s easy to feel like it’s a personal attack. But, in reality, if someone cancels the date at the last minute, it’s probably not about you.
During my conversation with Linda, she told me: “Take yourself out of the center of the problem.”
She meant the following: if Jonathan canceled the date, it’s on him. It was his decision — and there are countless reasons to cancel. Maybe his dog got sick, maybe his boss forced him to work over hours, or maybe he had a family emergency.
Even if the reason was me, it says something about him. For instance, if he got cold feet, I’m guessing he should work on his confidence. Or if he’s suddenly not interested in me anymore, it means he has other preferences.
None of this was under my power — there was nothing I could’ve done differently.
But one thing I know for sure: people are not on an evil quest to bring you down. Jonathan didn’t cancel because he wanted to humiliate me. “Mortal enemies” work well in young adult novels, but not in real life.
Sure, it hurts your ego. We all like to think we’re special. But sometimes, it has nothing to do with you — and everything to do with the other person.
Don’t overthink it.
That night, discussing the topic with Linda, my mind raced like crazy. It was too much information to process, too much uncertainty, and too many feelings. Each idea led to a new one, and I felt stuck in a labyrinth, walking and walking — and never reaching the end.
It was overwhelming. At some point, I said, “I have to stop thinking about this.”
Cambridge defines overthinking as “the action of thinking about something too much, in a way that is not useful.”
That’s precisely how I felt at that moment. The more I searched for an answer, the more frustrated I felt. That’s because there was no answer at all — not without asking Jonathan directly.
We reached a point that we weren’t going anywhere. And thinking about it wouldn’t help.
So next time you find yourself in a “thought labyrinth,” try to stop it. Find something to distract your mind — a movie, go out with a friend, or even gaming. When you take action, you occupy your mind, and it gets easier to move forward.
Detach yourself from the situation.
In relationships, everything depends.
Canceling a date to go out with his friends is different from canceling to take care of his grandma. Likewise, canceling once per month is different from canceling once in a lifetime. So analyzing the situation will help you make a decision.
The problem is: when you’re actively participating in something, it’s harder to analyze it. Your judgment is clouded by your emotions.
Giving advice to my friends makes me see the situation more clearly. So whenever I find myself in a tricky scenario, I imagine what I’d tell Linda if she was in my shoes.
Another trick is to ask the following questions: has he canceled a date before? How does he behave when we’re together? Does he act like he’s genuinely interested in me? Are there any red flags that I can’t see?
Going through these questions with Linda gave me an impartial perspective. In the end, detaching myself from the situation helped me achieve a better decision.
Accept that it sucks.
Nobody likes to be stood up. You create expectations, make plans, and block your schedule. After putting in the effort, the other person simply cancels.
When I read Jonathan’s text, I felt immensely frustrated. But the next thing that crossed my mind was: “I need to be superior. I refuse to let this guy upset me.”
Except that’s not how emotions work. You have no control over how you feel.
Some things are simply upsetting. Being stood up is not a pleasant experience — on the contrary. So there’s no use in denying your emotions. It’s completely acceptable to feel frustrated, especially after letting your guard down.
And remember: nobody expects you to be strong all the time. If necessary, take the night to process your emotions — cry, call a friend, or write in your diary. Don’t deny your emotions: look at them honestly. Only then you’ll be able to make the best decisions.
Enjoy the time with yourself.
Most situations, no matter how bad they are, have some upside. In this case, you have a choice: focus on the downside or maximize the upside. Yes, having a date canceled is annoying.
But letting it destroy my night was my choice. And I refused to spend a Saturday night crying.
Now, I’m an introvert. The best advantage of my personality is that I’m independent. I don’t need anyone’s company to have fun. Although I appreciate hanging out with others, I also appreciate hanging out with myself.
So when Jonathan canceled the date, I did the obvious thing — I opened a bottle of wine and watched a romantic comedy on Netflix. Since I spend all week working, part of me was glad to have this moment alone.
Finding the upside in tough times is a challenge. It doesn’t mean I didn’t feel upset. But my frustration didn’t stop me from enjoying the night alone.
The next day, I felt much better. After processing my emotions and analyzing the situation, I decided to text Jonathan. I’m glad I did — we rescheduled the date, and now we’re in a serious relationship.
In the end, there’s not much you can do when someone cancels a date with you. The only thing you can do is work on yourself. Let me leave you with one final piece of advice: don’t take life too seriously. While it’s normal to overthink and feel frustrated, don’t let it get the best of you. And don’t forget to listen to the other person’s perspective.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: Dishan Lathiya from Pexels