The prospect of a date can be very exciting. Whether or not it’s with someone who we are eagerly waiting to meet, or with someone who we know well and look forward to seeing, a date marked on the calendar often represents a tiny beacon of hope, hope that the upcoming day or evening will be a great one. But when a date is mysteriously canceled and, even worse, not rescheduled, our hopes can become quickly dashed, leaving us wondering what exactly happened and why.
The men I meet frequently purport to be honest guys looking to meet equally honest women. But is honesty really the best policy when we must cancel a date? Is it better to lie or, alternatively, be vague in order to spare someone else’s feelings?
Not knowing the truth can sometimes feel like the worse option, especially for those with a vivid imagination. You know, the people who fabricate stories, fictions based on pure conjecture, in order to perpetuate their own fantasy about the state of a relationship.
About a month ago, I decided to test out my theory that honesty is, in fact, the best policy. I had agreed to a second date with a guy, only to figure out shortly after that I wasn’t really interested in pursuing the relationship any further. Instead of making up an excuse for canceling the date, I decided to be up front and explain my reasons for doing so. I didn’t want to offer any false hope, deal with potential attempts to reschedule, and have to worry about gradually fading him. This way, I believed, would be a much fairer option for both of us, and expedient, too.
You know what they say about the “best laid plans;” they “oft go awry” (Standard English Version of Robert Burns,’ “To A Mouse”). He became annoyed. He accused me of lying when I initially accepted the date. I explained I had not lied, that I thought I did want to see him again. But that after some more thought, I really didn’t think we were right for each other, and didn’t want to waste either of our time. He wasn’t buying it. I was, apparently, the jerk in this scenario. So much for my good intentions.
More recently, I accepted a date from someone else. A few days later, he emailed and canceled, making no further plans to reschedule. He was extremely polite, and told me he was sick. I sent him my well wishes to feel better soon. Then I thought about it. Was he really sick, or did he have second thoughts? Perhaps someone more interesting came along? Or, maybe, just maybe, “something suddenly came up?”
The character, Greg Brady, in the iconic 1970s sitcom, The Brady Bunch, coined this memorable phrase as he gave stepsister, Marcia, advice on how to diplomatically break her date with nice guy, Charley, in favor of a date with the big man on campus himself, Doug Simpson (“The Subject Was Noses,” Season 4, Episode 18).
Now, I’m certainly not endorsing taking dating advice from The Brady Bunch. But the groovy Greg Brady does make a valid point. Using Greg’s method, everybody stays happily deluded and nobody gets hurt.
Or do they?
Karma won out, as it did in most of The Brady Bunch episodes. When Peter Brady’s football accidentally hits Marcia in the nose, causing it to swell, Doug cancels their date, no longer wanting to be seen publicly with the now disfigured Marcia.
Men. (Insert Head Shake)
In the end, it shouldn’t matter why a date is canceled. For a potential relationship to grow, both individuals must be interested and invested parties. Trying to figure out why a date didn’t happen is fruitless. The purpose of dating is to find a person with whom we are compatible and, more importantly, to have fun in the process. In reality there are no guarantees for finding true love. But wondering about something that never was is not only unpleasant, but detrimental as well, taking us one step further away from the wonder that may eventually be.
As Burns concludes in his famous poem, “And though forward I cannot see, I guess and fear!”