This week’s question comes from Julie:
“Hi Orna and Matthew,
How should you respond to a man that cancels last minute? He first did this months ago and it took me a while to agree to another date. I have now agreed and today, the day of the date, he has another reason. I know that you must set the rules early for how you will allow to be treated and I won’t stand for this. He keeps cancelling our dates. My time is valuable, and I deserve respect. So, how should I respond to him in a manner that is not emotional but will let him know this? He has asked if we can reschedule for Sat, but I won’t agree to that.
We know it can be frustrating when you set aside time in your calendar to go on a date with someone new and he cancels last minute. There is so much hope involved at the beginning and there is also the fear and frustration that comes from past heartbreaks.
You can find yourself trying to understand what is really going on. He’s already canceled last minute on you. This is the second time and you’re clearly feeling disrespected by his behavior.
Let’s look deeper at what may be going on and how to approach this situation moving forward.
What To Do When He Cancels Last Minute?
Speak How You Feel And Make A Request
It is important, especially early in the dating process, to ask for what you want. We believe that with the right language you can say anything to anyone. The key of course is how you make your request. Because you have standards for how you want to be treated, it is important to remember that they are your set of standards, and if someone doesn’t abide by them it doesn’t make them wrong or bad; it only makes them not the right fit for you.
We suggest that you kindly and simply explain to him that it is important to you that a man keep his word when he sets a date with you. It is always best to use the template for non-violent communication and own your feelings in the situation. In this case, emphasize the positive and not the negative emotions in your request.
Here is an example: “I feel respected and valued when a man keeps his word to me when he schedules a date. I would appreciate you honoring the time I have set aside to meet with you. If you are unable to do that, it appears to me that we are not a match.”
Most men are confused today about how to be with women and women aren’t making it any easier by assuming that men will somehow just “know” their values and expectations. When you make it clear to a man how you want to be treated, if he cares about pursuing a relationship with you, he will step up and act accordingly.
We recently coached a client who was concerned because the man she was just getting to know was offering to help her with her business. She wanted a romantic relationship with him, not a business relationship. With our coaching, she communicated exactly what she needed, and he made the adjustment to please her. He has continued to “step it up” and deliver exactly what she has asked for.
The big realization on her part was understanding that his offer to help was his way of showing her that he is valuable and helpful. He wanted to help solve her problems, which is a typical way a man shows his interest. Telling a man which problems you want his help in solving (instead of attacking him for wanting to help), will get you a much better response.
Our niece is going through some dating challenges and had this experience with a new potential boyfriend. He texted her that he would like to, “Hang out over the weekend.” She made it clear to him (after some coaching from us) that asking her out via text was not acceptable. He made the adjustment and agreed to call her later in the week to schedule a date.
HOW you ask is the key to making requests. Always couch your inquiry in a manner that is about you and not about the other person. If the person doesn’t respond well, that tells you a lot about who they are and what they are capable of. Remember the dating process is a DISCOVERY process – finding out if the two of you hold the same values and are a good match is essential.
Have Compassion And Set Clear Boundaries
It’s all too easy to make quick judgments that cancelling last minute means he is flaky or untrustworthy. You haven’t shared with us why he canceled last minute and even though the details aren’t important, having compassion for what he is experiencing will help you keep your heart open.
Bring compassion to what he may be going through and make sure you set clear boundaries for yourself. It is not your responsibility to make things easy for him, and it’s important that you know what you are willing to deal with. Ask yourself if you would handle the situation differently if it was a good friend to get a different perspective about how you may or may not behave differently. Essentially, you want to know that he is interested in you and is looking for a relationship.
A man who is looking for something convenient will probably be turned off by your request and disappear rather quickly. The fact that he has stuck around after you put him off suggests that he may be more serious. Only time will tell.
You could ask him to make it up to you in some way in some way to show you the kind of person he is. This will also help weed out men who are only looking for something convenient.
Bring Awareness To Your Reaction
The fact that he canceled last minute in the past and is doing it again is just information. The meaning that you bring to this situation belongs to you and is not about him. By examining your reaction when he cancels last minute you can discover an area for you to grow and heal wounds that you’re carrying from past events.
To dig a bit deeper, notice your emotional reaction to this situation. Is the reason you are reacting to him cancelling and wanting to reschedule your date because you are taking his behavior personally? You stated, “I won’t stand for this,” and that you, “Deserve respect.” The language you used to describe your response seems strong in response to a virtually unknown person’s behavior. Was the fact that you deserve respect ever in doubt?
There is nothing wrong with desiring respect in relationship. However, when it carries with it a lot of negative emotion (fear, anger, sadness, hurt, shame, or guilt) then it appears that you are being triggered by something that has nothing to do with the current situation, and your strong reaction has to do with the events of your past and wounds that haven’t healed.
Dating is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself and to discover subconscious blocks to creating lasting love. Every situation supplies a chance to discover hidden beliefs, fears, and frustrations that can affect your ability to show up authentically.
Date More Than One Person At A Time
Don’t get stuck thinking he is your only choice. No man is a unicorn and getting attached too early can cause you to waste a lot of time on someone who is not really relationship material. Most people commit too quickly because they don’t like to date only to find out 3 – 6 months later that they made a bad choice and must start over again.
Date more than one person at a time. That way if he cancels last minute you have other dates to look forward to.
There are two traps that the majority of daters get stuck in. The first one is to be too accommodating. You find yourself setting aside time for someone who doesn’t respect your time. And when he cancels last minute you end up being stuck at home without any other options.
Be busy. That way when he wants to reschedule, he has to wait for your availability to open up. Here’s a spin on a busy person’s schedule: You’ll be grateful when he cancels last minute because that will give you an opportunity to have an evening to yourself.
The second trap is to treat a good prospect like he is a unicorn. If a man is a unicorn (meaning that he is so rare that you better not let him get away), then you will find yourself bending over backward to make it work for him.
If you believe that good matches are abundant and easy to find, then you won’t overly invest in one man before you really know that much about him. Remember, everyone is basically a stranger when you first meet. Don’t give a stranger the benefit of the doubt.
Get Clear On What You Really Want
What you desire is not the opposite of what you do not want. You know you don’t want to be disrespected, but that is not really a roadmap to creating lasting love.
Create a vision of your soulmate relationship. What is the dynamic between you and your ideal partner? How do you communicate with one another? How does the relationship function? How do you two navigate through conflict?
Focusing on what you are creating instead of what you are trying to avoid will also support feeling positive and motivated to date. That way if another guy cancels last minute then you won’t take it so personally. You’ll focus on what’s next, not on what didn’t work.
Spending too much time and emotional energy on a man who canceled last minute will just drain your energy and make you feel like dating is a waste of time. Use this situation to get better at communicating your wants and needs, setting clear boundaries, and discovering what you really want. This way you can be grateful this man showed up to motivate you to get more intentional about your journey to love.
Do you want a roadmap for creating your true soul partnership? Get our complimentary eBook “Recognizing Mr. Right” and discover how to spot the right man for you.
Orna and Matthew Walters are TV’s favorite dating and relationship experts. They uncover subconscious blocks to love so that you can select an ideal partner to share your life with. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.