First Dates
Woman being stood up on a date.

Here’s What To Do If You Think Your Date Stood You Up

Do you reach out? Do you wait it out? Is it OK to cry?

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Dating can be a lot of fun. You get to meet new people, share experiences, define and fine tune your interests, better understand what you’re looking for in a partner and in partnership, and open yourself up to sharing a little passion and romance with someone new. It’s exciting, all of the promise and pleasure a first (or fifth) date holds. But with all the good stuff, there are just as many nerves that come along with putting yourself out there — awkward dates, a lack of chemistry, or dates that don't happen at all because the other person doesn't show. Being stood up is awful and difficult to navigate, and how you react in the moment can be just as confusing. Do you reach out? Do you wait it out? Is it OK to cry? Before you react, knowing how to make a situation where you think you're being stood up less painful and uncomfortable is a good place to start.

The first step, according to Alessandra Conti, matchmaker, dating expert and co-founder of Matchmakers In The City, is to just accept that sometimes it happens, but it's hardly the end of the world. "In our generation, apps have made it incredibly easy to make plans and then flake on plans," Conti tells Elite Daily, adding "especially if the plan is vague, and there is no set date/time/location, so be sure to firm up plans at least a day before you are set to meet up." Being clear about meeting time and place is just about all you can do before a date, and Conti suggests sending a low-stakes text on the day of your date. Because the best defense is a good offense, saying something along the lines of, “Hey! Still on for tonight?” can help eliminate the Will they? Won’t they? game you’re playing in your head. And to alleviate the pressure on your date, Conti says it’s “always good to text your date when you are on your way to the location to give them a realistic ETA. If you are running a few minutes late, it is best to let them know, or you might risk them thinking that they are the one getting stood up!"

Communication is key, but when you’re waiting at your local coffee shop with two lattes in hand 15 minutes past meeting time, it can be hard to find the words to figure out what to do next. Todd Baratz, a psychotherapist specializing in sex and relationships, tells Elite Daily, “There is no right or wrong way to manage the feelings that accompanying being stood up or rejected.” It sucks, he says, adding “the only way to handle [it] is to cope as best as you can.” Knowing this, here are a few more expert-approved tips and tools to help you navigate being stood up on a date.

What do you do when you feel like maybe you’re being stood up?

First things first, don't panic. Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of the breakup app Mend, tells Elite Daily, “If they're 10 minutes late, try not to go too deep into storytelling mode because you don't have all the information yet.” The key here is to just try to keep your mind occupied. “This is a good time to distract yourself on Instagram and not feel badly about it,” says Huerta.

Another good way to kill some of that initial waiting time before you decide whether or not you’ve been stood up? Dr. Martha Tara Lee, relationship counselor, clinical sexologist, author, and owner of Eros Coaching, tells Elite Daily you can spend it assessing whether or not this is “in line with what you know” (so far) about your date, which can help you figure out if they’re just running behind or they’ve stood you up.

The important thing to remember here is you don’t immediately have to spiral. Give it 10 minutes — scroll through Instagram, catch up on Twitter, scan the menu if you’re seated at a restaurant (or bar), or spend a few minutes texting with your BFF. Using this in-between time to keep yourself distracted gives your mind less time to wander.

After that initial 10-minute window, however, if your date still hasn't shown, Conti says your best bet is to just try and reach out and see how they respond. “Give the person an old-school phone call,” she advises. “They may be driving and unable to text, so give them the benefit of the doubt with a phone call. They also may be at the actual location, but can't find you, so if you are waiting, do not assume the worst.” Lee agrees: “I might text them [after] 10 minutes [of] when they are running late,” she says, suggesting you say something straightforward like, "Are you on the way?"

If 10 minutes feels too soon, Baratz recommends tacking on an extra 5. “Fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time,” he says, is a good time to reach out if you believe the other person isn’t showing up.

You’ve waited and your date isn’t going to show, so what do you do now?
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If they don’t answer when you reach out or make contact to explain on their own, it’s a safe bet to call it for what it is after 15 minutes, says Huerta. “If they don't respond with an update or explanation immediately, it means they are intentionally being avoidant or they're in some sort of situation where they can't text.” She adds, if they haven’t made the effort at this point, there’s no reason to keep waiting. “Emergencies happen from time to time, but if they get back to you with anything but an over-the-top sincere apology and plan to make it up to you, you have dodged a major bullet and it's worth celebrating,” Huerta adds. “Trust your gut.” Baratz says something similar, noting if you’ve reached out after 15 minutes and haven’t heard back at all, you can “check in to see if they are running late or if they’ve forgotten,” and if you still haven’t heard back at that point, you can reach out one last time to express disappointment and confusion.” But after that, Baratz says, “leave it there.”

Lee says after you’ve given your date this 15-minute grace period, you can safely “form a decision about what to do next with this person — give them another chance, or block them out of [your] life.”

Baratz echoes this decision. “Sometimes people f*ck up, get the date/time wrong, are having a personal issue or [an] emergency,” he says. Deciding what to do next, however, is up to you. “If they’re genuine in their response, apologize, and attempt to try and make it up to you — it may or may not be helpful to give them a second chance. That’s totally up to the individual.” But if you don’t get that genuine sense of apology — or an apology at all, “don’t give them a second chance. Don’t spend more time explaining anything. Send a response that tells them you’re no longer interested.” That way, you can focus on moving on.

Do your best not to internalize those feelings.

Being stood up feels awful, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Conti agrees, saying, “You should absolutely not feel embarrassed at all. Dating is tough. You never know what kind of emotional issues the other person is dealing with. Maybe they have crippling social anxiety, and had a panic attack on the way to see you. Maybe they just got out of a traumatic relationship, and thought that they were ready to date, but ended up not being [ready] after all.” Whatever the case may be, the most important takeaway here is that you should not take it personally. “They do not know you. You are merely a representation of the dating world to them, and they were not ready to take that leap,” says Conti. So, yes, it’s a bummer, but shake it off. In this case, it really isn't you. It’s them. And Baratz agrees. “Nobody wants to be rejected,” he says, and offers some next steps that feel extremely doable. “Let whatever feelings arise but do your best not to philosophize or internalize that rejection as being connected to your personal value.” If you have to keep repeating “It’s not me, it’s you,” over and over again, then you should do it.

Lee recommends a lot of positive self-talk. “I would tell myself other things like, ‘How they do something is how they do everything,’ and that, ‘I might just well have dodged a bullet.’” She also says it’s a great time to consider, “If they are behaving this way (being irresponsible about my time/our date) now, what else might they do down the road if I had invested more time and energy into the relationship? They don't deserve me wasting another ounce of emotion or energy when I should be focusing on being the best version of myself for the best person out there waiting for me.” Once you’ve seen someone’s true colors, trust that.

If you’re not ready to waltz right out of the bar or park you’ve been waiting at, Lee suggests spending the rest of your night doing something kind to yourself. “Depending on where you're at and how much time you have,” she says, “ask yourself: What can you do to make the best of the situation? It might be to treat yourself to a big meal at that restaurant, or a stroll along the river. You could also do a detour and check out something that you've always wanted to [in] that vicinity,” she says.

For some, being stood up can play into a larger narrative we tell ourselves, and that thinking can be harmful. It doesn’t hurt to invest in professional help, someone to help you make sense of what you’re feeling and help you address why. Baratz says being stood up “may bring up feelings or old beliefs of lacking value or not being good enough,” so you should absolutely “explore the role that has played in your life and do your best not to personalize” what happened on one date.

Remember that being stood up isn’t the end of the world.

The best way to deal with the situation, says Huerta, is to avoid being hard on yourself and do some self care. “Being stood up isn't a graceful situation, so cut yourself some slack if it throws you off. Call your best friend or someone you can talk to as you're leaving if you feel embarrassed.” She also says that just because you didn't go on the date doesn't mean you have to miss out. “If you were looking forward to dinner, get on Uber Eats or Postmates and order your favorite dinner so that you have something arriving as soon as you get home.”

While being stood up in the moment can really suck, take it from someone who has been there: The sting goes away quickly and, who knows? Maybe being stood up is a blessing in disguise. Like Conti says, “I once met a guy out at a bar who was stood up from [a date],” she says. “He was at the bar alone, was about to leave, and then I bumped into him and we started chatting. We ended up chatting for the rest of the night, had an absolute ball, and going out for a few months. This story just goes to show: If you are stood up, brush yourself off, have a drink at the bar/restaurant, and chat with a cute girl at the bar... you never know.”

Conti’s right: You never know when or where you'll meet someone special. Try to remember that it's not your fault that you got stood up, and that it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. Tell yourself you’re fabulous, and believe it. Your future partner will be so lucky this person blew their chance with you.

Additional reporting by Kylie McConville

Experts:

Alessandra Conti, matchmaker, dating expert and co-founder of Matchmakers In The City

Todd Baratz, certified sex therapist, licensed individual and couples psychotherapist, podcast host, and writer

Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of the breakup app Mend

Dr. Martha Tara Lee, relationship counselor, clinical sexologist, author, and owner of Eros Coaching