In a perfect world, dates flaking last minute would be as rare as UFO sightings — you'd hear about it happening every once in a while, but it wouldn't actually happen often enough to be a legitimate concern. Sadly, the real world is filled with people who, despite having good intentions, probably won't hesitate to shoot you a last-minute, "Sorry! Can't make it!" text before a date. As disappointing as it may see that message pop up on your screen, knowing how to respond when your date cancels depends on several factors — the most important one being whether or not you still want to see them.
According to Susan Winter, NYC relationship expert, love coach, and author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache, the uncomfortable truth is that flaking is usually a sign someone might not consider you a priority. "Some individuals don't take social commitments seriously, and this is a red flag," Winter tells Elite Daily. Although you're probably hoping for a legitimate reason to give them the benefit of the doubt — after all, what if it was an emergency?! — even if you really like them, Winter warns against turning a blind eye. True emergencies are few and far between, and unless your date has a fantastic, fool-proof excuse, "There's only one reason for flaking on a date — you're not important to your date," explains Winter.
It may also be easy to talk yourself into thinking that someone's behavior may change as time goes on, but Winter says this is extremely unlikely. "This isn't something you can change," she explains. "You can't earn your way into their heart by auditioning for the role of '[partner.]'" Even if they aren't sure about being in a relationship with you, they should always show respect for you and your time. No matter which way you slice it, flaking on plans can be really disappointing and disrespectful. Of course, every rule has an exception. Extreme situations can warrant rescheduling, but be sure to ask yourself if this is actually one of those very rare circumstances.
"The only time you can forgive (and overlook) flaking on a date is when something catastrophic has happened, or there was confusion surrounding the date or time of your meeting," says Winter. "However, both conditions are one-off. This offense is not repeatable with the same excuse. There cannot be weekly catastrophes, nor can there be weekly confusion as to the day of your meeting." If you want to give your date the benefit of the doubt, just know that if and when it happens again, they may be sending you a very clear message that they aren't invested enough in you to stick to their word.
Ultimately, only you can decide whether they're worthy of a second chance based on the exact circumstances. "If you really want to see them again, you have the option to be polite and give them a one-time pass," says Winter. "You can [contact them] stating that there must have been an emergency or confusion as to the day, and suggest a reschedule. But that's it. If they don't pick up the ball after that generous offer, keep walking." Although this might seem unnecessarily harsh, try to put yourself in their position. When was the last time you flaked on a date you were really looking forward to seeing? Probably not recently, if ever.
At the end of the day, you deserve to be that person who someone can barely wait to see. You deserve to feel important enough that someone is willing to reschedule other obligations to make time for you. You deserve to be given plenty of notice if a date needs to reschedule your plans. And under no circumstances, should you ever show up to a date only to discover that someone can't make it because they're too tired, their dog must have "hid" their keys, their friends are in town, they're suddenly feeling overwhelmed, or they just "forgot." While emergencies do happen, don't be distracted by elaborate excuses. There are way too many fish in the sea to spend your valuable time chasing a knockoff Nemo.