How Being Stood Up On A Date Was Actually Empowering For Me

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Howdy, folks! I was stood up on a date recently for the first time in my life. It was by a guy who ghosted me, reappeared into my life, insisted we go get coffee to talk it over after I had already ended things, and then, he did not show up for that plan he made to get coffee. Is there a dating term for that? Sociopathic emotional warfare? If you don't know what it's like being stood up on a date, let me tell you, it's an emotional roller coaster — and not the fun ones at Disneyland that babies can go on. It's more like the scary ones at Magic Mountain where you're like, "Hey, am I gonna die right now?"

So, here is what happened, since I know you are desperately wondering. I was hanging out with a guy who would disappear for days at a time and then ask me out again. A lifelong doormat and people pleaser, I've been used to settling for crumbs in relationships, and it's been hard for me to break out of that pattern. Imagine a loving, healthy, reciprocal relationship! I can't.

This guy ended up disappearing for two weeks. He then texted me asking to hang, and I told him I was done. I expected more attention and communication out of my romantic relationships. I was finally sticking up for myself. I felt great. But then, he asked me out to coffee to talk, and I caved. Of course, I was hoping for an apology, and in my own fantasy, he was totally going to show up with flowers.

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But the reality of this situation was that he actually did not show up at all. I'll tell you how this story ends, though: I'm actually glad that I got stood up. I know — surprise, surprise. I did learn some important lessons about dating, myself, and breaking old relationship patterns to finally move on to something new.

So here are the ways being stood up on a date for the first time actually made me feel empowered. I hope you get stood up, too! (JK... kind of.)

I Stood Up For Myself And Was Honest

Ali Segel
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On the day of our date, I got to the coffee shop at 4 p.m., when we agreed on meeting, and I sat on the patio alone, waiting for him. I looked at each person on the street who walked by, and none of them were him. I kept checking my phone, and he wasn't texting. Was I being stood up? Was he playing a joke on me, or getting back at me for ending things?

After waiting for 20 minutes for my date to come, I finally left. However, he arrived after I had already left. Remember, this is a guy who ghosted me for two weeks, asked me out again, and when I told him I require more attention and communication in a relationship, he begged me for coffee. When I stood up for myself and told him why I left, he said, "I'm basically always late, all the time?" Cool personality trait. If that is the case, then you need to give someone a warning. In this digital era, it is absolutely not difficult to shoot someone a text, call, email, or direct message letting them know they are running late.

Did I hate him? Honey, he's not that important. Forever? No, I can promise you, I will not be thinking of him for the rest of my life. But did I want to hang out with him again? No. This is certainly not the type of person I wanted in my life romantically, nor is it the type of person I wanted in my life as a friend. My friends text me when they are running late. My friends respect me. I deserve respect from people!

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I Set A Boundary

Ali Segel

My last boyfriend used to say he was coming over at 6 p.m., and then, he would not show up until 11 p.m. I'd ask where he was, and it wasn't even like he was simply at home or running errands. He had instead gone to a comedy show, had dinner with friends, or even seen a movie. He wouldn't even call to tell me he was running late or change the nature of our plans. He was just out, joyfully living his own life without me. Very cool!

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Even worse than his behavior was the fact that I would never say anything. I didn't want to nag, seem needy, or be a burden. How dare I ever ask for anything! That's insane. But unfortunately, living my life with this mentality resulted in me being disrespected — a lot.

Some people say insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over again and expecting a different result. And with the guy who stood me up, it was time to realize where his flaky, disrespectful behavior and my people pleasing behavior would lead me. So I decided to set a boundary for myself. After 15 minutes, I would leave. Then, my friends convinced me to wait for 20, so I did — no more and no less. (Friends can be convincing.)

I Broke An Old Pattern

Ali Segel
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This photo above features me freaking out in the group text, just maniacally laughing and using all caps.

It's my belief that the universe rewards courageous action and that our hearts keep breaking until they are able to remain open. We have to heal all of our bad relationship karma until we are emotionally ready to meet someone new. In all my relationships, I was constantly putting my partners first, allowing them to disrespect my time and choosing their priorities over mine.

Finally, I hit my limit. I was done.

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When I made the decision to leave, it was like some magic string tying me to my past bad relationships finally broke. To put it simply, I felt like a very bad b*tch. What would have been my walk of shame home from being stood up by a guy who had once ghosted me somehow felt more like a victory lap. After years of people pleasing and being a doormat, I had finally established myself as someone who did not allow herself to be f*cked around with. I was like Wonder Woman! Literally exactly like Wonder Woman. Just as beautiful in the face and body, and with all the same superpowers.

The Universe Rewarded Me

Ali Segel
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And then, almost immediately after being stood up, a guy who I had liked forever asked me out on a date. It was like the universe finally rewarded me for closing the loop on my bad, people-pleasing behavior and brought a good guy into my life. We haven't gone on that date yet, and he could be yet another bad guy, but I'm choosing to be optimistic about it.

People will treat you how you treat yourself. And now, I choose to treat myself with respect. So while being stood up sucked, it turned out to be the best thing for me. Sometimes (all the time), emotional pain can just be a blessing in disguise. Next time someone is an *sshole to you, find the lesson in it. You might learn a thing or two about boundaries and sticking up for yourself. Just make sure you're composed while you do it, and save the popping off for the group text.

Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

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