Cold feet

After swimming in the dating pool for a while, you begin to wonder why some people even say they are “swimming” too. They behave in ways that show they are still on the pond banks, even though they’re acting like they are in the pool.

What do these behaviors look like?

  • He lists himself as single on an online site.
  • He makes contact via email, phone, IM and/or text.
  • He responds to you in a timely manner.
  • He sets a time and place to meet
  • He says he’s really looking forward to seeing you.

But then he gets cold feet. Some let you know ahead of time. Others just don’t show.

Why does this happen? It could be several reasons:

  • He’s got a wife/girlfriend/someone he’s dating but isn’t meeting all his needs — usually sexual.
  • He’s talking to several women and another one has emerged as better (e.g., easier).
  • He just likes the chase, but isn’t really interested in meeting someone.
  • He’s looking for someone to scam and you are too savvy for that.

How can you avoid these folks? As I discuss in Check Him Out Before Going Out: Head Off Dud Dates, you need to vet him as much as possible before putting much time into him. If he tells you conflicting information or something smells fishy, proceed cautiously, if at all. Sometimes it’s best to not even bother meeting if your gut is telling you something is awry.

Unfortunately, we can’t totally avoid these imposters. I thought I’d found a good guy this week. He said he was a veteran officer, now paramedic, starting his own business. He was smart, attentive, funny — my kind of guy. He was tall and I liked his looks.

After a number of calls, emails, IMs, and texts we set a  coffee meeting at 3:30 yesterday. He said he had one errand to do on his drive from his town to mine. He didn’t know how long the errand would take, but he was certain he’d be done in time for our meeting. He’d call at 3:00 to confirm his ETA.

At 2:44 I got a text saying, “Heading back to [my town]….will call in a very sorry.”

I never heard from him again. So “will call you in a few” must mean a few decades to him, not a few minutes as most of us would think. I was a little concerned something happened to him, so I called him at 4:30 — it went to voice mail.

When I shared this with a male friend, he was shocked at this inconsiderate behavior. I told him it was, unfortunately, more the norm than an exception. There are many reasons for it. Even with a lot of knowledge about dating, it’s still hard to not be hoodwinked every once in a while. You’ve got to be careful to not become hardened, suspicious and cynical.

How have you learned to weed out those not really interested in dating, even though they say they are? What are the signs you look for?

Dating After 40To learn other stealthy red flags that point to a man’s not someone you need to meet even for coffee, get your copy of Check Him Out Before Going Out: Head Off Dud Dates.



19 responses to “Cold feet”

  1. Brenda Avatar

    DG, I have run into these rude and inconsiderate men along my dating journey as well. I find that they either have significant anxiety about dating or they simply have a wife/girlfriend, and are looking to see if they can do better. I have had men tell me this so I know it is true 🙂

    I find that when I get the strange texts or cancellations before meeting the first time, these men usually never contact me again or if they do, they turn out to be flakey.

    I think the man thought he was letting you know he could not meet you for coffee when he said he was heading back to his town and he was sorry. He probably felt that he had been considerate by leaving this cryptic message – I find that they really don’t want to tell you the truth of it all.

    I would be curious to know how long he was divorced – I see this behavior quite a bit in newly divorce men!

    I don’t give them a second chance either unless they can convince me they were responding to an emergency situation – if he truly had, he would have called back at his first opportunity.

  2. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Brenda — I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s been hoodwinked by these flakes who sound so good on the phone!

    You’re so right — if he were at all considerate, he would have called when he knew he had to cancel and if it had been a medical emergency, would have made contact at the first opportunity.

    And he’s never been married. His fiancee began entertaining other men while he was deployed and he discovered this upon arriving home. (If we can believe anything he’s said.)

    BTW, after I posted this piece I went back on the site where he found me and he had been online within 45 minutes — less than a day after our coffee meeting time. So he’s prowling again. So sad that men like this are out there.

  3. Lisa Avatar

    I don’t know what your interactions were like with this man before you met him, but I have found that is often the guys who seem to think your are REALLY great before you have even met them that just end up disappearing or fading away. This has been my experience. So it is a challenge to balance enthusiasm and interest with realistic expectations. I think these guys are the ones still dealing with a past relationship and just fantasizing everything.

    Now, if a guy goes on and on about how great I am or just implies that we really seem right for each other, blah blah blah, before we even meet, I am much more suspect.

    Also, I am not a fan of texting. If someone really likes you, they will talk to you.

  4. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Lisa — I totally agree about not having text conversations. However, I know a quick “I’m on my way” can be preferable to a call if I know he’s in a meeting.

    Maybe it’s our age group, as young people seem to have hours-long conversations via text!

  5. Brenda Avatar

    Lisa, you have made a really good point about the men who ooh and aaah even before they meet you.

    How I managed things was I would say yes to men who seemed decent even if their photos weren’t that great – and I would meet them near my house for our first date – or “meeting”…….that’s how I met my fiancé 9 months ago. I said yes even though I was “tired” and it was after work. He made plans in advance, took care of the details, made sure he confirmed the day of and even got to the restaurant early. I did not get super dolled-up and I just enjoyed the dinner and his good sense of humor and voila! He turned out to be very nice…..I simply said yes after our first date because he seemed like a really authentic man….and we just kept dating and boy, he is fun, intelligent, witty, kind, and all that I want in a man. I was attracted to him from the beginning but not in the “head rush” way that might be intoxicating but not lasting! Now I am way more attracted to him because I love his heart and who he is!

    It only takes one good man, DG, to take you off the market. I knew pretty quickly that he was very different than the men I had dated and within two months we were exclusive.

  6. Brenda Avatar

    dG, forgot to add that the very fact he was on the site less than 24 hours tells us that he was not in an emergency room with an endotracheal tube down his throat and he was simply back to “trolling” again but was not man enough to tell you the “real reason”.

    You deserve so much better, DG and you will get it!

  7. Lisa Avatar

    Brenda–Good for you! I know it only takes just one. It is just really hard to keep being upbeat sometimes. I know several people who have met their spouse on the internet, so, like the lottery, I guess it can happen. I have met men I initially though were different too, and then sadly they turn out to be the same old poofers. Plod on with a smile I guess.

    DG, I know texts can be convenient. I don’t have the kind of job or lifestyle where I need to do it, so I never do. I know it can be convenient in certain situations and is the way to go with younger people, but I don’t always think it’s right. Smoking was the thing to do too for many decades before people realized it killed them.

    I still think in the dating realm that a man who is trying to get to know you should call even if he has to pull off the road to do so. I had a coffee date with someone the other day. He was pleasant but I knew we were really different and it wouldn’t go anywhere, but at one point he checked his phone, and I always find this so annoying! I feel like I have to screen them for phone habits before we meet which I sort of do in an indirect way. There is absolutely no way I would get along with a man if he were so addicted to his phone that he couldn’t turn it off and talk to me and tune into his real surroundings.

    Of course I guess if you had the no-texting rule with this loser you could have wasted a tank of gas and sat there staring at your pie.

  8. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Lisa — it appears you and I have similar expectations in the behaviors for a guy who will win our heart. I don’t think it’s that hard, really, to have common manners, but I’m afraid it isn’t as common as one would think (hope?)!

    Since I text so little, I have a 200-text limit on my phone plan, so after burning through 100 with him in a few days, I did start texting him through email since he has an unlimited text plan. I’m glad I didn’t decide to change my plan to conform to his preferences, as I can’t get the 200-text plan back. And it’s lasted a lot longer than any text-happy man has!

  9. Brenda Avatar

    DG and Lisa, you are right on the money in thinking that a man who really wants to win our heart will call us, as opposed to text us. My honey calls me just to hear my voice and tell me he loves me, even if he only has a few seconds on the phone! I feel that texting is the easy way out. I have had a few men even break up with me via text. I never respond to that – or an email breaking up – one man even wrote a year later to ask if I received the breakup text – he was hoping I hadn’t as he wanted to get back together with me. No men, who is that lacking in class and decency, would ever have another chance with me if he handled our breakup in such a rude and inconsiderate fashion.

  10. Lisa Avatar

    I totally agree about the texting thing. E-mails are only ok until you actually meet the person and then it mostly has to be phone calls. I don’t even like when guys e-mail me in “initial”–LOL, etc. It’s annoying and shows a laziness with language. It is hard for me to imagine myself with someone who can’t even write a simple sentence.

    DG, maybe you can try not texting at all the next time you are interested in someone. Just tell him he needs to call you. That way it might weed out some of the total losers, as appealing as they may initially appear. It is tempting, however, to give a little if someone seems interesting, but heart break and disappointment seem to be the only “reward.”

  11. seaneen Avatar

    I, too, am sorry yet another inconsiderate flake started out so promising.

    I have also found, regardless of age, that the faster and hotter they pursue you initially the quicker they flame out-
    or disappear!

    If you get to that first meet, I strongly advise that you state clearly you will NOT be engaging in ANY sexual intimacy for now, as you are cautious that way.
    How they respond, and if an acceptable response is matched by his actions, will tell you if they have staying power.
    Those that front acceptance and then try and “persuade” you into more are disrespecting you AND will burn out quick; dump them NOW.
    Those that disappear or pull WAY back after then date is over, good riddance.

    And, on the subject of calls vs texts, I had a very enlightening CALL last night (only second one in almost a year- yes, he’s younger, lol!) in which he openly asked if it felt strange to me, and then proceeded to explain that he didn’t like to call for two reasons:

    1) Often it was not good timing, and so communications were inconvenient on both ends- but in text you can read/respond when it works for you.

    On that note, it was clear he thought he was interrupting me, and should let me go, when I responded to “What are you doing?” honestly with “Reheating my dinner I let get cold, and emailing my Mom.”.
    Had to say twice that the email was saved and could wait!

    2) He fears being misunderstood on the phone, and he can’t be sure of the reaction on the other end- or that HE’S understanding correctly too.

    So he prefers anything “real” to be face to face.

    So why the call, after all this time?

    I think he really needed to ‘connect’ with me before a big situation, and it wasn’t possible to see me in person beforehand.

    So I was ‘there for him’ as he has been for me in the past; and, without thinking, I responded to his urgent “I have to go now” by saying “ok, love you” for the first time ever-
    and so I was stunned by his response:
    “Love you too, bye”, also first time ever!

    I guess how he behaves next time we’re face to face will tell me if that was an ill-considered response like he fears making, or true heartfelt emotion…

  12. Dating Goddess Avatar

    A few days ago Mr.Cold Feet texted me a pic of himself — fully clothed, thank goodness –with no message. I didn’t respond.
    Today he called my number. My assistant answered and could see his name and # on caller ID but she said it just played music. I’m thinking it was a butt call.
    So he hasn’t had the courage to actually make contact.

  13. Jeremy Wahl Avatar
    Jeremy Wahl

    I agree with your friend. It’s extremely rude to blow you off when you’re actually WAITING for the guy to show up. Lame!

    Ladies, what do you attribute the “burn hot & fast and flame out fast” behavior to? Is it just your average boorish hook-up deal – he got what he wanted somewhere else so…MEH?

  14. Brenda Avatar

    Well, DG, this man is a coward because he had no good excuse for doing what he did. And as you told us, he was back online “trolling” within 24 hours. I assume that he may come out of the woodwork at some point but of course, you have moved on away from him…..there are much better men out there! Seriously………..

    The photo of him texted was just plain ridiculous. Glad you did not respond!

  15. Brenda Avatar

    Jeremy, I think that men who do this either are in a relationship, have someone come along who they feel is better, or they feel like staying home and watching the MMA fights (kidding about that one) or who knows what? I stopped trying to figure out WHY a long time ago. Just the fact the man demonstrated the behavior was enough for me to never have any contact with him again.

  16. seaneen Avatar

    There seems to be three main causes:
    They are playing their Game on you, and either lose interest or something easier/shinier comes along.

    There are the guys so damned needy and driven to fit you into Wifey or such that the slightest pulling back or slowing down on your part is tantamount to divorce…and they rapidly turn to the next victim.

    Some guys also seem to thrive on the hot romantic rush, never think about what comes next until that rush is gone- and they think it means there’s no ‘there’ there so call it done.

    NONE of themare worth a serious try, so best gone in any case.

    Oh, and it appears MY guy’s “Love you too” was said deliberately and meant.

    He has called me ‘love’ in texts numerous times since, very much more contact and sharing, has made time where I thought had none, AND is finally letting me ‘do for’ him with cooking a meal, etc!

    It’s all good results.

  17. Tao Of Badass Avatar
    Tao Of Badass

    How about the fact that the guy is a coward and you as a women should just move on and will for a fact find someone who is better.

  18. mango Avatar

    I want to say something about telephone calls:
    I don’t think men who don’t use the phone are necessarily not serious about you I’m a woman and I don’t like to use the phone unless I’m really close to someone. Why? It just feels awkward and disconnected to me. I prefer writing and long email conversations and, of course, just being with a person. Texting is fun if I know someone well, too. Otherwise, it’s just a way of communicating quickly without interrupting someone.
    That said, I came to this site because some man contacted me through a meet-up group and said he would be interested in meeting me. After a few emails and reschedules, he called me, ending the call with “I’m so excited to meet you!” The next morning: cancellation with no explanation. I replied asking him if he wanted to reschedule, no response. I felt so hurt and disappointed and confused; it’s nice to know this happens to a lot of people.

  19. Brenda Avatar

    You just get to the point where you cannot take the last minute cancellations, the odd texts afterward when they realized their “other date” was not that hot, etc, PERSONALLY at all………..and once you do that, it is very freeing……