Lucy, the football and dating

When you think of Peanuts’ Lucy and the football, you see a comic strip series where Charlie Brown, the ever hopeful and trusting soul, believes Lucy when she tells him — once again — that she’ll hold the ball for him to kick. Every time — for decades — she pulls the ball away at the last minute, causing Charlie to land hard on his backside. No matter how much she’s promised him she won’t, she does.

In dating, I’m surprised by how many men think it’s perfectly okay to pull out the football in many ways. It can be as simple as he says he’ll call on a certain day and he doesn’t. While you might not sit by the phone waiting (as you may have when younger), if you have any connection with him you look forward to the call.

But it doesn’t come. He may (or may not) text or call later, saying he got tied up. This may (or may not) be accompanied by an apology.

Or he tells you he’ll meet you at 7:00 and 7:15 comes and goes with no notification of his lateness. He may appear (or not) and explain it away (or not). He may apologize, but often there is no mention of his tardiness, let alone an apology.

Perhaps he suggests hanging out together this Saturday. He says he’ll call you Saturday morning to confirm. When you don’t hear from him by noon, you call him so you can determine your afternoon’s schedule. “Oh,” he tells you, “a friend called and we’re going motorcycle riding for the day.”

Yes, all these examples are of rude, thoughtless, self-centered behaviors. But can so many men be so inconsiderate?

A male pal explained that when a man says, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow” he’s not so much making a commitment, but more expressing a possibility. I, and many of the people with whom I pal around, believe your word is your bond. You don’t say you’re going to do something and then not do it unless you communicate and renegotiate with the person to whom you’ve committed.

I know in today’s society this is a rarity.

For those of us who expect someone to follow through with what they say, we behave as if the promise will come through. So if a man invites me to dinner, I’ll determine what I’m going to wear and make sure it’s clean and pressed. I’ll plan my chores to make sure I have the evening free with no pressing duties to distract me. I’ll wash and curl or straighten my hair so it looks and smells good. While not obsessing, I imagine how much fun it is to be with him and perhaps think of some topics I want to share.

Then, boom, the call half-hour before I’m to leave, telling me he’s tied up and has to reschedule. The football was pulled out just as I was beginning to kick it.

While we can all occasionally have unexpected situations occur that make us need to reschedule our social calendar, if it happens more than once in a short time, I see it as his 1) lack of respect for me, 2) inability to manage his life, 3) belief that this is an okay way to treat people and/or 4) absence of real interest in me.

I’ve let men with whom I’ve been smitten  pull the ball out numerous times. I gave them too much grace. And it hurt more than my tush. Now, I look for the signs much more quickly. If, on the second occurrence I state my displeasure and he responds that I should be more flexible or spontaneous, I know that he and I have very different values.

Then I take my football to play with someone who respects the players and follows the same rules of good sportsmanship.


What else should you look for as you start to date again? Get more information in Dipping Your Toe in the Dating Pool: Dive In Without Belly Flopping.


10 responses to “Lucy, the football and dating”

  1. Anna Avatar

    Excellent post as always DG. I would agree that lack of respect is the main motive for this type of unacceptable behavior. And we have all been there in putting up with men like this, probably when we were younger. The guys here may have put up with women like this also, for there are lots of women who treat people like this also. It takes a lot of hurt and growing up to do to understand that, as you so correctly put it, we need to take our football away and find a respectful player.
    Don’t you hate it when men like this try to project their bad behavior onto you by saying you are inflexible. How convenient. I have to say I have had a few now-ex girlfriends over the years that have also behaved that way. These type of people see life as it translates into their needs only, they cannot see beyond their own nose. So not following through on a promise (even a phone call or coffee chat) because something came up in their life, shows that they truly have only respect for one person and that is themselves. I have learnt to move very quickly away from people like this. For a while there I thought the younger generation were almost all like this as my teenage daughter’s friends were doing exactly that, calling (or not) to cancel at the last minute. Then when she moved schools she found some lovely friends who never cancel, or if they do, they call well ahead of time with sincere regrets and I realized there is lots of hope for our children, these self centered people will always be out there.

  2. Katie Avatar

    The third-to-last paragraph, in which you sum up your interpretation of such rude actions, underscores this as a superior post of yours. It is far too easy to blame boorish behavior on “our culture of casualness” when in fact it is personal lack of respect for others that fuels the mindset. Thanks for giving voice to what many have rightfully resented.

  3. Brenda Avatar

    When this happens, I have a tendency to pull back then and make myself less accessible to the man. I had a man recently who called 5 minutes after I was to meet him at the movie theatre. There I was waiting when I received a voicemail, indicating that he had a “personal crisis’ and could not make it. He said he would call on Sat to explain. (I had only had one dinner date with him and this was to be our second)

    He did not call on Sat and emailed me a week later. Said he went back with ex-fiancee and was emotionally torn all day Friday, the day we were to see the movie together. So why call 5 minutes after the date was to start when he knew about his “crisis” all day? It was completely rude.

    I took about one week to respond to his email, wished him luck. And two weeks later, he emailed me again to say that things did not work with the ex-fiancee and would I like to make plans to see him again?

    I decided against this – his track record was already too poor and it was clear he was not over ex-fiancee.

    What I have learned is that many men who put themselves out there to date are NOWHERE close to being ready to date or be in a relationship.

    Now when I see this behavior coming out, I back off and really do not consider them a serious contender for my affections.


  4. Susie Avatar

    DG, you are too nice to these jerks! I’ve been following your blog for some time (but have never posted here), but I have to say you’ve been kissing toads, not princes, for the most part.

    No, don’t call him at all. Just go somewhere else and make yourself unavailable. Do not tolerate such a lack of respect.

    Tell him that’s fine and you and are going out to to kick out because you can’t waste your sexy self waiting for him to reschedule. Then actually do it.

    Don’t waste your time on these fools. A toad by another any name is still a toad – not a prince!

  5. Dating Goddess Avatar

    Thanks for commenting, Susie.

    I didn’t say these examples had all happened to ME! They were examples from others as well as myself. I’ve learned how to weed out nearly all of the toads before I even agree to meet them, as you can tell a lot via phone and email. I don’t waste my time on these toads anymore, but hear plenty of stories from others, which is what I aggregated in this piece.

    Not to say I don’t occasionally get swept up in a toad’s web, but it happens much, much less.

  6. Julie Avatar

    I think Speed Dating sounds like something worth trying. I haven’t seen as many of these advertised in my area for the 50+ crowd, but they certainly do exist. There is something appealing about meeting a bunch of people at once and for only 5 – 7 minutes at a time. That’s all it takes, I think, to know if you want to follow up with someone.

  7. Meari Avatar

    What a great post! I’ve run into these very things before and I have always had issues with men who don’t follow through on what they say. It’s called lack of character and integrity. Both are important characteristics to me.

  8. Julie Avatar

    Sometimes the initial chats with these guys are revealing. One guy told me that he could tell by what I said in my profile that I wanted a serious relationship. I did not ask him about any of this.. it was all volunteered by him. He went on to say that a lot of guys really do not want to do that because it requires a lot of effort to maintain. I should have asked him to explain why they feel that way, if he could. I got the feeling he wasn’t trying to persuade me or impress me by implying that ‘he’ wanted a serious relationship. Sometimes those initial talks with online guys are more revealing because no one has anything invested yet. People are just looking to talk to someone, sometimes… and you can get information this way! I realized it’s better to see things for what they really are when dealing with what seems to be a large population of ambiguous men (online).

  9. Mark Avatar

    Julie, people will blather on at times in chat. Many of us can be lonely and we want to make a good impression, but we often don’t know how. I’m lucky in that I’ve made my livelihood with words so I’m probably more adroit with chat and email than most guys, but even for me it’s easy to make a misstep and give someone the wrong impression. It’s so easy to misconstrue meaning in chat and email because we lack all the non-verbal cues we normally process when talking with someone in person.

    And often we don’t even know what we want. Sometimes I like the idea of being a swinging bachelor. Sometimes I like the idea of growing old with someone special. It’s hard to say what makes any of us happy. It’s elusive, that happiness. You just have to give interesting people time to get to know them and let them get to know you. Take a chance on that, all the while keeping your guard up.

    Chances are, what you think you want is only one way of many ways you can be happy. Chances are, what you think you want won’t make you as happy as you anticipate. I think we have to fall into things. I think we have to leave ourselves open to possibilities.

  10. Julie Avatar

    Hi Mark. I understand. I meant initial chat as on the phone. I didn’t mean anything negative by what I said. People say how they really feel at first, sometimes, when they have nothing invested and are just wanting to talk to someone, rather than trying to impress mode. What this man said to me was more in conversation… I thought it was fine and helped me to understand what’s going on a little better. And, I realize it is hard for people to know what they want, sometimes, and being on the receiving end of that can be frustrating.