How many times have you been doing well with a woman you’d just met only to have it fizzle out the next day with no warning? In the moment, everything was amazing; you were flirting back and forth, you got her number and the promise of getting together later. By all rights it should be all systems go for getting a date that weekend. Instead, it’s all last minute cancellations and radio silence. That first time you asked her out ended with “Sounds great, call me the day of, ok?”. The day of, it was “Oh I’m so sorry, but I’m actually busy today. Maybe next time?” Then… nothing. Your texts get one or two word answers. Your voice mails are never being returned. You’re shouting impotently into the void, hoping for an answer.
She flaked on you. Sucks, don’t it?
Unfortunately, flaking is a common occurrence when you’re dating, especially when you’re building your skills. It’s incredibly frustrating because it can feel as though it came out of nowhere – you were doing everything right and then suddenly you hit that wall of silence. So what can you do about it? Well, to start with, let’s examine why women flake… and then how we can prevent flakes from happening1 .
What Is Flaking, Anyway?
Sometimes it can help to define our terms in order to avoid confusion. There’s a difference between a flake out and, say, someone cutting of contact because he or she just plain doesn’t like you.
Sudden radio silence – watching a flirtation over OKCupid cut off without warning, or a string of unanswered calls or texts without even the promise of a date in the first place – are not flaking. These are signs that, for whatever reason, the person you were talking to just decided that they were no longer interested. Maybe you screwed up. Maybe they just weren’t feeling the chemistry. Maybe they have an irrational hatred of the way you use the oxford comma, who knows?
Flaking, on the other hand, is a last minute-cancellation of tentative plans; you’re all spruced up, so caught up with excitement for your date with that cute woman you met at the bar last Monday that you’ve shown up twenty minutes early. You’re half-caught up in imagining the sloppy make-outs that are in store for you later that night when you get the dreaded text: “Hey, turns out I can’t make it today. Maybe some other time.” Suddenly, you’re left all dressed up with nowhere to go, feeling your ego (and your half-chub) deflating like a leaky pool-toy. Any subsequent texts get non-commital answers and your voice mails aren’t being returned in the first place.
Why Women Flake
Flaking usually comes down to one of two issues. The first is very simple: she’s not that into you. She may have been having a good time with you in the moment – after all, everybody appreciates talking with someone who’s funny and interesting, especially if they’re good looking – but ultimately, she’s just not feeling that spark she needs that pushes her from “Well that was fun,” to “That was fun and I want to see this guy again!”. Other women will simply play along for a while… maybe out of boredom, maybe just because they’re going along to get along and just waiting for a socially acceptable excuse to send you packing. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons why women will just hand out their number so easily to people they don’t give a damn about; it presents a natural break in the interaction and most guys will take it and go away. In an age of omnipresent cellphones, caller ID and voice mail, giving out a phone number is low-risk, low-investment. A woman can tell at a glance that someone she doesn’t care about and let it go straight to voice mail – and then from there to the digital garbage bin.
The best way to avoid this is, simply, be better at knowing how to build her interest in you. One of the best ways is getting her to qualify herself to you; the more attraction you can build, the more likely she will be looking forward to actually meeting up with you instead of giving you the 21st century brush-off.
The other cause is the loss of what’s called “emotional momentum”.
The excitement and rush of a positive in-person interaction is heady, but it can wear off quickly if you don’t do anything to maintain it. Like a car running out of gas, you go from speeding along to sputtering to a halt. Leaving with vague promises to “hang out later” or to “talk sometime” won’t help maintain the excitement or emotional connection that you just spent the last X number of minutes/hours building. Wishy-washy texts and voice mails cause her excitement to fade even faster. Similarly, going for long periods of time without contact will cause the momentum to diminish. The more the momentum fades, she stops picturing you as the awesome guy she was really interested in and become just another guy she vaguely remembers giving her number to.
Keeping The Momentum Going Through Proper Use of The Phone
If you want to prevent flakes from happening, you have to keep the ball rolling, and the best way to do this is to know how to use texts and phone calls to your advantage. This means that as a general rule, you want to start the contact as soon as possible after getting her number.
A lot of guys will balk at this stage; they don’t want to appear “too eager” or worry about creeping her out. Instead, they wait for some random interval of days (the “three days” rule, for example) in an effort to appear more confident or aloof – when in reality, they’re just trying to muster up the courage.
It this sounds like you, think about it this way: if you met someone cool and had an amazing conversation with them, wouldn’t you want to keep in contact so you could keep things going?
Rather than calling right away, I advocate a quick text “ping” – a short, cute message that helps establishes contact and gauges how interested she is in talking to you – within 24 hours of getting her number. In fact, depending on the context of how we met and for how long, I recommend pinging even sooner; if you met in, say, a club or a bar, she will likely have given her number out several times and the sooner you can establish contact with her the less likely you will melt into the blur of every guy she met that night.
After a successful ping, you should start a text conversation – one that leads towards setting up a call. It can be as simple as ending a conversation with “Hey, I’ve gotta do stuff, but I want to keep talking to you. I’ll call you a little bit later, ok?”
Naturally, you want to make sure you actually follow up with that phone call that day. Long periods without contact will kill that momentum, leaving you with another dead number.
Once you make the call, you should ask her out on a definitive date. No “we should hang out some time” or “hey, if you’re interested, maybe we could get a drink later…”. No putting the onus on her to set up the date for you; this not only betrays a lack of confidence, but it leaves things vague and unclear. You want to be specific: “Hey, I’m going to see this art show on Friday at 8, you should totally come with me. I think you’d love it.”
Having a firm time and day makes it more concrete, which in turn makes her much less likely to flake out.
Detecting An Incoming Flake
Women rarely flake out or stand someone up without warning. There is almost always a signal that she is likely to flake.
The most common sign is the classic “Call me the day of”. You will hear this most often when you’re setting up the date – especially if it’s a nebulous offer to “hang out” rather than setting a concrete date. The message that a woman is sending is that she’s waiting to see if she gets a better offer. If nothing else comes along, then maybe she’ll go out on you, but you are – at best – her second choice. More likely the third or fourth.
Being less than enthusiastic about the possibility of plans in general is also a sign, even if she’d agreed to go out with you; “I dunno, I’ll have to see,” is another common example. Just as telling is the Shrodinger’s Date – she’s just remembered that she had other plans, so you two will have to reschedule… or maybe not because now she’s not so sure whether her original plans are still scheduled. You’re kept in a state of quantum uncertainty, where your date is simultaneously on and off and you have no idea which until the waveforms collapse… usually right before you’re supposed to get together, leaving you stuck at the coffeeshop with only cold lattes and the pitying, knowing glances from the staff for company.
The Schrodinger’s Date is especially annoying because it gives the impression that the date could still be on. It’s the re-scheduling that’s the key: a woman who is eager to meet you will make an effort to find a future day that works. An impending flake leaves that potential rescheduling up in the air, where you will almost never see it again.
Of course, the most pernicious version of the flake signal is falling down the Intimacy Ladder. To refresh your memory, the Intimacy Ladder is the sliding scale of intimacy based on the method of communication.
From most intimate to least, it goes:
- In Person
- Instant Message
How To Prevent Flake-Outs
Want to stop women from flaking out on you? Get them excited to be going on a date with you. Someone who’s eager to see you and looking forward to doing something fun with you is not going to flake.
When a woman is giving you signs of an impending flake, then the best thing you can do is just give it up as a lost cause and move on and just do better next time with the next woman (because there will be a next woman). Yeah, I know: you don’t want to. You really want to see this person. But she‘s showing you that she’s really just not that into you. And honestly: if she’s willing to just flake out on you, why would you want to see her?
But let’s say you’re really invested in making this date happen. There are times – not many, but some – when can actually prevent a flake from happening… provided you catch them in time. Now to be fair: flake prevention does require a certain willingness to play head games and applying social pressure, but you’re already in damage control mode as it is. This is your last-ditch effort to salvage the date.
There are a number of techniques that you can employ to try turn a flake around.
Definitive statements of intent can help salvage your date, especially if you’re getting the Schrodinger’s Date. Telling a woman that you really want t0 see her if her plans fall through can be incredibly powerful – you’re not being needy or trying to wheedle her into a pity date, you’re telling her flat out that you like her; this displays an appealing level of confidence and assurance. If she suggests that the two of you reschedule without suggesting a day or time herself, issuing a statement rather than a request can help her commit to a specific time and place – especially if you hint that you have other plans; after all, you don’t want her thinking that you’ve been waiting with sandwiches by the phone.
Her: Yeah, it just doesn’t look like it can work today. Maybe we get together later?
You: Sounds great. We’ll meet up at The Nomad at 9:30. I can’t stay long though. I told some friends I’d meet them later.
Do you have other plans? No, not really. However not only are you demonstrating that you aren’t planning on sitting at home if she doesn’t make it, crying and masturbating while using your tears as lube, but the artificial time constraint means that she’s more likely to accept. If the two of you are having a good time, there’s no need to actually leave; you’d much rather spend time with her, no? Otherwise… well, you’re probably better off writing this one off.
Another technique I have used to great effect has been the Pre-Emptive Flake. When I detect a potential flake, I will actually make a point of texting her and flaking first. ”
Example: “Hey, I completely forgot that my brother’s coming in this weekend, so I totally can’t make it. We’ll have to try again next week…”
This flipping of the script puts her on the defensive; by making her the Flake-ee rather than the Flaker, you have reframed the situation so that she is pursuing you. You’ll find that she will be much more receptive to rescheduling (again, with a concrete place and time) than if you’re in the position of chasing her.
The last technique I’ve used is to ignore her flaking out. I make other plans for the day and put her out of mind… until the day after. The day after the aborted date, I’ll either call – especially if I know I’m likely to get her voice mail – or send a text profusely apologizing for having forgotten that we were supposed to get together. After I give whatever bullshit excuse comes to mind – long night and overslept, got caught up by a deadline, something fairly minor – I’ll insist that I need to take her out in order to make it up to her. Again: this reframes the situation to where she is the offended party and feeling as though she’s owed something in recompense… especially if it’s being treated to a nice dinner. This will help encourage her to commit to the date; after all, you owe her, right?
Now, let’s straight here: these are not guaranteed to work 100% of the time. There will be plenty of times when you simply can’t keep a flake from happening. This is just a fact of dating, and you just have to learn to accept it.
Responding To Flakes
Flakes happen. Sometimes it’s because you’ve screwed up somewhere along the lines, sometimes it’s legit and shit just happens. You can’t salvage all of them.
If you get flaked on, then you need to remember this mantra:
It’s no big deal.
If and when your date calls to cancel at the last minute, all apologies and explanations, your response is It’s No Big Deal. You don’t whine. You don’t complain. You don’t tell her that she owes you. You don’t call them out on flaking. Not only will it not help, you actually hemorrhage respect and social value when you do; you’re acting like a child who’s pouting because he didn’t get his way.
Treating it like it’s no real thing will send the right message: you’re a mature and confident adult who has his own life to live and a minor inconvenience isn’t going to disrupt it. If plan A doesn’t work, you have plans B through ZZ. You can try – later – to get another date, or you can assume that things aren’t going to work and move on.
But handling a sticky or awkward situation with style and aplomb will make you more attractive, and people will react to your social grace.
And then you’ll find that flakes won’t be nearly as much of a problem in the future.
- Let’s get the Head and Shoulders jokes out of the way now, shall we? [↩]