By Danielle Page
Being stood up can shake any dater’s confidence. It’s an awful feeling to watch the time pass and wonder why your date decided not to show without so much as a courtesy text to let you know. Or, arguably worse, to wait for your date to come back from the bathroom—only for them to never return.
If you’re struggling to move past the feelings that come with being stood up, you’re not alone. Here are a few expert tips on how to get over being stood up and move on to find someone who will show up for you in the ways you deserve.
First, check in with your date
Traffic happens, trains get delayed, and emergencies come up. But if your date is well over 20 minutes late and you haven’t heard a word from them, it’s fair to check in. “If the other person didn’t inform you that they wouldn’t be showing up, reach out to check in and see if they’re okay,” says love coach Robert Mack. If the roles were reversed and something happened to you, you’d want that same courtesy.
This also goes for a date who disappeared to the bathroom and hasn’t returned. If they respond but don’t explain why they left, Mack says it’s fair to ask. “All kinds of things might have happened, maybe which they’re extraordinarily embarrassed or ashamed about, but everybody deserves a proper goodbye,” he says.
However, when sending a courtesy text to a date that’s either late or has disappeared, it’s important to manage expectations. If someone is standing you up, they may not respond at all, and “unless there was a true emergency, you’re unlikely to get a satisfying response,” says marriage and family therapist Laurel Roberts-Meese.
Try not to go home and wallow
You’re already out and dressed up, so why not make the most of it? If you can’t meet with friends or make other plans, “walk around the neighborhood and window shop or stop into a little gallery,” Roberts-Meese suggests. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you can also take a stroll and call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while or someone who you love. Trying to have some sort of enjoyable experience can help counteract the negative feelings brought on by being stood up.
Don’t take it personally
When someone stands you up or leaves the date without notice, it’s hard not to take their behavior personally. But as psychologist Dr. Natalie Bernstein points out, in most situations, the reason why someone didn’t show up probably has nothing (or very little) to do with you. “If you think about it, it can’t be too personal because they haven’t even met you,” she says. Remind yourself that this person doesn’t have a real sense about who you are as a person, so their decision not to show up isn’t really about you.
Being stood up can also reinforce any negative self-dialogue you may have when it comes to insecurities about dating or relationships. “Try to keep past experiences separate from current dating experiences,” advises Dr. Bernstein. “Just because someone didn’t show up this time doesn’t mean your ex was right about you being ‘too much.'” In fact, it’s highly unlikely that whatever you may be insecure about has any connection to why your date didn’t show up.
Do take time to process your feelings
There’s a grieving process that comes with being stood up—which often involves trying to pinpoint what you did wrong or casting blame on the other person. When these feelings arise, Mack suggests taking a few deep breaths to calm yourself, then attempting to look at the situation objectively. Asking yourself questions like “Can I know for sure that they stood me up because something to do with me?” “Is this thought or story I’m entertaining about why they stood me up true?” “What facts do I know for sure? Can I stick to them without making assumptions?” can be helpful to stop ruminating on the reason for being stood up.
A productive way to react is to reframe the situation as a lesson rather than focusing on how rude and inconsiderate your date was. “Experiences like these can remind us of how we want to treat people and be treated by people,” Mack says. Roberts-Meese suggests using the situation as a way to figure out what you do want in someone, “Move on to someone who will communicate clearly and respectfully with you rather than avoiding you,” she says.
Don’t throw in the towel
Putting yourself out there is hard. Being stood up leaves us feeling rejected, insecure, and not good enough. Though being stood up can be hard in the moment, you don’t want to date someone who doesn’t respect your time. “In this situation, it may be helpful to realize that they’re not the person you would want to be with anyway,” says Bernstein. In a way, they did you a favor by eliminating themselves from your dating pool.
Developing a relationship involves risk, but it can come with great reward. Take the time that you need, but if you want a romantic connection, don’t let being stood up stop you from pursuing one!