Ask Dr. NerdLove: Did Someone Sabotage My Date?

Hi Doc-

I’ve written you before and found your advice to be quite helpful! I have a situational question today and would love your eyes on it.

I recently connected with someone I’ve met briefly in the past over a dating app and hit off the conversation with her. Let’s call her Alpha. We set up a time to grab some drinks last Friday, but she canceled the day-of citing a work event she forgot she needed to attend. Not problem though, she offered to meet up either later that weekend or next week.

I mentioned that I was going to be attending a neighborhood music/art festival the next day offering to meet up if she was around. She responded enthusiastically saying how she’d like to meet up! 

I text Alpha the day of the event asking if she’d like to meet up and where she was and… nothing. Frustrated, I let it sit. She finally got back to me Sunday night explaining what she ended up doing that day/evening. I noticed the mention of her friend she went to another event with- let’s call her Epsilon.

Epsilon’s name kept sticking out when it dawned on me, I went on a date with an Epsilon who happened to work at the same (extremely large) company. In fact, I met Epsilon the same night I connected with Alpha at a large party and we went home together- yikes! The date we shared wasn’t great and, after sensing that Epsilon wasn’t interested in a second date, we never connected again. A quick peek over on Alpha’s Instagram and, yep, there the two of them are!

So, surely Epsilon mentioned all of this to Alpha, hence the sudden radio-silence that I experienced last weekend. My frustration comes from having no chance to make a case for myself. I have no clue what Epsilon said about me, but it clearly wasn’t positive. I think Alpha and I would have a fun time on a date, but I’m stuck throwing in the towel before I even start the first round. 

I don’t go on enough dates for this to be a common occurrence, so this is particularly weird. My question is, is anything salvageable here? Is there a chance to reconnect with Alpha in the future, or do I “take the L” and move along?


Three’s A Crowd

There’s a saying I like, TaC; if you’re a regular reader, you may have heard me say it before:

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

This makes for a handy rule of thumb as a way to tell if, say, someone is trying to send you a message when they don’t return your calls. At the same time, it’s also useful as a way to remind yourself not to give more weight to a coincidence than the incident actually deserves. There is always going to be the temptation to look for malice or reason in the random events that occur in our lives. The idea that there’s an outside force working against us is perversely reassuring; it gives a deeper meaning to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune besides “shit happens, wear a hat.” But at the same time, the idea that there’s an intelligent force behind your misery also has the effect of absolving you of any responsibility for why things may have gone wrong.

Plus: if you try to bring it up to, say, someone you feel isn’t dating you because of gossip, you kinda look like you lined your bedroom with tin foil to keep out the spy beams.

Right now, TaC, you’re making assumptions based on facts not in evidence. Let’s look at what you actually know: the incontrovertible facts.  Alpha ghosted you. Alpha also happens to be connected to someone you went on a single date with.

That’s it. Everything else after that is pure speculation. You don’t know what sort of relationship Alpha and Epsilon have. You don’t know that Alpha ever talked to Epsilon about you, or that Epsilon even remembers who you are. For that matter, you also don’t know that anything Epsilon said – if she said anything – actually changed Alpha’s mind. These are all things that you’ve basically invented out of whole cloth. It’s possible yes, but not plausible. It’s far more plausible, likely, even, that Alpha decided on her own that she just wasn’t feeling it and, like a lot of people these days, she decided there was no real need to respond.

Which hey, kinda sucks.

But it is what it is, and the only thing you can do is just roll with it. Trying to plead your case isn’t going to go anywhere, TaC. First of all, as I said: you don’t know what actually happened. If you roll into the conversation with “I don’t know what Epsilon told you but…” then you’re going to look unhinged. Second of all, you had your chance to plead your case… when you first connected on the dating app. People who want to see you will make an effort to see you. I’ve had cases where we spent a solid month and a half with “Let’s meet up on this date! Shit, something went wrong, ok how about THIS date? No, I’ll be out of town, what about…” that eventually lead to an actual date.

Alpha just wasn’t digging you, my dude. And considering that she didn’t care enough to actually say “hey, something came up” on the day of your proposed date, asking for another chance to prove whatever scurrilous stories Epsilon may or may not have told her is unlikely to change her mind.

Acknowledge that this sucks, take the experience points, brush the dirt off your shoulder and move on.

Good luck.

Hi, Dr. NerdLove.

I love your book and podcast – it’s so clearcut and informative, and it’s really a gift for people who struggle with dating, like myself.

So here’s my dilemma. It seems that I have a history of dating emotionally unavailable women. I’ve dated a few women each year, and each time, it starts off great, we have an instant connection, and then we go on a few dates, usually getting intimate pretty quickly, and it seems that we have the chemistry for a great relationship, but then almost always after the 3-5 date mark, the woman cuts me off. Each time I’ve gotten rejected, I felt terrible thinking that I did something wrong or that I wasn’t good enough. But recently, after some time, I’ve asked a lot of these women why they stopped talking to me, and so far, most of them will say that it was all their fault and that they’d like another shot.

It seems I just keep meeting emotionally unavailable women and that I’m doing something to attract them. Even when I use online dating and don’t even initiate the conversation, I keep finding these women. Having said all of this, what do you think I should do? What am I doing that’s attracting these women? How do I change this so I find emotional available women? If you can help me out, I’d be forever grateful. Thank you!


When it comes to trying to troubleshoot you love life, sometimes you need to stop and look for the commonalities, TB. What do all of those relationships and interactions have in common? Sometimes it’s a matter of never getting out of your comfort zone. Doing the same thing over and over again tends to lead to getting the same results. Other times, it’s just pure bad luck or demographics that work against you. And then sometimes the only commonality is… well, you.

When you find yourself dating the same sort of woman over and over again, whether it’s a physical type or women who’re just emotionally closed off, then that’s usually a sign that there’s something about those women that jives with you. Now this doesn’t mean that they’re people that you’re attracted to, just that there’s some aspect of them that you connect with – and not necessarily in a positive manner. People who tend to date drama bombs, for example, often do so because drama fulfills a need in them. It may make them feel important. It may be a source of excitement in an otherwise staid life. The fact that you connect so quickly with emotionally unavailable may be an issue with you and your own self-esteem. People who don’t believe they’re worthy of love, or who are actually afraid of success will often chase after partners who they know are “safe”, pursuing relationships that they know are ultimately impossible. Since they know there’s no chance of success, they don’t feel the anxiety that comes with approaching someone when there are actual stakes.

It’s worth taking a long, deep dive into these women you’ve been dating… and into yourself. Doing some serious introspection, examining how you feel about yourself and how they made you feel can be a good start. And if you are chasing after women who aren’t right for you? Then it’s a good time to stop and ask why.

And in the meantime: try pursuing relationships women you might not approach, normally. Sometimes finding out what’s wrong means doing things very differently and seeing if you get different results. But overall: the next time you find yourself starting to connect with someone, take a moment and take stock. Do you really have this incredible instant connection? Or are you repeating the same pattern over again?

Good luck.


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