This podcast/blog is on flaking and ghosting—which didn’t used to be a thing, because you couldn’t do it without being insanely rude. The irony is that with access to more levers of communication, whether text, calling, social media, etc., we have less obligation to actually show up and/or communicate with each other.
Think about it: before the era of smartphones, if you were meeting someone at 7, you might not be able to call or contact that person to flake out because they wouldn’t be at home to answer their phone. Likewise, if someone called you in the era before caller ID, you were probably going to answer because it could be someone important—now, you can see who’s texting or calling and simply ghost them if you don’t want to deal with it.
I want to make a couple things clear before we move on:
- This is the new normal, and the rule is that the younger the person, the more likely they are to be a flake. Seriously, if you’re 40 or under, it is far more common to have someone ghost you than politely explain why they’re not interested or don’t want to take a chance seeing what it is you might have to offer—this is true in dating, friendships, and business. Additionally, people flaking out of activities at the drop of a hat, often without notice, is also common—this is especially true in the world of dating. Like seriously, me and my single guy friends have a running joke when anyone asks us if we want to hang out on a given night, and the reply goes something like this: “well, I’m supposed to have a date tonight, but she might flake out—I’ll let you know.” And by the way, we’re all successful guys with careers who are relatively good looking and over that magical mark of six feet women are always looking for, which brings me to the next point.
- Because flaking use to be rare, it was often assumed that if a person flaked or ignored someone, they probably deserved it, because they were lame or what they were doing was lame. This is no longer the case. Flaking and ghosting is now so common and accepted that it’s not an indication of anything regarding the person who’s flaked on, but an indication that the person flaking is one or more of the following things: A) low value, afraid they won’t live up to the date or group going out, B) lazy/lacking ambition, C) so busy their life is out of control, D) socially awkward, or in more extreme cases, E) suffering from clinical anxiety and/or depression.
How do I know? Let’s take dating as an example. If I talk to a woman at a farmers’ market (gold btw), coffee shop, grocery story, or bar, for between 5-10 minutes, and in that time, I demonstrate enough value, attraction, and social calibration for her to decide to give me her number:
A) She still doesn’t know me all that well, which means she has no certain reason to ghost me or flake out, and yet…
B) Everything she does know suggests she should go out with me, because she was attracted to me enough in a very short time to give me her number.
So if she flakes out, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her. And that’s fine—if she flakes that’s how it goes, and because so many people are now low value, lazy, too busy, socially awkward, or suffering from smart phone induced anxiety or depression, it’s happens from time to time—but again, that’s not a reflection on me, it’s a reflection on the her.
And in all honesty, if someone flakes on you, in some ways they’ve done you a favor—I mean, who would you rather spend time with someone who’s flaky, lacks confidence, is indecisive, and waffles about everything, or someone who’s confident, knows what they want, and takes action to make their life the best it can be?
I’m going with the latter.
A quick point here that everyone should read the blog on chucking rocks about why you shouldn’t fear rejection, because it doesn’t matter, but I digress…
Even for people who do the online dating thing and get ghosted or flaked on, how can the person flaking or ghosting possibly know if that’s a rational choice? The truth is they can’t. But it still happens, which is exactly the point: flaking and ghosting is an indication of the value of the person who’s ditching, not the person who’s ditched.
And for anyone who lives life in this mode, that’s bad. Seriously, google flaking and you’ll see tons of articles on how and why people hate flakes. But it’s bad for the flake too–the person who flakes and ghosts their way through life will have fewer, less intimate relationships, pass up golden opportunities, and end up living a virtual, fake, unfulfilling life. They are choosing to be passive vs. active, reactionary vs. purposeful.
Think about it this way: the person who regularly flakes or ghosts people is LITERALLY giving up on once in a lifetime opportunities. I’m not saying every opportunity is once in a lifetime—maybe she didn’t really want to go out with me and was giving me a number because she was too polite to say no, or maybe the concert his friends wanted him to go to is going to be shitty and he knows it so he decides to bail. But some opportunities and people are once in a lifetime, and the flake will never know. Maybe the girl of his dreams is at the concert, or maybe I turn out to be exactly the kind of baller she thought I was when she gave me her number. But again, the flake—the ghost—will never know. They specifically decided not to explore that route.
And while not every opportunity is missed, every missed opportunity is.
The flake’s life is full of these missed opportunities, and though in the moment they can tell themselves there will be another man or woman, another concert, another camping trip, another vacation—the truth is there may not be. It may be that the very thing this person gave up on experiencing could have changed their life…but they’ll never know, because instead of humaning forward, they flaked out.
I can’t even begin to enumerate the number of times in the last couple years when I thought about flaking out on a date or not attending an event, only to push through that anxiety and end up having a great time. I almost flaked on the last relationship I had, which, though it didn’t last, was a great experience with a very cool woman.
This is particularly true when it comes to dating. I don’t believe there’s only “one” person out there for each of us, but finding someone you have a genuine connection with isn’t easy, and I hate to break it to everyone out there, but there’s no mystical force that’s going to match you up with the right person at just the right time. Destiny’s a stripper, not a dating strategy—quick up-sell: she also happens to be one of the main characters in my first book Cherry City Pulp.
But seriously, ask the growing cohort of unmarried, childless women over 35 who are writing article after article in the NY Times, Atlantic, and NY Magazine about their regret for not starting a family earlier and how they’re still waiting for Mr. Right…but here’s the question: how many Mr. Rights did they flake on or ghost over the years? Unfortunately, life doesn’t offer an unlimited supply of mulligans—all we have is time and that’s a finite resource. And the flake is taking this for granted.
Further compounding this problem in dating is that the most desirable people aren’t generally single very long… because they’re highly desirable. You often get only one chance with someone—who very well could be that rare find you’re super compatible with—and if you squander that chance, he or she is gone.
And just so you guys don’t think I’m going holier-than-thou, I’ve fucked up flaking too—although I try my best not to. However, a few weeks ago I missed a date with a woman because I was hanging out with some other girls, and it looks like I’ve missed my chance with her as a result. That window/opportunity has closed, and I’ll be honest, she was really cool and I regret it.
I’m a little embarrassed to say it happened another time just last weekend. I wasn’t feeling well prior to the date, so I went to bed and set my alarm to go hang out with a girl, but then slept through it and ended up flaking on her—yes it was inadvertent, but I still left her chilling by herself wondering where the hell I was, and now, even though she might still be willing to go out with me again… she might not.
To bring this full circle, who’s at fault? Me. I was the flake—those girls were being cool to set aside some time to hang out with me; it’s no indication of their value whatsoever.
And that’s the message for this podcast—if you’re a flake or a ghost, you’re an asshole. Not just to the people you interact with, but to yourself. How many awesome opportunities or people have you passed up because you’re a flake? How many amazing conversations or meetings have you not had because you ghost or flake on people?
And if you’re one of those who says: I don’t have time, can’t be bothered, have too much on my plate, I’m too busy, then I’m sorry to break it to you, but your life is out of control. What’s the point of having friends you can’t interact with? I mean, if you’re not making money off social media—which most people aren’t—what’s the point of having so many followers you can’t possibly interact with them? There’s only one truthful answer to that: shameless narcissism.
I’ll do separate podcasts on social media and the busyness trap at some point, but the long story short is that social media is mostly a waste of time, and if you’re too busy to interact with friends and family or have a relationship, you’re priorities are seriously fucked up. A common example of this is people who are obsessed with their careers—I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard or strive or be ambitious, but when it comes to money and accolades, you can’t take them with you, and people give much less of a shit about that stuff than most of us think, and people who only care about money and status are pretty low value anyway.
Much of this is a product of our obsession with smart phones and social media. People have become so accustomed to staring at a screen and interacting with people virtually they have a hard time functioning in society. On the one hand, the phone has become a sort of security blanket—an excuse not to interact with those around us. On the other, the implicit message delivered to us by social media and interacting with people virtually is that people are disposable, replaceable, and all pretty much the same—but they’re not: we’re all unique individuals who are vastly varied, different, and just like our mothers told us when we were little, special.
Anyway, I digress, but as I said in podcast 5, most people won’t take this advice, because it’s the harder road. It’s easier in the short run to be a flake. It’s easier to ghost people than offer them an explanation of why you don’t want to hang out. It’s easier to avoid confrontations, problems, and new situations than it is to take them head on. There’s actually a great quote I heard recently to this effect:
If you always choose the easy path in life, your life will be easy—but it will also be shitty and unremarkable, because you’ll miss every opportunity that comes your way to do something great. If you choose the hard path, then yes, sometimes your life will be hard—but it will also be extraordinary, because not only will you learn from your failures and better yourself, but you’ll succeed in doing things that no one else had the courage to try.
This blog/podcast is about living your best life—not virtually, but in reality: having great relationships with friends and lovers, being fit, smart, and healthy, making the most of our limited time here in this life on this planet, accomplishing our goals and living our dreams. But we can only achieve these things if we are purposeful with our intentions, reliable in our relationships, and courageous when we take action. Flaking and ghosting is the opposite of that, and you should not only avoid these all-too-common behaviors, but avoid people who resort to them as well.