How To Avoid Dating App Ghosts & Flakes

Laura asks:

I'm relatively new to dating apps. Still navigating these waters mostly, but so far my experience seems to be pretty universal - some good dates, a few bad dates, but mostly they've been just "OK". Also, ghosting, flaking, guys insisting we exchange our phone numbers before we've set a date, those who just want to chat aimlessly to no end... I always appreciate an opportunity to go out on a date, even if it's not, like, mindblowingly amazing (and let's face it, it rarely is) as I see it as a new experience and a chance to learn something. And at the end of the day, at least it means you've made an effort.

Anyway, a couple of, uhm, non-dates have stuck up in my mind and I'd like to hear your assessment of the situation and what I took out of it.

One is a guy that was among the very first I contacted. I swiped on his profile, he swiped back, we started talking, it all seemed to be going well. He was upfront about his working hours being weird on occasion and that he didn't always have a lot of free time on his hands. I figured it wasn't that important, we're all caught up in our work sometimes. Eventually he admitted that he's actually a couple of years older than what he stated in his profile and apologized for it. Now, me being inexperienced and naive at the time, I thought "Wow, a guy owning up to his misdeeds! That's refreshing!", and I let it slide. He was still within my preferred age range anyway. Now I realize it could have well been a move to impress women with his "honesty".

So, we have a really nice chat and we agree to get back the next day and establish a date. Except that he wasn't around the following day. I see him online a couple of days later and hit him up. No response. A few more days go by and I become a bit irritated. I didn't want to sound clingy, passive-aggressive or anything, so I just sent him a message saying that I thought we had a nice conversation and was still interesting in meeting. If he was up for it, fine, if not, no biggie. I also said he didn't have to respond if he didn't feel like it, I'd understand. He replied almost immediately, apologizing for not getting back earlier and he said that he just had  too much stuff going on in his life at the moment and didn't have the time or energy to dedicate himself to dating. I said it was fine and wished him luck. He thanked me for being understanding. A few weeks went by without me seeing him online, I figured he might really be just too busy. Eventually he pops up again, and I thought I might as well hit him up again, just to see how he's doing. What I got in return was that uncomfortable "Uhm, yeah, no, you're just not my type, sorry" message that I never responded to.

I did think it sucked a bit. I guess I didn't understand why someone would say that they're interested if they're really not, especially after you've clearly given them a way out. I mean, I still don't understand it, but I've learned to accept that it's just the way it is. And I felt stupid because this guy was clearly not into me and I thought I should have seen it coming earlier.

The other guy. In this case I was somewhat pleasantly surprised how quickly and easily we managed to click. The conversation was effortless and spontaneous, I knew what to say, he knew what to say. He wasn't a unicorn, impossibly good looking, too good to be true, way out of my league or anything like that - he was just a guy I thought I could be attracted to (and seemingly he thought the same of me) and whose personality matched mine rather well, at least as far as you can deduct from an online conversation.

We agreed to meet, set up time and place, exchanged our phone numbers, texted each other just to confirm we got it right. So far, so good. The day before we were supposed to meet, I texted him to confirm the date. No response until late at night, which did raise my eyebrows. But he texted back eventually and said the date was still up and he was looking forward to it. On to the next day, I was about to start getting ready when I get a text from him. He says he got caught up with something (a close friend asked for help with his computer) and he wasn't sure he'd make it on time, so he asked if we could possibly reschedule the date for the next day. I wasn't sure what to think of it, but I figured something like that wasn't completely outside the realms of possibility, so I agreed. He apologized once again.

So, the next day I was getting ready, almost finished and about to leave, when suspicion starts creeping in, big time. Where we were supposed to meet was closer to my place and I knew he would have to leave earlier. I text him asking if he's on his way. No response. I wait a few minutes and decide to call him. Of course, his phone is switched off. I knew what was going on, of course I did. I called him again half an hour later just for the hell of it, the phone was still off. And there I was, all dressed up ready to go and feeling like an idiot. I'm now actually thinking he's married or in a serious relationship and only gave me the number he uses when he wants something on the side. He hasn't contacted me again. Of course, I haven't tried to get in touch with him either.

I'd like to clarify that I'm NOT still hung up on these guys or whining whyyyyy it's all happening to meeeee. Those things happen. I'm aware of that. What I'd like is your take on what I got out of these situations. As far as the first guy is concerned, I've decided that if someone shows interest in you and then starts actively avoiding you, there's really no point in pursuing it any further, no matter what they said previously. What they said could have b