When you think of Peanuts’ Lucy and the football, you see a comic strip series where Charlie Brown, the ever hopeful and trusting soul, believes Lucy when she tells him — once again — that she’ll hold the ball for him to kick. Every time — for decades — she pulls the ball away at the last minute, causing Charlie to land hard on his backside. No matter how much she’s promised him she won’t, she does.
In dating, I’m surprised by how many men think it’s perfectly okay to pull out the football in many ways. It can be as simple as he says he’ll call on a certain day and he doesn’t. While you might not sit by the phone waiting (as you may have when younger), if you have any connection with him you look forward to the call.
But it doesn’t come. He may (or may not) text or call later, saying he got tied up. This may (or may not) be accompanied by an apology.
Or he tells you he’ll meet you at 7:00 and 7:15 comes and goes with no notification of his lateness. He may appear (or not) and explain it away (or not). He may apologize, but often there is no mention of his tardiness, let alone an apology.
Perhaps he suggests hanging out together this Saturday. He says he’ll call you Saturday morning to confirm. When you don’t hear from him by noon, you call him so you can determine your afternoon’s schedule. “Oh,” he tells you, “a friend called and we’re going motorcycle riding for the day.”
Yes, all these examples are of rude, thoughtless, self-centered behaviors. But can so many men be so inconsiderate?
A male pal explained that when a man says, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow” he’s not so much making a commitment, but more expressing a possibility. I, and many of the people with whom I pal around, believe your word is your bond. You don’t say you’re going to do something and then not do it unless you communicate and renegotiate with the person to whom you’ve committed.
I know in today’s society this is a rarity.
For those of us who expect someone to follow through with what they say, we behave as if the promise will come through. So if a man invites me to dinner, I’ll determine what I’m going to wear and make sure it’s clean and pressed. I’ll plan my chores to make sure I have the evening free with no pressing duties to distract me. I’ll wash and curl or straighten my hair so it looks and smells good. While not obsessing, I imagine how much fun it is to be with him and perhaps think of some topics I want to share.
Then, boom, the call half-hour before I’m to leave, telling me he’s tied up and has to reschedule. The football was pulled out just as I was beginning to kick it.
While we can all occasionally have unexpected situations occur that make us need to reschedule our social calendar, if it happens more than once in a short time, I see it as his 1) lack of respect for me, 2) inability to manage his life, 3) belief that this is an okay way to treat people and/or 4) absence of real interest in me.
I’ve let men with whom I’ve been smitten pull the ball out numerous times. I gave them too much grace. And it hurt more than my tush. Now, I look for the signs much more quickly. If, on the second occurrence I state my displeasure and he responds that I should be more flexible or spontaneous, I know that he and I have very different values.
Then I take my football to play with someone who respects the players and follows the same rules of good sportsmanship.
What else should you look for as you start to date again? Get more information in Dipping Your Toe in the Dating Pool: Dive In Without Belly Flopping.