By Pickup Culture
For cultural reasons, and in our modern, feminized and overly-mediated world, women can be quite averse to criticism and so they never really hear what us men truly think (and because many of us never tell them). Part of the dating advice that women consume through the internet, books and daytime TV segments, is that women have all the power in relationships. This is no more evident in the phenomenon of ‘the flake’ – where the woman simply fails to turn up for a date, after the man has gone through all the effort to arrange things.
‘The flake’ is a more acute phenomenon today, and is the result of quick online introductions and seductions. The distance between real and virtual selves has changed our sense of social obligations, and women have much more choice when they check their bloated OK Cupid inboxes every Thursday evening. What used to be a shameful behaviour can now be avoided at the click of a send button. ‘Flaking’ is a less than desirable feminine attribute; of course guys are not immune from it either, but we flake at our own peril – it’s a sign that we’re unreliable (but why play by our own rules?, many men are now asking).
One of the things I particularly love about women is their creativity, and this also the case with the excuses they often make for flaking. Being a single, educated, smart, romantic [insert media cliché] guy who is looking to meet an attractive, simple and unpretentious woman, I have dated many great women in the past few years. In that time I’ve also come across enough flakes to know that dating in today’s world is something of a numbers game. By no means an exhaustive collection, here’s a sample of some of the more interesting flakes I’ve encountered.
The stress of being a modern woman…
In our post-feminist world, where ‘women can have it all’, it’s a noble woman who chooses work over a man, especially on a Friday night! The first flaker claimed to be a secretary, though I can see from her spelling that her work commitments that evening weren’t the only fabrication she liked to weave. As with any flake, it is difficult to tell whether the message conveys a convenient excuse or a genuine reason. As a man I find it’s always best to give women the benefit of the doubt in these situations – many women feel like they don’t want to hurt your feelings, as lame as that may sound over a simple text.
Another reason that patience always pays with flakers is that the flake itself may be a test, as was the case with the second text. The work excuse here was more of a hedge, as we did eventually meet up several months later – perhaps she was seeing another guy, or was genuinely busy with work. Despite what was going on, I can be sure that the response was being tested in some way.
As I mentioned in my previous post, dating advice ‘experts’ are slowly starting to explore the dynamics of the shit-test. Scientific studies conclusively show that women are attracted to men who embody markers of status or power; so shit tests are an efficient way to quickly gauge a man’s sense of confidence, or self-worth. Acting irrationally or just dismissively – by insulting a guy’s physical prowess or even asking him to hold her handbag whilst she goes to the toilet – are more everyday examples of the shit test, as outlined in the Illimitable Men Encyclopedia.
In the case of the text-communique, however, this flake is a much more subtle form of shit testing. When the man acts like he has options (with other women), and is thus not bothered by the woman flaking on him, then she will likely feel more attracted – having passed her test, as I clearly did after all the busy Christmas work was finished.
Honesty, or something else…
Honesty is a rare virtue, especially in today’s economic, work and political climate. Online dating allows us more than ever to blur the lines between truth and deception in our personal lives. The problem is that it’s difficult to know when the flake is real, or if the flake is, well, fake. I admired the first texter for her honesty, so I thought it best to return the courtesy with my thoughts on gender and accountability in the modern world. To be fair, though, this was a woman who completely missed our first date due to sleeping in – so the signs weren’t good from the start!
The second example is much more characteristic of the female dating flake. My research has found that men tend to ignore texts from women they’re simply not interested in, particularly after sex. That can be devastating when the tables are turned on the woman (particularly if she had any feelings for him), but it does reveal a certain insecurity on the part of the man – perhaps luring the woman into the false hope for a relationship, then leaving her cold. I had no interest in a relationship at this stage, and my inkling that she didn’t either was confirmed.
Stretching the truth a little more…
Knowing how to respond via text or email can be confusing … if you let it be! There is so much dating advice online (of which this article is now a part of), and many books on the subject of internet dating – mostly written for women, of course.
Popular dating books such as Internet Dating: Men to Avoid, Men to Enjoy place a large emphasis on safety, and screening for the right guy. There is more information about the timing of the date, and what email and text messages might communicate about the man, rather discussing the fickleness of virtual communication more generally. Much of the content in this category of advice tends to work on women’s proneness towards negativity, often written for older women less comfortable with online forms of intimacy.
If all this seems like hard work to just meet a woman in real life, you’d be right. The woman in the second text was someone I’d met on RSVP, and though I wouldn’t have minded waiting to meet her I later found out that that may have been quite a long time, given she was on board a ship to Singapore! In my last post I also mentioned chatting with a woman who claimed to be in Brisbane, but it turned out she had actually been working as a sales consultant for Hewlett Packard in Taipei for the past 3 months, ‘waiting for a possible visa’ back to the land of Capricornia.
When I emailed RSVP, they responded a few days later insisting that they could not ‘guarantee a positive outcome for every contact or that communication will be taken off the site’. False identity for a woman here was not seen to be a problem, so long as I (the man) paid. Yet if the man complained (as I did), it’s passed off as a case of sour grapes. I still keep in touch with ‘Misty’, who sometimes texts me about studying for her IELTS exams and memorizing printer codes for work – fascinating, really, to think $5 will buy in terms of human interactions.
Unpredictability, experimentation and true love… maybe
Perhaps the problem with online dating is that no one knows what’s really going on. Being the experimental researcher that I am, I am fascinated by the challenge of new approaches. It’s impossible to know when a girl will flake, but the reaction to the flake is important – having other things to do, other women to see, a life of abundance, is much better than waiting for a woman to make her mind up.
Angela did indeed come over, though I remember we did more than just cooking. Just as much as many women will ponder the meaning of a single text, wait weeks (or even months) before getting back to you, there are plenty of women who are just as interested in a man’s directness and candor, despite what the dating advice world says.