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Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 10.37.42 AMI’m going to date myself here (no pun intended) when I say the song running through my head as I write this is Tori Amos’ Cornflake Girl.* She sings, “Never was a cornflake girl, thought it was a good solution hanging with the raisin girls” which I’ve always thought was a clever line – clearly, though, I’m biased because 14-year-old me is still madly, truly, deeply, infatuated with Tori and she can do no wrong. But I digress.

There’s a prevailing problem in online dating that men in every single state, on almost every single date, mentioned: Girls flake.

Flaking happens at every stage of the online dating game. Sometimes girls will respond to messages once or twice, then stop without warning.** Sometimes girls will exchange phone numbers or email and then stop responding sans warning. And quite often, girls will agree to dates or give a non-committal answer, and then back out or say no. (If you have not seen the Aziz Ansari clip about this, go spend a minute and a half on this.) Guys are baffled by this. And heck, as a girl who found herself in this situation throughout my time on the road – from men and women alike –I was baffled by this too. And I’m someone who yes, has accidentally or purposefully engaged in the cornflake game.

Yep. Sometimes, I’m a cornflake girl.

Here’s the thing. Often, flaking via the messaging stage of online dating comes about because I kind of plum forgot about a guy or online dating in general. I get busy with my friends and my life and dating takes a backseat. Not in a backseat driver sort of way, but in a it’s an old book I didn’t really like (ahem, Cloud Atlas) that I’m looking for a good home for but can’t find one sort of way. It’s not that I have better things to do than find a good home for book. Rather, I keep finding myself in situations not near a computer to post the book on Craigslist or…wait, this extended metaphor is getting out of control. Rather, I keep finding myself in places not near a computer (I refused to use an app for dating) or with the energy to craft a personalized, genuine message. Even if we’ve started the “Let’s hang out sometime” message-versation, I get wrapped up like a mummy elsewhere and can’t break free to respond. Then time passes (a week. Maybe two?) and I get back to online dating and I’m either slightly disenchanted or there are other people to message…it’s never intentional. In summation: It just sort of happens.

Of course, then there’s the agreeing to go on a date without real plans, but swapping numbers/emails, and then pulling the vanishing flake act. A few years ago, a close friend of mine found himself the victim of a disappearing gal. He’d asked her if she’d like to go out sometime, she accepted, and then wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, she was no where to be found. I remember being on vacation in Santa Barbara, staring at the ceiling fan in my hotel room, while my friend pontificated as to why this might be the case. “If she didn’t want to go out with me, why didn’t she just tell me?” he said more than once.

There’s an answer to this question: her not going out with you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with her. As in, she’s super into someone else, or she’s sleeping with someone else and she hopes it’s going to turn into something, or she’s got a health issue or a friend issue or she’s not sure she’s ready. If you’ve never gone out with someone, their cornflakery has zip to do with you. I promise.

Knowing that might not make being flaked on any less irritating, but it’s simply how the people work. Not letting guys off the hook here – this happens to me with men, too. Read the above with reverse gender pronouns and you get the gist.

I think there are two important things to remember. First is the cliche notion that it’s probably best not to want someone who doesn’t want you; that if it’s not the right time it’s not meant to be, and you’re better off without ’em. And second, is when this happens, it’s not about you. The best thing you can do is keep plugging and go elsewhere.

*Was anyone else fairly certain the entire Under the Pink album was written expressly to make them feel better about life, death, angst and the business of self-actualization?

**Which yes, is totally within their right. But it’s also within the guys rights to be bummed if this is a pattern they’re witnessing.

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