PEDESTRIAN.TV has partnered with Telstra to help make sense of love in the digital age.

The world of online dating is as exhilarating and fun as it is tricky to navigate. There are so many unspoken rules to wrap your head around – emoji-politics that can make or break the success of a conversation, the scientific precision in which a profile needs to be formulated, leaving the right amount of time between replies – I’m sure you’re well aware of the drill. It’s a tantalising game, and we (mostly) play it in the hopes of an IRL meeting – which poses a whole different set of criteria to tick off.

According to a recent study conducted by Telstra, only around 1 in 10 dating app matches and convos are actually eventuating in real-life dates for young people aged 18-34. Much like the other aspects of online dating, organising, planning and of course, the dreaded cancelling of a date comes with its own etiquette. After all the swiping, detailed picture viewing, and small talk that turns into flirting, calling off a date is another part of the emotional rollercoaster that is dating in 2021.

Around 53% of 18-34-year-olds reckon a week of chatting is the prime amount of time to get to know each other before meeting up, so what is it that’s giving people the ~icks~ to flake before wine-ing, dining and (the other thing)? Cancelling on anything in life usually doesn’t sit the best, so cancelling on a date can be met with its own set of confusions and feels. To answer that question, I asked a bunch of pals and acquaintances about their experiences – because the more we’re in the know with what’s cool and what’s not, the more we can learn to be better and respectful human beings. Right?

Before I get into it, I will confess to being a chronic flaker/canceler before. One time I cancelled because I found out the guy I was talking to had never listened to Neutral Milk Hotel. I still stand by that decision, but it was probably a bit of a flop move on my behalf.

Anyway, here’s what everyone had to say.

“Sometimes I reactively go on a dating app if the person I was currently seeing ghosts me or we have a fight. If the person happens to rear their head with a justifiable excuse, then – and I’m not proud of it – I’ll go back to them rather than seeing out the date. I later learn to regret the decision.”Sandra

“So before my now long-term relationship, I was on Tinder for about a year. Mainly for a bit of a confidence boost initially, and then I started to get my game on and felt a bit empowered by it all. Probably the first 2 weeks of getting Tinder, I matched with a guy from Hurstville (I was in the North Shore at that point). He was super sweet, and we spoke on and off for the whole time I was on Tinder. He would constantly instigate a meetup, and I would always go along with it, but the truth was I was way too nervous about doing it. In hindsight, I think what I was doing was really slack, stringing him along.”

“Probably 9 months into this year-long on and off chatting, I connected with a different guy that I really liked, but it didn’t work out. Not long after that ended, I was back chatting to this guy from Hurstville. Eventually, we did meet up, and he let me know that he was actually kind of hurt by my ghosting and flakiness, which I totally understood and apologised for. We had a really nice time, and we probs could have gone on from there, but I just went silent again. I still feel bad about it today and wonder what he’s up to. His IG is private/I can’t see, so I think he got sick of my behaviour and blocked me.”Jayde

“I had been talking to a girl for a while on Tinder when I was just getting into uni. She honestly just had too many similarities (interests wise) to my sister, and I couldn’t go through with it.” – Peter

“There have been times where I’ve agreed to a date and then had a deeper stalk on their Instagram or Facebook and came across something I didn’t like (that wasn’t present in the 3-5 photos on the dating app), so pretended something came up on the date and time we’d agreed to meet up.”Pippa

“This one guy on Hinge was like, ‘yeah let’s go on a date etc.’, and he was honestly so cute, so I said yes. Then he asked for my Insta. He followed me literally instantly, and DM’d me straight away, saying, “Hey cutie,” with a selfie of himself putting up a peace sign. That turned me off straight away, and I was like OKAY no.”Yaz

“One time, a guy who I’d met online and had been hooking up with for a bit asked me on a date, but we had already ‘caught up’ that week. I had told him quite a few times from the beginning I wasn’t looking for anything serious. This was my wild year, and I was sticking to it. So in the end, I told him I had gastro on the day, which puts the fear of god into any gay man looking to try anything.”Sam

“I had said yes before scrolling through his IG tagged photos (he never really posted). It turns out all his dating app profile pictures were old, and he actually looks nothing like them now. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that’s the reason I didn’t want to see him anymore, so I ghosted.”Dani

We expose so much of ourselves online – for most millennials and Gen Z’s, we don’t remember a world in which the internet and apps didn’t rule our lives. Dating apps are no different, so take it easy on yourself and remember to have fun – seriously, whether all that eventuates is a cute convo or the actual love of your life, be yourself and whatever you do, do not use a monkey emoji, that’s just a step too far.

Image: Mean Girls