Love, Lindsay

'How Do You Tell If Someone You Want To Date Is Busy Or Just Blowing You Off?'

All your relationships questions answered — right here, right now.

Dear Lindsay,

I met a girl at a show for our mutual friend's band. We hit it off and exchanged numbers, so a few days after the show, I decided to ask her out. I suggested a day and time, but because she's a nurse and has a busy, kind of unpredictable schedule, she said she couldn't. I totally get that, but I've suggested other times and she always says she has to work. I felt like we had a good vibe in person and figure she wouldn't have given me her number if she wasn't even a little bit interested, but maybe she was just being nice? So basically now I'm wondering, how can you tell if someone you want to date is legitimately busy or just blowing you off? 

Thanks, 

Chase

Dear Chase,

The only thing more nerve-wracking than going on a first date is asking someone out on one, especially if you can't tell if the person you're interested in has a crazy schedule or just isn't that into you. So first things first, it's important to remember that if someone seems to be blowing you off, don't take it personally. They know little, if anything, about you, and if they change their mind after giving you their number, that most likely has way more to do with them than anything you did or said in your brief interaction. 

Cut yourself some slack because no matter how great this person may seem, you don't know them yet, either. With that in mind, there are some general signs you can look for to gauge a person's potential interest. 

First, recognize the signs that, even with a busy schedule, they're still prioritizing a date with you. Thomas Edwards, The Professional Wingman, has experience as a dating coach for nurses and doctors. "From experience, I know she's not lying about her crazy and somewhat unpredictable schedule," he told A Plus. "That being said, whether they're on call or not, they always know when they're free, because it's something they look forward to given their crazy hours." 

Generally speaking, if a potential date responds to your text by suggesting alternative days to meet up, that means they actually do want to see you. "Even if she doesn't know her future schedule just yet, she'd let you know and you'd hear from her ... " Edwards explained. If she doesn't, then "work" may just be an easy excuse. However, if you both agree to go on a date on a specific day and time, and then they suddenly flakes on you, that does show a lack of respect for your time when you're already putting extra effort into respecting theirs. If any of this sounds familiar, it's probably time to move on. 

A second indication that someone is interested in you is if they have a specific excuse, like a friend's birthday dinner or a work event on the night you suggest. If they're immediately forthcoming about why they're unavailable, they're most likely legitimately unavailable. Someone who's not interested, however, may respond to your date with something obscure like, "I don't know, I'll need to check," or "Maybe, but I might have work," they might purposefully be vague because they'll hope that if they do this enough you'll get the hint so they won't have to actually hurt your feelings by turning you down. 

To that point, the third sign a person isn't just blowing you off is if the person seems genuinely sorry to cancel a first date.  They might express this by apologizing for the timing conflict on top of suggesting another day to meet up. If they don't even say "Sorry" or "I really wish I could, but …" then they're most likely not interested. Sometimes people have a change of heart, and that's OK. After all, it's just a first date that you haven't even been on yet. No harm, no foul, no love lost. 

All these signs are important to consider because the way someone acts during the very early stages of dating usually reflect how interested they'd be in an actual relationship and how they'd treat you in that relationship. If all these signs still don't provide the clarity you need, then it's time to just ask them, "Are you actually into this?" It's a straightforward question that requires a clear answer. 

Since you haven't even been on a first date yet, you have absolutely nothing to lose by asking. In fact, asking this question is a way to assert yourself and show your self-confidence by taking a risk, which many people find attractive. So even if it doesn't work out with this person, you can take the lesson you learned from being so bold and apply it to future romantic interactions. "Now you know what to look for when someone you want to date actually wants to see you –– they contribute to making the date actually happen," Edwards concluded. 

Because as we all know, what doesn't kill you — I mean, get you to a first date — makes you stronger. 

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens of A Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid.

Cover image via Antonio Guillem /Shutterstock

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