We'll call her "Mary."

Mary was someone I had met a while back at a hostel. I met her and her group of friends all at the same time.

I'd say we connected decently, nothing special. We ended up exchanging social media information and proceeded to bump into each other every now and then.

After several episodes of short conversations and fun times in group settings, I figured I'd invite her to grab a bite with me and maybe spend an afternoon together.

I do, after all, thrive better in and prefer 1-on-1 time with people.

My first invitation was declined as she had already made prior plans, but then she offered to find another day where we could do as I intended.

We picked a day and time to meet up, which was then confirmed multiple times when we saw each other in person before said day and time.

So naturally, this was going to happen, right?

Don't chase the carrot on the stick

I texted Mary the morning of the day we were to meet in the afternoon and grab a bite, letting her know that I was looking forward to our plans later.

The mood quickly turned sour when she later texted me just hours before we were due to meet that she was "so sorry" but that she had to "cancel our plans today."

That's it.

No explanation for the cancellation, nor an offer to reschedule for another day and time to make this thing happen.

And to me, this is a clear indication of a lack of interest and willingness to spend time with me, so I simply removed her from my social media connections and moved on with my life.

You might think that my reaction was rather swift and cold, but let me say something that'll save you a lot of time and energy when it comes to dealing with people:

The right people in your life will make time for you.
The wrong people will dangle a carrot in front of you without really wanting you to ever get a hold of it.

The right people in your life make it easy.

  • There's no guesswork.
  • There are no games.
  • They want to see you and they show you in their words, actions, and commitments.

The wrong people make things difficult.

  • They leave you scratching your head, wondering if they really want to spend time with you or not.
  • They get hot and cold on you.
  • They back out of previously made plans and tease you with the idea of hanging out with no real intentions.

I love carrots, but when it comes to people, you don't give your time and energy to those who dangle the carrot in front of you.

You want to be with the people who place the carrot in your hand.

Mary's not the only person in my life.

And even if she was, I can always make new connections.

So whoever it is you're chasing after, begging to spend time with them while they treat you like an afterthought?
Grow a spine, and quit yearning for them.

Have some self-respect and don't give your time and energy to people who can't give you a definitive and enthusiastic "yes."

If you don't want to lose the connection, treat it like it's valuable before it breaks on its own

After happily moving on with my life, forming new connections and spending time with people who actually appreciated and celebrated my company, I eventually ran into Mary in person again.

Up until that point, I hadn't given her the time of day. As previously mentioned, I removed her from social media and didn't bother reaching out to her or establishing contact with her any more.

Which I was okay with, but as I was about to find out, she wasn't.

I was about to briskly walk past her, but she stopped me and asked me if I had a minute to talk.

I wasn't really in the mood to talk to her, but I figured I'd entertain her and see what she had to say.

She ended up complaining about me avoiding her and not talking to her anymore. She was furthermore upset about me removing her from my social media connections, and argued that if I was upset about her canceling plans, I could've talked to her about it.

My expression was basically as follows.

black haired man making face
Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde / Unsplash

I'm sorry – I'm in the wrong here?

I decided to give her a crash course on what had transpired.

  • We finalized some plans, which she firmly and insistently agreed to after offering to reschedule because she was unavailable the first time around.
  • She then bailed on the plans hours before we were due to meet up.
  • She didn't offer any explanation for the sudden cancellation, nor did she offer to reschedule, which demonstrates flakiness and a lack of interest and appreciation for my company.
  • Given that, I decided to move on with my life to give my time and energy to people who do appreciate my company.

And she had the nerve to complain to me for moving on with my life instead of chasing her.

Mary, I'm sorry it upsets you that I have a spine and that I can afford to burn bridges to form new ones with people who show me that I matter to them.

The lesson is in the title of this section:

If you don't want to burn the bridge with someone, show them that their time and energy matters to you, before they decide to give that time and energy to someone else.

My last words to Mary were that I had simply moved on with my life. I expressed no desire to spend time with her anymore. And then I bid her adieu and moved on with my day.

Trust me, I'm not someone she's gonna kick up any fuss over losing. We barely knew each other.

And besides, if I mattered more to her, she wouldn't have done what she did in the first place.

Go where you're celebrated, not merely tolerated

To close this off, I'm going to give you this golden nugget of wisdom.

Your circle of friends,
your safety net,
your posse of love and laughter,

should consist of people who celebrate and cherish your company.

Not people who pick you last because there's no one else left.

And what this definitely means is that if you see early signs of a lack of appreciation for your company when you meet someone new, don't bother chasing after them.

Not everybody is for you, and you're not for everybody.

That doesn't mean you're a bad person, and it doesn't mean that they're a bad person either.

But you're not going to click with everybody, and when your pieces aren't aligning super well with someone else's, even if you like them, you shouldn't be afraid to let them go.

There are billions of people out there and there are bound to be people who make spending time with them a lot less of a hassle.

There are people out there who want to spend time with you and will stick to the plans that they make with you.

So don't bother chasing those who make a game out of it and don't take you seriously.

You don't have time for that.