Zachary Zane is a sex and relationship columnist who recently authored Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto.

I believe it was Aristotle who famously said, “Dating is a pain in the ass.” And he wasn’t even talking about dating for gay, bisexual, and queer men in the year of our Lord and Savior, 2024. 

There are some challenges that seem to be heightened when it comes to queer men in the era of dating apps and one of the biggest obstacles? Flakes. They are everywhere, a dime a dozen. And it is infuriating for those of us on the hunt to find a love—or honestly, just an employed man who texts back relatively quickly. (Beggars really can’t be choosers.) 

I get why guys flake, though, and I’d be lying if I hadn’t flaked more times than I care to admit. If you live in an urban, more gay-friendly city like SF or NY, there are seemingly endless options for men. So when you have an above-average or even a great date, sometimes you still keep looking for other men because you believe you could find an even better, romantic comedy-style date where you fall head over heels the moment you lay eyes on your future hubby. But most of us don’t get an adorable meet-cute story. 

The truth is, you can’t completely avoid flakes. You can confirm the night before and the day of, and they’ll send you a message saying they’re so excited to meet you. And a half hour before the date, once you’ve finished spending 45 minutes douching, they’ll send a vague apology text about needing to cancel without attempting to reschedule. 

But you can decrease the likelihood of (not meeting) a flake with these five helpful tips. 

Tip 1: Be upfront about what you’re looking for.

Let’s say you’re messaging this cutie on Archer, and the banter has been solid. I would message him, “Hey, I’m not sure what you’re looking for on here, but I’d love to take you out on a proper date if you’re down. Maybe we can grab drinks at [insert bar name here]. What’s your schedule like this week? I’m fairly open!”

His response is going to be telling. He may say he’s just looking for something casual, which is great! Don’t meet up with him! It would suck if you met up, had a wonderful date and great sex, and then afterward, he said he didn’t want to meet up again. Because in that case, it would really be on you for not believing him when he was upfront.

He may also say that his schedule is hectic. While that may be true, it’s a no for you! Don’t keep perusing. Many of us have busy schedules, but when looking for love and a BF, you prioritize dating. Clearly, he is not, so this will be an issue down the line. It is not worth pursuing him now. 

Tip 2: Don’t pursue him if he only seems moderately interested in you. 

You want a man as excited about the prospect of dating you as you are about him. When there is a power differential (i.e., it’s clear you like them or are more excited about seeing them), they’ll milk that (either consciously or unconsciously). They know they can get away with flaking, and you will still give them another chance. 

It’s usually a clear sign they’re only moderately interested in you if you’re always initiating (i.e., texting first and planning dates). It must go both ways, my dude. And if it doesn’t, this man just isn’t that into you, which is fine. But don’t put all your eggs in that basket if you’re looking for love and consistency. 

Tip 3: If they flake once, they’re out.

I don’t want to say once a flaker, always a flaker. Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons why someone must cancel at the last minute, but if they don’t have one, the odds of them flaking again are very high. Additionally, if they flake last minute and do not attempt to reschedule, then def don’t give them a second chance. 

“I’m so sorry, but my grandma went to the hospital tonight, and I need to go visit her. I’m going to have to reschedule. How does Thursday look for you next week?” THIS is different. This, I’d argue, isn’t really “flaking.” This is simply a man trying his best to navigate life as it throws him curve balls. 

Tip 4: If they take forever to text back, move right along. 

We all have our phones glued to our palms 24/7. While not all, many “bad texters” are just bad at texting you because you are not a priority to them. Any “bad texter” can be a “great texter” when it comes to someone they care about, like their crush or their mom. So, use this information accordingly. Don’t date a guy who takes days to text back. You won’t ever be able to plan anything with him (and yes, I think there’s a high likelihood of him flaking even if you do manage to schedule something). 

Tip 5: If they want to leave or seem “over it” after sex, they are not the man for you.

If they are ready to get the hell out of your apartment the moment sex is over, they are likely going to flake on you the next time. (That is, if they even schedule a time to meet again). Conversely, they may hit you up at 1 am with “hey” every other Saturday night. If you’re looking for consistency and an actual BF, this man is CLEARLY not the man for you. Don’t settle for crumbs when you deserve the entire damn cake.