I arrived three minutes early to my brunch date that day. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning in September.  The last real day of summer, as the meteorologist sorrowfully labeled it on TV that morning.

I walked into the quaint restaurant, and took a seat at an empty table after I noticed my date hadn’t yet arrived.

The small but elegant eatery was bustling with people. Friends were catching up with each other over cappuccinos and French toast.  There was a couple sitting by the window, who seemed in a world of their own. Their plates of food had seemingly been forgotten as they spoke in low, tender voices to each other, their hands intertwined.

“Can I get you a coffee?” the waiter asked as he put a menu down in front of me.

“Not quite yet, I’m waiting for someone to arrive,” I said. I glanced at my phone.  12:10pm. He was 10 minutes late. I lightheartedly texted my friend Eve, Imagine if he doesn’t show…

At 12:20pm, when he still hadn’t turned up, I decided to call him. He had always said he prefers to call instead of text but this time, the call went straight to voicemail. That’s when I got an ominous feeling in my gut.

“Are you sure I can’t get you started with a drink, ma’am?” It felt as though the waiter was breathing down my neck.

I looked up, startled. “Um…okay, I’ll get a latte please.”

I was angry. I knew what was happening to me, but I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. This scenario only happens in stupid romantic comedies, not in real life, not to me.

“He hasn’t shown up,” I hissed to Eve on the phone as I frantically attempted to down my steaming coffee. It was so hot I burned my tongue. Shit shit shit!

“Leave” she instructed.

It was now 12:30pm. I calmly put on my coat and gathered my things. I stared steely back at my waiter as I paid, knowing exactly what he was thinking. You are the epitome of a romantic comedy cliché.

I stalked out of the restaurant with my chin up and stepped out onto the street. The sun was glaring down at me and I felt in a daze. He’s going to show up any second, flag me down and apologize profusely for his lateness, I thought as I walked lazily down the block. Even as I placed my heel down to take the first step to cross the street, I still had hope. But my name was never called.

The plus side of being stood up on a date is that you experience a rare moment of clarity. For once, I felt completely transparent with myself. I guess one would think a person is always truthful with themselves but too often, we, okay I, allow myself to believe the false truth.

Why the hell do I put up with such BS? Yes, dating in 2015 is terrible, but have my expectations gotten so low that I actually joke about getting stood up before it even happens? There’s something very wrong with that.

All of these thoughts followed me as I walked to the train station, freshly stood up. But I didn’t feel sad, didn’t even feel angry.  This cutthroat form of disrespect was exactly what I needed to kick-start my confidence again. Being stood up didn’t hurt me. In fact, it made me realize my self worth. I deserve more is what I thought over and over again on the train home that day and as the minutes passed, I felt myself becoming more self-assured. Thank you, anonymous douche bag for not showing up to our half-assed lunch date. Thank you, because without your cowardliness, I would have never realized I was downgrading myself down to your low, smutty level.

Ladies, as soon as you realize your self-worth, men and people in general will strive to meet your level of standards. I learned this the hard, slightly mortifying way, but I now know what I’ll put with up with and what I won’t, and it feels empowering.

Dating is supposed to make you feel good, so don’t ever doubt yourself. Your intuition will always point you in the right direction. Don’t give anyone a second chance if your gut tells you to cut your losses. Just as Demi Lovato once wisely sang, give your heart a break, girls. We owe ourselves at least that much.

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