OnlyPlans: What To Know About The Toxic Dating Trend

Dating has drastically changed in the past decade. What was once as simple as meeting and talking with someone until you gather the courage to ask them out has turned into something far more complicated. A large part of that is due to the digitization of dating. Before dating apps, there was almost an innocence to dating. People couldn't wait for the next time they'd see their date. They'd spend time planning the perfect date and think of all the questions they'd ask their romantic interest. But now the process of getting to know someone has become almost an afterthought.

Instead of creating a dedicated time and space for a person, we end up communicating with them through sporadic texts and memes. To keep our options open, many of us talk to multiple people, which makes it harder to form a deep connection with one. Dating apps aren't all bad. They give us a chance to find love with busy lives and save us from investing effort into a relationship we know isn't likely to work out.

While the best way out of a dead-end match is to have an honest conversation, many prefer to go for easier, less awkward, and more hurtful methods like ghosting. While ghosting has been around for a while, OnlyPlans is a pesky new mutation of the problem.

What is OnlyPlans and why are people doing it?

Ok, so what's OnlyPlans? This is a dating trend where people make plans to go on a date without following through with them. This isn't the same as getting stood up, though. When you get stood up, you arrive at the venue of the date, wait, and eventually accept your date isn't showing. In OnlyPlans, the plan becomes canceled well before either of you makes your way to the place.

An OnlyPlanner will usually say something unavoidable and important came up on the date and time for your hang. You might be disappointed, but if you like them, you'll likely reschedule. But then another emergency will spring up out of nowhere! Eventually, you'll get the hint. No, not every canceled date counts as OnlyPlanning. This method of letting someone go is a consistent pattern where plans are made and broken.

Why do people do this? To start with the hardest, maybe they're just not that into you. But hey, that saves you from investing more time into someone who doesn't value you! Sometimes, it might not be you at all. Your match might genuinely lead a busy life where they don't have enough time to invest in a real relationship, but they're still trying to take a chance at finding love. Other times, your match might not be looking for a committed relationship but for some fun conversations. Mental health and self-esteem issues might also play a part in OnlyPlanning.

Taking preemptive measures can reduce the chances of getting OnlyPlanned

Before planning a date IRL, know your match well. As dating expert at Plenty of Fish Shannon Smith advised to My Imperfect Life, "Try to learn more about your date and get to know them first by messaging through your dating app or having a phone or video chat prior to meeting up. Breaking the ice and establishing a bit of a connection ahead of your date may help to prevent any potential nerve-related cancellations." If they consistently refuse to show up for a short video call without having any valid reason, then they may not have the time for a committed relationship.

During the initial phases, manage your expectations. Even if you really like someone, wait a bit to see how things pan out before considering a relationship. From the get-go, try to be honest about what you're looking to get out of a relationship to prevent OnlyPlanning due to mismatched expectations. 

If you're the OnlyPlanner, take a step back from dating to consider why you're constantly failing to make plans work. Ensure you're in the right frame of mind for a relationship and not just passing your time by leading someone on for attention. If you want a relationship but anxiety seems to hold you back, try positive affirmations, meditating, and journaling. For people with busy lives, set better work-life boundaries to carve time for a relationship.