'OnlyPlans' is the frustrating dating trend we need to fix in 2023

Experts weigh in and tell us how to get over the 'OnlyPlans' hurdles we've been experiencing

Girl alone at a coffee shop looking frustrated, as if she's just been stood up
(Image credit: FluxFactory/Getty Images)

You liked, swiped and agreed to meet for coffee, but "OnlyPlans" got in the way. 

This 2023 dating trend is on the rise amongst singles, and it can definitely feel discouraging for the hopeful romantics out there looking for their significant other.  

"With a plethora of potential matches on dating apps and the ease of hiding behind a screen, it’s possible to get overwhelmed and feel noncommittal towards someone you’ve never officially met," says Shannon Smith, resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish.

But considering the pandemic has made us open to serious relationships, you'd think that following up for that cup of Joe would be easy. Let's break down this OnlyPlans trend and learn how to work through it. Canceled plans, be damned!

Meet the expert: Shannon Smith

Shannon is the resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish, a Match Group dating app with personalized connection options that help "create the same magic online that you would IRL."

What is the OnlyPlans trend?

Not to be confused with OnlyFans, OnlyPlans is when daters repeatedly make plans, only to cancel at the last minute. From impromptu work assignments to pesky ailments, excuses run amuck and a whopping 52% of daters have experienced the frustration of this irritating trend. 

"While dating can be fun and exciting, the pressures that come with meeting in person can sometimes feel like too much when trying to nail down an actual time and place for a date," Smith says. 

So, how do we work through this dilemma? Let's break it down.

How to avoid the OnlyPlans trend:

1. Build a connection first

Some people look for love as if it were a chore (a dating myth debunked by experts, by the way). You don't need to meet with everyone you've matched with online—you're going to burn yourself out if you do. To avoid cancellations, make sure you're only meeting up with those matches that you've truly connected with. 

"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," Smith suggests. "Breaking the ice and establishing a bit of a connection ahead of your date may help to prevent any potential nerve-related cancellations."

2. Be intentional with your plans

If you're looking for a S.O., he or she is not going to show up at your doorstep. You're going to have to be intentional with your conversations and stick to your plans.

"Relationships take time and effort to build and strengthen, so if you’re looking for something more serious, you’re going to have to put in the effort," Smith says. 

If you keep breaking your plans and promise a cup of coffee that never comes, how can you grow with your new connection?

A heterosexual couple, perhaps in the honeymoon phase of their relationship look very devoted and in love as they gaze at each other at a dining table. The man looks a little shy as he momentarily breaks eye contact and looks at the ground while smiling. She touches his arm to reassure him.

(Image credit: Getty)

3. Take an honest approach

Is the reason for your cancellation really because your best friend's grandma's dog needs tending to, or are you just not that anxious to meet your partner IRL?

"It’s best to analyze the root cause of the cancellation and determine whether or not the reason was valid, or if one of you is canceling because you’re just not that into each other," Smith says.

If you're making up excuses to get out of that movie or dinner, perhaps it's time to move on to a dater you're more compatible with. (But be gentle with people's feelings, of course.) 

4. Work on your nerves

Let's face it, some of us might be a tad out of practice. The last three years have been challenging, and dating might not be at the forefront of anyone's mind. If you're feeling uneasy about getting back in the game, which is totally understandable, find a way to calm your anxiety. 

"If nerves are the main issue, work on finding a solution, whether that be relaxing yoga poses, reciting daily affirmations, or loosening up with some friends beforehand," Smith says. 

5. Look at your finances

We'll admit, dating has become increasingly challenging as costs continue to rise, which is why many singles have turned to infla-dating, opting for less-expensive outings with a romantic partner. You don't have to think of it as a hindrance, but rather an opportunity to get creative with your outings. But, if finances are of concern to you—as they are with everyone lately—you'll have to be honest about what you can and cannot spend while meeting potential new partners.

6. Take OnlyPlans as a sign to redirect

Let's say you're actively using various apps and keep getting a "let's reschedule" or an "I can't make it." Yes, it's hurtful and can even lead to dating burnout. But if you're constantly in a predicament where your date doesn't follow up, think about the connections you're making. If you want something meaningful, be honest about your desires—it's the only way to get what you want. 

Whether you're an OnlyPlanner or have felt the effects of OnlyPlanning, grab a calendar, get organized and keep people's feelings in mind when navigating the dating scene. Sure it's easy to bail, but you're only setting yourself back if you do. 

"People may be surprised at how good it feels to rip the bandaid and discover the fun of dates again," Smith says. 

It's go-time, folks. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.