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How to Cancel Plans: Your Guilt-Free Guide

In this article we are going to talk about how to cancel plans.

Some of us hate to cancel, no matter what the circumstances. Others feel an immense amount of relief after canceling plans, even if they were looking forward to them.

Canceling plans is difficult for many of us because we feel like we are disappointing our loved ones. And some of us even worry that the other party doesn’t believe our excuse.

But remember that things happen, people get sick or unexpected work rears its ugly head.

Sometimes, we may not feel mentally well enough to get together with someone. And that’s ok!

How to Cancel Plans: Dos and Don’ts

The best way to cancel plan is doing it giving as much notice as possible and using a believable excuse.

However, this is not always possible.

No matter how you feel about canceling plans, the actual conversation is never an easy one to have.

But things happen, so the next time you have to “let someone down easy” and cancel a best laid plan, consider this guide.

Now… Some pre-canceling tips!

These will significantly reduce your chances of canceling your plans in the future.

1. Don’t Make Plans You Know You Won’t Keep

What do you do when you see an old friend or distant family member, strike up a conversation, then it’s time to leave? Do you say, “Take care!” or are you the “We need to get together soon!” type of character?

Unless you want to make those plans right then and there, stop asking people to hang out when you have no intention of doing it.

Someday, they may take you up on it and you may end up canceling and fracturing a solid connection.

Yes, suggesting a get-together is a nice way to end the conversation, but unless you really want to forge a connection, save yourself (and them) the time and send them on their way with some pleasant words and a smile.

2. Don’t Make Plans for Specific Days Unless You Have Checked Your Schedule

This is really important: if you make plans, make sure you have checked your schedule first. This ensures you won’t end up double-booking.

Also, if you’re like me, I only have mental space for “one thing a day”.

Meaning, I will not be getting my hair done, then meeting up with a friend. I usually aim to schedule these things on different days so I can enjoy one activity without worrying about rushing off to the next.

Making sure your schedule can handle plans should be the second thing you think about.

3. Do Make Plans Only if You Feel Like It

Before you commit to a plan with someone, make sure you are up for spending time with this person, or anyone at all.

Your wellbeing should take priority over everything and if you can’t commit to a “hang”, then don’t.

You can tell the friend, “Things are busy right now, but I would love to get together soon, I’ll be in touch for a long overdue chat and then we can make a plan, ok?”

This phrasing indicates that you want to get together and promises a conversation and arrangement to do so.

4. Do Make Plans With People You Truly Enjoy

Are one of your friends really annoying you these days?

Don’t make plans with them. Instead, suggest a phone call, or if the relationship is toxic, cut them off for a while.

Remember, you are not obligated to spend time with people who make you miserable. Life is too damn short.

Recommended read: Fake Friends: 7 Signs You Are Dealing With One

5. Don’t Make Plans While Intoxicated

Ah, drunk plans. We all make them, but do we really want to go? The answer is probably no. Which is why you should hold off on making plans when you’re intoxicated.

What if someone asks to make plans while you’re in Margaritaville? Tell them you’ll check your schedule and get back to them.

The less plans you make drunk, the less of a chance that you have to cancel them!

6. Do Set Expectations While Making Plans

Do you want to make plans with a friend but you have a lot going on?

Set the expectations for a short meet-up.

For example, we have a puppy at home right now, he needs lots of attention so we can’t leave the house for extended periods of time to go places that aren’t dog-friendly.

In this case, I tell my friends, “I would love to go to _____, but I can only stay for a couple of hours because I have to crate my puppy while I am away.”

Setting expectations of a short meet-up means that you can still go, but not for long.

This also works well if you’re meeting up with someone you can only take small doses of.

We love them, but we all have people in our life that try our patience if we spend more than a couple of hours with them.

So now would be a good time to set some boundaries with that person.

Setting expectations and communicating them clearly ensures that you’re not disappointing your friend and also cuts back your chances of canceling since the plans won’t conquer your entire day.

To Cancel or Not to Cancel?

So when is it acceptable to cancel plans? Ah, the million dollar question. The answers vary, but these are the top reasons why people cancel plans:

  1. They’re sick or their children, partner, or pet is sick.
  2. They have been called into work last-minute.
  3. Scheduling conflicts.
  4. Family or friend emergency.
  5. Mental health/wellbeing reasons.
  6. “It’s been a long week” ie: Exhaustion.

If you followed the do’s and don’ts above, you shouldn’t have to cancel your plans often, because you have checked for scheduling conflicts, you made sure you actually want to hang out with this person, and you set expectations just in case you can’t stay long.

Preparing and setting the groundwork will ensure that your chances of having to cancel are a lot lower than if you hadn’t prepped at all.

Canceling Due to Mental/Physical Health

If you have a condition that’s either mental or physical, sometimes keeping your word is a challenge. Some days are better than others for us.

I have Fibromyalgia, and some days I do well to get out of bed and oftentimes, I have to force myself to do little things like shower.

Your friends and family who know what you’re going through will understand if you need to cancel due to health reasons.

Feeling guilty will only make your condition worse.

To prevent guilt when you’re canceling for this reason, be sure that your friends understand that if it’s a bad day, you may not be able to go.

When making plans, setting expectations will ensure both of you are on the same page.

How to Cancel Plans Last Minute: A Few Useful Tips

Life happens and you still may need to cancel plans because something has come up.

If you do, here is how to do it, guilt-free and with minimal social impact, and hopefully no hurt feelings!

1. Give as Much Notice as Possible

If you wake up and have a sore throat, or your puppy is throwing up, or work indicates they may need you, be sure to get in touch with your friend and let them know that it’s possible you will have to cancel.

This way, they are in the loop and can make backup plans if possible.

Try to only cancel last-minute if it’s an emergency.

People are generally pretty accepting of cancellations if you give them notice and are honest about your reason for canceling.

2. Should You Cancel via Phone?

Canceling plans via texts and DMs is not a good idea for a couple of reasons.

Number one, sometimes people don’t check their messages, and may end up going to your meetup before seeing your message.

Number two, when you send a message with something important like this, it seems like you’re trying to avoid the situation and them.

There are, of course, circumstances when people can’t make phone calls, like last-minute flights, or being in a hospital or area where cell phones are not allowed.

If you must send a message, text and DM or send a voicemail message explaining the situation and why you didn’t call them directly.

This way, your friend will be more likely to see the message and will understand why you didn’t make a phone call.

3. Expect and Accept Disappointment

Your friend may have been really looking forward to your time together.

This may have been the only plans they have all week, or they may have gotten child care for the occasion.

Either way, be prepared for a bit of disappointment. This is a normal reaction. But remember, a heartfelt apology can go a long way!

4. Apologize

Be sure to say that you’re sorry for canceling, and have your explanation ready.

If you must be vague for whatever reason, let them know that you will explain everything later.

You do owe them an explanation for uprooting your plans.

5. Offer to Reschedule and Sweeten the Deal

Before you cancel, look through your schedule and set a date during the conversation. This way, your friend knows you have every intention of meeting up at a later time and date.

If they are disappointed or you have canceled before, offer to sweeten the deal by driving you both to your destination, cooking them a meal, or paying for dessert (if you can).

For example: “I am so sorry I had to cancel today, Ryan, but let’s go for a game of pool on Thursday, my treat!”

It’s not a necessity, but it’s a nice gesture to make up for a last minute or frequent cancellation.

NOTE: If you have canceled on this person before, be wary of canceling unless it’s an emergency or due to health concerns. Chronic canceling can be really hard on a relationship.

If you are canceling on a specific person frequently, it may be time to look within and figure out if you really want a relationship with this person.

If it just happens to be a constant struggle to get together because life is busy or chaotic, make sure you vocalize to your friend that you really want to see them.

How to Cancel Plans : Final Thoughts

In most circumstances, your loved ones will understand when you have to cancel.

The best thing you can do to ensure feelings aren’t hurt is to communicate clearly and cancel as soon as you know you won’t be able to follow through.

Communication is the key to long lasting and loving relationships.

The Truly Charming