How To Cancel Plans Without Losing Friends

Friendships in adulthood are hard to maintain. Amidst all the responsibilities and obligations of life, making time to properly nurture friendships and a social life can feel like a daunting task. If you have kids there’s even another layer of complications when it comes to making plans, and being able to follow through on them.

There’s a multitude of reasons why plans end up being canceled between friends. And these reasons usually have nothing to do with how much you value that person. Although canceling plans can feel like a rejection of sorts if you are the one being canceled on, the truth is it is probably more about the person who is doing the canceling. Having something important come up, feeling overwhelmed, or just simply not being up for social interaction are some typical things that can lead to canceled plans.

Although it can be normal to cancel plans occasionally, you definitely don’t want to be known as the person who does it too often, potentially becoming known as a flake. That being said, there are legitimate reasons to break your plans with someone. So how can you go about canceling plans with someone without losing them as a friend?

Recognize that Canceling Plans Isn’t Just About You

One thing that is important to realize is that canceling plans isn’t just about you and what’s going on in your life at the time. It is possible that the other person may have gone out of their way to make arrangements to be free, and may be understandably upset or disappointed when things don’t work out. This can be doubly true if the person made arrangements for childcare or something else that required extra planning on their part. If they are upset or disappointed, try to be understanding. Hopefully they will do the same for you.

Think About Your Reason and How to Prevent it In The Future

Not all plan canceling is created equal. If you had an emergency pop up then sure, there isn't really anything that can be done about that. But what about some other reasons behind canceled plans? If you double-booked yourself, it might be a good idea to think about whether staying a bit more organized can help to prevent future mixups. Maybe you canceled because there is something about spending time with that person that causes hesitation? If so, that’s a good thing to try and figure out. Maybe you canceled because you simply haven’t been feeling up for company? If this is a pattern for you, it might be a good idea to think about why this could be. Some of us tend to isolate ourselves when we are going through emotional distress, a behavior that actually can be more harmful in the long run.

Busy young woman with son at home. Shot of a boy playing while his mother is working on a computer. Young mother with toddler child working on the computer from home
Credit: iStock

Be Honest

Nobody likes to be lied to. If you canceled because you simple aren’t feeling up for it, it is better to be honest and up-front about this than to tell a lie and be found out later. If someone is truly your friend, chances are they will be understanding if they are treated with respect and given honesty. Even if they are disappointed at first, just simply being open and communicating well can do wonders for the long-term impression you are going to make.

Don’t Be Cavalier About Someone Else’s Time

Again, it’s important to remember that someone else’s time is important. If you have to cancel plans, be apologetic! Let them know that you take their time seriously and whatever you do, don;t make it a habit. Sure there are reasons why we all cancel plans, however, there are also those people who habitually flit from plan to plan wreaking havoc on other people’s schedules and that’s a big no-no. You do not want to be this person.

Mother talking on smart phone during halloween party
Credit: iStock

Ultimately, if you need to cancel plans, that’s understandable. Just don’t make it a habit and do be respectful of their time.

We’ve all been on both sides of this situation and therefore know how it can feel and how upsetting it can be. As long as you are making efforts to be up-front and communicative about your reasons, then your friends should be willing to overlook the occasional bailout on plans.

READ NEXT: 5 Reasons To Give Your Honest Opinion On Your Kid’s Friends (& 5 Why To Stay Out Of It)

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