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What To Do When Someone Cancels Plans Last Minute

What To Do When Someone Cancels Plans Last Minute

I got annoyed when a friend of mine sent a “Sorry, can’t make it” text after I had already arrived at the bar where we were supposed to meet up. Still, I didn’t get mad at her. It can happen to anyone, right?

A few days later, she texted me about something random and never even mentioned why she canceled, let alone apologized.

She clearly didn’t consider it a big deal, which made me think about our relationship in general. Did she actually appreciate me, or was she only a friend for the sake of convenience? Was I overreacting, I wondered?

When someone cancels plans last minute, sometimes it’s really not a big deal. However, in some cases, it’s definitely a warning sign that you should examine your relationship with that person.

Here’s why people cancel plans at the last minute and what to do about it.

What To Do When Someone Cancels Plans Last Minute

When someone cancels plans last minute, the generic answer would be to let it go and move on. A more useful answer depends on the circumstances.

In my case, the only difference between my friend canceling last minute and her standing me up was that she texted me to say she wouldn’t be able to make it.

After I spent some time thinking about my relationship with her, I did realize that she wasn’t a real friend. Her careless attitude in this instance was just a symptom of something I should have probably noticed earlier.

It’s not always this dramatic when someone cancels plans last minute, though. Your reaction is going to depend on other things related to the canceled plans.

Here are some questions to help you make sense of the situation.

1. Is there an important reason for canceling?

You assume that something important came up when someone cancels plans last minute, but it doesn’t actually have to be anything big.

What it comes down to is whether whatever has come up is more important than the plans you made. If they prioritize something trivial over spending time with you, you shouldn’t waste your energy on them.

There are, of course, legitimate reasons for having to skip any plans or arrangements. A family emergency, an accident, or illness is more important than any commitment for most people.

Everyone knows this, and some people sometimes use these situations as excuses to lie when they want to get out of things. This doesn’t mean these things don’t happen, but they’re much less frequent than we pretend they are.

The real reason for canceling plans can be anything. It’s up to you to judge whether the other person has been honest about what it was and to decide if it was a good reason to cancel.

2. Did they apologize?

A sincere apology is one of the pillars of healthy relationships, so it’s a pity people hate apologizing so much. It’s usually pride or conviction that you’re right that stops a person from apologizing, but very often, people simply don’t care enough.

How do you apologize? A real apology expresses genuine regret and doesn’t put the blame on the other person. A fake apology is usually just about being sorry you are being forced to apologize and doesn’t solve anything.

When someone cancels plans last minute without offering an apology, you might get the impression that they don’t think your time is as important as their own or that they don’t value you at all.

In the grand scheme of things, canceled plans aren’t such a big deal, but when it seems like the other person doesn’t care, the consequences can change from ruining your mood to making you lose interest in that person.

3. Did they suggest new plans?

Someone who cancels the plans you had together when they didn’t want to will probably still want to meet up, so they’re going to ask you to reschedule or suggest alternate plans.

If they’re serious about it, they’ll actually give you options or ask you when it would work for you.

When someone isn’t particularly interested in getting together, they might not even mention making different plans. If they do, they’re going to be vague and non-committal.

If it’s a suggestion to take a rain check or a “Let’s meet up another time,” don’t hold your breath. Instead, make plans with someone who’s going to make time for you.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t need this person in your life at all. Your relationship might still work even if you don’t meet up a lot.

It might be a family member you see once a year or a good friend who’s just a flake that can’t be bothered but sends you the best memes. Pick what’s important to you.

4. How did they cancel your plans?

Did they take responsibility for canceling?

When plans include more than one person, many people feel like it’s okay to cancel without regret because there are others around to pick up the slack. They believe they have no obligation to keep their promises since someone else can take their place.

The fact that we always have our phones with us makes people expect us to always be available. It also means that sending a text is considered doing your part in communicating, and whether or not the other person has read it isn’t our problem.

Canceling over text is much easier than making a phone call to someone and actually talking to them.

When canceling over something that isn’t a good reason, people tend to feel guilty. A text is painless compared to speaking to the other person and admitting you’re not coming.

5. How does this person treat you otherwise?

The first time someone cancels plans, you give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s annoying, but we’ve all been there – something comes up, and you just can’t get out of it. The second time they already seem flaky.

When it becomes a habit, it’s clear that you’re dealing with someone who’s selfish. This might be the perfect opportunity to get rid of someone who’s toxic and only creates problems in your life.

When you’re looking forward to going out with someone, you arrange your time around it. You might refuse other plans and postpone obligations to see them.

Instead of resting, working, or spending time with someone else, you’re putting on make up, choosing an outfit, and getting ready to go out. It’s not just the time you would have spent together that’s wasted when someone cancels plans last minute.

Someone who appreciates you will be mindful of this. Someone who doesn’t probably tends to show their carelessness in other ways as well.

Think about your relationship – does this person normally treat you with respect and appreciation, or is a last-minute cancel totally something you would expect of them?

6. How do you treat them?

When someone cancels plans last minute, you’ll get annoyed or feel relieved if you were thinking about doing the same thing. If you were looking forward to going out, be honest with yourself and think about how you treat this person before you get mad.

Do you always come on time when you arrange to meet up, or do you too tend to bail on them? Is this a mutual thing, and are you only feeling bad because you’re on the receiving end of a last-minute cancellation?

People often feel hurt when someone does something to them that they don’t consider a big deal when they do it.

Do you tend to cancel on your best friend when you’re feeling too lazy to go out? If you change your mind about going on a date, do you let them know on short notice?

There’s a chance that you’ve developed a relationship with this person where commitments aren’t considered serious. If you want this to change, you should communicate and start with changing your own behavior first.

Why Do People Cancel Plans Last Minute?

Why do we cancel plans? We all do it for one reason or another, but some people approach a canceled date or a missed appointment much more casually than others.

Most of the time, it’s not about the person who’s being bailed on. It’s almost always a personal issue of the person who’s doing the canceling.

These are some of the reasons people cancel plans.

1. They just don’t feel like going out anymore.

Think about a time when you were tempted to just stay home even though you had plans. You come home after a stressful day at work, and now you have to go for a drink with some guy you’re only kind of interested in? You’d probably rather veg on your couch and watch TV.

If you’re someone who honors their responsibilities and you went despite your moment of laziness, you probably had a good time.

People are often all about momentary satisfaction. When we cancel simply because we feel like we don’t want to do whatever we promised we would, it easily becomes a habit.

Some people don’t consider the other person when they cancel plans, only their feelings. Because they don’t want to go at that moment, the other person’s feelings don’t matter.

If someone does things like this repeatedly and without remorse, it might be a red flag that you’re dealing with a narcissist.

2. There’s a better option.

Some people aren’t really sure if they even want to go, so if something better comes up, they have no problem canceling. If they’re not sure they want to do it, why make plans in the first place?

People make plans because someone asked them or just in case they want to go out when the time comes. Sometimes they think they’ll be able to meet up, but when the time comes, they decide that doing something else is a better option.

Someone like this is usually a chronic bailer, so when someone treats you like this, it’s best not to take any plans you make with them seriously. The truth is, they don’t care about you enough to make an effort, so they don’t deserve your effort either.

If they can’t be bothered to keep their promises about meeting up, they probably won’t keep their promises about more important things either. People make time for what they want. Keep it casual, and wait for a better option yourself.

3. It’s about anxiety.

People with anxiety worry about a lot of things. When they make plans, they might easily work themselves into a state of being overwhelmed if they don’t know how to deal with their feelings.

They might start thinking about things like how they’re going to come across, how the other person is going to act, or what they’re going to talk about. So when the time comes to meet up, they simply don’t feel like they can do it, and they cancel.

As anxiety makes you worry, it also pushes you to procrastinate. Sometimes, people with anxiety spend all their time worrying, so they end up feeling mentally unprepared to actually do something.

They put off getting ready to meet up, so their anxiety only increases as the time draws near.

Socializing can be stressful and exhausting for someone with anxiety. You can help such a person by letting them move at their own pace and without pressure.

If they feel the need to cancel, make sure to let them know that you understand. When you accept people as they are, you help them, and your relationship with them grows.

The Best Way To Respond To A Last Minute Cancellation

The best way to respond when someone cancels plans last minute depends on everything we mentioned so far and on what you want from your relationship with them.

Before you respond

Here are a few things you should consider before responding to someone who cancels plans last minute.

• Do you care?

First and foremost, think about how important this person and this situation is to you. Is it someone you care about, and is this something that’s a big deal to you? Does it really matter, or is it just a little bruise for your ego?

Keep your mental health a priority, and if it’s someone not particularly important, just let it go. If they offer an explanation, good. If they don’t, who cares?

If it’s someone you do hold special, take other things into account before responding.

• Why did they cancel?

Is it a personal matter, something important, or did they just not feel like going out? Do you feel understanding if it’s just a case of not wanting to go out?

• Did they offer an honest apology?

Even if this person doesn’t have a ‘good’ reason for canceling plans, did they offer a sincere apology?

For example, would you be okay with it if your girlfriend told you, “I’m sorry, but work was stressful today, and all I want to do is sleep right now. Let me make it up to you tomorrow.”

• Do they want to reschedule?

If the other person says they want a rain check, is it a real intention, or are they just saying it? If they really want to meet up, they’ll suggest a specific time instead of just mentioning that you should reschedule.

• Is canceling plans a habit for either of you?

If this isn’t the first time they’re canceling plans, you might rightfully feel fed up. On the other hand, if you tend to do the same, maybe your relationship has become one where plans aren’t that important.

If you want this to change, you might want to have a conversation and set up some rules.

• Do they take it seriously?

Did they send a text just so that it counts, or did they make an effort to let you know they can’t make it? Did you see them make a social media post right before sending you an “omg, so busy” text? You don’t deserve to be an afterthought.

What to respond

• If you’re okay with it

If you’re dating a busy man or woman and they cancel last minute, let them know it’s okay and that you’d like to give it another shot. Respond with something that combines these feelings.

No worries.

I understand.

Thanks for letting me know.

Are you available on ~ ?

• If you want an explanation

Even when they approach canceling plans thoughtfully, you can still be annoyed, but you don’t want to pry or push them away. Let them know that you’re concerned and open to rescheduling.

Is everything okay?

I hope it’s nothing serious.

Let me know when you’re ready to try this again.

• If you’re fed up

When someone keeps canceling on you, there comes a moment when you’re done. Make it clear that wasting your time is not acceptable.

I wish you’d let me know sooner. I have other important things to do.

I’ll let you know if I’m free again.

Let’s hope this is the last time you cancel.

• If you don’t care

If you’re done with this person, you don’t have to respond at all. If you do, let them know they should move on and not waste your time anymore. Any variation of “bye” is the best response.


When someone cancels plans last minute, you might get annoyed, hurt, or angry. Depending on how the other person approaches it and how you feel, you might want to reschedule, or you might decide you’re done with them.

Your time is as valuable as anyone else’s, and others should respect that. On the other hand, if you’re someone who cancels plans last minute, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes before you do it.