When a date cancels on you last minute, it can be very frustrating. You might be feeling angry, pissed off, or sad. It’s hard to know how to respond without making the situation awkward for everyone involved.
Here’s how to respond when someone cancels a date, according to experts.
Certified Life Transformation Coach, Online Divorce
When looking forward to seeing a friend or preparing for a date responsibly, it may be disappointing to receive a cancellation message. However, such situations are quite common, and this is normal.
Various unforeseen circumstances could have caused your friend or acquaintance to cancel the appointment unexpectedly. Nevertheless, to maintain a good relationship, it is important to respond properly.
Try to respond politely
So, let’s say you saw the text about canceling a long-awaited date. You may feel frustrated, angry, and resentful. These feelings are natural and acceptable. But before answering, think about the many uncontrollable factors that could have caused your partner to cancel the meeting.
Perhaps they have too much work to do, they got stuck in traffic, or their cat is sick. Whatever the reason or the relationship between the two of you, try to respond politely. This will help maintain a good relationship and further communication.
The simplest and most common response to canceling a date is: “Thanks for letting me know. Have a great week!”
If you really want to meet this person, casually ask them to reschedule the meeting. It might sound like this: “It’s ok, I understand. Please let me know when we can reschedule it.”
Suppose it’s a situation when a guy canceled a date, but at the same time, the message offered to postpone it to another day (and indicated a specific time). This shows that he is interested in meeting you.
But before answering, pay attention to the reason for his refusal. If he says that he cannot meet with you because he has plans with friends, you should not immediately agree to the proposed date. He demonstrates that his new plans are more important than you, although you made an appointment in advance.
And if you immediately agree to his terms, it will let him know that you value his time more than yours. Therefore, if you want to communicate with him, agree to the reschedule, but suggest your date.
Suppose a conversation like this:
“Hi, I’m sorry, but I can’t meet you today. I forgot that I promised to have dinner with my friends. How about a date on Saturday?”
“Hi, I’d love to meet you this weekend. Saturday is already busy for me, but Sunday works fine.”
Consider a situation when a person cannot meet with you due to more serious circumstances but offers to postpone the date to another day. Let’s say you really want to see them. It’s okay to agree to reschedule if you have free time. If you cannot meet at this time, tell them about it and offer your option.
“Hi there, I’m overloaded with my work, need to deliver the project before Wednesday. How about rescheduling our date for Thursday?”
“Hi, sorry to hear you have to work so hard. I would be thrilled to meet with you on Thursday.”
Regardless of the scope of emotions, try to respond with restraint
The most unpleasant cancellation is when you receive a message when you are in a taxi or are already waiting in a cafe. Faced with such, you could really lose your composure.
However, the reasons for the cancellation can be pretty serious. The person may have had an accident or other difficulties. Regardless of the scope of emotions, try to respond with restraint.
The standard answer in such cases is: “Hi, I’m sorry to hear that, but that’s okay. I hope you will be fine.”
But if a guy cancels plans last minute without a good reason, it is worth talking about your feelings, and try not to overreact.
“Hi, it’s weird that you talk about it at the last minute. I hope you can sort out your business.”
Note that if this is not the first time they have canceled a date at the last minute, they are most likely not interested in you and do not value your time. It is worth figuring out why you need to communicate with a person who does not respect you.
Try not to blame the other person for breaking your plans
Many people make communication mistakes, which can ruin the relationship or ruin very successful options. Overly emotional reactions, accusations, or even insults are things that will break the relationship forever.
As I said before, it’s ok to have negative feelings when someone cancels a date. But the reasons can be very complex. Try not to blame the other person for breaking your plans.
Also, do not make claims and do not force them to justify themselves. This assertive behavior can lead to you being blocked. Please, remember that no one must meet with you, it is only their desire, and they have the right to cancel the meeting.
President and Founder, Liz Bryant Business Etiquette
You have been invited to dinner by someone you think is kind of special. You have been looking forward to the date all week. Then, two hours before you were to be picked up, you get a call. Date cancelled. Apologies. But no mention of a reschedule. What do you do?
This is one of countless scenarios you may encounter when someone cancels a date. You may feel multiple emotions: disappointment, sadness, irritation. But the question is how do you react? Not how do you react in your apartment by yourself, but how do you respond to the other person?
The answer is simple. You respond graciously. For a few reasons.
Be polite, accept their apology, and indicate your desire to reschedule
You may still want to go out with the person who canceled the date. This way you have left the door open to the possibility. If you express anger or irritation, you could very likely hurt your chances of being called by that person again. Then it’s up to you if you accept a future invitation.
If they cancel a second time, I would still be polite and accept the apology, but not indicate a desire to reschedule. Your time is valuable. And should be respected as such.
Give them the benefit of the doubt that they have a good reason for cancelling
Maybe they do; maybe they don’t. Who knows? People have all sorts of reasons for cancelling a date. Rather than taking up mental space running various scenarios through your head, just cut them some slack.
Remember that whatever the reason is, it likely has nothing to do with you. Don’t take it personally.
Being gracious is the right thing to do
No matter how they may handle the cancelling, you have total control over how you respond. It may feel good in the moment to get snarky, but as soon as the words are out of your mouth, you’ll regret it. And taking that control is empowering. It may even help get over the sting of the cancellation.
No one likes being on the receiving end of a date cancellation. But it does have one important benefit. You get some real-world experience in how it feels to be cancelled on, so you can better handle the situation if you find yourself as the one needing to do the cancelling.
You can think about how you felt, what questions may have been left unanswered, and what you would have done differently to better spare the feelings of your date.
As a bonus, you’re now in a strong position to set an example of the right way to disengage from a social engagement. You may end up helping others without even knowing it. All because you handled yourself appropriately. The high road always wins.
Luxury Matchmaker & Date Concierge, Select Date Society
The way the other party responds to the cancellation often sets the framework for if the date will be rescheduled. Here’s the advice I give my clients:
Don’t overthink it
Do not go through the mental exhaustion of replaying your last conversation over and over in your head and trying to analyze what you may have said wrong.
A date cancellation is not something you should take personally. Sometimes people get busy at work or have a family emergency. It’s just one canceled date, not a clear sign that you are being ditched.
How you respond matters
If you respond with skepticism, hurt, or irritation, your date will probably see that as a red flag and you may never hear from them again. Play it cool and be understanding..
Don’t act totally aloof or they may take it as a sign that you don’t care about seeing them at all. Express disappointment without seeming needy. Say something like, “I was really looking forward to seeing you, but I understand. Let me know when you’re free again.”
If you can throw in some witty banter, even better. For example, if you had plans to go bowling and your date cancels, you can say, “I understand. I know you are secretly practicing your bowling skills and probably need more time to prepare. I look forward to beating you, so let me know when you’re ready!”
Don’t hold grudges
When you do reschedule the date, don’t have an attitude over the past date cancellation. Be positive and move forward. If you hold small things over your date’s head, that’s a clear sign that being in a relationship with you is going to be difficult.
Make other plans
If your date cancels on a Friday night, don’t just stay in binge-watching Netflix. Instead, make other plans to go out and have fun! Meet up with friends for happy hour, go for a hike, or go out to dinner.
On the next date, when they apologize for canceling, you’ll be able to say something like, “No worries! I actually met up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while and we had a really great time.”
Certified Etiquette Professional
Handle it with grace
The anticipation of going on a date is like planning a vacation: it’s half the fun! That’s why when your date cancels, it’s normal to be disappointed, but like everything in life, disappointment should be handled with grace.
There could be more than one reason for a postponement, so take it at face value without overthinking the why. How you respond is key. “I understand, and I’m sorry that you won’t be able to make it,” may mean the difference of whether or not you will be asked out again. We live in a world of ghosting, so the fact that they took the time to let you know is what counts.
Always consider whether or not the timing (4 days vs. 4 hours) is legitimate. Also, consider the tone of the message. There’s a big difference between “I can’t make it tonight.” vs. “I’m sorry I can’t make it due to a work conflict.”
Credibility and clarity count! However, if he/she repeatedly cancels, especially at the 11th hour, cancels and does not suggest another date, acts cold and unreliable, then your intuition should not be ignored – he might not be that into you.
Here are 3 simple ways to respond to a canceled date:
- “I was really looking forward to getting together, but I hope we can reschedule soon!”
- “I hope everything is ok! Hopefully, we can reschedule soon.”
- “I understand. It sounds like you have a lot going, but I hope we can reschedule soon!”
Here are 3 ways to respond to someone who repeatedly cancels:
- “Too bad; I was really looking forward to seeing you.”
- “I appreciate you letting me know, but in the future, a little more notice would be nice so that I could have made other plans.”
- “Not a problem; I was actually offered tickets to a concert that I really wanted to see.”
Relationship Expert and Matchmaker, Exclusive Matchmaking
When someone cancels a date, it can be very disappointing when you have spent your energy getting ready and getting a great outfit together and really bothered to look your best.
Understand this though, canceling a date happens sometimes. It just depends on the circumstances behind it and that’s what really matters. Was it last minute, something that happens frequently, an emergency, or just you gathered they had a better offer? You should always give someone the benefit of the doubt though and not assume the worst as they blew you off.
Always respond in a positive, upbeat way
Always respond in a positive, upbeat way and ask if they would like to move your date to another day. When it comes to someone that does this all the time, maybe you don’t want to reschedule. You can just thank them for letting you know.
Remember this though, someone that can’t honor their commitments and doesn’t show on a regular basis is someone that’s not going to commit to you in the future.
Judge accordingly and although there is no reason to be nasty about it, if you are looking for a commitment, just don’t schedule another date with them. It’s just thanks but no thanks the next time they ask you out. There is no reason to not be gracious about it.
International Speaker | Body Language Expert
Leave it alone and move on
Sometimes the best thing is to leave it alone and move on. This is easier to do if it’s a new relationship or the first or second date. If this person had wanted to pursue something with you the date would have happened.
It’s better to know earlier than later in the relationship if someone isn’t feeling you as much as you are feeling them. Consider your emotions and time saved. Keep it simple and respond with: “Thanks for letting me know.”
Keep it simple and honest
Sometimes what makes us feel better is if we can be honest about how the cancelled date has made us feel. So go ahead and let the person know, while taking full responsibility for how you feel about it, by using “I” statements. For example:
“Hi [The person’s name] I was really looking forward to seeing you and [talk about what you were planning to do together] I’m kind of bummed out that you have to cancel [or insert how you feel]. Let’s look at another date and time.”
If it’s a last minute cancellation (and they have done it before)
Let them know how it made you feel and that it’s not ok, that they keep doing it. Remember we show people how to treat by sharing what we do and don’t like.
“I’m sorry to hear that you can’t make it again tonight. I was really looking forward to seeing you and I’m feeling [talk about how you feel]. In the future can you please give me a little more notice, I’d appreciate it. Let’s reschedule soon.”
Founder, Survivor Match
Plans can change. Sometimes, in an instant. If someone cancels a date, do not write them off immediately. Hear them out because numerous things could have happened in their life causing them to cancel. Try to extend grace and give them one more chance.
Know when to fold ’em
If your date cancels more than three times, it is definitely time to move on. After all, if someone wants to make time for you, they will. I know it will feel like a personal insult, but remember one of the Four Agreements: Don’t Take Anything Personally. However someone feels or what they are because of them, not you. Just know they were not the right one and keep it moving.
Founder, Style Standard
In terms of handling someone canceling a date, you’ve got to start by thinking about why they’re canceling. There are two main reasons people cancel, either something unexpected has come up or they just don’t want to see you.
They genuinely can’t make it
In the first case, they’re usually pretty eager to make alternate plans or might even suggest specific days and times that would work better. This isn’t always going to be the case, if their issue is an ongoing one they might not be able to figure something out right away, but it’s a good sign that they’re not canceling because of you.
Be understanding and focus on re-arranging your date
The best way to handle a situation like that is to be understanding and kind with a focus on re-arranging your date for a mutually appropriate time. Even if you’re a little annoyed at having to reschedule, it’s important to remember that everyone has lives outside of their dating experiences and sometimes these things happen.
While it’s reasonable to want to express certain frustrations, being overly upset or even lashing out can be a major turn-off for people.
They don’t want to make it
This is a very different situation and can be a bit harder to read for sure. In some cases, they may straight up tell you that they’re not interested anymore, they’ve met someone else, or just that something came up and they can’t make it. While the first two cases are pretty self-explanatory, the third one can be a little too close to a real situation to tell.
My general guideline there is that if they’re non-committal about rescheduling and are saying things like ‘let’s see’ or ‘I’ll get back to you’, there’s a good chance they’re avoiding being direct. This is one of those situations that might be easy to take offense to, but it’s worth remembering that being rude or angry isn’t going to help the situation at all.
The easiest way to handle a situation like that is to be understanding and respectful. If someone tells you they’re not interested or that they’ve gotten serious with someone else, you might say that it’s unfortunate or wish them good luck with their future.
What you don’t want to do is get defensive or go on the attack
It might help you feel better about yourself at the moment, but it doesn’t lend to strong growth or good relationships. It’s important here to understand that sometimes people don’t click and sometimes the timing just isn’t going to work in your favor.
By keeping things polite and friendly, you’re just as likely to keep yourself in a better mood as you are to keep from turning an already difficult situation into an angry one.
The biggest part of difficult situations is how you handle them. You can choose to handle them in a way that’s mature and friendly or you can choose to lash out at yourself or someone else. While the choice is yours, only one option is going to actually keep your mood up and let you keep moving forward.
As you may have noticed, understanding is a big part of how to react to either situation. It’s an important skill to handle interpersonal relationships and will help serve you well in many other areas as well.
By making the effort to understand other people’s experiences and struggles, you’ll be able to react in a way that helps keep your options open in the future and makes sure that anyone who asks about you hears good things. It also helps make the world a better place, and there’s nothing wrong with a little of that now and again.
Christopher Liew, CFA
Creator, Wealth Awesome
Take a canceled date with kindness
It’s normal to feel disappointed, mad, or even confused when the person you’re interested in suddenly cancels a date. However, the way you respond in these scenarios will actually determine whether or not you will end up dating them.
There are many legitimate reasons why a potential partner might need to cancel your plans:
- They are genuinely sick.
- They are behind on their classes and need to study for their finals.
- They have a last-minute meeting.
- They have a family emergency.
- Their friends need them at the eleventh hour.
Whatever the situation is, you should always assume that they had a good reason for bailing on you.
Some people tend to take it personally and angrily confront the person, while others become too inquisitive or even want to reschedule the date as soon as possible. On the other hand, others become too understanding to the point of becoming a doormat.
However, these responses actually hurt your chances of going out with the person you like. My advice:
Thank them for making an effort. In a culture where ghosting has become prevalent, I think it’s admirable when someone lets you know that they intend to cancel a date. So, be sure to take it at face value and with kindness. Showing appreciation goes a long way to leaving things on a good note for the future.
If you’re still interested in going out with them, just let them know that you are, and leave it at that.
This puts the ball in their court, and you’ll know they’re interested when they get back to you. If not, it may be time to move on.
Licensed Insolvency Trustee | Founder, Remolino Associates
Approach it with kindness
First off, never take it personally. This will only lead to negative thoughts and erode your self-esteem. The world is full of wonderful and exciting people so you should never get hung up on that one date that didn’t happen.
Second, always choose to be kind. When I was fresh out of university and working at my first job, I asked the cute redhead on the 4th floor for dinner and drinks. The morning before we were supposed to have that date, she came clean with me and said she wasn’t ready to date again after all (she had just broken off a 7-year relationship a month before). I was disappointed but chose to be kind to her and asked if we could then be friends instead.
And good friends we became. She would eventually introduce me to my wife (her cousin) who has never canceled a date with me in the 23 years we’ve been together.
Bottom line: It isn’t really cool to cancel on someone when you’ve already made plans, however; there are so many legitimate reasons for needing to cancel on them. So always approach the whole thing with kindness. Perhaps you and this person are meant to be friends, trusted colleagues, or even cousins-in-law.
Lifestyle and Relationship Coach, Womenio
Take nothing personally
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received and given. It may sound trivial, but I assure you that it is brimming with meaning and significance.
It’s awful to get blown off when you’re actually looking forward to meeting someone (it hurts a lot less when you’re secretly relieved for the out), but if you understand that this isn’t about you personally, but about whatever else this other person is going through, the news will probably sink in much more easily.
Owner and CEO, Aquarium Store Depot
It’s normal to feel disappointed when a date cancels on you, but there are ways to respond that can be the difference between getting another date or never hearing from that person again.
There are definitely things you should never do or say if you have any hopes of them calling you up to rearrange.
You may feel upset or angry but try not to show it
The best response is to remain calm and relaxed and say something like ‘Thanks for letting me know and leave it there. I wouldn’t at this point suggest another date for several reasons. They’ve canceled on you, so I’d leave the ball in their court to suggest another date sometime. If you’re the one trying to rearrange, you run the risk of coming across as desperate and needy.
In my opinion, how you respond also depends on the context. Is this a first date? A blind date? Did they give a reason? Did they cancel well in advance or last minute as you were sat waiting in a restaurant? All of these things make a difference. Not so much in how you respond to them but in which steps you take next.
Consider the following scenarios:
- You’ve already been on dates with them; this is the first time they’ve canceled, and they gave a reasonable explanation.
- You met them online, exchanged texts but never spoken to or seen them in real life, You’ve arranged to go on a date, and they cancel last minute with or without explanation.
- You’ve never been on a date with this person, and they’ve canceled numerous times with some excuse.
The above scenarios are all pretty different, but I’d respond in the same way. Relaxed, calm, never showing anger. But I’d definitely be considering whether I want to invest any further time depending on the context.
Life is often unpredictable, and things can come up last minute. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt if it’s the first time, although canceling without explanation would be a red flag for me. But if their car broke down or they got held up at work, I could deal with that. Also, if it’s a blind date, I appreciate some people could get last-minute nerves which are also understandable.
What I couldn’t accept is being canceled repeatedly, no matter what reason they gave. I’d be asking myself, ‘do I want to date someone unreliable or isn’t interested in me?
With all this in mind, I believe the best way to respond to a date canceling on you is to hide any feelings of disappointment and leave things open-ended.
If they’re interested in you, they’ll make the next move. If they don’t, and perhaps that would be for the best in the case of the repeat canceller, practice some self-care and move on.
Stop yourself from spiraling into a cycle of self-pity, rage, or frustration
Instead, take about 10 minutes to feel disappointed, then accept it and move on. After all, depending on the situation, it’s possible they may have had an emergency that could not be avoided. So there is absolutely no reason to take things personally.
On the contrary, in such instances, you should be more understanding. Try to find out the reason why they canceled and tell them not to feel bad about it. There are a lot of reasons that would explain the last-minute bail, and chances are it may not even have anything to do with you in the first place.
And while it is sad to be blown off, especially if you were looking forward to seeing them, if you take a minute to understand that it is not actually about you, then the news won’t feel so frustrating or disappointing anymore.
Moreover, assuming the cancellation was not about you, chances are the other person will make an attempt to reschedule, in which case, the ball is in their court to do so. Don’t be adamant about it, just leave a message saying you are disappointed but hope that they can reschedule to a time when they are free. And if they do set another date, make sure to let them know that you will confirm your attendance a day in advance.
This ensures that you will not end up left hanging again and you also make it clear that your time is valuable and that you will not tolerate it happening a second time.
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