How To Cancel A Date You Don't Want To Go On Without Being Rude

by Alison Segel

'Tis I, a woman who is not fun to date because I am constantly backing out of plans at the last minute. But can you really blame me? In this digital dating era, I say yes to a lot of things via message, and then, when it's finally time to meet up with a match IRL, the thought of hanging out with a complete stranger in a dimly lit bar somehow doesn't sound appealing anymore. So if you want to know how to cancel a date, you've come to the right source: me, the eternally flaky person who cancels plans constantly.

Listen, am I saying that you should be making and breaking plans all the time? Absolutely not. I have a ton of bad dating karma piled up around me, so much so that I think I might be eternally single. But there are times where you simply don't feel like going out, need to reschedule, or your internal, gut instinct knows something ain't right about the person you're going to be meeting, and bowing out of your plans seems best.

Still, there's a right and a wrong way to do it. Standing someone up is obviously... wrong. Canceling 30 minutes before the date? That's bad, too. And creating an unbelievable excuse (my house is on fire and my whole family just died in a plane crash!) is really no better than standing someone up at the end of the day.

So here is how to cancel a date you don't want to go on without being rude. Because you don't owe anyone anything, and you shouldn't date if you don't want to. But let's all be polite about it!

1. Decide If You Should Text Or Call

Do you want to see the person you're canceling on again? If so, call them. Do you not care if your relationship fades into oblivion and you come off as kind of sh*tty? Then, just shoot them a text.

In a perfect world, we'd all be calling one another to make plans, cancel them, or to do something as little as just checking in to say hello. However, there is nothing as terrifying as actually picking up the phone. But doing just that is a symbol of emotional intimacy if you are trying to foster that with someone.

If you need to cancel a date, but you do like the person you're canceling with, then give them the courtesy of a phone call. If you're essentially trying to get out of plans and subsequently ghost that dating app match, then a text will do just fine.

2. Apologize

Make sure that you begin your text or call with some form of apology. It shows that you're aware of the inconvenience you are causing someone else, and you validate that their time (which you're screwing with) is valuable. I always start my date cancelation texts with "I'm sorry to do this, but...." and then justify my reason for canceling (whether it's true or not).

But remember, don't go overboard with the apology. Your date's life doesn't revolve around you, and they're going to continue on living whether you two get drinks or not. Just acknowledge the inconvenience that is changing plans last minute.

3. Explain

Explain why you need to get out of plans. The last date I got out of was when my car broke down. It was actually with a guy I was truly interested in. I had to get my car towed, and then take it to the shop, and the thought of meeting a guy I could potentially like after what was an emotionally and physically exhausting day seemed kind of awful. I was cranky, out of a lot of cash, and incredibly sweaty. (This all occurred during a heat wave.)

I told my date the truth and said that this whole event kind of put me in a b*tchy mood, and it wasn't the best first impression to meet on. Then, I asked, "Could we hang another time instead?" to make sure I let them know I was still interested in seeing them.

So we did hang out another time, and it went great. (And we're still hanging out.) So sometimes, if you want to get out of plans, honesty is actually the best policy... and a broken down car.

4. Make Up An Excuse (But Only As A Last Resort)

You can tell a little white lie, as long as this is with someone you potentially might never want to see again. But in all seriousness, honesty is the best policy.

Some good excuses to use in a pinch? Work deadlines, migraines, roommate troubles, friendship duties, problems with a pet, etc. Just don't go overboard with the dramatics or it will seem fake.

5. Set Up A Plan For Your Raincheck (If You Want)

If you want to see the person again, despite canceling, then make sure you set up a specific plan for a raincheck. Otherwise, your crush might think they're getting dissed, rejected, or ghosted.

So if you want to cancel on a date, that's fine, don't beat yourself up over it. You don't owe a stranger anything. Although, remember that, sometimes, the best nights happen when you don't feel like going out at all. However, if you're certain going out is not for you tonight, make sure you let your potential partner down with kindness. We're all just looking for some love and kindness, after all.

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