It's Okay To Cancel Plans And No One Should Make You Feel Guilty About It

14 February 2018, 17:40 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 16:13

A woman in a striped shirt looking at her phone
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

Send that "I can't make it" text and fire up Netflix. Sometimes, it's okay to say "no" to socialising.

Admit it. It feels good to cancel plans. Not because you hate your friends or don’t like seeing them. It feels good to cancel plans because, in a world of 40+ hour work weeks, endless exams, and stressful day-to-day lives, sometimes you really REALLY just want to do nothing. 

According to Andrea Bonior, PhD and author of The Friendship Fix, "if it regularly feels good to cancel plans, those plans probably shouldn't have been made in the first place." 

Most of the time, habitually canceling plans will earn you the badge of the “flaky” friend, but here’s a thought. It really is okay to cancel plans and you don’t even need some life and death excuse to do it. 

Not feeling mentally up to it is totally valid.

We all know the feeling. You agreed to go somewhere when you were in a good mood but now it's time to pay the piper. Your friends are texting you, asking if the plans are still on, and all you can really think is "what excuse can I use to cancel these plans?"

Usually, there’s more to the story than being a person with “flaky” tendencies.

We've all experienced feeling mentally or emotionally drained, and, on those days, socialising just feels beyond the scope of what you can handle.


Sometimes you just can't make it off the couch today, and that's OK. 

This is one of the most human things you can admit to. The minutiae of day to day living can lead to an indescribable breed of exhaustion. You know, the existential kind. People, especially young people, work a lot

Modern living is so often defined by how busy a person is, we tend forget how necessary it is to just do nothing. Your genuine desire to socialise can be eclipsed by the realities of how life actually works. Can you work and commute all week, have a thriving social life, and be caught up on laundry? Sounds fake, but ok. 

via Unsplash/Kinga Cinchewicz

Other times, you're just really broke. 

Unless you're friends with the cast of Made In Chelsea, your social circle will understand if you need to sit out the weekend festivities at the behest of your bank account. Your 20s are basically a computer simulation that generates different ways you can be broke or hit with unexpected expenses. 

"I made those plans before all the direct debits came out of my account" is probably the realest text you can send in the age of contactless payments. 

via FX/Atlanta


So, how do I cancel plans in a non-dickish way? 

  • First of all, it's time to stop agreeing to do things you know it will be easy to cancel on last minute (yes, I'm talking about agreeing to go for drinks at that one student bar where the floors are inexplicably sticky but shots are buy one get one free) 

  • Do NOT let anyone get in their vehicle or on public transportation to come pick you up if you know you're just going to cancel. Cancel early, send your apologies, and give people a chance to make other plans. 

  • Just send the damn "sorry can't make it" text (or better yet, get on the phone). There's no use deliberating about it for hours. If you're having second thoughts, you probably didn't want to go in the first place. 

  • Skip the lie and go straight to the boring truth. Your Aunt Tabitha isn't dead, you're just down to your last £20 and the new season of Grace and Frankie is on Netflix. 

  • Do not be the friend that cancels every plan they make because, after a while, people will just stop inviting you to things. Make a rule in your head. If you cancel on a friend, you have to FOR SURE go to the next thing. Or better yet, follow up your cancelation with an invitation for you guys to do something more your speed (or budget) on another day.

It feels good to cancel plans, but it doesn't feel good to let your friends down. We've all overpromised and agreed to things that we've regretted in hindsight. 

Canceling plans doesn't make you a villain, though. It makes you a person who may be dealing with social anxiety issues or just "I'm not going anywhere today" issues. Both are totally human and 100% valid.