Lessons in Dating: How to Cancel Plans

Thursday, July 16, 2009
Its my personal belief that in early dating one should make themselves available for, well, dating. More available than they might normally be so that they can actually get to know the person they’ve started dating. Single people have lives, though, with careers, family, friends, hobbies, so its understandable that even while making dating a priority on the social calendar some plans may need to be canceled.

There’s nothing wrong with canceling plans, but there is a right way to do it. You want to do two things, ensure the person knows you’re canceling (so you don’t stand them up) and provide an explanation and/or request a reschedule (so they know you’re still interested).

The best way to do this is call them on the telephone. Its direct, your tone will be able to be heard (you’ll want to sound sorry that you had to cancel) and you can leave a voice mail if you miss your date. I would avoid email and text - they’re less direct forms of communication, and its kind of a cop out. If you’re going to bail, buck up and call the person you’re canceling on so you can tell them personally, if not in-person.

The results of not making the personal effort can be disastrous on early relationships. Case in point, I invited a guy I wasn’t sure I was interested in to join myself and another couple out for sushi. The invite was casual and communicated during the work day over email. In my last email I confirmed the time/location and asked to him to call me if he wasn’t able to make it. Then I left work.

When I got home I was intercepted by a work phone call which required logging into my computer. I happened to check my email and I came across one more email he had sent about an hour before we were to have met, saying he wasn’t able to make it.

I was pissed, mostly because if I hadn’t accidentally checked my email I would be standing outside the restaurant, being stood up. But it also felt like he didn’t care enough to get in touch with me personally to cancel, which made me feel like he wasn’t that into me. That it turn made it easy for me to decide I wasn’t that into him after all.

I’m sure he didn’t even think about it, didn’t actually read my email where I asked him to use the phone to cancel and just replied over email, didn’t realize that on his Blackberry he was just as capable of using the phone feature as the email one, didn’t feel like it was a big deal to cancel since there were other people who would be at dinner…

I asked him about it afterwards, when he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t interested in seeing him anymore. I asked him what he would have done if he needed to cancel a client lunch. Would he send an email an hour beforehand? Or would he also call that client to try to speak to him directly? He answered as I expected, he would have done both.

I told him that’s what I had been looking for. Someone who would have showed me the courtesy he showed his clients. Someone who valued my time just as he valued his. I hope he learned his lesson.


Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Was your initial invite via email? Or did you personally invite him and follow up via email? If your initial invite was over email, I'm not sure why you would be surprised he canceled over email....maybe I'm misunderstanding, but if my understanding is correct, I'd say put yourself in his shoes, maybe he thought if it were that important to you that he join you, you would have called him, not sent an email.

Dater at Large said...

You may be misunderstanding or you may just be more flexible than I am when it comes to canceling plans.

The initial invite was over email, because it was spontaneous and during the work day, however I specifically asked him to call me if he had to cancel as I was leaving work and would not be near email.

I think if you are canceling plans, especially within an hour of the plan, you should make every effort to reach the person you're canceling on. He sent me an email from his blackberry, but didn't call me, or even text my phone from that same blackberry.

For me, that shows he wasn't that interested.