From Our Readers
February 05, 2015 7:20 am

Let’s admit it: we’ve all done it. We’ve made plans with friends that we have ended up canceling, for whatever reason. Maybe you were ill, maybe you accidentally double-booked, maybe you realized drinks with the girls the night before starting your new job wasn’t the best idea, or maybe you just weren’t feeling up to it (it’s ok, it happens to everyone; you’re not a bad person). At the end of the day, everyone knows how it feels to have a friend cancel on them, and because we’ve all done it ourselves, we understand that it’s not a big deal—life happens, plans change. Yes, it’s annoying, but as long as it’s not a regular occurrence, there’s really no need to get upset over it.

But, what if it IS a regular occurrence? I have had my fair share of bad friends, so much so that I can now spot them coming from a mile away. After years of putting up with “friends” who took advantage of me, walked all over me, didn’t care about me, made me feel bad about myself, and tried to drag me down to their level, I made the decision to cut all the toxic people out of my life. Since doing so, my life has improved immensely—Nowadays, my circle of friends is small, but it is made up of the most amazing people. But even the greatest friends in the world have their faults, and one fault that is common within my circle of friends is regular cancellations. Three of my friends are serial plan cancelers, and I love them to bits, but I’m not going to lie, their canceling does get incredibly irritating. However, over time, I have learned ways to cope.

Learn the signs

One way I’ve learned how to get less irritated about cancellations is to anticipate when they’re coming. If you know in advance that they’re going to cancel, then you can change your plans beforehand and save all the upset. There are lots of telltale signs you can look out for. Do they seem to avoid discussing the plans you’ve made? When texting, do they take a while to respond to messages about the plans, but text back at lightning speed when talking about anything else? Do they keep reminding you that they can’t stay long because of commitments they have later that day/early the next day? Do they keep bringing up the fact they have no money? Do they keep telling you that they think they’re getting ill? It’s not rocket science: if they don’t appear to be keen and if it seems they are paving the way for excuses, then the likelihood is they’re probably looking to cancel.

Communication is key

When someone wants to cancel, communication generally goes downhill. It could be because they feel bad, or because they are worried about having to tell you they can’t make it AGAIN, or just because they are putting it off till the last minute. Either way, you tend to not hear much from them. This can be frustrating because not only have you probably worked out they’re going to cancel, but you now also feel like you’re being ignored. Sometimes you need to confront them in order to get the communication you need. They can’t avoid the situation if they are being called out on their behavior. By doing this, you should be able to talk it out and get an insight to their side of the story, as well as an opportunity to get your feelings across. When I finally took the time to talk to one of my friends about their constant canceling, I found out stuff about her and her life I wasn’t aware of and was able to finally understand where she was coming from. On her part, she hadn’t actually realized that she was upsetting me/others and has since made an effort to see us more. It’s improved our friendship a lot, and I now spend a lot more time with her then I used to.

Don’t exclude them

I know it’s annoying—it can feel like they don’t care, and so you might think there’s no point in inviting them to things because they aren’t going to come. However, if you stop including your friend in the invites they are going to feel excluded and you might end up losing them completely. Make sure you continue to include them in whatever you are doing with your friends, so they know they are wanted. The more options you give them to do things with you, the more likely they will.

Don’t take it personally

You know the cliché breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me”? Well, this is basically the same thing: it’s not you, it’s them. It’s got nothing to do with you and whether or not you’re a good enough friend. Serial plan cancelers cancel on everyone, for their own reasons. It’s not a reflection on anyone except themselves.

Be there for them

Chances are the reason they keep canceling is because they have stuff going on that’s making socializing with friends seem like a bit too much. Whether it’s issues in their personal life that’s getting them down, or work stressing them out, there is going to be a reason why they feel like they would rather be alone than make an effort to come out and see friends. This is where communication is important. Make sure they know you are there for them and that you support them. If you pressure them too much, you’ll push them away. When you invite them to things, just make it seem casual, but let them know it’s important to you that they come along.

Go to them

Instead of always inviting them out somewhere, I’ve found the best way to get a serial canceler to agree to plans and stick to them is to go to where they are. Suggest chilling at their place with movies and wine, nothing overwhelming. You can even make it a PJ day so there’s literally no effort required! Sometimes movie days with friends are the best days. Especially if you feel like you yourself could do with a day to just kick back and relax.

This piece was written by Carmen Leandro.

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