3 Ways to Save a Friend From Bailing on Your Weekend Plans
Don't let the fun be ruined! Here's how to salvage a night out that's on the brink of collapse.
We’ve all been on both the bailing side and the disappointed side of a well-intentioned night out that’s been ruined by someone backing out. In both cases, it sucks.
While not the greatest of crimes in the scheme of friendships (ghosting, for example, is much, much worse), having a friend bail on your weekend plans is annoying nonetheless. It can also hit harder if it means you’re left at a loss with absolutely nothing to do over a weekend.
However, in most cases, this is not a situation to take personally, says Pippa Murphy, a UK-based relationship expert at Condoms UK. “It’s important to keep in mind that there may be legitimate reasons behind this behavior. In many cases, friends bail on plans because they’re dealing with personal problems. Maybe they had a fight with their partner and don’t want to leave the house.” Or, they could be dealing with an emotional loss and don’t feel like talking about it.
Still, there’s hope! You can salvage your weekend plans from being ruined by a friend on the brink of bailing. Here is some insight from experts as to why this phenomenon even happens in the first place and what to do when you feel it coming so that you can rally the troops and save your weekend plans.
Why your friend might bail…
1. They feel guilty.
Maybe your friend double-booked, or they just don’t want to go out with you that night. If they feel bad about it, they might just cancel instead of telling you ahead of time so they can avoid the guilt trip that comes with canceling plans on someone else.
2. They can’t afford it.
In today’s world, the cost of plans can sometimes spiral out of control, and in some cases, a friend might find it easier to cancel than to suggest a more frugal alternative.
Murphy says that “it could be as simple as not having enough money for a fancy dinner, or as complicated as needing to work extra hours to pay rent this month.”
3. They don’t want to spend time with certain people in the group.
If it’s a group activity that your friend is bailing on, could it be that the dynamic simply isn’t for them? “Maybe there was an argument beforehand or someone in the group just isn’t their cup of tea anymore — either way, it’s frustrating,” says Murphy.
There are hundreds of other reasons why a friend may cancel on you at the last minute — including feeling too stressed, too tired, or just plain too lazy (sound familiar?), just to name a few.
What to do when a friend cancels on you…
1. Don’t take it personally.
If your friend cancels at the last minute or plans don’t work out, don’t take it personally; people change their minds all the time, for any number of reasons.
“You might have had plans with them for weeks leading up to the event only for them to cancel at the last second because something came up that was more important at that time (for example, a family member is ill). Or, perhaps your friend simply forgot about their commitment until it was too late,” says Murphy.
Annoying? Yes. A friendship dealbreaker? Unless this sort of behavior is recurring, then no.
2. Ask them why they’re canceling.
If you want to stop friends from ditching plans, ask them why they’re not coming. Murphy says that “this is a good way of getting to the root cause of their behavior so that you can address it in future conversations.”
For example, if your friend cancels an hour before you’re supposed to meet up because they have something more important going on, try asking them what’s happening and see if there’s anything you can do to help, such as dropping off some groceries or running errands for them.
3. Give them some space.
Don’t push your friend too hard to make plans with you if they’ve been skipping out on a lot of things lately. If they seem resistant to making plans, then give them some time alone and let them know that you’ll be there when they’re ready.
How to stop a friend from bailing…
1. Remind them of plans closer to the time.
“If you can, give your friends a heads up that you’re expecting to see them on a certain day. This is especially important when it comes to plans with people who are very busy or have unpredictable schedules,” says Murphy.
Danielle Jackson, founder of Better Female Friendships, suggests that you “give your friend an RSVP deadline.” Say something along the lines of, “We’re going out Saturday at 7. But will you let me know by Thursday if you can’t make it?”
2. Get a public “yes.”
“According to research by Robert Cialdini, people want to keep their word,” says Jackson. So, in order to get your friend to commit to plans, she suggests that you ask them to confirm their attendance in front of other people – whether it’s family, friends, or colleagues who will also be at the planned event — and have them give a verbal, and public, “yes.”
Doing this in a group text or DM also counts. Everyone else will have seen their thumbs up or “I’m in” confirmation, making it a bit harder for them to go back on their word.
3. Preview the experience.
In the days leading up to the event, help your friend to visualize the experience. Jackson suggests that if, for example, you’re planning to hit up a hot new neighborhood restaurant, send your friend the menu ahead of time and ask which appetizer they think you all should start with.
“This gets them to commit to parts of the experience, and helps them to envision being there,” she says.
Hopefully, more of your weekend plans will remain intact once you start following these tips. And if friends — or you — decide to bail, you’ll know to do it as early and respectfully as possible. Being on both sides = perspective.