How to Cancel On Your Friends Without Losing Them

There are many ways you can cancel plans and still keep your friends, says Laura Mazzitelli.

Imagine you have two assessments due tomorrow, a 30 page reading, and your Mum just asked you to do the groceries. But that’s not all. To add a cherry on top of this delicious recipe for stress, you get this notification:

Image Credit:  Laura Mazzitelli

Image Credit: Laura Mazzitelli

Yep, you forgot you had plans.

Image Credit:  Gfycat

Image Credit: Gfycat

Let’s be real, our busy schedules can sometimes get the better of us. Not only are we bombarded with a hefty workload, but we can commit to plans, and freak out when we need to cancel them. Before sending that guilt ridden ‘guys I can’t come’ text, many thoughts race through your mind: ‘If I go for a little bit, I might be back in time to finish one assignment. I’ll edit the other in the morning.’

‘I could go for an hour or two. But I have to get dressed too, which adds another hour, and then travel time adds another... Wait, what am I even going to wear?’

Image Credit:  Gfycat

Image Credit: Gfycat

It’s a double edged sword.

If you go – You’ll be stressed about the work you haven’t done.

If you don’t go – You’ll be stressed about cancelling on your friends.

So what do you do?

Image Credit:

Image Credit:

If you go to the event, chances are you’ll be thinking about your assignments as you spend $9 on another cider to escape the guilt. So if you come to the conclusion you want to cancel, here are seven ways you can do it and still maintain your friendships.

Be honest.

Last minute study or family emergencies can sometimes clash with your plans, and it can be as simple as telling your friends the truth about your situation.

Have a real reason.

You shouldn’t need to explain yourself, but there’s a difference between reasonable explanations, and irrational excuses. Your friends may be disappointed, but if you have a valid justification, you shouldn’t worry. How they respond reflects more on them.


Naturally, the later you cancel, the more annoyed your friends are going to be. But don’t fear! A simple ‘Guys, I am so sorry, but…’ can help keep the friendship alive, just try to do it as early as possible.

Call them.

Texts can be an easy escape route, so maybe a phone call will do the trick. In this ‘keyboard warrior’ age, saying ‘I really do wish I could come, but I can’t anymore because…’ could serve you better than reading words on a screen.

*Also - If you’re sick, the person on the other end will hear it in your voice ;)

Why cancel when you can rearrange?

 This is not the only chance you’ll get to see your friends, but it may be the only time to submit your assignment without that 5% late submission deduction. Why say ‘I can’t go’, when you can opt for ‘let’s organise lunch another time’?

If they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer...

Keep it short and simple.

You’re more irritable friends may not respond well to ‘sorry’. Keep it plain and simple, yet firm. If they respect you, and they’re mature enough, they’ll accept your answer. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to revaluate the plans you make with them.

Sometimes, you just need to click mute.

Everyone handles ‘no’ differently, but it shouldn’t manifest into pestering. If this happens, consider muting the conversation or your phone – They’ll get over it tomorrow.

What if your reason isn’t really a reason?

Don’t cry wolf, then make other plans.

The *cough* *cough*, I’m sick’ act won’t cut it if your friend finds out you ditched them for a dinner with your partner.

Don’t give in.

If you feel forced into going out after trying to cancel, don’t give in purely to keep the peace. Your friends will think it’s okay, and may do it again in the future.

If you know you can’t 100% commit, then don’t.

Maybe it’s not an issue of over committing, and you’re just really not bothered to go anymore.

image Credit:  Tenor

image Credit: Tenor

It’s a trashy move, so you probably should’ve thought more before saying ‘yes’ in the first place. But if you don’t commit from the get-go, there’s no one to disappoint by cancelling.

Whatever the reason, cancelling doesn’t make you a bad person. At the end of the day, your true friends shouldn’t be mad if you cancel for a valid reason, and reality is, they will do it to you at some stage anyway.

Laura Mazzitelli is a third year UTS student studying a combined degree in Communications (Journalism) and Law. She is a music and coffee enthusiast, but her true passion is writing, and has been since her early teens.