Here’s The Best Way To Cancel Any Date

Experts say your apology text needs to have three things.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
Experts reveal tips for how to get out of a date, whether you want to see them again or want them to...
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At some point in your dating life, you may have to postpone or cancel plans you’ve made with someone you agreed to go out with. Maybe something came up at work. Maybe you're not feeling well and you don’t want to make a bad impression. Or maybe you just woke up the day of and realized you’re not ready to date right now. Regardless of the reason for wanting to get out of your plans, knowing how to cancel a date is key.

As David Strah, licensed marriage and family therapist, always asks clients what their intention is for canceling the date. "Is it because something simply came up, or is it because you don’t think the person is right for you? Regardless, my general rule of thumb when canceling a date with someone is the Golden Rule — treat someone as you would like them to treat you," Strah tells Bustle.

Unless someone has done something that offended you, Strah says it's important to include at least these three things in your cancelation text: be gracious, be clear about your intentions, and wish them well. After all, wouldn't you want them to do the same to you?

According to dating and relationship experts, the exact type of text you should send depends on the circumstances. Below you’ll find way to get out of a date, based on your situation.


When Something Comes Up & You Still Want To See Them


"Hey, I'm so sorry, but something came up tonight and I can't get out of it. I really want to see you. Are you free tomorrow night instead?"

When you want to go out with someone but you can't due to an event you have to be at, keep it simple and just be honest about it. "Generally, I find women in particular feel like they have to give a reason for wanting to cancel," dating coach Veronica Grant, tells Bustle. "But you can give a simple explanation, without over apologizing or giving all the details." If you're interested in going out at another time, let them know. You can even offer up an alternative time to meet up.


When You're Not That Interested In Going Out With Them At All

"Hi, I'm sorry to do this but I don't think we're the right fit. I wish you all the best."

It's common to agree to a date and then later on realize that you're just not that into it. If this is the case, Strah says to be clear about your intentions when you cancel the date. Although you may think you're doing someone a favor by giving them an open-ended, "I'll let you know when I'm free again," you're not.

There's nothing worse than confusion or a mixed message, Strah says. "It doesn't help or make it easier for someone to get over their potential loss, even if it was a fantasy," he says. "Being clear will help them move on, and give you a clean conscious so you can move forward and attract someone else better suited to you."


When You Realize You're Just Not Ready To Date

"I'm sorry to cancel on you, but I'm just not ready to date right now. I want you to know that it's not you. I think you're lovely."

If you need to get out of a date because you’re not ready, be kind about it. As Christine Scott-Hudson, marriage and family therapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle, "Be as clear and direct as possible, and don’t leave any room for the other person to blame themselves." While you don't have to explain yourself if you don't want to, let them know you’re not ready to date.

"Don’t flake out by texting with a postponing excuse like, ‘I have a family thing’ if you have no intention of seeing them again," Scott-Hudson says. "Saying 'I'm sorry to change my mind and I want you to know that it's not you,’ will go a long way towards freeing up your date’s self-talk about why you backed out."


When They Have Feelings For You But It's Not Reciprocated

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"I'm sorry. I really enjoyed getting to know you and you're great. But I don't feel a connection and I don't want to waste both of our time."

If you’ve gone on a few dates, or sense that the other person has stronger feelings for you, Strah suggests calling or meeting them in person. But if you have to do it over text, make sure to use "I" statements. For example, "I don't feel like we have enough common interests" or "I don't feel like we're moving in the same direction." You can also say you don't think you're a good match.


When You Like Them Enough, But You're Not Interested In Them Romantically

"I really enjoy spending time with you, but I don't want to give you the wrong idea. I'd love to hang out as friends if you're interested."

You can have a lot of fun with someone but not see a romantic future with them. If that's the case and you’ve already agreed to another date, be honest about it as soon as you realize it. "Former dates can become good friends and be very supportive in life," Strah says. Let them know you're interested in seeing them again, but make an effort to be clear that you're not interested in them romantically. Leave it open enough so they can decide if they're OK with hanging out as just friends.


When You're Dealing With Personal Issues

"Sorry to cancel on you, but I'm dealing with some personal issues right now. I hope we can reschedule."

If you're canceling a date because of personal issues like anxiety or you're just not in the right head space to go out, let them know. You don't have to go into the details, but pay attention to how the other person responds. As David Bennett, certified counselor and dating coach, tells Bustle, "Seeing how your potential date reacts to this could tell you whether they are a keeper or not worth your time."


When You Have A Bad Feeling About Your Date

"Sorry but I have to cancel."

We all present our best selves in the beginning, Strah says, so it can take a few dates or months to really get to know someone. But if your gut is telling you that someone is bad news, listen to that and cancel the date. "If you feel you need to distance yourself for safety purposes, then communicate your intention and then block the date's profile," Strah says.


When You Get The Sense They Want Something Different

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“I enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t think we want the same things. It would probably be best for us to cancel our upcoming date.”

If you get the sense that you’re not on the same page about where things are going, it’s in your best interest to bring that up. Depending on how long you’ve been seeing someone, having a conversation about their intentions for the relationship can help you make the right decision. Once you know for sure that things aren’t going to work out, let them know what’s going on.

Licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Holly Schiff, Psy.D., tells Bustle to be concise and respectful in your text. “Communication and honesty are important, but you don’t have to go into the details if you don’t want to. Prioritize the decision that you feel the most comfortable with and do what works for you.”


When You Aren’t Feeling Confident

“Hey there! It’s been a crazy week and I’m not feeling so hot at the moment. Can I take a raincheck for next weekend?”

Everyone has their off days. If you're going through a period of self doubt, take a pause. “Insecurities ebb and flow,” Rori Sassoon, dating expert and author, tells Bustle. “Honesty is the best policy; reschedule the date when you’ll have emotional peace of mind.”

As Rachel DeAlto, chief dating expert from Match, tells Bustle, this type of text is short, sweet, and will buy you some time. “It is up to you to shake yourself out of that funk,” DeAlto says. Practice some self-care, and always remember that you’re awesome .


When You’re Stressed About Work

"I'm sorry to cancel but I have a lot going on with work and I really want to be fully present with you. Can we reschedule? How's Sunday?"

For some, a romantic night out can be a nice distraction from work. But for others, it’s tough to be completely present when your mind is filled with anxiety over deadlines and unfinished projects. If you’re the latter, you may end up regretting going on the date afterwards. If work is affecting you emotionally, postpone plans.

According to marriage and family therapist Christine Altidor, this above text lets your date know that you were looking forward to seeing them, and that you value their time. “Asking to reschedule also reinforces that you are eager to spend time with them and not blowing them off,” Altidor says.


When You’re Not Feeling Well

"If I could resist touching or kissing you, we could totally go out today. But since you’re so damn sexy, I have to cancel. When I'm all's on!"

A cancelation text doesn’t always have to be super serious, especially if you and your date have a playful dynamic. If you can find a flirtatious or humorous way to postpone a date, go for it. According to Altidor, these types of texts can be a winner. “Being sick isn't sexy but a fun and flirty text makes the recipient feel good, wanted, and also shows the sender is down-to-earth,” she says. You might also get bonus points for having a good sense of humor.


When You’re Still Thinking About Your Ex

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"I know we were planning to meet up, but can we reschedule? I have some things on my mind that I want to handle first so that way I won't be distracted on our date."

It’s completely natural to think about your ex prior to a new date. As Merissa Goolsarran, LCSW, therapist at Bright Lotus Counseling, tells Bustle, “Our brains let us know what is important to us, and taking time to really figure out what that is will be beneficial in the long run.” Before you try to find excuses to cancel a date, take some time to explore your feelings towards your ex and your current dating situation. Think about the qualities that were healthy in your previous relationship, and the red flags that were there.

“Reflecting on this can help the mind process how the new date is going and what you're really looking for,” Goolsarran says. “You don't have to overshare on what's on your mind in the text, but communicate a clear reason for the cancelation so the other party hopefully won't misunderstand where you're at.


David Strah, M.A., licensed marriage and family therapist, author of Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood

Veronica Grant, life and love coach

Christine Scott-Hudson, marriage and family therapist, owner of Create Your Life Studio

David Bennett, certified counselor and dating coach

Christine Altidor, marriage and family therapist with No Filter Therapy

Dr. Holly Schiff, Psy.D., licensed clinical psychologist

Merissa Goolsarran, LCSW, therapist at Bright Lotus Counseling

Rachel DeAlto, chief dating expert from Match

Rori Sassoon, dating expert and author

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