Here’s What To Say When A Date Bails On You

Give them the benefit of the doubt if you still want to meet up.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
The best response to a cancelled date is to thank them for informing you and leave the ball in their...
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If you’ve spent hours going back on forth about which outfit you’re going to wear, or took time to get into the right mindset for your date, the last thing you want to see is a text on the day of telling you that your plans have been cancelled. When this happens, it’s totally normal to feel bummed out, mad, confused, or disappointed. While you know you should say something back, it can be tough to figure out exactly how to respond to a cancelled date. And according to experts, the way you answer will determine whether you'll end up actually going out with them or not.

"Every situation is different," Laurie Berzack, MSW, matchmaker and dating coach, tells Bustle. "Whether it's a first date or you've already been out a few times, you should always take a cancelled date at face value, approach it with kindness, and don't take it personally."

As Nancy Ruth, breakup coach and relationship expert tells Bustle, "In an app-dating world, date cancelations happen all the time; maybe they genuinely were sick, or had a work meeting come up. You may have previously been cancelled on and assumed this person is doing the same, but that can jeopardize relationship potential if we paint everyone with the same brush."

If you’re struggling to figure out what to say back, go with your gut, and answer in a way that aligns with what you’re looking for. Below, you’ll find the best responses to a cancelled date.

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"Thanks For Letting Me Know."

Sure it's disappointing to have plans fall through, but it’s better than leaving you hanging. "In a culture of ghosting, I think it's admirable for someone to communicate their intention to cancel a date, rather than leaving them alone at a restaurant," Emily L. Depasse, sex and relationship expert, tells Bustle.

Thanking them for making the effort can leave things on a good note, especially if you’re not sure you want to reschedule plans just yet. If you do decide to talk again, it’ll help pick up where you left off.

"I Understand. Let Me Know When You're Available To Reschedule."

If you still want to go out with them, make it known. There's no need to make new plans right away — just let them know you're interested in rescheduling and leave it at that.

"Don't go into full tailspin mode of why the person dipped out on you," Caroline Madden, PhD, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Just send them that one text and leave it be. There's no need to follow-up. If they get back to you, great. If not, move on for now. More often than not, when someone's interested, they will make a move to reschedule.

“It Happens. If You’re Interested, Let’s Check Out That New Restaurant On Sunday Instead.”

If you’re looking to salvage cancelled plans, this is the text to send, Holly Schiff, Psy.D., licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. It’s also the best response to a cancelled date that was set for a specific time, like a concert or a one-night only event. With this message, you’ll be showing interest in seeing them and offering an alternative plan for another day.

Schiff says not to take a cancelled date too personally. “But it is important to be understanding, not too inquisitive, and to figure out if they are interested in rescheduling,” Schiff says.

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“No Worries! I Have A Lot Going On This Week, But Maybe We Can Catch Up Next Weekend. Have A Great Night!”

Sending this type of text lets the person know that you’re fine with the cancellation, and you wish them well. According to Schiff, it also gives them the impression that your life is full, and you won’t be sitting around waiting for them to call and make new plans.

“It’s OK to play a little hard to get,” she says. Just be sure to make other plans to go out and do something. It may even give you something interesting to chat about when you and that person eventually meet up for a date.

“Hopefully We Can Get Together Soon! Let Me Know When You Want To Reschedule.”

This text is another simple way to show interest and leave the ball in the other person’s court. According to Michelle Mouhtis, licensed therapist and relationship coach, if they cancelled due to a genuine conflict, they’ll be sure to put a new date on the calendar. But, if they respond back with a “Will do!” just wait it out and give them an opportunity to respond with another date.

“There is a chance that you may never hear from them again. They may not have been that interested and didn’t know how to say it, or something else just came up,” Mouhtis says. “View rejection as redirection and dodging a bullet — because you deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you.”

“That’s Too Bad. I Was Looking Forward To Meeting You, But Totally Understand!”

Keep in mind that how you respond will depend on the length of your relationship with the person and what your dynamic is like. For instance, if it’s a first date, a short casual response will do. “Indicate that you're disappointed but understand why they need to cancel, and leave the ball in their court for rescheduling,” Dr. Isabelle Morley, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle.

In the early days, consider giving your date the benefit of the doubt. “Sometimes people need to reschedule dates even if they were really excited for them,” Morley says. “This early rupture in your budding relationship will be an indicator of how you treat people when it comes to respecting their time and being flexible with their needs. But, on the off chance that the person is just trying to ditch you, then leaving them the work of setting up a new date will prevent you from feeling hurt if they dodge your attempt to reschedule.”

“Thanks For Letting Me Know. Hope Everything Is OK.”

Regardless of someone’s reasons for wanting to cancel a date, be gracious in your response. If someone’s dealing with an emergency, don’t bombard them with questions.

Clinical psychologist, Arian S. Elfant, Ph.D., suggests letting them know that you appreciate being informed and that you hope everything is OK. If you want to reschedule, it’s fine to put that out there, too. They’ll reach out to you when they’re ready. And if not, it’s good to find out before you get too invested. “The cancellation was a favor,” Elfant says. “Time to move on.”

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“When Do You Want To Reschedule?”

If someone you’ve been talking to seems genuinely bummed out that they can’t make your date, be direct. “The point is to make your text actionable and set a new date, in order to not lose the momentum that you guys already created,” eharmony’s relationship expert, Laurel House, tells Bustle. “Don’t act angry, insecure, or offended. Always imagine that you are in their shoes and think about how you would want them to respond to you.”

“I Get That You Have A Work Thing, But You Cancel Pretty Often, And It’s Disappointing. I Was Excited To Finally See You Tonight.”

This is the type of response you can use if you’ve been seeing someone for a while and this isn’t the first time they’ve bailed on you. Communicate your feelings and set some expectations, Morley says.

“It can hurt to have someone cancel a date, especially if it's last minute,” she says. “A person who does it repeatedly is subtly indicating that the date wasn't important to them.” Gently calling them out on their behavior and letting them know how it makes you feel is a good first step towards having this conversation with them. If it keeps happening, you may want to reconsider this person as a serious partner.

“This Keeps Happening. Maybe Now Isn’t The Best Time For Us To Be Dating. I’m Looking For Someone Who’s Ready To Make Me A Priority In Their Life.”

This is the type of text you’d send once you’ve had the conversation about their behavior and nothing has changed. As Jodie Milton, relationship and intimacy coach, tells Bustle, this is about expressing your genuine feelings and letting your partner know how their behavior has affected you. “It’s not about making them feel bad,” Milton says. “It’s about helping them to understand the consequences of their actions while upholding your own standards for how you’d like to be treated.” If they don’t make a serious attempt to change, you can always decide to walk away.

How To Deal When Someone Cancels A Date

It's easy to get down about yourself after a cancelled date. If you’re someone who takes things personally, it can be hard to break out of a negative mindset. But shifting your outlook to one that’s more positive can help you through the many ups and downs of dating.

“It’s all a matter of taste,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author, tells Bustle. “I like to use this metaphor: Imagine that you’re ordering ice cream and you have 20 flavors to choose from. The fact that you choose chocolate chip doesn’t make the other flavors ‘bad’ or undesirable. It simply means that on that day you wanted chocolate chip. Dating is much the same — there are a lot of flavors of people out there, and if someone isn’t drawn to your awesome flavor — imagine you are chocolate raspberry swirl — they are missing out.”

If you notice negative thoughts popping into your head, practice self-care. "This is an opportunity for you to pay attention to your limiting beliefs around love and worthiness," Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. "Learn to validate your own worth, and you’ll be ready for a partner who validates it, too."


Laurie Berzack, MSW, matchmaker and dating coach

Nancy Ruth, breakup coach and relationship expert

Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist

Emily L. Depasse, sex and relationship expert

Caroline Madden, PhD, licensed marriage and family therapist

Holly Schiff, Psy.D., licensed clinical psychologist

Dr. Isabelle Morley, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist

Arian S. Elfant, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, speaker, and author of upcoming book, Date Smart

Laurel House, eharmony’s relationship expert

Michelle Mouhtis, licensed therapist and relationship coach

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