Hey Flakes, Turns Out There’s A Scientific Reason You Love To Cancel Plans

You know the feeling. You’ve just shot out a text that you carefully crafted telling someone that you can’t make it. After that text is sent and you’ve covered your butt you let out a sigh of relief. It may not be that you dislike the person, you just can’t help but get a little high off of the idea that your schedule cleared up. It’s okay, you’re totally normal.

  1. There’s the cancel-reschedule ping-pong. An article on The Cut coined this term talking about how people go back and forth with making and canceling plans. It’s like a giant game of ping-pong. Sometimes people go really far with it and never end up seeing the other person. Canceling plans may feel good, but it’s kind of a jerk move to keep doing it over and over again.
  2. It feels really good to cancel. John Mulaney, a comedian, explained it like this: “In terms of like, instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.” Further, Amy Banks, a therapist specializing in relational disconnection said: “A lot of people underestimate how much they can take on, so canceling feels good because they just have too much going on and actually really need a night off.” Canceling plans is a rush. Whatever the circumstances, it can give some serious immediate gratification.
  3. This applies to all sorts of events. Canceling plans doesn’t just apply to coffee dates with friends. It also applies to real dates, work events, social obligations, family parties, etc. Each event may come with varying levels of guilt due to the cancellation. Certain excuses may work better depending on what event you’re canceling on.
  4. The internet offers too much help with excuses. Open up your laptop and type in “cancellation excuses” or some variant of that. You’ll get unlimited amounts of excuses to use if you can’t come up with your own. Though if you’re a seasoned canceller, you’ve likely got a plethora of them up your sleeve. In case you need help, though, the internet has your back.
  5. Social anxiety may be part of why you do it. Social anxiety is a mental health condition that’s not to be taken lightly. You also shouldn’t joke about having it if you don’t. Though if you do have the condition, you’re going to have a whole bunch of barriers standing in your way of canceling plans. It’s going to be far harder for you to keep them because of all of the fear that you have. This means that it feels extra good for you to cancel your plans.
  6. Maybe your cancellation has to do with finances. I’m not trying to play therapist here, but it’s good to look at the reasons you might be canceling plans so much. Your reason could be that you just don’t have the finances. Maybe your friends are going out and you don’t want to be embarrassed about not buying anything. If you have good friends they won’t judge you. They may even offer to buy you a drink or a bite to eat.
  7. It’s normal to feel dread before social situations. An article in The Cut identified Amy Banks as saying: “It’s perfectly normal to feel a little bit of dread before social functions.” I know that one therapist doesn’t determine the truth, but I feel comforted by her sentiment. You’re not a freak if you feel dread even before positive social situations. Especially negative ones, though, it’s totally okay. It’s all okay.
  8. The joy of canceling may reflect on your feelings about the other person. There’s a chance that you canceling on someone is a reflection of you not liking the person very much. If it was someone you were psyched to hang out with you’d go the extra mile to make it work. This isn’t to say that you never have situations that need to be attended to and you have to cancel on someone you’re psyched to see. This happens, too.
  9. If it’s a digital friendship ditching may seem like no big deal. There’s a new phenomenon of digital friendships. Sure, there were phones for a while, but the internet brought these friendships to a whole new level. It’s where two people are basically friends over the internet and via phones. They almost never see one another and all of their communication is done via those two mediums. When it’s this kind of friendship it may not seem all that important to see them in person, making canceling the plans super easy.
  10. One way to break the habit is to make fewer plans. Again, I’m not trying to control your life or tell you what to do, BUT if you’re interested in canceling plans less, here’s a tip. Perhaps one way to go about not canceling plans left and right is to make fewer plans. Leaving space in your schedule to relax and have leisure time will leave you open to being able to keep plans later on. Just an idea!
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.