The Savvy Dater: How Do You Handle a Last Minute Cancellation?

Name: Paigelastmin
Comment: I met a guy online, we were supposed to have our first date last night. He told me he was celebrating his college football team win up to 30 minutes until our date (mind you we had a late enough date planned and his team played at 2:30 that day so in other words he’s been at the bar all day). He then texts me 30 minutes before we were supposed to be at the place saying “hey, I don’t think this is a good idea. I’m not in tip top shape and I want to make a good impression”. He NEVER apologized and the next morning he stated that he was at brunch. He’s now texting me again has yet to apologize or reschedule. Should I just forget about him or give him another chance?
Age: 25
City: Dallas
State: Texas

I think the apology was implied in the initial text where he cancelled the date. Had he called you, I have a feeling he probably would have offered an apology. But keep in mind that he was out with his bros at a bar watching a game. That means he was probably a lil’ drunky. As frustrating as it it to get that call, he was smart to text and not pick up the phone. Given your reaction here, and given that he probably had had a few, I don’t see that conversation ending well.

In the future, in order to avoid this particular scenario, don’t agree to be penciled in between other appointments. This is why you don’t plan a date before or after another event. Dates should be scheduled when you have a few hours free and no place to be afterwards. Especially avoid dates that are being scheduled around a sporting or other televised event. Those things rarely start or end on time.

To be more accurate, avoid people who tell you that they’re prioritizing a game or what not over meeting you.  Not that I don’t get it. Awards season is almost upon us. My friend Karen and I devote HOURS to watching red carpets and award telecasts together. HOURS. Her husband knows to plan accordingly. I ABSOLUTELY prioritize that time with my friend over guys or dates. But I would NEVER tell the guy that. Why? It makes me sound kinda crazy. By revealing that, I would be saying to him, “You will never be more important than listening to bad Neil Patrick Harris jokes.” That’s not how you start things off with someone new.

Why give a stupid reason. They could just say “I’m really tired but would like to reschedule.”  Then you reschedule and go out. That’s how normal people do it. A girl once canceled on me last minute on the grounds that her father broke his leg. What?  I said “no problem” and immediately went out with her best friend. Then I ate her liver with some fava beans. The last part isn’t true.A friend

Should you give him a second chance? I don’t know. Personally, I have a hard time bouncing back from last minute cancels. If I’m given sufficient enough heads up, say a few hours, I probably would let it slide. But if that cancellation occurs while I’m getting ready to meet them, I’m out. It makes the person cancelling look flaky and like they don’t have their shit together. That’s not what somebody who wants to make a good impression does. That’s something done by someone who isn’t all that interested in the first place. Save for extenuating circumstances like accidents or work obligations dropped in your lap, if you’re debating whether or not to cancel a date, don’t wait to see how things play out. Cancel that date the minute you have a hesitation.

If someone is going to cancel, and they genuinely want to meet someone, they should have a back up date ready to suggest. So, Paige, in your case I would blow this guy off. He doesn’t seem like he’s got it together enough to be ready for any kind of productive relationship.


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23 Responses to “The Savvy Dater: How Do You Handle a Last Minute Cancellation?”

  1. Sherry Says:

    For all intents and purposes, I define a last-minute cancellation as one that takes place less than two hours before the agreed-upon meetup time.

    I handle last-minute cancellations by cutting the guy off and ceasing all future contact with him, especially if we are in the very early stages of dating. During the earliest stages of dating, I am not emotionally attached enough to miss a man who shows early signs of unreliability.

    Unless he experienced a sudden death in the family or was involved in a major car collision at the very last minute, I want to be notified a few hours prior to the cancellation so I’m not wasting time getting ready for the date. Most adults know when they’re running low on time and should act accordingly or cancel the date in a timely manner.

    My approach might seem extreme to some people, but cutting all ties with a person who does not value my time is a way to send a strong message that I disapprove of this type of behavior.

    • Molly Says:

      Before cutting off all ties to the person, you should find out whether they had a valid excuse or not.

      Let’s face it, most blind dates will not be a match. So it is not uncommon for people not to put them as a priority before more sure things such as family, or friends.

      Now, a second cancellation might not be forgivable.

      When in doubt, meet the person on a weekday for a very casual date at a public place with lots of people.

  2. noquay Says:

    Agree, sometimes stuff comes up but he shouldn’t have squeezed you in after a session with the bros. What? He couldn’t anticipate he’d be too @#$%faced to date afterward? That speaks of not being very interested in the first place as does not making plans when the date didn’t work out.

  3. D. Says:

    This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, and generally speaking, I don’t stand for it, particularly from someone I’ve just started dating. I find that there are two reasons to be pissed about this. First, if my schedule actually is busy, then I’ve likely carved out time for this other person where I could be doing something else. Second, even if I don’t have anything going on, it sends a pretty clear signal from the other person that they’re fairly self-absorbed and flaky, and they generally don’t value my time. In this case, yeah, ok, the guy was celebrating his football team’s win or whathaveyou. Super. But if you’ve got a date coming up later, you put on your grownup pants, pull your shit together, and don’t get plastered with your bros because you know that if you do, you’ll have to cancel (or show up drunk, which is probably worse).

    Here’s the deal: grownups who make plans follow through on those plans, unless someone is bleeding or in DIRE need. They also make it clear that they’re extremely sorry for the change of plans, and that they DO value your time and want to make it up to you. This guy did none of that.

    Now, how to handle it? Simple: you don’t. You just walk away. You can lay into the guy via text, email, whatever, but understand if you do that this is purely to satisfy your own desire to vent, and it likely won’t accomplish anything. Most of the time, it’s easier to just walk away and ignore the other person, because you really owe them nothing more than that. If they keep pestering you and you want them to go away, then just say “Sorry, I’m just not really that interested. Good luck out there,” and leave it at that. But chances are that they’ll get the message when they don’t get a response from you.

    Move on, and date people who actually have their shit together.

    • Eliza Says:

      I agree with all this that D Wrote–which is actually why – this guy’s immature ways can be viewed as a clear indicator from the onset – and a blessing in a way. The OP didn’t have to waste more of her time. His behavior – early on said it all, and you just move on–take it at face value. She didn’t vest too much time, before knowing what this guy’s priorities are. Best to know sooner rather than later what you are working with.

  4. msM. Says:

    With online dating first dates, that is something that can come with the territory. I would not take it personally, I would just not expect anything from them. That is why I never give out phone numbers, not until I have actually met the person, I stick to email, this way I can “filter them out” easiiy if they turnout to be creeps. I also feel like people put too much expectation on a first date, it should just be a drinks/coffee situation, because you truly NEVER know. Online dating depersonalizes things bit but I still love how it can filter out people more easily than “real life” dating.

  5. GI_JANE Says:

    For the love of God, things happen people!!! Give him another chance.

    1. Everything is not about you, he was not trying to waste YOUR time or disrespect YOU, he doesn’t know you much, so this would imply a fragile ego to me on your part if your taking this so personally.
    2. Not sure if he is younger than 25, but he might be at an age where hanging out with his buddies is a weekly, daily, part of his life.
    3.. If he cancels a date again BEFORE you meet him, bail.
    4. If he does this AFTER you meet him and you felt a connection, tell him it bothers you, if he persists, leave.

    • D. Says:

      “1. Everything is not about you, he was not trying to waste YOUR time or disrespect YOU, he doesn’t know you much, so this would imply a fragile ego to me on your part if your taking this so personally.”

      Of course he didn’t mean it as a personal insult. Hell, a personal insult would actually require that he stop and think about her in the first place. But his behavior strongly suggests that she never entered his mind in the first place.

      He could’ve scheduled the date later. He could’ve watched how much he drank that day, knowing he had a date coming up. He could’ve apologized in the moment. He could’ve apologized after the fact when he asked her out again.

      He didn’t do any of that.

      To me, that’s the sign of someone who’s simply inconsiderate and self-absorbed. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time or the energy for that kind of bullshit in my life.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        **Hell, a personal insult would actually require that he stop and think about her in the first place.**

        Ha. Exactly.

    • meh Says:

      you are wrong.

      he wasted her time & disrespected her. if he’s doing this now, he will do it later. if she allows him to make her low priority then she will be giving him permission to always make her low priority.

      it doesn’t matter how old he is. nothing “happened,” he chose to cancel & not apologize. he wants to spend all day at the bar with his bros instead of following through with his commitment? he made his choice. she needs to move on and follow moxie’s advice: “To be more accurate, avoid people who tell you that they’re prioritizing a game or what not over meeting you.”.

      mr. “i want to make a good impression” already made his 1st impression: he’s a jerk & his bros are more important than her. he is unreliable & unapologetic. end of story.

      • Bogey44 Says:

        To be fair, he’s never met this girl before so why should she take priority in his life over his friends and things he likes. For all he knew his date with her could be a dud and he’d never want to see her again. No reason to give up people and things that are important in your life for someone who may not be.

        That said, if football and his buddies are that important he shouldn’t have scheduled a date with her that day. I get it, my Sunday football routine with my friends is important to me, therefore I won’t give it up for a first date. If when planning a date that day comes up I’d go with a simple, “I’m busy that day, how’s Tuesday?” and go from there. He should have known better than to try and squeeze her in.

    • GI_JANE Says:

      1. I understand what’s it like to have to cancel or not show up for events or be an hour late because I take care of my grandfather so things come up all the time before I leave the house. I also have severe anxiety associated with dating and drink a lot to feel calmer about situations. So in short, I cancel, reschedule, or show up super late for things all the time.

      2. Do I text dates and tell them this? No, I say something less revealing about my circumstances like I’m sick, phone died etc..

      2. People who take this personally really ought not to. My flaws are not a reflection of them.

      3. You have no idea what’s going on in his life, he might just be saying he was out with his friends but be doing other things. You don’t know.

      4. I met a great guy online one time who cancelled on me twice, we met the 3rd time he schedule a date with me. He had children and car problems at the time, had I cut contact the first time, I would’ve missed out on such a great guy.

      4. Dating is hard enough, you don’t have to be so fickle about everything.

  6. Eliza Says:

    It’s true and I fully agree not to expect much from online dating candidates. And especially if you are both meeting for the first time. Which is why I make sure to meet someone online for the first time – at a convenient place to me…a starbucks is good enough, or similar setting, just to meet for a short while, and if things go well, and take off from there, great. I also schedule these types of dates at a time and day when I don’t have anything to do – other plans or interests lined up. Like a Sunday early evening, or a Monday night – after work (landry night!) :) This way–I don’t re-arrange MY life for a mere coffee date. And if he bails, he bails…so what. Nothing lost there…and his/he unreliability didn’t get in the way of my Friday or Saturday evening with friends or another date.

  7. LostSailor Says:

    Hey, shit happens and sometimes you need to cancel. I usually don’t sweat it if a date cancels at the last minute, especially if they include a specific date to reschedule in the cancellation. But points start to drop off if they don’t do that, or don’t respond to my suggested new day and time. (It’s also why I nearly always plan first meetings for a weeknight rather than a weekend; if I have the time on a weeknight, I’m not really giving up much else except maybe a beer and round of darts at the local.)

    But this guy didn’t do that. It’s weak game to try to shoehorn in a first date on what I’m presuming was a Saturday night after watching football at the bar with the guys all afternoon and then–surprise–cancel at the last minute without a followup reschedule.

    Paige, you’re 25, and while football may be a religion in Texas, I’m sure there are other guys in Dallas that can properly arrange a date around Saturday afternoon services. I’d walk away from this one…

  8. Mark Says:

    Last minute cancellation.

    Sometimes things pop up at the last minute or so. Something at work requires you to stay late, a car mishap, a leaking pipe at home, etc. That sort of thing happens to all of us from time to time. That’s part of life. So in that respect I tend to cut a little slack.

    Note: I said a little.

    I mean that if it is consistent, or otherwise a pattern, then either their too busy, too flaky, or something else which makes things problematical. If I have to cancel at the last minute, i try right then and there to suggest an alternative day time and event. If I bail, I should make the effort to make amends. Seems fair to all involved.

    Your case is a little different.

    Something was planned for a specific time. He knew this when he went with his buddies regarding the football game. Yes, I understand that football is almost a religion down there. However, It is a fair assumption to make that he imbibed a little too much and realized it at the last minute. Yep, he made a first impression all right. Although he probably didn’t realize it. Nor did he decide to reschedule until the next day and as you pointed out, he never apologized about anything.

    Nothing he seems to have said/texted/done indicates that he was contrite about anything. The inference that he was intoxicated also suggests poor impulse control. In short, he is probably a good guy to hang around with for a good time and fun. but I don’t think that he has demonstrated much in the way of emotional maturity for anything more than that.

    So you may want to wish him the best but say no thanks and move on.

    Best of luck.

  9. Tinker Says:

    He hasn’t apologized or asked to reschedule. There is no decision for the OP to make here, the guy has already made it for her by not rescheduling- he’s not interested.

  10. Howard Says:

    Who are we kidding? “Hot” rules. If this guy is average to begin with, you probably will blow him off. The last minute cancel is just the straw that breaks the camel back.

    If this guy is hot, and you were getting great vibes, this may be the first strike against him. Maybe you will give him another shot.

    If he is somewhere in the middle, it becomes a judgement call from your gut. At the very least, he was honest. He needs to get his act together for sure, but at least he didn’t give you “the car broke down line” like most guys in this situation will.

    The other thing is, this is Texas, where people have to drive everywhere. It was smart of him to recognize his condition and not be trying to drive drunk.

    • Molly Says:

      Yeah, OP sounds undecided about seeing this guy again. Maybe she feels some good attraction for him. That’s a good start. It doesn’t take much time or energy for OP to find out if this guy might be worth a second date (if he asks).

      If I were the OP I’d text, “hey, you didn’t apologize for cancelling on me the other night”

      Wait for a reply. If the reply is apologizing, that’s a good sign.
      Maybe he was drunk when he texted, and forgot he didn’t apologize.
      Set up a short, simple date for a drink or coffee on a weekday in a very public place not too late in the evening!

      If he doesn’t apologize at all or doesn’t give you more explanations that show he’s sorry, you’ll know he’s not a great guy. Don’t go out with him again. Write back to him saying “I am not interested in someone who doesn’t offer a simple apology for cancelling on others, especially at the last minute, yes even for a stranger like me. I look for people to add to my life who will bring a positive experience and I don’t think you will do that. I might be wrong, we haven’t met, we don’t even know if we’d had chemistry, either. But this is the impression you’ve given so far” You may make this shorter if you wish. Be direct, polite, assertive, not preachy or whinny.

      • BostonRobin Says:

        Way too much effort for her to put into someone she hasn’t even met. I truly believe that no one text-cancels a first date if they have any intention of seeing that person. My rule when that happens is ignore/delete/block.

      • RedneckGeekGurl Says:

        And just why? So YOU feel better for having your say? Been there … Done that … And being an uptight freak is not a place to be either…..!

        Meaning that a stranger cares that you are special and valuable? Nope …

        Just move on …. Drop the drama …. So you dressed/prepped for the date? Is that so noteworthy?

  11. D'Alias Says:

    You’re only 25. This sounds like a jr. mistake. Based on your age (assuming his is similar), I’d let it go once and still accept a date from him if he gets back in touch. If you like him, you can just let him know you’d rather not have combo plans cuz you don’t want your time wasted again. If he balks at that, whatever.

  12. WO7 Says:

    Funny to see a woman complaining about this. I think this behavior is much more typical of women then of men. The last minute first date cancel is so annoying. “I’m sick”, and “I’m stuck at work” are completely transparent.

    I hate when people do this, and consider it majorly disrespectful.

    However, as a rule of thumb, I let the first incident slide. Second date they’re given lower priority as a result of their inability to be dependable the first time. If they pull it a second time…number deleted from my phone.

    I do my best to not do first dates on a Friday or Saturday night…because it really pisses me off when someone last minute cancels on a weekend.

  13. L Says:

    This is pretty interesting. I’m wondering how many of the folks saying, “give him another chance” are working/living in low pressure environments?

    My worklife/real life is a succinctly calibrated balancing act. I don’t have the patience or time for flakes and I can’t do spontaneous except for a four hour window on Saturdays. When I make a plan, I’m there, phone goes on vibrate and whoever I’m with gets 100% of my attention. Unless I’m ill or dead or there’s a family emergency I don’t cancel.

    So, I need someone who can work with that. I don’t plan on this schedule forever, but that’s how it is now. If I find my mr. Right, I will start being more accommodating.

    But I have dear friends who operate on a much freer, flowing concept of time. (Cultural thing) There is nothing deliberate or disrespectful in their ways (habitually late, cancelling plans etc.) And we’ve trained each other when it comes to these things. They’ve become more timely and I’ve become more patient.

    So, maybe it’s worth investigating that with him or the next guy. expressing politely you’re miffed and see what the reaction is. It might still be dealbreaker for you, but the behaviour isn’t neccessarily nefarious.

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