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December 1, 2021

What is your cancellation policy?

I recently met a young woman at a party (let’s call her Sarah) and asked her out. We hit it off and made great conversation. At the end of the night I walked Sarah to her car, took her phone number, and told her that I’d pick her up on Saturday night for dinner. 

 

Well, fortunately/unfortunately, that Saturday night date never happened, as she texted me a few hours before to cancel. Her reason for cancelling was that her friend was having a birthday dinner, so she asked if we could go on Sunday night instead. 

 

With how flaky people are these days, sometimes I feel like going on dates should come with a cancellation policy, like making an appointment with a doctor: I require an advanced notice of at least 24-hours or you will be charged the full amount of your missed session. That would never happen, but let’s talk about cancelling and (being cancelled on) for a moment. 

 

First of all, if someone cancels on you, they should really do three things:

 

  1. Apologize for cancelling
  2. Give a legitimate reason for cancelling
  3. Suggest a time to reschedule 

 

Let’s look at how Sarah’s cancellation measured up against these best practices. 

 

Did she apologize for cancelling? She did not. What’s more, she cancelled only a few hours in advance, which was not very polite. No bueno. 

 

Did she give a legitimate reason? Yes and no. On the one hand, going to the birthday dinner for a friend you’ve known for a while might carry more weight than going on a first date with someone you just met. On the other hand, when you cancel on a date so that you can go out with your friends, you are sending your date the message that you are either A) not really prioritizing dating and care more about other things, or B) not that interested in the specific person you cancelled on. 

 

It can be hard to determine what counts as a “legitimate” reason, but use your best judgment. Cancelling for reasons such as super-urgent deadlines, family obligations, or illness -- always makes sense. Cancelling for reasons such as hanging out with other people, being too tired, or “something came up” -- not the best reflection of your character.

 

Did she suggest a time to reschedule? Yes, she did. Bravo Sarah. If somebody cancels on you but suggests an alternate date/time, it shows that they are still interested. If they cancel and do not suggest an alternative, or ask to “play it by ear,” that is probably your cue to move on. 

 

Now, what should you do if someone cancels and does none of these three things? No apology, no good reason, and no reschedule? Well, if you are really really interested in this person, you can try to make the date happen one more time. But that’s it, one more attempt only. Anything past that shows that you do not value your own time...so how can you ask someone else to value it?

 

Our time is an even more valuable asset than our money. This means we have to manage it wisely, but it also means that we have to be willing to invest it in other people (so we don’t die alone). No risk, no reward. Personally, I would recommend that you move on from people who feed you covert indications that they don’t wish to spend their time on you, and instead find someone who gives you overt signs that they’re willing and ready to make you a priority. 

 

Furthermore, never believe somebody who says they are “too busy” for this or that. Give me a break. There is no such thing as “I’m too busy.” Everybody has work, friends, family, bills, and obligations; and everybody has 24 hours in a day. We manage our time according to how we want to allocate it and what we consider to be personally important.

 

Of course, things come up and we all have to reschedule once in a while, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Bottom line: invest your time in the people who are willing to invest their time in you, and if you have to cancel, do it in the most respectful way possible. It’s either that, or we have to send an email outlining our cancellation policy every time we set up a date.


I recently met a young woman at a party (let’s call her Sarah) and asked her out. We hit it off and made great conversation. At the end of the night I walked Sarah to her car, took her phone number, and told her that I’d pick her up on Saturday night for dinner. 

 

Well, fortunately/unfortunately, that Saturday night date never happened, as she texted me a few hours before to cancel. Her reason for cancelling was that her friend was having a birthday dinner, so she asked if we could go on Sunday night instead. 

 

With how flaky people are these days, sometimes I feel like going on dates should come with a cancellation policy, like making an appointment with a doctor: I require an advanced notice of at least 24-hours or you will be charged the full amount of your missed session. That would never happen, but let’s talk about cancelling and (being cancelled on) for a moment. 

 

First of all, if someone cancels on you, they should really do three things:

 

  1. Apologize for cancelling
  2. Give a legitimate reason for cancelling
  3. Suggest a time to reschedule 

 

Let’s look at how Sarah’s cancellation measured up against these best practices. 

 

Did she apologize for cancelling? She did not. What’s more, she cancelled only a few hours in advance, which was not very polite. No bueno. 

 

Did she give a legitimate reason? Yes and no. On the one hand, going to the birthday dinner for a friend you’ve known for a while might carry more weight than going on a first date with someone you just met. On the other hand, when you cancel on a date so that you can go out with your friends, you are sending your date the message that you are either A) not really prioritizing dating and care more about other things, or B) not that interested in the specific person you cancelled on. 

 

It can be hard to determine what counts as a “legitimate” reason, but use your best judgment. Cancelling for reasons such as super-urgent deadlines, family obligations, or illness -- always makes sense. Cancelling for reasons such as hanging out with other people, being too tired, or “something came up” -- not the best reflection of your character.

 

Did she suggest a time to reschedule? Yes, she did. Bravo Sarah. If somebody cancels on you but suggests an alternate date/time, it shows that they are still interested. If they cancel and do not suggest an alternative, or ask to “play it by ear,” that is probably your cue to move on. 

 

Now, what should you do if someone cancels and does none of these three things? No apology, no good reason, and no reschedule? Well, if you are really really interested in this person, you can try to make the date happen one more time. But that’s it, one more attempt only. Anything past that shows that you do not value your own time...so how can you ask someone else to value it?

 

Our time is an even more valuable asset than our money. This means we have to manage it wisely, but it also means that we have to be willing to invest it in other people (so we don’t die alone). No risk, no reward. Personally, I would recommend that you move on from people who feed you covert indications that they don’t wish to spend their time on you, and instead find someone who gives you overt signs that they’re willing and ready to make you a priority. 

 

Furthermore, never believe somebody who says they are “too busy” for this or that. Give me a break. There is no such thing as “I’m too busy.” Everybody has work, friends, family, bills, and obligations; and everybody has 24 hours in a day. We manage our time according to how we want to allocate it and what we consider to be personally important.

 

Of course, things come up and we all have to reschedule once in a while, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Bottom line: invest your time in the people who are willing to invest their time in you, and if you have to cancel, do it in the most respectful way possible. It’s either that, or we have to send an email outlining our cancellation policy every time we set up a date.


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