Woman with cell phone in hand looks thoughtful and considers how to cancel a date

How To Cancel a Date: Tips and Tricks for Doing it Right

start free today
I am I am looking for

You can add more detail about your gender in your profile

For your security, use the following password format:

  • At least 8 characters
  • Letters AND numbers/special characters
  • Must not be the same as your email address
by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

You’ve been asked out (or have asked someone out) and it’s almost time for your date… except something comes up. Figuring out how to cancel a date can be fraught, especially if it’s last-minute. You don’t want to give the impression you’re no longer interested or accidentally offend them. Plus, having to give up something you were looking forward to is always hard, even if you have a good reason. Let’s look at how to cancel a date politely and some tips for doing so.

Why you might want to cancel a date

There are many reasons to cancel a date – perhaps there’s an emergency, perhaps you’re unwell, something came up at work, or you saw a dating red flag you didn’t notice before. Whatever the reason, let the other person know as soon as possible that you won’t be able to make it. Be as honest as you can – people often see through a fib.

When to cancel a date: making the right decision

Part of how to cancel a date is figuring out when to do it. Emergencies rarely arrive on a schedule but the more notice you give somebody, the easier it will be for them to change whatever plans they may have made, which is an important part of how to cancel a date politely.

Navigating different situations and relationship stages

How to cancel a date depends on a few things – how close you are to the date itself, what stage your relationship is in and your partner’s preferred means of communication. Casual dating means a text is fine; if you’re more serious, it’s better to call. If you’re wondering ‘how to cancel a date by text’, simple is best – just let them know you can’t make it and why. As for how to cancel a date last minute, just call, since they may not see your text in time. If you’ve met only online, use the app you met on to give them a heads up.

Excuses to cancel a date

You said yes — and now you want to say no. If you’re having second thoughts about the plans-for-two you just agreed to, here are a few of the best excuses/reasons for cancelling a date.

8 essential tips for cancelling a date

It’s always best to keep a few rules in mind for how to cancel a date. After all, you probably don’t want to end your relationship with this person. 

1. Be respectful and considerate

Remember this person has agreed to spend time with you. Even if you are no longer interested, there’s no reason to be rude – not least because karma can make itself felt in unexpected of ways. 

2. Say sorry

They were probably looking forward to getting together, which means a genuine sorry is not only necessary but goes a long way towards soothing hurt feelings. Keep it simple and direct, and use ‘I’ statements for a more effective apology.

3. Avoid ghosting

Regardless of how thin your excuse, it’s still better than ghosting. Leaving your date hanging isn’t just rude, it can impact their self-confidence. Unless safety is an issue, always make the effort to actually cancel, regardless of how awkward it might feel.

4. Reschedule the date

Sometimes, the problem is just timing. Offer up an alternative date: it’ll let them know you’re still interested but life is just getting in the way.

5. Deal with reactions

Your date might be disappointed, upset or even angry. Give them space to express these emotions (within limits). Acknowledging and validating negative emotions can help them get over it faster.

6. Set boundaries

Your date’s feelings are important but so are yours. Never be afraid to cancel a date for your own physical or mental health. Neither are you under any obligation to try again. If you’re wondering how to cancel a date without rescheduling, one way is to be vague about the possibility of getting together in future. 

7. Be honest and transparent

As far as possible, it’s best not to make up excuses for cancelling the date. If you can’t be completely honest, try for a partial truth instead – you could, for instance, blame a busy schedule rather than explaining you’re just not feeling the vibes any more.

8. Practise self-reflection

Regardless of your reasons for cancelling the date, it’s always good to reflect on your behavior and see if there was anything you would have done differently. Thinking about your impact on other people isn’t always easy but it’s key to personal growth and emotional intelligence.

How to cancel a date gracefully

Cancelling a date is rarely easy but should always be done with kindness and compassion. Not only will you feel better, it will help maintain a positive relationship – and who knows where that path may lead! And if a cancelled date leads to a cancelled relationship, there’s always eharmony.

How it works

Your search for a great relationship has never been easier with groundbreaking overhaul of the eharmony you know and trust.