How to Cancel a Date Without Being Rude

Updated August 25, 2022
Woman cancelling date

When it comes to the Wild West that is dating, there's nothing that people agonize over more than deciding on how to cancel a date. Every situation's different; sometimes you're immediately rescheduling the date right after canceling and other times you're racking your brain for some good excuses to cancel a date that you weren't really feeling. It doesn't even matter whether you'd like to see your date again, there's a ton of ways to cancel a date politely that will leave both you and your date feeling good.

From learning how to cancel a date over text with someone you're not into to tips on how to reschedule a date with a person you're attracted to, calling off a date can be done without being rude. Whether you need to cancel plans in advance or at the last minute, these tips can help you get it right.

Helpful Tips for Canceling a Date in Any Situation

There's no one reason why you might need to get out of date; you may want to cancel because you don't feel well, don't want to see someone again, or have conflicting plans. But, you don't have to come out of canceling a date feeling like a villain. Whether you're planning on rescheduling or not, there's always a way to be honest with someone without being rude or hurting their feelings. If you thought introducing yourself online or asking the right getting to know you questions was hard, canceling a date without being rude can be even more challenging. These useful tips will guide you through every romantic scenario you find yourself in.

How to Cancel a Date Last-Minute

Young woman using smart phone while sitting in bedroom

The dreaded last-minute date cancellation can give a person nightmares. There's no way to come out completely unscathed when having to tell someone that you're not going to make a date on the day of. That being said, you owe it to your date to be completely transparent about why you're canceling - even if it's for something silly. For example, if you overslept, or mischeduled, then you need to come clean. We're all human, and they'll appreciate you showing them the respect they deserve. Learn how to politely cancel a date, and you should come out of it with a new date and time with your potential beau:

  • Honestly, I accidentally fell asleep and I just woke up. I hope you haven't already left because there's no way I'll make it there in the next fifteen minutes. I'm so sorry to put you out like this, but can we reschedule?
  • You won't believe this, but I'm sitting in a traffic jam that's going nowhere. I think I'm going to miss our date - do you just want to plan on us not meeting up today?
  • I was really looking forward to seeing that improv show with you, but I can't shake this migraine, and I'd be no fun holding my head in my hands the whole time. Please let me pay for the tickets though - it was really sweet of you to get them for us.
  • My sister just called and she got into a huge fight with her boss. She really needs me to calm her down, so I don't think I'm going to get out of her place in time to meet up. I can't apologize enough for the short notice!

How to Cancel and Reschedule a Date

If you're really into the person you planned to meet up with and want to see them again, it's important to chat with them about why you have to cancel while making it clear that you want to spend more time with them. The promise of future plans will be a balm to their disappointment, such as how these soothing statements for rescheduling a date will.

  • I'm so sorry I need to cancel our date, but I'd love to reschedule. When are you free to meet again?
  • I had a last-minute emergency come up and I'll need to reschedule our date. I'm so sorry to do this. Let me know when you'd like to meet up!
  • I had a work issue come up last minute so I need to reschedule our date. Are you free to meet any other time this week?
  • Hey! I have a little hiccup in my schedule and will need to cancel our date. I'm beyond sorry but would love to see you again. Let me know when you're free and I'll clear my schedule!
  • So sorry to do this last minute, but I have to deal with something. Any chance we could reschedule for tomorrow?

As you discuss the cancellation and rescheduling, you can also confirm the date and still sound casual. If you want to see the person again, getting it right on your second attempt can help you come across the right way. If the person asks more questions about rescheduling, it may even help keep the text conversation going before the date.

Ways to Cancel a Date Without Rescheduling

Woman Holding Smartphone Waiting for her Date

Maybe you didn't initially decline the date, but if you've had a change of heart and no longer want to see someone you have a date scheduled with, that's completely okay. Maybe you're just not into them, or maybe you need to cancel a date because you met someone else. The important thing is to not lead your date on. You have to cut the cord completely when it comes to canceling a date without rescheduling because any wishy-washiness or making up fake excuses to soften the blow will actually hurt your date more when it's all said and done.

Of course, there's a balance to being honest but kind. A few ideas to consider when it comes to how to cancel a date without being rude are:

  • After thinking about it, I don't think we're a great match so I'd like to cancel our date, but I really enjoyed meeting you.
  • Although I enjoyed briefly chatting with you, I'm not interested in pursuing this relationship romantically and think we should cancel our date. Wishing you the best!
  • I don't think we're going to work out so I think we should go ahead and cancel our date. It was nice meeting you, though!
  • I'm not comfortable moving forward with this relationship so I'm going to cancel our upcoming date. Thanks for the offer though!
  • I think you're a great person, but not the right fit for me. Wishing you well!

How to Cancel a First Date

Canceling a first date often feels like a risky move - especially if you're going in blind. But, life's unpredictable, and sometimes you just need to make a clean escape. Since first dates usually aren't super formal and high-commitment (such as going to a diner for lunch or picking up coffee and strolling around a park), you shouldn't stress your delivery too much.

However, when you go to cancel, no matter if it's by text or in person, you should always make sure to give your date as much notice as possible. Not only will they really appreciate being able to reorganize their schedule with the added free time, but they'll be much more likely to match your polite gesture with one of their own.

Also, be precise and clear about what you want moving forward. If you want to reschedule the date, go ahead and offer up a time to meet in the near future. If the circumstances making you cancel mean that you're not going to be in a place to go on any dates for a while, let them know about what the situation looks like. The kindest thing you can do when it comes to canceling first dates is to be clear and considerate.

If you're canceling a first date for the first time, here are a few of the different ways you can let your date down easy:

  • I was so looking forward to getting to meet you in person, but a work thing came up and I can't get away in time for our reservations! How does next Friday sound, instead?
  • I'm so sorry, but an emergency just came up and I'm not going to be able to meet you tomorrow. I'll tell you all about it this weekend if you're free?
  • You're such an incredible person, and I've really enjoyed getting to know you but some stuff came up and it's made me realize that I'm not really ready for anything romantic right now.
  • I know we had plans to have lunch at that new French bistro on Wednesday, but my sister really needs me to pick up my nephew from daycare. Could we move it to tomorrow instead?

Different Ways to Cancel Plans

On top of just having to tell someone that you're canceling plans with them is the delicate way you have to craft each message differently depending on the method you're using to let them know. For example, you'll probably give a shorter explanation if you're sending them a text versus when you're talking to them on the phone or in person. Similarly, you might choose to use a lot of adjectives and emojis to make sure your tone comes across as kind if you're sending a cancellation over text.

How to Cancel a Date Over Text

Modern dating is all about the cell phone. From dating apps to late-night phone calls, 21st-century courtship centers around everyone's favorite hand-held device, so you've got to be savvy when it comes to communicating via text message. Sending a text is a quick way to get your point across whether you'd like to reschedule a date or are letting someone know that you aren't interested in seeing them again.

When you need to cancel a date over text, you might send them a message that looks like this:

  • Hey! Sorry to do this, but I need to reschedule. I've been feeling really crummy. Have another day in mind for our date?
  • I had a great time with you, but don't see us working out. I'd love to stay friends if you're up for that?
  • It was great meeting with you, but I don't think we're going to work out. Take care!
  • So sorry but I have to switch our date to a different day. Anything else work for you? I'd love to see you again this week!

Tips for Canceling Through a Phone Call

Man calling to cancel his date

Calling to cancel your date gives you the chance to elaborate on the reason that you're canceling with an added personal touch, without making you face the discomfort of seeing your date's immediate reaction. If you're calling to cancel and not reschedule, it's best to keep what you say short and concise, but if you're hoping to move the date to another day in the future, you can bookend your cancellation with an offer to reschedule. For example, you can consider saying:

  • I just wanted to call and let you know that I'm going to need to reschedule our date. I'm so sorry about doing it last minute, but I'd love to see you another time this week.
  • Hi! I just wanted to talk with you about finding another time to see each other if you've got a second? Unfortunately, I'm not going to make our date. I've got a family matter that I'm dealing with, so do any other days work for you?
  • Hey, I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed getting to know you, but I don't see us making it as a couple. I think it's best if we cancel our upcoming date.
  • Hi! I hope you're doing well. I wanted to let you know that I don't think we're the best fit for each other and I'd like to cancel our date. I think you're an awesome person, I just didn't feel any romantic chemistry between us.

Best Ways to Cancel a Date in Person

If you've been on a couple of dates with someone, or you've been friends with them for a long time and you're interested in taking the friendship to a new level, you may want to cancel the date in person. While this can be the hardest way to let someone down - especially if you're not thinking about rescheduling - you don't have to walk into the situation ill-equipped.

You can arm yourself with these quick and clear excuses so that it'll go over smoothly when the time comes.

  • I've enjoyed the few dates that we've had, but I really don't see us as a couple. I'd like to stay friends if you're on board. What do you think?
  • I've liked getting to know you over the past few months, but I think it's best if we don't see each other anymore. I don't think we're a good match as a couple. I wish you all the best with dating going forward.
  • Hey! I was going to call you. I'm so sorry, but I have to cancel our plans. I haven't been feeling well. Can we reschedule for another day this week?
  • Hi, it's so funny running into you here. I was going to shoot you a text later today. Any chance we can reschedule our date? I've got some work stuff I have to deal with.

Common (and Legitimate) Reasons to Call Off a Date

You might be wondering when it's actually best for everyone involved to scrap your date night plans. If you're trying to figure out how to get out of a date when something's come up or even if you're not sure about the date itself, don't stress. You can let the person know politely and there's no need to feel guilty. Good excuses to cancel a date, and situations in which canceling is actually more fair and polite to both people, include the following scenarios:

  • Illness: If either you or your potential date are ill, canceling or postponing the date is the most considerate thing you can do to prevent the other person (or those around you) from also getting sick.
  • Sudden work or school issues: If something unexpected or important has come up for work or school, it's likely a priority in your life and needs to be dealt with. If you're going to be distracted all evening with the issue, it might be more polite to your date to abandon your plans.
  • Emergencies with family or friends: If a close friend or family member has something they really need your help or support with, this can be a reason to call things off.
  • Deciding you're not interested: If you've thought about it and aren't interested in the person, it's better to cancel than to go on the date anyway; you'll be saving both parties potential discomfort or hurt feelings.
  • Red flags from your potential date: If you've noticed anything that seems off or you feel is a red flag about the person since you accepted or initiated the date, canceling can be a smart, safe choice.

Cancel Your Dates the Kind Way

Whether you decide to see your date again or not, it's important to keep your cancellation genuine and respectful. Be honest with yourself and your date about why you're canceling the plans but continue to prioritize the decision that you feel the most comfortable with. While you can't control how they're going to react, you can control how you deliver the news, and since kindness is usually met with the same in return, it's a great idea to keep things polite and compassionate whenever possible.

How to Cancel a Date Without Being Rude