How to Cancel a Date as Kindly as Possible
By Wendy Gould
Life happens, plans change, and sometimes you need to cancel a date. In some scenarios you might be vibing with the other person, only to realize there’s an unmovable obligation or emergency you need to prioritize. In other cases, you may realize you’re no longer feeling the connection and that moving forward with the date isn’t a good use of time for either of you.
Either way, navigating the situation can be a bit tricky. After all, in the former scenario you want to ensure the date occurs at a later date, while in the latter you need to balance honesty with kindness. We’re walking you through how to cancel a date politely so you can maximize your chances of a positive outcome and minimize hurt feelings.
How to cancel when you’re no longer interested in your match
Maybe your potential date said something that made you realize your interests weren’t aligned, or perhaps you simply realized that, try as you might, a connection just wasn’t going to happen. Maybe you even met someone in the interim. Canceling your upcoming date is hard, but must be done, as ghosting can be hurtful for the other person and cause the situation to linger without resolution for both parties. (Plus, standing someone up is incredibly rude and hurtful.)
Here are some phrases you can use:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t feel a romantic connection. I wish you the best of luck”
This phrase may work in scenarios where you’re still early in the dating process with someone. “There’s no judgment towards the other person when you say it this way,” says therapist and relationship consultant Stephanie Mintz. It’s also kind because “the underlying message of this statement is that even though you aren’t the right match, someone else will be and it is best for both of us that we each find our best match.”
When you’ve only been on a date or two or have just been texting, it’s helpful to speak generally about not being a match versus pointing out specific issues. However, if the person wants more specifics, it’s up to you if you’d like to carefully continue the conversation. Otherwise, reiterate that you don’t think it’s a match and that you wish them success in their dating journey. Once you send this note, you don’t owe the other person any further contact—especially if they respond negatively.
“I’ve enjoyed our time together, but I’ve realized that spark is missing.”
This phrase is useful for situations where you’ve spoken with your match for a while or met up several times, but want to cancel the next date. You can even follow up with something like, “You have a lot to offer and I know someone else will love your [sense of humor/cooking skills/etc].”
Saying something like the above works because it’s direct and clear while also somewhat vague about your reasons for canceling, says Dr. Susan Trotter, clinical psychologist and relationship coach. “The rejection is naturally going to sting a bit, but you don’t want to hurt someone more than necessary.” Again, if they want to know more then you can share that information directly, but still be respectful and don’t say anything hurtful.
“I’ve met someone else, and we have a really strong connection.”
The dating world is a tough one, and hearing this phrase likely won’t be easy for the other person. However, as they’re in the dating game, too, they will understand that simultaneous connections may be happening.
When you use this phrase, there’s a good chance your match will respect your decision to put your efforts into another relationship. As tempting as it may be, “Don’t offer to be friends because it can be difficult to shift to friendship when you meet as potential romantic partners,” Trotter says. “It may also give the other person false hope.” It’s also not fair to the other stronger connection you want to focus on.
How to cancel a date when you need to reschedule
We can’t always control our schedules, and it’s common for things to come up that interfere with our plans. Still, egos can be fragile in the dating process, and a canceled date can feel like a slight even if you really like the person. If you need to reschedule, there are ways to soften the cancellation while reassuring your match that you’d still like to meet.
“I was really looking forward to seeing you, but I need to reschedule because XYZ. When are you free again?”
To maintain transparency and continue building trust, be clear about why you need to cancel the date. Vagueness can feel off-putting when plans are disrupted. (Also, out of respect, let the other person know you need to cancel the date as soon as you find out that’s the case.)
With this phrase, “You’re being honest while you are also letting the person know you’re interested in them,” says psychotherapist and couples therapist Dr. Lee Phillips. He also recommends getting the ball rolling on the rescheduled date, which signals just how interested you are in moving forward with the connection.
“I’m sorry. I’m dealing with an emergency and I can’t make our date. Can we reschedule?”
You’ll likely need to cancel your date at the last minute in the case of an unexpected obligation or emergency. Still, it’s important to let your date know as soon as possible so they can reshuffle their own plans. Letting them know as in plenty of time shows that you prioritize your connection, that you care enough to inform them quickly, and that you want to get a new date planned.
If the emergency requires your focus, you can add something like, “I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m able, but I wanted to let you know since I care about finding time to meet up with you.” You can share the emergency details with the other person if you feel comfortable, but it’s not necessary if it’s a highly personal matter and you’ve only just started talking.
Regardless of why you need to cancel a date, always lead with kindness and respect. After all, it’s what you would want from a Bumble match if they had to cancel on you.