Just for Men

When to Cancel a Date…and How

If you’ve been reading my column for a while now, you know that we tend to move freely between the philosophical and the practical around here. Well, today’s edition is going to be decidedly practical.

In fact, what I’m about to share with you is something that EVERY MAN should know: WHEN to call off a date you’ve already set up with a woman, and exactly how to go about it.

Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that literally NOBODY ever has covered this subject in the world of men’s dating and seduction advice, at least as far as I’ve seen.

Then again, there’s so much focus on actually GETTING a date if you’re NOT seeing much action that I can see how that skill remains the priority.

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But hey, if you’re about going from GOOD to GREAT with women, and if you’re about becoming the CHOOSER rather than the CHASER, then you’re going to have to get your “cancellation skills” in order here.

So enough of an intro. What follows are EIGHT GOOD REASONS to cancel a date with a woman, and what to do in each situation. Get your sense of humor on, because here we go:

1) She Already Sort Of Makes You Mad

I have no idea why we as guys do this to ourselves. Oh wait…yes I do. She’s hot.

But dude, if you already find your blood beginning to boil during simple phone conversations with her, it isn’t going to go any better in person.

The same holds true if she flat-out irritates you in some way. It could be her laugh, her political views or that way she friggin’ interrupts you constantly or tries to lecture you on what you already know how to do in your sleep.

Maybe it’s that generally speaking, she’s generally speaking.

No matter WHAT it is, here’s the deal: If you don’t get along, why go through with the date? Simply call out the gorilla in the room: You’re sure she’s a “great person” or something, but the two of you just seem to be missing each other.

Be the man here and save her the (further) discomfort of bringing it up herself.

2) You’re Already Bored

Another thing that can happen when we finally set up a first meeting with a particularly hot woman is that we COMPLETELY OVERLOOK the fact that she has the personality of a paper clip.

Let’s face it, if you’re dreading the date more than you’re excited about it-primarily because you’re 100% sure the conversation is going to be awkward, at best-it’s time to grow some self-respect and cancel the date.

The same M.O. as above holds true here. Tell her she’s very “nice”, but that you don’t think the two of you are a match. She’ll be much happier with a guy who’s conversation enraptures her a bit more than yours.

Yeah, this is a variation on the “it’s not you, it’s me” concept, but it’s also probably true. Just about every tedious person I know eventually finds someone with whom he or she gets along perfectly. How or why that’s possible, who knows?

Chalk it up to the uniqueness of individuals and what makes them happy.

And by all means, if the fact you’ve even PLANNED the date a few days ago has slipped your mind until you look at your schedule…do the right thing. Free the woman up to go out with someone who cares.

3) Signs Of Games, Potential Flakiness, Or Getting Played

If this one doesn’t get to the very heart of “self-respect”, I don’t know what does. It’s no secret that women “test” you. Especially particularly hot ones.

But as a “selector” who is in total control of his dating life, you’ve got to draw the line on where “testing” turns into blatant game playing or even flat-out manipulation.

For example, if she calls you at 3 in the afternoon on the day you are allegedly supposed to take her out that night and says, “Oh, hey…I can’t make it. How about some other time?” then she’d better have brought an excuse along.

And it had better be a REAL GOOD one, along the lines of #6 or #7 below.

If you want to be the leader in this situation, again call it as you see it. If the excuse is legit, DO GIVE HER A CHANCE.

I realize some may tell you to cut her off right then and there, but in my mind to do that smacks of personal insecurity. Think about it.

Sometimes stuff really does come up, and you have to respect that. Believe it or not, Emily actually canceled our first date together. And obviously things worked out pretty well when we rescheduled.

But if she’s just running lame “flake out” game on you, tell her it’s all good…you suddenly agree that BOTH OF YOU have better things to do.

If you find yourself uttering these words, here’s a caveat: This will likely fry her circuits and give her a fresh dose of amped up attraction for you. Forget it. The die has been cast with regard to what you can expect from her in the future.

Here’s a dime. Find a more mature woman to date instead of a little girl. You don’t have to tell her I said that…exactly.

4) You’ve Never Seen More Than One Pic Of Her, Or Have Never Talked On The Phone

This is for you guys out there who are online. One pic on her profile isn’t going to cut it. Ask for more.

If she’s offended you would ask, let that be a red flag. If she won’t talk to you on the phone before meeting you, let that be another. And as you know by now, red flags do not a pleasant dating experience make.

By the way, the same holds true if a “blind date” is in the works. You won’t be offending the friend who set the two of you up if you ask for the pics and the phone number ahead of time. Really.

If you don’t get any joy here, explain that you simply cannot commit your time and energy to meeting her if she is unwilling to commit the time and energy to assure you there’s a possibility of mutual interest. Period.

For most guys, exactly one disastrous result of having overlooked these details in favor of misplaced optimism is enough for the lesson at hand to be learned. I’m trying to save you from having to learn it the hard way.

5) The “Set Up”

It goes like this. You’ve taken the lead by suggesting a certain game plan for your time together. She appreciates that and seems excited to join you.

Then you get a call. No wait, make that an email or a text.

It invariably starts with “Hey…”

“Hey…is it okay if my sister tags along? She’s really feeling down and hasn’t been out in a while.”

If you say “yes” to this, you may as well have agreed to her bringing a posse of bodyguards, a couple of blue-haired chaperones and a rocket scientist along too.

Chances are you probably have not succeeded at creating COMFORT and SECURITY here ahead of time.

Step back and regroup. Have you suggested a public meeting place or taking separate cars if the two of you barely know each other?

If not, tell her you’d prefer being able to give her your undivided attention.

Then let her know you want her to feel comfortable with the meeting, so you’re changing the venue to a place where there will be plenty of other people around…if not her sister, per se.

Another variation to watch out for her is when SHE suggests a venue change at the last minute.

For example, you had arranged to meet at a Thai restaurant. Thirty minutes beforehand, she calls and suggests you meet at Morton’s Steak House instead.

I don’t think so. And neither should you. Once you set the precedent of falling for that, your relationship with her is about to get REALLY pricey…and REALLY platonic, too.

6) One Or The Other Of You Is Feeling Sick

Now we get to the “legit” portion of the discussion.

Certainly, there’s varying degrees of “sick”. If you have a headache, wolf down some ibuprofen and plan on it working. After all, having to call off a date you’re genuinely psyched about is a major bummer.

But look man, if you’re hurling up your insides and/or sneezing your sinuses into submission, you’re just going to have to face up to reality.

And that reality is this: If you’re physical state is going to cause MORE HARM to the attraction process and/or to the relationship itself than getting a rain check, then you’ve GOT to reschedule.

Make the decision and run with it. If you need to postpone the date, then call her and FIRMLY RESCHEDULE it then and there. Suggest a time to her and preferably make it at the same place.

If you get pushback from a skeptical woman, state VERY CLEARLY that this is no joke. You are genuinely looking forward to hanging out with her, but it’s going to have to be after you’ve kicked whatever is ailing you.

Now if SHE’S the one calling you to announce that she has fallen ill, simply apply the logic in reverse. If she’s seriously not feeling well, she’ll be profusely apologetic and offer a time to reschedule. That’s what you’ll be looking for in that conversation.

If she’s unwilling to reschedule, it’s probably a cop-out. Either that or she’s already on her way to the hospital and losing consciousness.

7) Genuine Priority Adjustment

We’ve all seen it happen. You have a great date planned with a woman you’ve had your eye on for WEEKS…but Murphy has other plans.

I remember one time in college I finally figured out how to strike up a conversation with a girl named Gwen, who I only saw maybe once or twice a week…max. She agreed to play racquetball with me the following night.

Completely stoked about that for the next eighteen hours, I went to my afternoon class…where the professor casually reminded us the MID-TERM EXAM was the next day.

I had to cancel the date. And unfortunately, the date never ended up happening.

But I aced my class. And I graduated from college and got a job afterward.

Hopefully, if something comes up that represents a higher priority than going on a date, you’ll be better at rescheduling with a firm time and place than I was.

And make no mistake, there are LOTS of possibilities when it’s time to list what’s probably more important than going on a date. Unexpected business trips, family emergencies, playoff tickets…

8) Gut Feeling, Backed By Genuine Evidence Of Any Sort

Sometimes you just KNOW something isn’t right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
Women in particular are REALLY GOOD at intuiting when they’d better not go through with a date.

Usually it’s because they just feel a bit creeped out. Maybe the guy seems as if he could get sexually pushy or possibly even violent.

But no matter what, most women aren’t shy about cutting off plans with a guy when they have a gut feeling they shouldn’t show up.

And as guys, our “spidey senses” can start tingling also under certain circumstances, can’t they?

Do you think her emotional stability (or lack thereof) could be a factor? If she has already come up with some erratic stuff on the phone, you could be right.

Think she’s just out to use you in some way? If you get the distinct feeling you’re being manipulated somehow, you’re probably right.

No matter what, if she’s causing you to think that maybe NOT going out with her would be the best idea, then cancel the date.

You don’t really need to explain what you’re thinking, because she’ll likely have a pretty good comeback ready.

Gut feelings, I’ve found, are usually trustworthy. Tell her you think it’s best that the date not happen, and that there’s another man out there who will appreciate her more. Leave it at that.

Usually when we make the decision to hang out with a woman, it’s because we genuinely want to. But it’s always a good idea to keep a clear perspective along the way…especially when you don’t know her very well. So definitely use the information I just shared wisely.

One other quick note. Clearly, I’ve geared this conversation mostly toward first dates. If you have been seeing a woman for a while, you should be LONG PAST any potentially awkward situations associated with date cancellation. Open, frank conversation should be the norm.

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Scot McKay

Scot McKay is a professional dating and relationship coach, author and podcast host. He founded X & Y Communications in San Antonio, TX, which focuses on equipping and empowering men and women who want to go from good to great in their relationships. Scot is now married to his wife Emily.

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