I’m a psychologist – here’s how to cancel plans without upsetting your friends

HERE is how you can enjoy the joy of missing out — without losing friends in the process.

Have you ever made plans for a night out but when the time comes all you can think about is putting on your pajamas and watching Netflix?

YouGov found that 79% of Brits left their friends to get actively involved in JOMO (the joy of missing out)


YouGov found that 79% of Brits left their friends to get actively involved in JOMO (the joy of missing out)Photo credit: Getty

You’re not alone – YouGov found that 79% of Brits have left their friends to get actively involved in JOMO (the joy of missing out).

Sometimes, however, it’s not because of the dandruff – it’s because a night indoors is simply the best for your physical and mental health.

Maybe you’re feeling burnt out at work – 88% of us have experienced it* – or you said “yes” for the wrong reason.

“Overbooking yourself to please others can lead to exhaustion,” explains Niels Eék, psychologist and co-founder of wellness platform Remente.

“Many of us find it difficult to say ‘no’ because we fear that a negative answer will hurt the other person’s feelings and damage the relationship or make us unlikable. But saying no early can minimize disappointment in the long run.”

Here’s how to squirm out of plans while preserving your friendships and your health And Reputation intact…

BE 100% SAFE

Sometimes life gets in the way and your well-being must come first.

But if you’d rather not be known as a flake to your friend group, adjust your rescue barometer.

“We often cancel because we’re tired, but healthy social interaction can help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety,” says life and career coach Anna Percy-Davis.

So before you quit, ask yourself these questions to assess whether a night home alone is really necessary:

1 Will my presence there please me and others?

2 What am I honoring when I leave (e.g., friendship, fun, or a networking opportunity)?

3 What do I honor when I don’t go (e.g. rest)?

4 What feels like the most important thing to honor right now, and will I still feel that way when the time comes to participate?

5 Do I really not feel like it or are there deeper reasons (e.g. do these “friends” trigger insecurities or negative feelings)?


If the thought of spilling white wine all over your new boots in a crowded bar doesn’t fill you with joy, you could suggest an alternative instead of just walking away.

“You’ll see that you’re not saying no out of spite and still trying to be helpful,” says Debbie Chapman, author of The joy of No.

Not feeling flush or so sociable?

You could decide to have a girls night out and watch all the TV shows you crave together.

Or you switch when you socialize — see if your friend is interested in an after-school dog walk or, if you’re feeling energetic, a sunrise yoga session.

That way, you’re guaranteed a free evening, but you’re not completely gone.


Decided it’s definitely a no to go?

You might think that a long explanation detailing the many reasons you can’t attend now will make your last-minute apology more credible, but it’s important to keep it short.

“Give the real reason, but keep it short. Wordy explanations and backstory are usually the hallmarks of a lie,” says etiquette expert William Hanson.

“Try to say something like, ‘I’m sorry, I have to skip tonight.

“I’ve had a really tough day and need some sleep so I can go back to work tomorrow.

“But I wish you a nice evening.

“When is your next free time?”

It’s plausible and understandable.

And whatever you do, don’t make up an elaborate excuse.

“Honesty is the best policy,” advises Niels.

“It shows respect and allows for a discussion about how you’re feeling.”


Tries to babble, “I know I’m the worst, sorry!”

It may feel cathartic to acknowledge your weakness, but William advises staying away from the pity party.

“It puts the focus back on you and puts pressure on your friend to make you feel better by reassuring you, reducing your guilt and validating your decision to attribute your weakness to an imaginary character flaw,” he explains.

“Instead, be confident in your decision, reiterate that you’re not rejecting them, and that you appreciate how they’re feeling.

“A true friend will respect your feelings — and you can legitimately say something if they make you feel guilty or uncomfortable.”


Text and WhatsApp may have armed us with an easy way out that doesn’t involve dumping someone face-to-face, but sending a message isn’t always the ideal way to abandon plans.

“Technology provides the perfect excuse to give up at the last minute, but this often leaves people angry and hurt,” says Niels.

“Call them up so they can hear the authenticity in your voice — it means more.”

Stay away from the social

Watching the event you’ve been counting on unfold on Instagram Stories will only fuel your FOMO (fear of missing out) and make you reconsider a decision you know will last for a long time view is correct.

Likewise, your friends don’t want to see a play-by-play account of your Netflix marathon on Twitter when you’re supposed to be with them.

Instead, use that phone-free time to get a good night’s sleep — after all, a University of Pittsburgh study found that those who check social media just before bed are about 1.5 times more likely to experience disturbed kip.


“Put a new date on your calendar for a rescheduled meeting as soon as possible so they don’t feel too exhausted — and stick to the new date,” says William.

Booking tickets to a movie you know your friend is dying to see, or suggesting coffee and cake at their favorite coffee shop not only makes up for the missed date, it also shows that you care about their feelings.

Download the free Raft iPhone app for quick and easy chatting, sharing your calendar with friends, and finding joint activities you don’t want to skip.


It’s nice to be nice, but not when you have to plan your exit strategy once you agree to another meeting.

“Having the word ‘should’ hanging around your decision is a red flag,” says Anna.

“Accepting because you feel obligated will lead to chipping.”

Niels suggests getting familiar with your calendar.

“Plan in ‘me time,’ and if someone invites you on a night that you’ve skipped out, you can honestly say you already have plans.”

Download the free time-blocking app SkedPal to incorporate some non-negotiable downtime.


The deed is done and you have a blissful, uninterrupted night ahead of you – hooray!

What now? Maximize your downtime and reclaim your headspace with a little guilt-free R&R.

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“This is the time to do all the things that bring you joy,” suggests Niels.

“It could be a movie with takeout, a hot bath, or some exercise – whatever brings you the most joy. Turn off your phone, get rid of anything that might drain your energy, and really recharge your batteries.”

https://www.thesun.ie/health/10368343/psychologist-how-to-cancel-plans-without-upsetting-friends/ I’m a psychologist – here’s how to cancel plans without upsetting your friends


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