“Hey, sorry it’s last minute, but I don’t think I’m going to make it later.”
There are few things that annoy me more than getting a text from a friend bailing on the day. Of course, there are times we all genuinely need to cancel plans – if you’re snotty or vomiting, I don’t want to see you either. And if you’re struggling with your mental health and need a night in, I’ll understand and be the first to offer support.
But flaking – which I define as backing out of a plan with a lame or non-existent excuse – is reaching new heights.
More than a quarter of British adults have initially said yes to an invite, despite having no intention of attending in the first place, according to a new study. Craving downtime and embracing “the joy of missing out” were among the reasons people wanted to stay in.
But let’s get one thing straight: flat-out lying to your friends isn’t a legitimate form of self-care. It’s selfish – and it’s likely to have a negative impact on their wellbeing.
The survey of 2,000 people, conducted by Privilege Insurance, found only one in five follow through with every plan they make and around a third of all pre-planned meet-ups never actually occur.
For every plan that falls through, there’s a schmuck behind the scenes who’s wasted a lot of time and energy. If you cancel on plans you had no intention of going to, it tells me you think your time is more valuable than mine – and that hurts. If you do it repeatedly, maybe we both need to think about why, and take a long, hard look at our friendship.
“If you cancel on plans you had no intention of going to, it tells me you think your time is more valuable than mine – and that hurts.”
The study also suggests younger generations are more prone to flaking than our parents; millennials admitted to telling three times as many ‘porkies’ per year (22) to get out of plans, compared to over 55s (7). It isn’t surprising.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my nan a few years ago when I asked her how she co-ordinates seeing her friends without using a mobile phone. Her response was simple: you set a time and date for your next meeting when you see each other, put it in your diary, and stick to it.
Maybe WhatsApp and our ability to let a friend down with a few words hastily typed during the working day has created a culture of unreliability.
If you have no intention of following through with a social plan, please don’t say yes – or even “maybe” – to start with. Just say no, we’ll all be happier in the long run.