A person in front of a bed.

5 excuses for cancelling on people

Sometimes we feel we can reach all of our goals, face the world head on and be the life and Wil of the party. But, sometimes, you just need to cancel and hide under the covers. If so, here are some good excuses to use.

Terrible nightmarish diarrhoea

This is my favourite excuse. Why? Because nobody asks any further questions. It is not pretty, and it is not something that people lie about, so if someone tells you that, you take it at face value and move on.

Anxiety is often associated with an upset stomach or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so it is not even stretching the truth that far.

Work has lumbered me with something

Work has given you a report that needs writing tonight. You can do it from home means you can’t go out and “have fun”.

The beauty of this one is that it shifts the responsibility and the choice onto someone else. You would love to come out: but someone else has made the decision for you. You agree with your friend that you should be able to come out. But, alas, the matter ends with your boss.

It only works for certain jobs, though, and you better hope your friend never meets your boss. Best not to mention which boss, for future compatibility reasons.

I have a delivery coming

You are waiting for a courier to turn up. It’s an important delivery, and you thought it would be here by now, but it isn’t, and this company delivers up to 8 pm (even later if it is Amazon Logistics).

Better yet, say the delivery is for someone else in your household. That way, you have plausible deniability over what the package contains.

This excuse works well because most of us have had experience with unreliable couriers, and packages we have waited in all day for that haven’t turned up at all. So, even if they spy on your house for the entire day, there is nothing suspicious going on.

I have to go to the gym

You forgot that today was a gym day, and your session cannot be delayed because this is the last day, according to your training plan.

This excuse is useful because your friend knows the gym is good for you and probably feels bad that they don’t go to the gym enough themselves. So, they are put in the place of either being your friend and accepting it in good grace or being a bad friend and trying to convince you to abandon a healthy behaviour.

I have a better plan

This one is more difficult to use because it first requires you to be honest with the other person and tell them that you just can’t face whatever activity the two of you had planned right now.

But it’s not a cancellation: it is suggesting a different plan that you can manage. Here is an example of a text message you could send:

Hey Sarah. I can’t face going to the pub tonight. I’m just too drained to face the world. Can we just hang out on my sofa and watch TV instead?

This way, you aren’t letting your friend down, and although they might be disappointed that they can’t do the planned activity, hopefully, they will care enough about you to be understanding.

It has its limitations, such as group situations, or if you can’t face seeing anyone or doing anything. But, if you’re feeling strong enough, this can be an excellent option.


Honesty is the best policy. Sometimes we can't face the world, and the best option is to tell our friends what is going on and why we need to hide under the duvet.

But that is not always possible either. After all, we're at our lowest at these points and so don't want to do anything to make ourselves feel worse. If that is the case, an excuse is way better than just not turning up and switching your phone off.

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Published 7 May 2018. Written by Chris Worfolk.

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