The Next Gen Flake

Standing up a friend is the worst. Especially if she’s on the way to a costume party dressed as a sexy bear. Here’s how to bail, the right way...

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Standing up a friend is the worst. Especially if she’s on the way to a costume party dressed as a sexy bear. Here’s how to bail, the right way...
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

Bailing on catch-ups is easy if you have a smartphone. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger now make for buffers for delivering rejection. Rather than being solid about plans, we’re a generation that goes for ad-hoc planning and constant rescheduling.

“New technologies have led to dehumanisation," says psychologist Angela Bradley. "Because we don’t have to see (or hear) responses when we cancel plans via a screen, minimal emotion registers with us. We have to remember friendships are a privilege and an investment, so it’s not all right to call yourself someone’s friend and not be there for her by cancelling plans.” And there are only so many times you can put that whole exhausted/hard week at work mindset without your friends starting to feel like they’re coming last. But if you’re gonna flake, here’s how to do it. The right way.


+Give at least 24 hours’ notice. We all know that having plans fall through at the last minute is all kinds of frustrating. But by giving a full day’s notice, it hopefully won’t provide too much disruption to your pal.

+Do it face-to-face. Letting friends down face-to-face, or at least via a brief phone call, will make it more personal and is going to mean less hurt and rejection.

+Pitch a new plan. Be proactive about rescheduling and offer up a new suggestion. This will show that you’re committed to the relationship and eventual hang.


+Make excuses. Be as direct as possible. If you need to cancel on plans, a truthful response is the best option like, “I’m stuck at work and won’t be able to get out in time. When are you free next?” Or, if you’re simply not interested in the plans in the first place, say so. It’s a better, faster route than having to repeatedly defl ect the person.

+Put plans on hold. When you’re sent an invite to Jenna’s 25th Birthday Drinks on Facebook, don’t click “maybe”. Work out if you’re going or not and offer a response.

+Bail on them for someone else. Yep, ditching your friend so you can hang with someone else “better” is 100 percent not cool. And, given how connected we all are these days, there’s a high probability they’ll eventually find out (*ahem* Instagram).

The Flake Factor

A wedding? A funeral? There are some things you simply cannot skip. But what about other everyday events? Psychologist Angela Bradley rates how not OK it is to bail on the following...

A gym class with a friend

We’re not saying it’s OK to bail on your gym buddy, but missing one boxing class isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. “A text may be OK, depending on how often you go together and how formal the arrangement is,” says Angela.

After-work drinks

If it’s just a normal “Woo! It’s Friday!” drink, it’s not a big deal if you flake. “However, if someone’s been promoted or there’s a real occasion attached, maybe go for one drink and leave early to show you’re willing rather than pike out altogether.”

Dinner with friends

It all depends on how long you’ve had the plans locked in for. “If you really have to cancel something, give loads of notice up front and in person,” advises Angela. “A lot of work goes into organising a dinner party or restaurant reservation. Have some respect for that.”

A friend’s birthday

You’d hate it if your friend bailed on yours, so it’s probably not the best idea to cancel on them. “At least give lots of notice and call rather than just text,” says Angela. And you better have a good reason!