Caught Flaking On Plans? Here's How To Recover Gracefully

We've all been there — we agreed to a date or social gathering that we had no idea we wouldn't be up for when it came time to show up. Making the plans is the easy part. Sticking to the plans is where things can get tricky. Flaking on people is a common part of social life that almost everyone has done or experienced, and there are plenty of reasons why it happens.

Getting invited or asked on a date gives a sense of acceptance and likeability. Who wants to hang out with someone they don't like? The excitement of being in demand can sometimes prompt an early "yes" before you take the time to check your schedule. Then there's the even stronger possibility of another event popping up that might be of greater importance. Now you're double booked with one choice to make: Who or what is worthy of your time?

There are those who often say yes to things they really want to say no to. It's a sign of being more loyal to your word than your true feelings and ultimately not setting and following your boundaries, according to Sarah Newman, M.A., M.F.A. If disappointment is something you handle well, canceling plans might not affect you. But if you can get a little down on yourself for flaking on a date, it's worth coming clean about your actions and trying to make amends with good intentions.

You got caught red-handed and don't know what to do

If you get caught flaking on plans, it clearly means you missed the period where you could have canceled or rescheduled. You led the other party into thinking you were going to show up, only for them to find out you made other plans that didn't involve them. It's certainly a blow to the ego and could hurt the friendship depending on the strength of the connection beforehand. Luckily, all isn't lost if you got caught flaking on a friend or date, but ignoring them and acting as if nothing happened isn't the best approach. Research from Michigan State University even suggests not lying about why you canceled your plans.

You messed up and are aware of your actions. It doesn't hurt to let a friend know that you're taking accountability, especially if you get confronted for flaking. A direct reply to your Instagram Story taken at the time you should've been with your friend is a clear call out. Put your pride aside and own it. Keep the communication line open by admitting your actions and offering to make up for them over lunch, dinner, or brunch. Who knows — your friend might flake on you the next time around, and that's okay. The beauty of flaking is that we all do it and can relate.

The secret to recovering from a flake is in your approach

Flaking is acceptable when it comes to why you flaked. If you already got caught flaking, playing sick is clearly not an option. At that point, it's time to come up with a better reason. Flaking in adulthood is easy since most of us have to work to make a living. Maybe that event you posted on BeReal at the time of your girl's night was a work obligation. You had to be there to connect with a certain someone, and any friend working their way up the professional ladder would understand. Or it's family-related, and we all know family comes first.

It's really all dependent on your approach and intention. Are you coming to your friend with remorse and empathy for wasting their time? Don't forget they could've made other plans instead of penciling you into their Thursday night. Take time to think of your excuse and be mindful of how you relay the information. An apology might be warranted and should come before the excuse. You might not even need to make up an excuse and can just lead with the truth, which is typically the best option. In the end, we're all adults and can understand when things come up — it's all in how you handle it. Just be mindful before flaking and posting to your Instagram Story.