EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — We’ve all been there.
Sometimes the last thing we want to do is head out when our couch is just so comfy.
Then comes the internal struggle: Should I tell a little white lie about why I’m canceling?
Research from Michigan State University suggests that while it’s okay to cancel on your pal, it will inevitably upset the friend if they discover they were lied to.
“Maintaining relationships with others is important to humans, but the reality is that social anxiety exists. Living out in the world — or getting prepared to do so — is exhausting, but staying home provides comfort,” Chopik said.
Chopnik said that the pandemic encouraged people to stay in.
“The pandemic taught us to stay home in our safe haven, but now that the worst parts of the pandemic are hopefully over, expectations to socialize in person are on the rise,” said Chopik.
The survey polled 1,192 participants on how people prefer to be canceled on by a friend, the negative emotions they feel when being canceled on and their criteria for good and bad reasons to be canceled on.
Approximately 80% of participants said that canceling plans would not affect their friendship but they would be upset if they learned that the reason provided was a lie.
According to Chopik, the level of investment in the relationship “appears to matter.”
Overall, people reported relatively low levels of distress when plans are canceled unless it was by a good friend. When explicitly asked how upset they would be if they were canceled on by a good or best friend, most participants said they would be moderately upset.
“Being canceled on by a best friend — presumably a relationship that people have invested a great deal in — was more upsetting than being canceled on by a merely good friend or a casual acquaintance,” said Chopik. “Being canceled on by those we are close to may be more upsetting because it more clearly violates the norms of friendship and could resemble a form of social rejection.”
When asked about how to go about canceling plans, almost 60% of participants stated that they would like notice about the cancellation.
Chopik said that a mere 10% of the participants expected an apology from their friend for canceling on them.
In terms of acceptable reasons for canceling, approximately half of the sample said that health or family-related excuses are the most appropriate.
Work or obligation-related excuses were also seen as appropriate by about 40% of the sample.
Having an emergency or something unexpected coming up was spontaneously mentioned about 25% of the time.
More than half of the participants indicated that pursuing more rewarding social events or romantic opportunities are among the worst excuses for canceling plans.
“A lot of learning [in relationships] happens ‘on the fly’ as we find ourselves in relationships and either screw things up or have successes. Socializing ourselves to be more responsive to the people in our lives is a worthy goal if we’re trying to have fulfilling, long-lasting relationships,” said Chopik. “Though society offers information about how to navigate romantic relationships, little is available about navigating friendships, which also is important as more and more people find themselves single and report feeling lonelier than ever before.”