Why Do Narcissists Cancel Arrangements?



Why are we notorious for cancelling arrangements? You may have been looking forward all week to going out for dinner with us, or we sent a text message suggesting meeting up that evening for a drink only for a message to arrive an hour before hand explaining we cannot make it. I am not referring to those instances where we do not just turn up, but why is it that we make plans with you, be it a month in advance or just hours and we do so with enthusiasm and guarantees of being there, only to then cancel those arrangements?

There is a central factor behind this behaviour. It is control. As you know, control is of huge importance to us. We once lacked control as the world turned against us and we must never allow that to happen. By exerting control, we gain the validation we need, the fuel we require and we ensure that we are not ambushed, belittled and made to feel weak. By controlling our environment we reinforce that we are a supreme master of our destiny and of the destiny of others and through this control we are able to be that which we want the world to see. Control equals safety.

Accordingly, we need to control people and especially those which are our appliances in the provision of fuel and other benefits. We derive several benefits from exerting this control over you by dictating how and when we shall meet with you and especially by then withdrawing the meeting.

1.      We can determine how you will react to us taking this step – is it annoyance, irritation, upset, begging to meet up, re-arranging immediately or indifference;

2.      We can gauge from your reaction just how much control we are exerting over you;

3.      We can evaluate the extent of the fuel provision.

As you will have become aware, we operate through the continued and repeated application of contrast. Build you up and knock you down. Idealise and then devalue. Lift up and throw down. Our behaviour when it comes to making arrangements to do something together is no different. We give you the elation of something to look forward to and then we snatch it away and observe the outcome.

Our sense of entitlement means that we can treat you in this manner. You are not important. Our needs and our time matter far more. Thus, in accordance with our inflated sense of self we will deem it our right to demand to see you with just two hours’ notice and then cancel with barely five minutes’ warning. We of course do not care about how this makes you feel (but we are invested as to how this manifests because it is fuel) nor do we have any concern for whether you have been inconvenienced, put to expense, made to arrange child care, alter other arrangements, travel and so on. It is expected that you will do these things for us.

By behaving in this manner we reinforce our sense of superiority. Our idea of being god-like able to do as we please on a whim and everything else has to accommodate us and fall into place behind us.

This propensity to cancel is also indicative of how we perceive time in a different manner to other people. We are notoriously unpunctual, save when it is of crucial importance to us. This is because we do not value anybody’s time but our own, but it is also because we are so focused on what we are doing at that precise moment that pending plans, no matter how imminent will be held at bay, put to one side and ignored as we revel in what is happening in that instant. How many times have you had to stand waiting for your narcissist to turn up (assuming he or she has not cancelled) ? How many times have you been left waiting at a bar, at a bus stop, at your house as you wonder where on earth we have go to? This is because we have been too focused on the activity we have been engaged in, namely drawing fuel and therefore your appointment with us can wait and is forgotten about until something causes a reminder.

Thus, we may well have made what has seemed like cast iron plans with you for dinner this evening and a reservation has been made along with arrangements about where to meet. You have checked twice that we are still ‘on for this evening’ and then despite this we ring and cancel. We have been distracted by something else and because we are gaining fuel from that something else we want to continue doing that but we will not pass up this opportunity to let you down, exert control over you and gain further fuel.

What we are doing matters, what you have planned does not concern us. Often arrangements will be cancelled because of the new moment we find ourselves in our because we have a better offer. We have no need to exhibit manners or show loyalty, but whatever serves us best will be done and if this means telling you we cannot make it, then so be it.

How does this cancelling of arrangements manifest in the various dynamics?


1.      If you are a non-intimate secondary source who is a colleague or family member then we cancel not because we intend to devalue you, but rather because of the existing connection between us (work/familial) it is a given that we can cancel and you should accept it. If you complain, we gain fuel, if you do not but are content to re-arrange this underlines that you are subservient to us and it is as is expected. Since you are a secondary source which is in a near permanent golden period, remember we can pick you up and put you down as we please and cancelling an arrangement is just a manifestation of this dynamic rather than being a specific form of devaluation.

2.      If you are a non-intimate secondary source who is a friend, again there is an expectation that you will just accept this because you are loyal and functioning. We expect some fuel – positive or negative – and for you to want to re-arrange. This again demonstrates to us that you remain well under our control and is more pick you up and put you down behaviour rather than devaluation.

3.      If it is the initial seduction of somebody who we intend to make our primary source, whether you are a Non Intimate Secondary Source or you have advanced to an Intimate Partner Secondary Source then cancelling an arrangement is not done to devalue. It is done as a test. We are hoping for disappointment and a willingness to rearrange. If you fly off the handle with us, whilst we gain fuel, we will consider you as less desirable to be a primary source. If you are indifferent, this is the worst outcome and we are unlikely to continue our seduction of you, since you have become uninterested far too soon. This test will not be used frequently with you however as we have no desire to ruin the seduction and put you off.

4.      If you have been drawn to us and we have embedded you in a golden period as either the IPSS (who may become the IPPS) or as the IPPS then it is highly unlikely that we will cancel arrangements. You are now the apple of our eye and providing delicious positive fuel so we have no desire to interrupt that, let you down or spoil the illusion of us as being attentive, delightful and wonderful. If it does happen, then it may just be a genuine inability to be able to keep to the arrangement.

5.      If you are the IPPS and we keep cancelling arrangements then you are squarely within the devaluation period. This is being done purely to draw negative fuel from you, to upset you, hurt you and anger you. It is also the case that we are more than likely cancelling so we can spend time with the prospective primary source we are cultivating and we are using this as a chance to draw negative fuel from you and continue our manipulative mind games, especially when we tell you we cannot make it because we have to work late and you then later see a post on social media showing us in a bar with somebody else.

6.      If you are a NISS or IPSS devaluation is rare but if you find that we are cancelling repeatedly on you, this is not a test but you should be aware that you are being devalued and that the relationship is swiftly heading towards discard.

14 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Cancel Arrangements?

  1. Mini duck says:

    I was talking to one on dating site. He was interested one day and not very the other day and was responding only once a day. He took initiativ for Meeting. Just 2 hours before the appointed, he cancelled Our meet, saying that he is not feeling well. I do not trust him as he did not give me his phone number a day before as I needed it in case of delay or not finding the venue of Our meet.

    Only sign he showed of being a narc was he said after 5-6 Messages that he liked me. He showed a trait of being a cerebral (even if not a narc). When he cancelled Our meet via email Message (he got my phone nr. a day before which he did not use)..

    Even though he was telling me that he looking forward to Our meet and suddenly he cancelled, does it show that he did it intentionally, just like narcs? he has not contacted me since then.

    Why I only get contacts/requests from Narcs or With traits? (this is not a question but frustration)

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. You are in a hunting ground.
      2. As an empath you draw our kind to you.
      3. See Sitting Target

  2. purpleinnature says:

    Only my first narc (a lesser) did this. My greater and midranger were actually pretty reliable. Of course, I knew better than to try to initiate any plans. I pretty much just went along with their itineraries. Maybe that’s why. They were both actually pretty fun, so I just followed them around on their adventures and really didn’t mind. If I had my own plans, I was doing them alone, of course.

    This reminds me, though, of this weird thing my mid-ranger started doing towards the end of the relationship. He’d text or call while I was at work and ask “What do you want to do tonight?” I would never really have any wild ideas. I’d say, “I don’t know. What’s on television?” Or suggest making a favorite recipe or just chilling or whatever. He started getting mean about it and demanding that I come up with ideas. He’d tell me how boring I was, etc. Like… wtf? If I had my own ideas, it was never anything he wanted to do anyway. It got to where my stomach would drop when I’d see the text “Hope you’re having a great day. What do you want to do tonight? (Kissy face)” Oh God… I’d rack my brain… there was never a “right” answer. What an asshole. Plus, I worked all day long while he sat on his ass daydreaming and doing God knows what. And now I’m supposed to come up with some exhilarating after-work activity? So glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore.

  3. Kate says:

    No one has ever not shown up when I was supposed to meet them, but a friend made me wait by myself for her in a potentially dangerous position (alone and more than once).

    Only one man who I have dated has ever cancelled plans on me and I think that he did it twice. His evasive, odd and inexcusable behavior is what led me to be suspicious of him – and to find out more about him. I discovered that he was married, had given me a fake name, etc. After I confronted him, I never saw him again (I think we dated for two months).

    I don’t know if he was testing me or if he was just stupid.

    HG, I would appreciate it if you would give me your opinion on that. Thank you..

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Not enough information to form a view.

      1. Kate says:

        Hi HG,

        I am trying to figure out if he knew that I would figure out who he really was, and if he wanted me to get that information – to see if I was willing to be an IPSS?

        Or do you think that he felt that he was more clever than he was and was intending to toy with me and get me to do whatever, assuming that I was too dumb to figure out that he was a liar?

        His lies were so bold and so extreme, I am wondering if and when he was going to tell me the truth, or expected me to find out and decide to be a sidepiece or disengage myself from him. Or if he thought that I am utterly braindead, believed his lies and was willing to be used.

        It seems sloppy to me to use a false name. And therefore, stupid. It also seems sloppy to behave like he did because he made me suspicious, which made me dig to find out who he was. This seems either gradiosse or stupid.

        Does any of that make the situation clearer to know if he was testing me? And / or if he was just stupid and sloppy in this technique or intentional in his handling of me?

        Thank you..

  4. SMH says:

    I think this is a particularly malignant post, HG, that is missing a whole dimension of psychology. The narcissist fears intimacy. The sort of thing you describe here is part of the approach/avoidance complex, as I understand it. It is a form of avoidance, as is lying, as are any number of things that a narcissist does. The need for control is about the narcissist’s own poor self-esteem more than it is about his feeling of superiority, or maybe those are two sides of the same coin. Regardless, I don’t think this sort of behavior is always as cold and calculating as you make it out to be. I noticed that with mine it would happen right after particularly intense and intimate encounters that might not even involve sex. It was definitely a source of contention and I do feel that he engaged in it in part because it mattered to me that we planned and that my time not be wasted, but I still do not think it was as deliberate and cold and manipulative as you make it out to be. And it never ever foreshadowed a discard. It seemed more compulsive than calculating, though the effect was the same.

    1. A383 says:

      I completely agree with you SMH. Very well observed.

      1. SMH says:

        Thank you, A383! I have learned a lot from this site but because HG speaks from the malignant greater perspective and needs to cover so much ground, nuance is often missing!

  5. /iroll says:

    If you don’t obey their scripts in some way or another, they literally lose their power-tripping boners.

    1. Caroline says:

      “power-tripping boners”
      So true.

      1. K says:

        My ULN got power tripping boners all the time. I have since dubbed them fuel boners/hard-ons and my lesser females would have fuel-gasims. Lessers are gross.

  6. MB says:

    HG, do you see control as an illusion? It is limited to that which can be controlled which in the whole grand scheme of things is very little. (At least from my world view.)

  7. T says:

    This is why I’m working to learn how to love myself first so then I’ll attract the the love that isn’t abusive.
    Well see if it works.
    HG , you made mention of your grand design. I like those 2 words.
    So the above is a part of my grand design.

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.