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.

16 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Cancel Arrangements?

  1. Presque Vu says:

    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.

    Cancelling then silent treatments – disappearing really flared my anxiety!
    I would become so distraught I would contact his mum because I was worried – is he ok? What have I done? Had she seen him?
    I could not get my head around this constant cycle – especially when I would tell him how it upset me.

    This behaviour is soul destroying, I cried many many times with frustration!

    It’s utterly cruel HG, the instability crushes your self esteem!

  2. Little Miss Idealist says:

    Loved to make last minute plans and hated to wait on me. He (I believe) intentionally showed up to meet his family from out of time so late that they had already paid the bill and were leaving. He was annoyed that they made such early plans without considering his schedule, yet didn’t take my advice by asking them to move dinner plans up a bit. His sister was upset and he complained about how everything had to be her way. There was no getting him to understand that the whole thing could’ve been handled differently.

  3. Kate W says:

    Never again. People make time for people they care about… And people respect people they care about… And if someone is repeatedly late or dropping plans- They’re playing games with your goodness.
    Mine would get mad at me for double checking on plans… Or just for reviewing plans like just small talk… She’d be like “haven’t we already discussed this???” Like irritated! I would always be kind of taken aback and shot like what the fuck.But being super passive I never said anything I would just say I’m just double checking and a very calm voice. Or I’m just excited about it so I wanted to kind of talk about it.
    I have learned (from HG) that my ‘questioning’ is interpreted as an insult. Or as interrogation or something. I think normal people like to double check their plans and hey – the older we get-if people don’t write things down – People can forget.
    We’re all busy people-etc- it’s nice to double check -but not with a narcissist you will get in trouble.!

  4. SMH says:

    Follow – i posted a long comment but did not get a subscribe link. I hope that comment went through because it took me a long time to write it!

  5. SMH says:

    MRN rarely cancelled, though he’d make me wait hours, but one event and its aftermath I will never forgive. In fact, thinking about it still makes me want to slam his head against a wall. Thanks for the trigger, HG.

    This is long, dear readers, so skip it if you think it will bore you. It might be instructive for someone else. It is why I was in it to win it. When you internalize all of the shit they throw at you it is eventually going to come out in a huge explosion if you don’t harm yourself first.

    Two years ago, I was in my country for several months. MRN tried to see me twice early on. Neither worked logistically but we were ‘together’ the whole time virtually and had fun trying to make it work.

    In Oct he told me he was coming in early Dec and wanted to see me. I had no reason not to believe him. We’d only had fun up until then. He stayed present. Made contact when he landed in a nearby city and asked if I was okay. I said I was nervous but it would be fine. We discussed whether I would go to him or he would come to me. He let me know when he was on the train. Two hours later, from the train, he messaged that he ‘might not’ make it because he was ‘doing a deal.’ I knew he was lying and wracked my brain if he had another woman where I was. It didn’t make sense since he wasn’t often there. It didn’t occur to me that he could have virtual ones, I had no notion of the fuel concept, and I was confused about why he would coax me to see him if he had someone else.

    I remained neutral and asked him to please let me know because I had a dinner invite if he wasn’t free. No response. I was livid/hurt but did not write again and did not fly off the handle. Two days later he wrote a really strange email with a sort of apology. I did not respond.

    A month passed with no communication from either of us. I headed back to our country with no plans to see him. Three hours after I landed, he contacted me. “Where are you?” I thought it strange because he had asked and I’d given him my flight details. Now I know he was probably tracking the plane…

    Of course I also now know not to respond but I said I wanted to see him. I had in mind to talk but he thought I wanted to jump in bed. He said “I don’t think you’ll want to see me.” I said, “why wouldn’t I want to see you?” He said “my ‘ex'” wants to reconcile and I got into an “emotional” relationship with someone from work (he was talking to her on the phone when he cancelled on me, but I did not know this until months later). No sex, he said, but lots of drama and tears. That is how I knew not to give him what he wanted. Master triangulation.

    I said, ‘I don’t compete with other women.’ He said ‘what do you mean?” I wrote him a calm and kind email – ignored CIPSS and said he should focus on IPPS without mentioning that it was the first I knew of her. I left no opening for a response but he responded so I told him he was a control freak who always had to have the last word (I know I shouldn’t have). The end, right? Of course not!!

    NC but a few weeks later I went on the dating site where he first contacted me. Why didn’t I choose another one? Well, I had no clue. Besides, it was my site too. I wasn’t there for five minutes before I had a message. I started reading without looking at the sender. Then I realized it was MRN, who had written on his profile that he was looking for someone to share his life with. Huh? Not only did he troll through profiles to find me, but he responded to the last thing I wrote on my profile. He read the whole thing. I told him he was acting psycho (later I told him he WAS psycho), left the convo and took screen shots. We never discussed it. It was like it didn’t happen. As the internet meme goes: “When you block your ex on everything and they message you on eBay.”

    Now I know that he online creeps all the time but back then it made me paranoid. I’d exit the tube and check the pub windows, look over my shoulder, close the shutters in my flat, etc. I was super wigged out. Then I remembered that when I was away there had been a few weeks of silence (I never initiated contact). I figured it was over and briefly went on the same dating site. He emailed a few hours later. I thought it was a coincidence.

    Of course this was not the end – I made friendly contact two months later thinking he and IPPS were all settled in, he dragged me back, I left again, he dragged me back, I left, he tried again (failed), he hoovered, I responded kindly. It could have gone on forever with him exhibiting typical narcish behavior no matter what I did. That is why I had to end it so brutally.

    NC is impossible, HG. If narc wants fuel, he will find a way whether it’s sitting in cyberspace knowing you will see him, leaving virtual traces, or contacting you directly. I totally understand why people want their narc dead.

  6. Jo Jones says:

    So… you do know exactly what your doing, you know how it makes us feel, and you really just dont care?

    Sound like the actions of a child but in a mans body! If the world, in your opinion, has wronged you and you know how it feels, why would you inflict the same on innocent women?

    To my mind, you need to deal with those who have really treated you badly and become the grown up that the law says you are!

    1. Little Miss Idealist says:

      HG is a greater and I have dealt with a MMRN. I can say in my experience I think he knows what he is doing to a point. I have said, “You realize people are telling you that your presence is important and that is a compliment. Doesn’t that mean something to you?” I had to wonder if he thought other people saw arrangements the way that he did. There was a level of indifference noted but then he’d try to make some sort of half-assed appearance at times.

      1. Jo says:

        I have worked with Adults that have learning disabilities, some very challenging too. However, they are still responsible for any damage, be it, physical and or mental. Their disability is not an excuse to treat those they way they may see fit! In fact, they try very hard to fit ‘in’ and not be treated different.

        I can sympathise with these adults because they really dont always know what they do is wrong! But HG does!

  7. Mercy says:

    This is one of the most infuriating things the N does. 1. Making plans a hour before. How is a girl suppose to shower/hair/make-up/dress in that amount of time. An hour later when you get there you’re all frazzeled and being “on” is impossible. 2. After shower/hair/make-up/dress he cancels before you get out the door… seriously I shaved my legs for NOTHING!

    The first year with N we made plans for a Cubs game. Tickets bought and hotel booked. The morning we were suppose to leave he went silent. Q my first (and longest) silent treatment.

    1. wolvesinwalden says:

      I think were supposed to tornado through the date night routine, spend too long on getting ready and you’re a self-absorbed twit, not enough and you’re berated for putting little effort in. Either way, there’s something for them to complain about whenever they’d please. Your (totally justified) frustration is understandable, but contributes to their fuel supply regardless. Disappointment blows, especially after botching and fixing your winged eyeliner repeatedly for nothing. Selfie binges are a great means of catharsis, if you’re the selfie/social media type. Makeup is too expensive to let go to waste and bomb-ass selfies are a nice confidence boost.

      1. Mercy says:

        Haha wolves you are too funny .Yep selfies make it a little less frustrating. I’ve even got back up selfies stored on my phone from all the cancelled plans. Never know when you’ll need to pull out a quick “I look like this all the time” selfie.

      2. SMH says:

        I wish I could do wings, Wolves. But I did just take an excellent selfie and posted it on FB. I look at it a lot before I go out – it’s that good! 🙂

    2. Mercy,

      How long after that did you continue your relationship? Silent treatments are infuriating.

      1. Mercy says:

        Little Miss, sadly and very embarrassing 6 more years…and still going. The silent treatments don’t bother me anymore .He abused them. They rarely last more than a day now unless I stay stubborn. And yes they were infuriating. Silent treatments felt like a physical pain. Now I see them as a needed break.

        1. Little Miss Idealist says:

          I can definitely see the benefit in silent treatments now. I think they start using them less when they know we wish they’d shut up. I used one of HG’s tricks….he was talking in circles and I was sitting on my counter top. I rested my head back on my cabinets and started making snoring sounds. 😂 “why would you do that?! You’re so mean.”

      2. Mercy says:

        Little Miss, haha love it! It feels good to get those little wins.

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