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.

18 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Cancel Arrangements?

  1. G says:

    So if we just dont respond to the cancellation (ignore it altogether), what does the narcissist do? Im in the family category.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The lack of response starves the narcissist of fuel and wounds, thus threatening control. The narcissist will potentially shift to a different manner of asserting control directly, or more likely assert control indirectly or by remaining in a position of withdrawal.

  2. Eva Bryczkowski says:

    Brilliant. This l has explained a lot of things that I was unaware of until now.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      YOu are welcome.

  3. AnIceKnight001 says:

    Some of these sound a lot like attention deficit syndrome symptoms & the hyper-focus that sometimes attends it. Other times it sounds like OCD. Google “OCD with narcissism” and that yields some pretty interesting articles.

    1. E. B. says:

      Hello AIK001,
      Unfortunately, many people mistake NPD for OCD, although the underlying motives are quite different. People with an OCD have feelings of guilt and remorse. They do not feel entitled or superior to others. They are not looking for fuel. They do not provoke to feed off other people’s emotional reactions. They do not torment or punish a victim with malign hoovers.
      There are too many articles which are a copy-and-paste of someone else’s work based on half-truths and inaccurate information.

  4. Kiki Romano says:

    What then, is the best way to respond to canceled plans? What will cause the most narcissistic injury, or allow us to gain some measure of respect from the narcissist? My ex is coming into town next week, so he says. After reading this I am going to prepare myself for the possible cancelation of all plans. I am wondering if he wjkk just be a no show. He has only done this once before, and I knew that it was a test. So, I laughed and said he was a goofball. I played it off as him being pretty flakey and I acted like I found it to be quite humorous. However inside I was so hurt and dying emotionally.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You should obey the first golden rule of freedom and once you know, you go, Get Out and Stay Our (GOSO). Do not concern yourself with the impact you have upon the narcissist. Although such a response is understandable, you should focus on you and what you can control, not focus on the narcissist and/or how you impact on him or her. Doing the latter means you are, at the very least, thinking about the narcissist and thus offending GOSO. If you learn you are entangled with a narcissist who has cancelled plans, look on it as a bonus and immediately impose no contact. You have no need to continue any form of contact with the narcissist – you state you were hurt and dying emotionally, which is undoubtedly the case, why risk that happening again through any form of continued engagement with the narcissist? Impose no contact forthwith.

      1. Kiki Romano says:

        Thank you for this concise response. I’ve not had contact for 24 hours. Have blocked him. He won’t be seeing me when or if he comes to town. He won’t have heard for me for days prior so I expect him to cancel his plans, if he was ever even going to implement them.

  5. Sarah says:

    What about a DLS?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      In what situation?

      1. Sarah says:

        When he cancels arrangements.
        Is the DLS always the last resort, when he’s got nothing better on?

        1. HG Tudor says:


  6. Koreander says:

    Good night, then if we continue with the plan outlined, although the narc has canceled the appointment, making see that the narcissist has no voice or vote. FOR Example: 30 minutes before, the narc cancels, then you know that he / she is going to do it, you make plans with another person and even if the narc thinks that it will hurt or devalue or disappoint you, you have been more astute and you have replaced by another person, making him see that narc has no control on you.This could be considered a massive attack against him?.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It would wound, but it is not a massive attack.

  7. mommypino says:

    I have the opposite problem. I have a hard time canceling arrangements. I feel guilty about the thought that I’d I cancel the arrangement it would make the other person feel unimportant. So it sometimes is a problem for me when I say yes to too many things or something happens unexpectedly that the prior arrangement cannot be fulfilled. I feel really bad when I cancel arrangements. Although lately I have been less anxious about it.

  8. ava101 says:

    I wish I would remember the tests.
    However …
    HG, what do you make of statements such as “I don’t want to lead you on”, “I don’t know what I want”, “I don’t want to jeopardize the great dynamic we have and complicate things”, ….?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Too vague without more information and context for me to provide you with an accurate response Ava101. I advocate that if you require assistance with regard to your personal circumstances you organise a consultation.

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