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.

10 thoughts on “Why Do Narcissists Cancel Arrangements

  1. Kathleen says:

    What’s diff btw narc calling/txting to cancel versus just doing a no-show?
    And a no-show to completely benign tertiary source? Twice? Why would a narc even bother saying yes to a dinner at someone’s home only to twice100% no-show with no call/txt- nothing.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. The former incorporates façade management as the narcissist will use the ‘I was polite enough to let you know in advance’ line.
      2. Control. AT THE TIME of acceptance it suited the narcissist’s needs (control, fuel etc) to accept the invitation. When the FUTURE event manifested, there was no need for attendance (control etc was achieved) and the narcissist’s lack of emotional empathy, sense of entitlement and lack of accountability manifested through the no show. There was also either no façade management or no need for façade management (the former most likely a Lesser, the latter most likely a Mid Ranger.)

      1. A383 says:

        HG, I don’t think you realise just how good some of your work is. Gems like this for example, written with seemingly such ease but explains so completely the mindset of the narcissist. It’s Monday morning mind blowing stuff.
        Thank you x

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I do, A383, but thank you nevertheless, it is appreciated.

  2. AnIceKnight001 says:

    Hyperfocus on an activity is a symptom of ADD. The more I read about all these things, the tighter the association seems to be – it’s pretty easy to not think about other people’s needs because you’re so busy thinking of everything under the sun all at the same time, or so completely engrossed in one activity that you forget you said you do something else. Narcissism explains the difference between being apologetic for this sort of problem, and entitled to it because of superiority.

    Constantly canceling appointments is a huge red flag for covert narcs. Had an ex who does this all the time. She’s really terrible about never doing anything she doesn’t want to, and what she wants to do varies by mood from hour to hour. Totally unreliable.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      That’s the fluctuating response to the need to maintain control manifesting.

  3. deniseisdone says:

    Good evening H G. I just joined and could not resist commenting on this article as I found it intriguing. The narc (aka IT) I dated did this several times and never understood why until now. I must admit CONTROL was nowhere in my line of thinking or guesses but it makes perfect sense now and I thank you. I need to tell you I watch your videos quite often and enjoy them all plus I have some of your books – Sex and the Narcissist was mind boggling – and I am grateful for your work as it has brought me much understanding and peace.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Welcome DID and I’m pleased you’ve found my work useful. There’s lots more.

  4. Tammy says:

    Here’s something I’ve been pondering and this post brought it to light again. HG, I’m specifically asking this since you are a greater. When it comes to cancelling plans, or just any other sort of let down, are you concerned about how this looks for you, especially if the victim has or will figure out what you are? When you are able to fool someone I imagine it’s easy to not care what they think because they are all to forgiving of your behavior and will likely be making a lot of excuses for you. But what about when they figure it out? Do you, as a greater think you will at some point hold yourself to a higher standard by not being what some may consider an A-hole. Do you care how you are seen? Do you just turn the tables and make them the problem if you are found out? I mainly ask this of you as a greater because since you are very aware of what you do to people, wouldn’t you want to become better by behaving better? Do you see yourself behaving better in the future?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      One presents it in such a way that avoids the concerns you list, that is the beauty of being an Ultra.

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