The Atlantic

How to Flake Gracefully

An introvert’s guide to canceling without losing your friends
Source: Sir Edward John Poynter / Fine Art Photographic / Getty

’Tis the season to be flaky, as holiday parties stack up in our Google calendars like Tetris blocks, annual work projects come due, and all the sort-of friends you’ve put off seeing for months want to “catch up over drinks” before Dry January kicks in. The true Christmas miracle is that it’s cold season, so all of the minor illnesses you invent to get out of stuff seem plausible.

Even when it’s not time for endless school holiday concerts and book-club white-elephant parties, we’re living in a veritable age of cancellation. Virtually every kind of food, entertainment, and alcohol can be delivered to your house, negating the, so you can’t begrudge someone the need for quiet time alone to recharge—it’s that person’s . We all know the relief of learning that someone just canceled on you, thus making you the cancelee, though, let’s face it, you would just as likely have been the canceler.

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