Why It Feels So Good to Bail on Plans.
Saturday night looked fun on Tuesday, but here’s why the couch feels better.
It’s Saturday night and you were supposed to go out with your buddies. Instead, you’re on the couch wearing sweats, clutching a beer, queuing up the next episode of Narcos.
And you don’t even feel bad about it. In fact, you feel great.
So why do we gain such satisfaction from occasionally canceling on a night out? Shouldn’t we feel guilty?
The answer comes down to a simple question: Are you looking forward to the event?
If you aren’t, says Melanie Rudd, Ph.D., of the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business, it stresses you out. So when you bail, you experience relief instead of guilt.
When you make that swap—a potentially boring or nerve-wracking activity for one you’re actually anticipating—your immediate happiness trumps any remorse you might feel, Rudd says.
Related: The Better Man Project—Brilliant Life Advice to Help You Be More Awesome
Then again, if you’re cool breaking off plans that easily, your plans might be the problem in the first place, says Chip Raymond Knee, Ph.D., the director of the Self, Motivation, and Relationship Theories lab at the University of Houston.
Knee says in order to be motivated to do something—like go out for the night—you have to know that your plans will fulfill at least one of three basic psychological needs:
1) Autonomy: Feeling that your behaviors stem from what you really want
2) Competence: Feeling capable and effective in what you’re doing
3) Relatedness: Feeling like you belong
But when you don’t see the night satisfying any of those needs, you’re more likely to stay in, Knee says.
Even though it’s okay to flake every once in a while, don’t forget that people are still relying on you to follow through on your plans. If you become a regular bailer, you might lose trust and friendships over time.
And if you never want to go out anymore—or if you’re not interested in activities that once made you happy—it could be a sign of a mood disorder, like depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See your doctor if it becomes a trend.