How to Cancel or Retract Friend Requests on Facebook… and Why?

UPDATE!

Now you can cancel your Friend Request simply by going to that person’s page, scrolling down to the very bottom left and clicking on the box that says “CANCEL FRIEND REQUEST”.

Thanks to an anonymous commenter below for the update and congrats to Facebook for finally getting smart on this feature. Now, if only if it could move on a whole bunch of other bad features it has!

Why would you care to cancel Facebook Friend Requests?

Because after you send a friend request, they can check out all your profile you would share with your friends. That’s to help verify who you are if they don’t know you, or let them decide if they want to associate with you based on what you’ve done on Facebook… or told of what you’ve done in life. It’s a bit of a spy privilege they have to be able to see your profile. Supposedly this only holds true for 30 days from when you send your friend request, but 30 days is plenty of time to browse through even the most active Facebook user to see enough of anybody and make some judgment calls on them.

If you’ve used Facebook enough, you have probably sent someone a friend request which they did not accept.

Or maybe you’ve sent it and then changed your mind.

But how do you “undo” it, if you will? How can you cancel that friend request? There is no “cancel”, “undo” or “retract” button.

No, there isn’t.

But what you can do is this.

Search the person in the Facebook search bar. As you’ve sent a friend request, Facebook should be smart enough to list that person high on your search list to make it easy to find. So even if it’s a John something or rather, Facebook should include the John you want amongst all the Johns you know.

Um, that didn’t sound very right, but you get the idea.

Select the person you want to view his/her profile.

Look down the left hand side of their profile that shows up and Click on Report/Block this Person.

From the pop-up menu, just Block them. You don’t need to report them. You might be tempted to if your ego is bruised by them not accepting your Friend Request, but play nice.

Now, you can leave them blocked. But you might also want to leave that window open in case they might like to maybe send a Friend Request to you… which you might want to accept? 🙂

However, I would recommend you Unblock them, by removing them off your Blocked List, to return things to the way they were before you sent that Friend Request you just retracted.

If you want to do this, then Click on Account in the upper right hand corner.

Choose Privacy Settings.

Click on Edit your lists under Block Lists (at middle bottom of your screen when this was written).

Click Unblock beside the name of the person you just blocked.

DONE!

And the world is beautiful once more. 🙂

If you want to ignore a Friend Request “nicely”…

What happens when someone sends you a Friend Request which you don’t want to accept but which it can be a bit awkward to ignore?

Well, there isn’t a completely effective way, but maybe try this “plea ignorance” or “blame technology” attempt before smacking reality into someone if they don’t get the hint.

Follow the same “call up their profile, then block and unblock routine” of the person whose friend request you want to ignore.

What that does is remove that Friend Request they put through. It’ll hint it to them a bit that the request disappeared, or it’ll make them try again, which will tell you they didn’t get the hint and that you need to either talk to them and smack a little reality into them, or Block them!

In the meanwhile, though, you can “play ignorant” if they ask you about it in person to say “what friend request”?

When they check your profile, they’ll see the “Add as a Friend” button present, suggesting maybe that request didn’t go through. Or whatever. One great thing about technology is that you can use it to blame all kinds of things

By the way, if someone ever asks you “did you accept my Facebook friend request?”, you might want to take that as a little sign of desperation for something or rather. Maybe they don’t want you, but just to up their Facebook friends tally. However, it seems a little desperate to me and I’d never ask anybody that.

Alas, now that I’ve shared this, I’ve lost a couple of more Facebook etiquette secrets… but it’s all good for humanity. 🙂

Other Facebook issue posts on my site:

The Prejudices and Privacy Perils of Facebook Quizzes

How to Get Rid of Your Facebook Past

25 Things For Facebook You Can’t Steal My ID With

25 Things You Gave on Facebook to Help Get Your ID Stolen

Una Guía de Netiqueta Práctica para Facebook

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Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 5.7
(which is below Facebook policy’s age for having a Facebook account at 13 years old)

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40 thoughts on “How to Cancel or Retract Friend Requests on Facebook… and Why?

  1. UPDATE! NOW YOU CAN CANCEL YOUR FRIEND REQUEST SIMPLY BY GOING TO THAT PERSONS PAGE AND SCROLLING DOWN TO THE VERY BOTTOM LEFT BOX IT WILL SAY “CANCEL FRIEND REQUEST”

  2. even if you block them, will they still receive the notification stating that you had attempted to befriend them at first? or would that notification be deleted upon you changing your mind about friending them and blocking them instead?

    • You can’t send a friend request if you’ve blocked them. If you didn’t block them and they may have seen it. It depends on whether they checked in before you changed your mind to remove your friend request or blocked them. If they did check in, they saw it. If they didn’t check in, they won’t have. The notification gets removed the moment you remove the friend request or block them. It’s just whether they checked in before you changed your mind. Hope that helps.

      • I think the second last poster was talking about email notification…if you block the person, cancel the friend request and unblock the person nothing will be seen on facebook but what about if they have email notifications?? When i get a friend request or alert i also receive a hotmail email telling me i have a facebook request? I accidently sent a friend request today and stoped the request using the block list but now im worried about the email notification saying I sent this person a friend request??

        • Interesting question, Mary. I don’t know about email notifications because I have no email notifications on. I check FB when I do and that’s that. I never wait for anything to happen on FB that I need a notification immediately whether something happened to have to check right away.

          That said, if you use the block to stop the request, the person requested will get some sort of error clicking on things. Just use the good old tech naivite excuse if they have a means to contact you. “Really? I don’t know why that happened? I didn’t send anything. I don’t know why you can’t find me.” 🙂

          You can unblock them again and tell them to try again later to see if they didn’t miss you the first time. Of course, that would mean you’d have to add them if they want to add you, in which case, just be honest. Tell them you’d just prefer to have people you know well on your Facebook profile because you use it a little more like real life. Use “comfortable with” if you know them well and still don’t want to add them. You either don’t need them in your life so you can ignore their rebuff, or you know them well enough you should be able to have an honest conversation as to why (Parents/kids).

          Ultimately, if you have to, just put it in the open and talk about it. It’s really only Facebook. 🙂

  3. if you send a friend request, then cancel it, it will not show up on facebook. however, if email notification is on, they still will receive an email for your request, EVEN THOUGH YOU CANCELED IT!!! at our work, company policy indicates not to use social network media with co-workers. one co-worker sent another co-worker a friend request inadvertently, canceled it, but the email went through. not good…

    • Thanks for the clarification. While one can retract friend requests on Facebook, all those other notifications and such are forever. But just explain things to them that you changed your mind, nothing personal, for whatever reasons. It’s Facebook. If they’re not going to be friends with you in real life for that, well, there’s probably not a good reason to be friends with them. Friends, like any other relationship, tolerate more from each other than people with whom you have no relationship. If they’re going to defer friendship for something as little as being Facebook friends, they’re no friends you’d want to have.

  4. What if you send a friend request to an email address (e.g. to invite someone who’s not on yet to sign up) rather than to a person who’s already on?

    Somehow, I accidentally sent a friend request to an alternate email of my own! Now, Facebook periodically sends me: “Reminder: Wilson Surname invited you to join Facebook…”

    I want to cancel that invitation from myself, but can’t figure out how.

    • I’ve never sent an email friend request so I don’t know how to cancel it. However, others have sent it to me but instead of hitting delete, I hit the Spam button. Some email systems are smart enough to know not to put it in your Inbox next time. Others, you’ll have to create a rule to filter it, or Block it if you have such a button.

  5. it was awesum advice of blocking them first and then unblocking them , simply to let them know that it doesnt really matter whether you accept my request or not? after unblocking we are simply saying “I am giving you another chance”:D:D:D

  6. Another reason to want to cancel a request is because you hit the request button by mistake, but maybe I’m the only weirdo that’s done this so far. I have done it twice. This last time I noticed and was able to cancel the request. The first I didn’t even know I hit the request button until I got a message saying the person had accepted my request. It was not anyone I would have requested and I now feel obligated to keep them on.

    • Why do you feel obligated, Marie? Unfriend them or block them if you don’t want them coming back to ask you about it (they won’t be able to find you or see your activities on common friends’ posts, walls or otherwise).

  7. it was awesum advice of blocking them first and then unblocking them , simply to let them know that it doesnt really matter whether you accept my request or not? after unblocking we are simply saying “I am giving you another chanc

  8. If you want to cancel a request you just sent, go to that person’s page. At the top on the right there is a box that says “friend request sent.” Click on that box and one of your options that will pop up is ‘cancel request.’

  9. Hi; Can you help me here. I cancelled a friend request after having sent it twice just in case they didn’t see it, but I came to my senses. Now, however, they just won’t go away from my search list. as soon as I type the first initial of their first or second name they appear. It’s kind of saddening. It’s as though they are stuck or glued there and other name searches are constantly changing.

    Please help. how do I get red of this person from my search list without blocking them?

    • Hi Sara, try blocking them for a few days and removing them from your block list if you feel like you need to after a few days. If you came to your senses after cancelling two Friend Requests, my guess is it wouldn’t hurt to block this person for a few days. Besides, if you’re not contacting them, what’s the difference to blocking them? If you’re hoping they’d send you a friend request or contact you, then that’s a different issue you need to deal with, not a Facebook issue. Hope that helps.

  10. Hi, what if you accidentally sent a friend request and immediately cancelled it, followed by blocking the person. Would they still receive information via email that I had tried to be-friend them? Or does it disappear my name and picture as they are now blocked?

    • Excellent question, Kris, but unfortunately, I don’t have a certain answer. It depends on how soon is “immediately”. I’m not sure how quickly Facebook sends out an email notification after a Friend Request. With emails, of course, once sent out from system to system (like FB to hotmail, etc), it’s gone and can’t be taken back. However, if the person did not have email notifications for Friend Requests, there will be no email. Within FB then, the notice of a Friend Request will disappear if you retract it, AND if the person were not online at the same time you were to check what that notification was. It’s not simple, I know, but that’s the way things work. I would say blocking that person for a small period of time, at least, is a good way to go to help minimize the impact of the erroneous Friend Request. Hope things turn out “right” for you.

  11. How do you delete a friend request if you don’t know the name of the person? I accidently clicked add friend on someone facebook randomly puts on the right and before I realized I had, the name was gone. I have looked all over trying to find a place that shows whom I have sent friend requests to. They should really have a list of pending friend requests!

  12. If I sent a request on accident … But , unfriendly them and block them can they still see I added the on fb from there e-mail

    • Only if they had something like email notification. That’s when they get an email or other sort of notification of what happened. Once that gets sent, FB can’t take it back and it sits there in their Inbox or wherever. Unfortunately, there’s no way of telling if they have that feature with their account. But if you block them, well, they won’t be able to find you (with the account you blocked) to bother you. Just say it was a mistake, and probably notify someone of harassment, if they go through all the trouble otherwise to track you down and ask over a silly thing as a FB Friend Request that was obviously withdrawn!

  13. i added someone on facebook and it was an accident, and cancelled it really quick. I decided to change my name, blocked the person and deactivate my facebook. will they still be able to see my picture and original name on facebook?

  14. I accidentally sent a friend request to some one whom I hadnt meant and then blocked unblocked them as you suggested.which worked so thanks. But would that person know that i had previously sent a request or not?

  15. I am sending friend requests and those friends who r nt accepting my friend requests i cancel that request. So is there is a chance of getting blocked frm sending friend requests on fb?

    • Only if the person you send the request to decides to block you, not because of Facebook. You’ll know if you got blocked if you search them and can’t find them, or can’t see them via mutual friends’ friends list (if your mutual friend allows you to see their list because not everyone does). But if you’re blocked, the person blocking can’t see your profile either so they can’t spy on you directly.

    • I am sending friend requests regularly and also canceling the friend requests after 24 hours so is there is any chance that facebook can block me from sending friend requests?

      • I don’t really know but I would guess that unless you are new to Facebook where it is likely you have many friends in real life you’ll want to add, after a while, FB may LIMIT you from the number of friend requests you send. They may not stop you, but they may only let you do a certain number per day. But unless you were new, or new to a new place and/or situation in life, why are you having to send so many that you have to cancel? I would wait maybe a week because otherwise, it does look like spam.

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