9

Background: I met this person, S at a church I was attending at the time (I changed churches for different reasons). We became friends, because we had a few common interests, and I wanted to help S learn sign language (S wanted to become an interpreter, which is great. No problem with that.)

Situation: When we would try to get together, S would leave some vague comment or message to me, and I would be the one to mostly initiate the questions that were vital to scheduling a lunch time together. We have had a few lunches together, and they were enjoyable.

A recent situation that disappointed me is that S went away to a workshop, and we both expected to meet on Sunday for lunch, after her expected return on Saturday. S just now (Tuesday afternoon, 2 days later) messaged me that the workshop went longer than expected, and she wants to reschedule.

S did not communicate AT ALL that she would be missing the lunch date, either before or on the day. Not really appreciated. If S simply forgot and was busy, I understand that, but this is not the first time S has forgotten to communicate with me.

If I was in S's shoes, and I was missing a lunch date with someone, I would let that person know after I realized that I could not make it.

I have rescheduled many, many lunch dates (at least 6) with S in the past, and I am trying to figure out if this friendship is worth it.

I am asking how to communicate to S that if S makes a date with me, she either needs to stick with it or let me know that it won't work out in a reasonable time before the lunchtime. I do not mind if we reschedule it if needed, but I need to know at least a couple hours before, because when I make a plan, I stick with it.

EDIT I have expressed disappointment at missing another lunchtime with her, and have jokingly said something along the lines of "You better not miss the next one! Third time's the charm?!", and I am a pretty forgiving person in general.

Because of our busy schedules, we are not able to interact much. I work 9 to 5, and her schedule is varied.

She has expressed desire to have a lunch date with me multiple times.

Extra note: She is leaving to an out of state college by the end of August, and if this friendship is going to be salvaged, it would have to be within the next month or so.

Question: How do I communicate to S that her actions are not appreciated, without shutting down friendship?


Update

I responded to her, "Sure (we can meet up), when and where?" and she has neither seen the message or responded, and it's been more than 72 hours. I like to think that she has good reasons for not seeing or responding for a long time period, but at this point my expectations are low.

Second Update: I have scheduled a lunch date with her two weeks from this Sunday. We shall see what happens. I have very low expectations at this point.

Third Update S canceled that lunch, postponed it. Supposed to have dinner tonight, and she informed me that she can't make it due to a friend being induced to give birth today and that friend needs her. I understand, but this is going pretty far.

  • Are you sure S wants you as a friend? Maybe she is avoiding you on purpose to end friendship. Does she ever start a conversation with you or shows concern towards you? – Santiago Jul 26 '18 at 14:41
  • It's hard to tell. She seems to genuinely be sorry and wants to reschedule, but it's gone on for way too long that it seems unlikely. She has not initiated conversations with me that showed concern towards me. Maybe that's because I'm private with my day to day stuff on social media. – ElizB Jul 26 '18 at 14:43
8

Relationships tend to settle where people allow them to be. S clearly doesn't have much concern about other people's time or sticking to appointments she's made. And if she doesn't care about standing you up enough to even mention she can't make it until days after the planned meeting it's unlikely that she'll care much about you not appreciating her behavior.

When I have dealt with similarly flaky people in the past, I made it less convenient for them to flake out. This included making plans which can't change very much (like going to a concert, or a temporary exhibition), and so failure to show up meant completely missing the event. This is in contrast to lunch, which occurs every day and is trivial to rearrange. I did not find that this made people more reliable. So I only arranged things I would want to do even if the other person were not present, and in some cases invited other people as well.

These had the effect of allowing me to not get hung up on flaky behavior-- even if the person never showed up, I could have a good time which eased the resentment I might otherwise have felt. If the other person tried to arrange something, I would only accept if I had "backup" plans in place for the (likely) case where they would not show up. And when my availability was in question, I started replacing "maybe I can make it/help/whatever" with "no".

If you want to maintain the friendship, I fear you may have to accept it on her terms. That means not seeing her as often as you might want, and being prepared for her to not show up for plans you've made or respond to your communications. A relatively shallow, casual, and infrequent relationship may be all that she's going to offer you, and if so there isn't going to be much you can do to change that. But if you revise your expectations downward you may be able to enjoy what S is willing to offer.

8

The way that I approach friendship is 3-tiered: (1) intimate friends (2) friends (3) acquaintances and friends where I have to do all the initiating.

I would suggest using this next lunch date as a test to see if this friendship is worth continuing to invest in. I would say something like this: "Great! Look forward to seeing you! Oh, by the way, so if this plan doesn't work out, that is ok, but can you do me a favor? Can you let me know as soon as you know if have to reschedule?"

She has now been fairly warned.

If she reschedules, I would bump her to tier 3 and keep in touch randomly. I rarely remove someone from my life entirely because circumstances change over time, and because she may need a true friend one day. I could be that person.

  • That is how I rank people I know. Great adivce – Ahsan Jul 27 '18 at 10:08
1

So you found out that when this person makes promises, or agrees to do something, these promises or agreements mean nothing. It's actually worse, not only does the person break promises or agreements, but doesn't make the slightest effort to reduce the negative consequences for you.

The only thing you can do: If this person makes promises or agrees to something in the future, you expect them to break their promises, and you prepare not to lose out in this situation.

For example: You hate going to the movies on your own, but it doesn't make much difference if you are in a group of four or five. So if four people are going, you can invite this person. If you are going on your own, you don't. Or you do and collect the money for the ticket beforehand, so if the promise is broken, you are at the movies on your own, but with plenty of money for drinks and popcorn provided by your unreliable friend.

  • 1
    Nice idea about collecting money beforehand - it's a sort of bond that is forfeited if they don't show up. – sleske Jul 12 '18 at 10:03

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