I have a problem where I either say nothing or get abrasive when I try to get a person to stop doing something that bothers me. This is why I'm asking here. My friend (Bob) had invited me and another person (Joe) to bowling. Bob chose a location close to his home. I was 15 minutes late, which I very much regret. Bob had messaged us he was there, but presumably got impatient and left. He did not tell us he had left but 2 hours latter messaged he had gone to do something else.

I found this really unpleasant wandering around looking for Bob (and Joe) wondering where everyone was. I have a separate question here asking how to address the situation with Joe.

How can I bring this up in a non-abrasive manor to let Bob know he should of at least said he was leaving so that we weren't looking and waiting for him? What comes to my mind is "please message us if you're leaving so we're not looking or waiting for you" but this may sound abrasive. Also I suspect he would retaliate about me being late. Awhile ago Bob said he's been seeing a doctor for depression, and I'm not sure how that may affect this situation.

  • 3
    Why you think your considered action of telling him the way you stated it might come over as abrasive?
    – dhein
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 6:18
  • 1
    You were the late one, why wasn't it incumbent on you to message him saying you were late?
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Jan 15, 2020 at 23:55
  • @swbarnes2 comment is my answer to dhein's question. That's why I feel uneasy complaining about someone else when I did the same. However, I messaged I was running late where Joe did not. Also, (I'm interested in other's opinion) I think 10 minutes late is a lot different than 1 hour late?
    – user27664
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


I've noticed, in regards to how others react to me, how others react to each other, and how I react to others, abrasiveness is frequently just a matter of sounding annoyed. I mention this, because without your vocal tone, what you wrote sounds fine to me, and apparently to dhein.

I've previously had issues with this myself. It doesn't really matter if I'm annoyed with them, or with something else entirely, if there's annoyance in my tone, I'm being abrasive.

This is rough, because you're justifiably frustrated. It should be understandable to people that if they go to meet with someone, they're not there, and after just a few minutes, they leave, and the other person shows up, that the other person might be upset. I mean, if they'd left due to an emergency there may not have been emotion there, but if I recall from your first post correctly, Bob didn't leave due to an emergency.

But people are usually worse at putting themselves in the other person's shoes than they'd like to think they are. When they're involved in the situation, they're prone to getting defensive.

For me, the easiest solution is to go for sounding sad as well. This still needs to be done with care, because if you go too far with it, you're whiny. Maybe I have some advantage in sounding sad, because I'm chronically depressed. But all I need to do to go from irritated to sad is just consider the other people's perspectives for a while. It's a whole sorry state of affairs. We should be able to get along better than this.

The following certainly isn't the best way to phrase things, but since nobody else has spoken up, I figured I'd at least try.

I'm really sorry I was late to the event last weekend. I tried to make it on time, but I was delayed by a few things, and I couldn't make up the time. I'll try to not be late, but I'm sure it'll happen again just because things do come up. When this does happen again, please message us if you're leaving so we're not looking or waiting for you.

  • I like your proposed message that the OP should send to Bob, except consider adding the following. "If I'm late again, I will message you so that you are not looking for me."
    – James
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 12:56
  • Is there a difference between being 5 minutes late and being 30 minutes late, or is it just the matter of principal?
    – user27664
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 13:03
  • 1
    @flagshumbug: it certainly depends on people and location but usually 5 minutes late is acceptable. For example, in a big city, there is always a bit of uncertainty about traffic, so you can easily be 5 minutes late or 5 minutes in advance. I would say that 30 minutes late is bad planning or unforeseen event, but your mileage may vary. When I was living in Senegal, about 10 years ago, it was common for people to be 2 hours late at a meeting and no one would complain.
    – Taladris
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 16:31

My friend (Bob) had invited me and another person (Joe) to bowling. ... I was 15 minutes late, ...

To me keep it simple and focus on what I want to address - his not being there.

"I wish you would let me know, when you decide not to meet me. It does not feel good."

It's a separate issue from his complaint.

If he brings it up, feel free to apologize for your part.

Either way state that if he wants things to be different, he needs to help them get better.

Do note, you cannot control his behavior any more than he can make you plan far enough in advance to be on time.


... if it was not completely clear ...

You should not express the frustration that he left to him. You can ask for an apology. You should not be trying to make him feel anything or be remorseful.

Keep it factual, understand how they run their life and how you want your life to run.

It sounds like he is deciding that he would rather not hang out - it could be he's in a foul mood himself and avoiding an argument too.

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