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Ok, here is my situation. I met this guy a few months ago, we met a couple of times (not dating, just as friends). We don't talk often but every once in a month or two he suggests that we would get together and hang out. Almost every time he reaches out we decide on a day but he never commits to a time and leaves me hanging all day waiting to hear from him and wondering if I should make other plans if I don't hear from him.

Same thing happened again yesterday, he told me that he wanted to watch a movie together and hear me play the guitar. I messaged him a few times during day hinting to let me know when he wanted to get together but I didn't want to come across as pushy or needy. He also often tends to text something and disappear for a while before responding again, which I find disrespectful.

At some point in the evening it was getting late and I gave up waiting and then he texted me with a lame excuse of why he can't make it. I texted him back and said that I already assumed that our plans had been canceled but he never even said anything back. I like this person but I also like being treated with respect and my time is important to me.

My question is, how do I set boundaries and let someone know that I can't make plans with them again because they are leaving me hanging, wasting my time and I can't sit around all day waiting without coming across as aggressive or rude?

  • "I like this person" as a friend, or more? – corsiKa Nov 20 '17 at 16:37
  • @corsiKa, I like him as a person, not in a romantic way. When I met him I got out of a painful relationship and was still working on getting over that relationship. He does send me mixed messages from time to time, which leaves me confused about what he wants from me – sillygilz Nov 20 '17 at 18:30
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    "respect my time" is already a very aggressive (and way over-generallized) way of thinking about it. Why not instead focus on what the person actually did ("stood you up" or "flaked" or whatever). If you don't get your own head in a non-aggressive space, anything non-aggressive you communicate is going to be at least partially a lie. – T.E.D. Nov 21 '17 at 17:28
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    I don't see how what I said came across as aggressive to you but we can all agree to disagree. I don't think that it's asking too much of someone to know what the plan is instead of sitting around all day and not making other plans in the assumption that that person will contact you to set up a plan. – sillygilz Nov 21 '17 at 21:05
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    Comments deleted. Please don't answer in comments; use comments only to suggest improvements to the question. Thanks. – HDE 226868 Nov 22 '17 at 16:15
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"Truth above all" is my personal policy

You said something very important and very fair here:

I also like being treated with respect and my time is important to me.

Therefore, next time he suggests to do something, set boundaries straightforwardly and assert what you said above:

Are you absolutely sure you're gonna be at [place] at [time]? You know it's been hard for you to "comply with your proposals" in the past, and I hope you do understand that it's been even harder for me to manage that: time is precious and I hate to waste it.

See what his answer is and see once more if it respects you. If he fails again, there's no point in keeping on trying to meet unreliable people, regardless of how kind they can be.

I, for one, personally, wouldn't be able to consider him nice. Which is the same reason you shouldn't overthink "being rude" given that, as a matter of facts, he's proving to have rude behaviour himself.

Another solution I can think of is

Put the ball on his field

Him: Hey, I'd like to meet up for a movie

You: Sure, I'm off to watch "Justice league" on Monday night with friends, wanna join?

You go, regardless, and that will all be on him: if he comes, good for him, if he doesn't come, bad for him. That allows you to go on with your life without getting hindered.

  • I'm not sure what "see the answer and see once more if it respects you" means. Can you explain it or edit it to be clearer? – Kat Nov 20 '17 at 17:29
  • I think it is important that OP realizes that, being assertive is not rude. In my experience women are generally less assertive, and I could imagine the guy finds it refreshing. (speculative of course) – Chris Wohlert Nov 21 '17 at 13:48
  • @Kat the explanation is immediately subsequent: " If he fails again, there's no point in keeping on trying to meet unreliable people, regardless of how kind they can be." – Markino Nov 22 '17 at 8:47
  • Either you edited it from "see the answer" to "see his answer" or I misread it originally, but "see his answer" makes a lot more sense. – Kat Nov 22 '17 at 15:58
  • Yes, I wrongly wrote "the" and a moderator correctly fixed it to "his". – Markino Nov 23 '17 at 8:32
26

Very good question.

My question is, how do I set boundaries and let someone know that I can't make plans with them again because they are leaving me hanging, wasting my time and I can't sit around all day waiting without coming across as aggressive or rude?

For saying no going forward, you can either be very direct - You really cost me a lot of time yesterday while I waited for you and this hurt my schedule - but this may feel rude or aggressive (Did he deserve this response? Yes), or you can just reject any further requests without specifying why, such as Sorry, I have other plans today or Sorry, I was going to see friends yesterday, but rescheduled them for today instead. The latter is less rude, but sends the message across effectively. Since it sounds like you have other things in your life, it's best to indicate these when you make plans with people.

For avoiding this problem in the future, you have a couple of options for handling someone wasting your time when being generic about a time to get together. When someone texts you about spending time, you can do the below to avoid it being any time during the day.

  1. Give a time window if you agree to the day. Suppose he texts you:

Let's get together tomorrow.

Respond with something like:

Sure. I'll only be available from 3-5.

If people can show up at any time, they may use these privileges. This is an easy way to set a boundary.

  1. Request the time by starting with a maybe. This still lets the other person set the time, but only agrees if a time is specified. Example:

Let's get together tomorrow.

Respond with something like:

Not sure [or maybe]. What time?

This indicates that you'll agree, but only if he specifies the time. In this case, he leads with the time, but if he doesn't, you're rejecting his offer. You are also kindly communicating all day is not acceptable for me.

  • Thank you for answering my question is such detail. You make some good point. I'm not very assertive when it comes to these type of situation which comes back to bite me but I will see if he contacts me again next time and use some of your suggestions. It's to a point that I rather almost be direct because maybe this is how he treats other people as well and not aware of the inconvenience he is causing. – sillygilz Nov 20 '17 at 13:40
  • @sillygilz No worries - it's part of interacting with people. Just remember: you can never get your time back, so never let someone waste your time, as it's a precious resource that can't be returned. – FalseHooHa Nov 20 '17 at 13:42
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I'm dealing with similar problems right now.

The best way to deal with it is to handle it at the time of setting the date.

him: Want to get together on the 5th?

you: Sure, how does 5pm sound?

Then, follow the 15 minute rule. No call, no show by 5:15, no date. Even if you are not doing anything else, if he reaches out after that window, tell him you're busy. This is a polite, but firm way of getting the respect you deserve.

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    Thank you for responding to my question. Yes, I'm to a point that I'm not sure why I'm considering his feelings, I sat all day yesterday avoiding making other plans because I assumed he would come through and was upset and frustrated so next time I'll just be honest and put him on the spot to make a specific time or go waste someone else's time. I'm assuming he got stuck with his girlfriend (which he's been trying to break up with for some time now) so he made up some excuse why he can't make it – sillygilz Nov 20 '17 at 14:20
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    @sillygilz if he still has a girlfriend, perhaps she is the one preventing him (in)directly from making appointments with others... Now that you mentioned this, the most troubling issue for most would likely be to go out with someone who still has a relationship with another person. Won't it be easier for you to accept going out with him when you're sure he stopped "trying to break up" with his girlfriend? – Armfoot Nov 20 '17 at 15:40
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    Armfoot. I have no interest in going out with him or breaking them up. I mentioned in my question that we are just friends and I'm not interested in a relationship with this guy, just friendship. I'm not the kind to break up a couple, it's been done to me by others and it's not cool. He's been telling everyone that he wants to break up with her but doesn't know how to. If he keeps acting this unreliable though I am not interested in a friendship either because I expect more from my friends. – sillygilz Nov 20 '17 at 18:24
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    @sillygilz Honestly, that guy sounds rather shifty - both in his behaviour to you and to his girlfriend. Even if you're not interested in going out with him - it sounds like he's testing the waters to see whether he can hook up with you "on the side" or something like that. All the more reason to draw clear boundaries with him :-) – AllTheKingsHorses Nov 21 '17 at 8:56
  • @AllTheKingsHorses you might be right. I often wonder wht his real intentions are. Anyway I never reach out to him or go out of my way to talk or make plans so the ball is in his court and if he tries to make plans again next time I will have to set him in his place because I can't be bothered wasting my time anymore. Most of my friends are kind and respectful but some do flake from time to time. I try to give people a couple of chances before I dismiss them. I don't have a lot to lose here as we are not romantically involved or close friends at this point. – sillygilz Nov 21 '17 at 12:47
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First of all, if you're happy with 'just friends' and only hanging out every couple of months then you equally have to respect that his life can't hang on you either. When you text and he doesn't reply immediately he may well be doing something else with someone else and he doesn't owe you an explanation, because you're not a couple. However I do agree with you that making a firm arrangement with a time is the polite and courteous thing to do.

When he suggests hanging out, simply ask for a time and explain that you have other things to do that day (if you don't, and this is just a matter of principle then have some routine things like going to the gym or doing chores ready if he asks what you are doing). This isn't rude - if anything you are saying that you will work the 'other things' around the time he chooses, which is really giving him priority. If he can't commit to a time then just politely ask him to suggest another day. If you are making this arrangement face to face this is even better - get your phone out and open your calendar app. Show him that you are putting the appointment in your diary. This shows that you are organised and committed to the arrangement.

I would also set yourself a reasonable number of times that you will put up with him cancelling.

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Whenever you make plans with him, be firm and concise.

Ask him an exact hour to meet up. If he doesn't answer, you should choose and give him the time that fits you best.

If at that time he is not there, you wait a few minutes and then you leave.

If he complains or does any remark you can simply tell him off saying that you gave him a specific meet up time and place and that if he wants to see you he just needs to show up.

3

A good friend of mine is very much the same - and always a reason. Here is what I've found to work, as long as you are willing to make some adjustments to how he prefers to (not) plan:

  • Understand that his way of planning may be different (not better/worse) than yours - Trying to make this person adhere to your way of planning is akin to expecting a cat to come whenever you call its name. Set realistic expectations that work with how that person ticks.(See "latin time")
  • Set a plan independent from his actions, and consequences ("If I don't hear back from you by 3pm I'll assume we are not meeting tomorrow"). It still opens the possibility of meeting tomorrow if you hear back after 3pm but everybody knows what the consequence is - you might not be available anymore.
  • Have a contingency in case it falls through - you will end up being less frustrated since them showing up at a certain time, or late, isn't part of the original plan. ("I'll be at the coffee shop from 1-4pm studying, it would be great to catch up with you there.)
  • Say something - Let them know that having a plan a head of time with dates, times, and at least 24 hours notice is truly and very important to you. You may have to gently remind him of this on multiple occasions. The more you go along with their style without saying anything the more he may think you are OK with it.

Some folks are very uncomfortable being relied upon to show up socially at a pre-appointed time. Even expending the mental energy to adhere to a plan can be mentally draining. I don't know what your friend's reason is, but with clear expectations of both sides, helping your friend learn how to respect your values, while respecting theirs, and approaching each interaction with a fresh openness (avoid stacking your frustrations), you can keep a healthy relationship.

  • Thank you that makes sense and I feel like I am understanding for the most part of people's differences but something is telling me that making the plans is just not as important for him and he comes up with it at the spare of the moment and if something better comes along he cancels. Most times he did follow through eventually but it was pulling teeth. I'm going to consider all the great advice people shared here and see how it works – sillygilz Nov 21 '17 at 15:15
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Ask him to decide soon.

Let's say you've made plans to hang out on Friday, but you haven't yet determined the time. Send him something like this:

Hey, I'm planning out my day Friday. Can you let me know when you're free? I have a lot of things up in the air right now so I'll need to know in the next few hours.

If he doesn't respond in the next two hours, assume you're not hanging out and make other plans. If he responds afterwards, tell him you're sorry but you made plans since you thought it wouldn't work.

As long as you set clear deadlines, there shouldn't be any issues as long as this guy is a reasonable person.

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