17

Background:

I am a 25-year-old male and I have two best friends. I have known them almost my entire life and they are like brothers to me. We also hang out with other friends from school/college every now and then. The weekend plans and holiday trips have not been an issue, until recently.

One of my best friends (let us call him Tom) has been dating this girl (let us call her Summer) for almost a year now. They are very much in love and planning to get engaged soon. She is a nice person most of the times and when we all hang out, we feel comfortable and I can tell that she enjoys hanging out with us.

My other best friend and I understand that Tom and Summer need their space and we do not interfere with their time and plans. The problem is when we make plans with Summer, she keeps changing the time or place. This usually costs us more time on travel or leads to canceling the plan itself.

A little background about Summer - she lives in the city now, but she is originally from a small town which is a 5 hour drive from the city. Her family is one of the affluent ones in her town and she grew up spoiled with lot of authority and money. Her family listens to what she says and gives her want she wants. So, being authoritative comes naturally to her. I know all this from Tom and Summer's younger brother.

Last week was Summer's birthday and she was supposed to be spending it with her family in her hometown. Tom, my other friend and me planned 4 weeks ago to go to Summer's hometown and celebrate her birthday. This was supposed to be our road trip after a long time. Summer was aware of all this plan and she even offered her farm house for our stay. All of a sudden, just a day before our trip, Summer came to the city and she celebrated her birthday here. We canceled the trip.

The fact that she was so cool and casual about all the change in plans drove me mad at that time. This was one big case, however, she has done similar things in the past. For example, we all would have planned to meet near a beach and just when we reach the place, she would call Tom and ask us to come to a mall which would be like 10 kilometers from the beach. She might tell that a local band is playing in the mall and we should come. If we complain, she casually says that it is just a 10 kilometer drive. What she does not understand is, it takes about 30 minutes to drive in the traffic.

I value my time and respect other's time very much and this behavior of hers is irritating sometimes. My other best friend is going through a difficult breakup and we get the chance to cheer him up only when we meet. He gets mad when Summer does these things and gets into a fight with Tom. I hate that they fight for things which we are not responsible for.

Tom is well aware of how we feel, he even spoke to Summer about this and she doesn't seem to understand the importance of our time. I doubt if Tom is afraid to talk to her about this again. I have never confronted her about this. This is because, I see Tom real happy with Summer and do not want to cause any problem. I am not sure how she would take it if I am going to confront.

Question:

Given that:

  1. I do not want our relationships to be affected by such things.
  2. Since she is the one causing all this, I would like to make her realize that we could all be happier if she could change her ways.
  3. I would not want to sound rude or as if I am trying to sabotage her relationship with Tom.
  4. I would like us to hang out and go on trips without this confrontation affecting it.

How do I let her know that she should change her behaviour and stop changing plans often?

I would prefer communicating this with Summer directly as Tom is already aware of how I feel. If talking to Summer does not make major changes, I would take a strong stand and not comply with the last minute changes. But right now, I want to give Summer a heads-up first.

11 Answers 11

25

You're in a tough spot. Unfortunately, a lot of people have tendencies to agree to things with disregard to what they involve and what they mean to other people.

It sounds like your plans are very tied with this girl being there (and Tom). Meaning, your enjoyment or otherwise benefits would be diminished by them not being there. This is what Summer does not understand.

Similarly the plans you make are what you all agree to. Deviations from these plans change the circumstance. So when Summer decides to change them, she does not seem to understand that these new plans may not be agreeable to everyone. For example, she thinks that going to the mall from the beach is just as agreeable to you as just hanging out at the beach, which is obviously not the case.

This is not something you're going to be able to fully control, so I'm going to offer advice in two parts:

  1. For when you happen to be in a similar situation
  2. How to prevent these situations

When Summer Changed Plans Forcibly

As you've shown, there are times when Summer changes the plans from under you. Not going to the beach is a good example. This is a weird situation, because it's not like Summer is with you guys to make a suggestion in your plans. She's actually failed to commit to your plans at all.

In these situations your first option is to find a compromise in which you all can agree to, but also making her aware of why you don't want to just obey her suggestion. Here's an example:

Summer, going to the mall is a bit inconvenient for us since we've already arrived at the beach. I would prefer to still meet up at the beach, and then maybe we can talk about what to do afterwards. What does everyone else prefer?

Find common ground here. If you can't find a solution that is good for everyone, you (and your friends) have two options:

  1. Let Tom and Summer do whatever they want. The rest of you, stick to your plans.
  2. Do what Summer wants.

Option 1: This option is going to hurt. It's going to make things weird. It's probably going to ruin your time and everyone else's. But, it might force Summer to see the consequences. If you can, convince Tom to stick with you guys instead of his girlfriend. WARNING: This will affect their relationship. Ensure that if Tom tells his girlfriend no, he does it in a very honest, polite, and nice way. For example:

Summer, the guys and I are already met up at the beach and we're not going to go to the mall. If you want, we can go later once I'm done hanging out with everyone. I hope you still want to come with us and hang out, but it's fine if you don't.

This is a quick example. Depending on their personalities, this could be very different. And if their relationship isn't solid, you might want to avoid this step altogether and let them deal with it without your intervention.

Option 2: Yeah, just do what Summer wants. If the change in plans is a better alternative to ruining it for everyone, just do it. It might not be ideal, and you'll want to do something about it eventually, which brings me to the second part of my advice.....

How to Prevent These Situations

The only way to not be affected by Summer's changes in plans is to strip her of the leverage she has over you. Unfortunately, the leverage she has on you mostly comes from Tom. So that means you'll need to also strip him of his leverage.

The reason they have leverage is because your plans depend on them being there. Without them there, your experience is diminished. They are using that leverage to control you and your friends.

So here are some tips when making plans:

  • If you or a friend are making plans, pretend Tom and Summer won't be there. Consider them a tag-along. Invite them to the event, don't let them be apart of the planning.
  • If Summer makes plans, you can accept, but don't rearrange your calendar. Have backup plans. Try not to inconvenience yourself. Also, don't build off of her. Meaning, don't turn her birthday into a roadtrip for the guys. Save your plans for later so they are independent of her plans.

If you can't make her or Tom understand the stakes, you need to distance yourself from them or accept that they decide what to do. This situation may simply be out of your control.

Edit:

To answer the OP's edited question. How do I let her know that she should change her behaviour and stop changing plans often?

This task isn't going to be easy. Talking to people about their behavior is very difficult unless they trust in you very much. I doubt you're going to get good results here. She will most likely get very defensive. While in such a state of mind, nothing you say will convince her of anything.

Here's how you might be able to avoid that. Don't "sit her down". Don't treat her like a child. Don't go into this with demands or criticism. Don't go in angry or annoyed. If you are, pretend like you're not.

Say something like:

Hey Summer, could we talk about [last event in which she changed plans]? It may not have seemed like it at the time, but I and some of the guys were inconvenienced due to [what she did]. It really wasn't that big of a deal, but in the future, could you give us more of a heads-up? I think if we would have talked about it earlier, it wouldn't have been a problem at all. The guys and I aren't always going to be able to change our plans like that in the future, and I don't want you think it's because we don't want to hang out with you.

Try to sprinkle these points into a conversation, though, and not make it lecture. If you want to be more assertive, that's an option (though a risky one). I know this will sound weird, but you if you bring up the past problems, act like they were not a big deal. If you start getting angry over the past, you won't get anywhere with her, and it will seriously put anyone on the defensive. If you want to avoid lying, then just avoid bringing up the past altogether.

Like I said, talking to someone directly about their behavior is a mine field. It's not going to be easy and there's no way I can possibly give you every possible scenario in this answer.

Disclaimer: Doing what I said above is a little disingenuous because it involves feigning feelings so that she believes your on her side (borderline manipulative). If you want to avoid that, you will have to lighten up about her actions and genuinely forgive her so that you can have a real productive discussion. Otherwise, your only option is to make her aware of your feelings and opinions, and hope she decides to change her behavior (unlikely, assuming her personality matches your description). If you go that route, just try to be as polite as possible.

  • 14
    This answer... because honestly, with the background she has, Summer is probably used to people being more than happy to bend over backwards to be around her. She probably truly doesn't realize that this is displeasing your friend group. So make plans and consider her and Tom "tag-alongs" as above. If you're desperate to see Tom, make plans with him and consider her a tag-along... Probably easier to tell Tom how irritated you've been and to ask for a day with "just the boys" than to tell Summer about her behavior's impact. – Jess K. Jan 24 '18 at 20:58
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    Great answer, I'd add that it's better if he gets support from the other friend. Otherwise he may look like the weird one of the situation. – Fez Vrasta Jan 24 '18 at 23:37
14

You changed the question to talk directly to Summer. I don't think it is your place to talk directly to Summer. This is something for Tom to manage. Talking to her directly is interfering with their relationship. If Tom chooses to not talk to her (and risk his relationship with you) that is his business.

Talk to your other friend about just not changing plans next time. If he does not agree to hold with not changing plans then this does not work.

When you make plans be clear on if Summer is fine with the plans.

For example when she changes the plans to the mall just relay via Tom "No we are staying at the beach. Those are the plans we all agreed to". It puts Tom in a hard spot but you confronting Summer is also a hard spot. Warn Tom in advance you are not going to go along with last minute changes. Let him manage that with Summer as he chooses. I don't see confronting her directly going well. She is not likely to change for you. She might change for Tom. She probably runs all over Tom too so this may be his chance to put his foot down.

  • 1
    I'm surprised this isn't the top answer. Apart from communcating clearly on what the agreed plans are with summer, there shouldn't be any problems. Her relationship with Tom is not your problem. Once a plan is definitely agreed on, you can dismiss any last minute changes offered by summer as these aren't part of the plan. – everyone Jan 25 '18 at 14:46
  • @everyone To me going straight to Summer would be interfering with their relationship. – paparazzo Jan 25 '18 at 16:32
  • @Paparazzi, did I forget to give you a heads-up or is it already removed again? ;) Heads-up: The original question, which was closed after you answered, has been edited, and might be reopened. You may want to check the updated question and make sure that your answer still applies, even with the added details, or if it needs to be adjusted. (If I already said this, I apologize, just ping me and I'll remove it ;) ) – Tinkeringbell Jan 25 '18 at 17:30
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You can't make her understand that this isn't fair. You can't make anyone do or think anything.

What you can do is express how their actions affect you. An effective way of doing this that doesn't put the blame on the other person is to use I statements. I statements are statements normally of the form "I feel x when you do y." Remember you're not asking them to change their behavior you're wanting to express how you feel in response to their actions.

It's also a good idea to talk to your friend and let them know in a similar fashion how you feel about the constantly changing plans.

Ultimately this is really out of your control and if it's becoming a problem perhaps it's time to develop a broader circle of friends.

  • Heads-up: The question has been edited, and might be reopened. Answers might have been affected by the edits, so you might want to review your post and see if you want to change something or if it still stands. – Tinkeringbell Jan 25 '18 at 11:34
2

Your time is your most valuable asset. For others to value & respect your time, you must value your time & show it, not by words but by actions.

I'd invite you to adopt a more stubborn mindset, do not allow last minute changes to the plans you've made & don't be afraid to be upfront with that you're not ok with it. Last minute changes are signs of somebody not valuing your time & each time you allow it you basically teach those people that you're ok with their behavior (remember actions speak way more volume than words). Just literally follow through with your plans with or without Summer &/or Tom.

In my opinion relationships should be built on mutual respect, if others do not value or respect my time & the plans we've made I'm not afraid to cut those people out of my life by progressively being more & more unavailable. But that's me.

Regardless of if you follow my advice or not I at least hope that if you believe your time is valuable, that you will show it in your actions.

  • Heads-up: The question has been edited, and might be reopened. Answers might have been affected by the edits, so you might want to review your post and see if you want to change something or if it still stands. – Tinkeringbell Jan 25 '18 at 11:34
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The solution, from my perspective, is short and clear. Moreover it is based on the things you can control, rather than growing increasingly dependent on the things which you cannot control.

STEP 1: Sit Tommer (Tom + Summer together as "Tommer") and explain how happy you are for their strong relational growth together. Also explain that, in the recent past, making plans and keeping to them has become difficult and emotionally uncomfortable for you.

STEP 2: Explain that what is most important for you is that everyone's relationship together to not get further strained. Be sure to emphasize that this is genuinely the objective in why you are spending time talking about this issue.

STEP 3: Lay out how you will be changing your trip planning in order to accomplish that goal. -- This is important because ultimately you will need to make changes you feel comfortable with going forward. Decide in advance how 'loosely coupled' your plans can be with theirs, how much schedule flexibility you are willing to work within, how plan changes would be dealt with ideally, and what less-than-ideal circumstances you personally are unwilling to continue participating in.

STEP 4: Ask them to consider how they would like to plan for shared travel in the future. Be sure to listen to what their wants are and consider how these match up with yours.

LAST STEP: Practice what you have talked about on small, low-risk events first -- like pizza and a movie out with friends -- and work up to that month-long trip out-of-country as a gang.

Putting it all together doesn't have to be long-winded or oratory, here's a brief example to drive this home:

They guys, thanks for coming and grabbing coffee with me, because I wanted to run something by you. I'm smiling from ear-to-ear when I see how happy you two make each other, and it's great being friends with you both. When we make travel plans, I get frustrated and upset when those plans suddenly change...which is really difficult on our friendship from my perspective.

I want to make sure our friendship stays strong, so don't be concerned if I book my own hotel, rent my own car, or make my own reservations next time. That way, even if your plans suddenly change, I can keep my travel schedule unchanged -- it'll will be way less stressful on our friendship because I just can't keep up with your last minute changes.

I really do want to consider what is in everyone's best interest, so what else can we all do to make shared travel planning the most fun and least stressful?

Ok, those sound like good things to include next time we plan something. And speaking of next time, there is this food truck event at that roadside bar happening in two weeks, have you already made plans for the 18th? or can we commit to heading out there on that Saturday?

  • 4
    Careful with this approach. Relationships can be very complex. Talking to Summer and Tom together is fine, but I wouldn't advise giving an opinion on their relationship (good or bad, sincere or not). That is simply a place you don't belong and there's no point in going there when you can make your point without it. Also, making assumptions about their relationship growth is a terrible idea unless you have been providing them couples' therapy for at least a few weeks. – Clay07g Jan 24 '18 at 19:21
  • First, I agree: careful with this (and any) approach! Care is indeed warranted when dealing with complex relationships. I derived my perspective on Tommer's relationship from OP's "They are very much in love and planning to get engaged soon." -- yes the point can be made without, but why not rejoice in the 'positive' (if and only if you are indeed happy for them.) – JasonInVegas Jan 24 '18 at 19:42
  • Because "planned engagement" isn't a thing. Being happy for engagements is okay. Same for weddings. But being happy for a positive relationship starts with you making an assumption that a relationship is positive. That's a terrible idea. Even miserable relationships sometimes progress to marriage and kids. – Clay07g Jan 24 '18 at 19:51
  • Okay.. maybe I'm being a little pessimistic. I would admit that it's possible to express happiness for one's relationship given certain criteria. However, it shouldn't be followed up with a "talk" about someone's behavior. Because this is suspicious and might make the whole conversation perceived as being in the context of their relationship, when it's not. – Clay07g Jan 24 '18 at 19:56
  • Heads-up: The question has been edited, and might be reopened. Answers might have been affected by the edits, so you might want to review your post and see if you want to change something or if it still stands. – Tinkeringbell Jan 25 '18 at 11:34
1

Some people are more flexible with changing plans on the spot and some are less. You are less flexible and so am I. Summer (and Tom who does not have a great problem with that on his own) are more flexible. The trick here is to make it comfortable for everyone. Unless you are a good friend with Summer it is unrealistic from your perspective to expect her to make allowances for you rigidity. Unless I think that there is a good chance that she would listen, I would not approach her with this problem of mine. It could be difficult for here to get your context in this kind of conversation and unless she is particularly receptive person, I would not even try. Only you can decide if this is worth a shot.

I hate when people change plans from under me. My family knows that and they made a habit to word these as suggestions. In more cases then not I'm willing to accommodate them, but I need time to get comfortable with the idea, and I need to feel that this is my decision whether to accommodate them or not. I usually need 10-15 minutes to think things over and accept the change (or not).

But it's not always the family that causes a plan change. Sometimes I go somewhere with friends, and they can change their plans too. That would upset me equally. What I do to not get caught in that is to arrange separate means of transportation. That is to go somewhere in two separate cars, even if we all can fit in just one. This protects my plans against changing theirs - if they decided that they want to do something else we simply can part our ways and not depend on each other.

For that reason I rarely agree when someone offers to give me a lift to a party or joining them in their car to a beach. When I do, it's because I decided that suffering from being dependent on other is worth the alternative (whatever it may be - like not coming at all).

If everyone goes in your car you have a bit more leverage. As long as you stick to the agreed plans there is not much other people can do.

In your beach example: "Sorry Tom, I fear we can get stuck in a traffic for 30 minutes and I just don't want to risk it. Can you tell Summer to take a bus here". If you trust Tom enough you can even go "You can borrow the car if you like, to pick her up and bring her here, we'll be chilling out and waiting for you". I'd do the latter only if I know Tom to do what was agreed, that is pick her up and come back, and not stick with her once he got there and leave me hanging without the car. I have friends with whom I would not hesitate to offer that because I know that I can rely on agreement with them, and there are other, with whom I'd skip this option.

This way you leave the problem managing Summer where it belongs - with Tom.

If you arrived on the beach in Tom's car however, you have much less bargaining power. You need to decide what is more important to you, to live through the 30 minutes in traffic and have your beach plans canceled or to make a point about how unhappy you are. In any case I would start with, "I'm sorry, I'm very sensitive to rapid plan changes. I need 10-15 minutes to think this through, I'll get back to you soon". If you decide that you don't want to go to the mall and the day is ruined anyway, I'd say, "Tom, I think I'll go home, can you drop me off at the nearest bus stop please. I was looking forward to some time at the beach, but without you guys it won't be the same, so I'll just go. I don't want to go to the mall".

I would personally not worry a lot about affecting relationship between Summer and Tom. Maintaining these are Tom's responsibility, not yours. You of course should not get in the way if you can help it, but it's not that case here. As far as your relationship with Tom, it's impossible to make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Yes, your departure would not be pleasant for you, and it will cause some strain to Tom, but it will also show Tom, that this kind of things is very important to you. If Tom decides to talk this through with you at some latter point, you can reinforce it by saying, "Tom, my apologies if it makes things more difficult for you, but I react very badly to rapid change of plans. Unfortunately this is not something that I can control. Every time Summer does this it's quite painful for me. I understand that it's not such a big deal for you, you are a great lot more flexible than I am, but for me this is a real problem. I wish I could not be upset about it but I am, and that's how I have been as long as I remember myself". And next time you think twice about accepting a ride to the beach, because you remember what it ended up like last time.

If you don't have a car and have to use your friends for transportation, then face it, that they are doing you a favour, and if you accept it, that will be mostly on their terms. Which seems for you to include a possibility of plan changes.

TLDR

  • Leave Tom to manage Summer, concentrate on your relationships with Tom, find the compromise between your demands of him and Summer's demands
  • Let those who care about you (Tom) know that it is a considerable issue for you when plans are changed suddenly from underneath of you and that this is not going to go away any time soon
  • Try not to put yourself in a position when you are dependent on others changing plans, try to have independent travel arrangements
  • Decide what is less painful for you to not participate or to face possibility of plans change - on case by case basis
  • Heads-up: The question has been edited, and might be reopened. Answers might have been affected by the edits, so you might want to review your post and see if you want to change something or if it still stands. – Tinkeringbell Jan 25 '18 at 11:34
0

Friendships and relationships change naturally over time due to individual lifestyles, schedules, and commitments. Although you have done a seemingly good job adapting, you have to accept it's new dynamic or limit how it affects you personally. As opposed to complicating the issue by adding other factors be clear and direct with her.

It is a "her" issue in terms of functionality, but the irritation is a "you" issue. Go into the conversation with this standpoint, lest you put her on the defensive which absolutely have negative implications on your friendship with Tom.

"Summer, I'm not sure if you are aware of the implications your last minute changes or cancellations to our plans have for me, but I am getting to the point that I am hesitant to continue doing so with you and Tom. It's becoming an issue for me with incurred travel and time costs or not being able to make other arrangements for myself during my free time. It may seem silly, but it's starting to make me feel irritated or that I should withdraw. I know that will hurt my relationship with Tom and even with You, so I want to avoid this because you both are important to me. That being said, could you please keep this in mind as we are making future plans, only to commit if you wholly intend to follow through? If you aren't sure, that's ok! Just say so and we can figure something else out."

She loves Tom. You love Tom. You both want him to be happy. Make this about your relationship to him and how you need her help to avoid it being negatively impacted. Positivity and proactivity will leave the ball in her court without creating friction. What she does from there is a whole other issue, but that wasn't your question :)

Best of Luck

0

Honesty is the best policy.

The next time that you are all gathered together and your planning something everyone needs to tie her down on the plans. And if she cannot stick to them then just politely disclude yourself from the situation. She will only continue to do it if you allow her.

There's no reason to become heated or be rude when you discuss this with her. Just explain how you feel and the limitations of your abilities are and if she can't/won't make accommodations for everyone else's feelings and travel arrangements and or finances then you will just have to disclude her or yourself from the festivities that you are planning. It won't take long of being discluded before I think she probably will be able to accommodate other people's feelings and or limitations.

And who knows if she's that much of a control freak where she cannot bend a little to meet everybody else then you may just have to disclude her. And realize the fact that just that's how she is and that's the decision that Tom made and you just have to live with it. You can always plan the event by yourself and just inform her of where it's going to be and what the situation is if she wants to include herself then she's able to... do not allow her to plan or have anything to do with planning the trip or event. and if you are invited to something that she has planned then let her know that you need some rock dates and details and if she changes it then skip it.

  • And if 1 person can't take 5? other personal friends feeling into consideration or accommodation... ask yourself.. what type of problems are you including by involving her in your group's activities? And If Tom cant/wont bring her into focus, you see where his devotion and loyalties are at this juncture and possibly where Toms moral compass truly points. Anyone who would trade 1( much less 5...) life long friends for a ride along with "Cherry Ferrari" and her Snazzy shiny lifestyle is not thinking with his cranial brain... ya know... – Rich Whacker Feb 11 '18 at 11:07
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Andrew has a great partial answer: Some people enjoy flexibility, some people enjoy reliability.

You cannot change Summer. Tom might have a chance, but you are what to her? Acquaintances at best.

You can not allow her to dominate the group. If you come to the beach and that is where all of you want to be, and she doesn't - take a quick vote and if the majority prefers the beach, stay at the beach and inform her. Invite her to come, of course. She is flexible, right?

If this comes to an argument, simply point out that the majority of you wanted to stay at the beach and that's it. No further explaining should be needed. This makes it clear that simply changing plans doesn't put her into the dominant position, unless she offers something better than the current plan.

If it turns out that she's good at offering better plans, you all win.

0

I think I can relate particularly well to this, I hate sudden changes of plan.

They make me very uncomfortable even if I didn't actually have anything planned for that time/date in the first place. (Unstructured time is not the same thing as a gap)

Were I in this situation, dealing with an acquaintance who keeps changing the group's plans at the last minute, it'd frustrate me no end.

I'm generally quite stoic and tend to just tolerate such things, At worst I get a bit grumpy and selfish about it.

If it keeps happening then I would make a point of expressing my displeasure.

In your example of the cancelled road-trip, I'd have mentioned that I was really looking forward to it and disappointed not to get to do that. I'd mention it at an organic moment in conversation, preferably while both Tom and Summer are present so that everyone's aware of it and Tom is given opportunity to reinforce it.

Honestly it seems like the best solution is to not dance around the issue. Tell her up-front if it's a problem. Don't just go with it. You came to the beach to go to the beach, this is what you want to do. listening to a band isn't what you want right now even if she wants it.

Be clear that you want to do the thing you came here to do and not be sidetracked. Of course if it sounds like fun then go for it, but if you're not happy about it then going along with it then doing so is conflict-avoidance.

0

"I hate that they fight for things which we are not responsible for."

The other answers don't seem to pick up on this line; but it's wrong. Tom is responsible here. Summer called him to re-arrange, and it was he who agreed to the change without discussing it with the rest of the group.

As such, it is Tom that has put his friends 2nd place. You state that Summer doesn't realise that she's wasting peoples time, but how are you so sure? I'd almost put money that she was at the mall already, and just didn't want to put the 30 minutes drive in to get to the beach.

Beyond that - as the other answers say; you have to accept that you all need to sort out your priorities. You need to work out if Tom and Summer are optional in these cases since your intention is to make your other friend feel better - and then let Tom work out if he wants to be there or not.

Alternatively, you could find some better games to play in the car.

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