I have a friend who is constantly making plans with me, then flaking out on them. Almost weekly, she asks when is the next time I’m available to meet up. I usually agree, and then we make a plan to hang out on a certain day around a certain time. She usually suggests we do something specific, like see a particular movie, for example. It’s not just a vague “I miss seeing you” sort of thing that most people say when they run into acquaintances. Ninety percent of the time, these plans we make never come to fruition. She either comes up with an excuse the day before or the day of, or I just never hear from her because she forgot.
It’s been going on for years this way, and I don’t know how to get out of this frustrating cycle. It’s almost as if she’s trying to prove to herself that we are still friends because we want to hang out. It doesn’t seem to matter to her if we actually do or not. I’m a to-do-list type of person with a stressful full-time job. I have plenty of other things I could be doing in my off time besides waiting around to see if she feels like following through on her plans.
I’m sick of tentatively planning my valuable time off around our meet-ups that I know probably aren’t going to happen. Should I call her out on this and potentially hurt her feelings? Am I being too type A here? I know if I stop agreeing to these plans completely, she will feel like I don’t value our friendship. Should I just continue agreeing, knowing it isn’t going to happen, and then make my own plans?
Thanks for your help!
You're putting entirely too much pressure on yourself to be the one who maintains this friendship. I definitely think you should call her out for this thoughtless and selfish behavior. Possible hurt feelings are no reason not to make perfectly reasonable requests of friends. The natural tendency is to let flaky people fall away, but I can tell you want your friend around. You've gotta talk to her about this. She'll never change if she doesn't get the feedback.
I used to be insufferably flaky, too, and I think you're right—it's a thing people do to prove to themselves that they're still social (or still friends with someone, or part of a particular scene) when they just don't have the energy, time, emotional space or what-have-you to follow through. Maybe the pressures of adult life are starting to add up, as they do with all of us, and she's having a hard time letting go of her old lifestyle. Maybe she's a former party girl who is now falling asleep at 10 o’clock every night, and that horrifies her. So she makes tons of plans to kick up her heels and socialize like in her days of yore, if only to show herself that she still has access to that lifestyle.
If that's the case, she's not thinking about the impact that has on others. You're a busy person, too, and you obviously like to budget your time wisely and carefully. When you get stood up, it's more than just a missed connection; it’s a monkey wrench thrown into the gears of your entire day. I recognize and appreciate the respect you have for your friend's feelings, but she's showing very little regard for yours by being so flaky.
I agree that you shouldn't just outright refuse to make plans with her anymore. Instead, make plans differently. Try to schedule different stuff for different times. Instead of late movies, try a Georgia Museum of Art opening at 6 p.m. There's always music, drinks and food, and you can wrap up at 9 p.m. and walk downtown, or just go home. Try a lunch date on a work day. Invite her to group events with people you think she might like. But also, absolutely have a talk with her about how important it is for her to honor anything she's scheduled with you. Your time is just as important as hers, and this is no reason to end a friendship or grow apart. You just need to get back on the same page.