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I've got a friend who I love spending time with. She's a great
listener, funny and interesting -- that is, when she shows up.
Sometimes when I think we have made plans, I cannot reach her
that day and end up wondering whether I misunderstood. She
usually calls back late in the day saying sorry, don't know
where the time went, etc. (she has a toddler as do I, so I
somewhat understand how time disappears w/o explanation). But
just as often, the plans work out and we have a great time.
Many times she'll quickly get off the phone with me saying ''can
I call you right back?'' -- only she doesn't call back -- even
though she is usually the one initiating the call. I've tried
calling her back to follow up, but often I get the answering
machine! She still calls me and asks me to do stuff, but I've
become reluctant to commit. I don't know how to confront her,
and I'm not the confronting type. I've even tried making firm
commitments, like we'll meet at this time and place, but that
hasn't worked, either. Any suggestions on how to handle this? I
think she is a good person and doesn't realize that her
flakiness is affecting me, because I never say anything, partly
because I don't know how to be graceful about it without
sounding like an insecure nag, and partly because I'm chicken!
I'm sorry you are in this situation. I too have had an ongoing issue
with a formerly close friend of mine who is just like the friend you
described. My friend's behavior has been (at times) rude, inconsiderate,
disrespectful and left me feeling hurt.
But, when things were good, I truly enjoyed her company and liked doing
things with her. Over the years we had talks about how it upset me when
she was flaky and would blow off plans we had made, but at the end of
the day, nothing really changed. I tried to be more patient too, hoping
that approaching things differently might help me deal with my flaky
friend. A few months ago I finally told her once again how her behavior
is affecting me and I decided that from that moment on that I would stop
making plans with her. It was a difficult decision, but I decided that I
was tired of feeling taken for granted and I wasn't going to put up with
her poor behavior any longer. It bothered me that someone I thought of
as a good friend was comfortable treating me so poorly. I miss her and
wish things could be different, but I'm glad that I stood up for myself.
Maybe it's time to re-evaluate if your friendship with your friend is
Resposible and caring friend
I have a friend that is just like that. The best way that I have found
to handle it is make sure that you are not dependant on her to have a
good time for whatever you plan. For example, if you want to go to
Fairyland, choose a date and time and tell her that you are going and
would like for her to come. Let her know that you will wait ten
minutes, and if she's not at your meeting point that you will be in the
park somewhere and she can find you. That way you have something fun to
do whether or not she shows up.
You can be honest with her that it is hard for you to make plans if you
are not sure that she is going to be there. I am sure that she has just
as much trouble with everyone else.
Another friend of ours will only meet the FF (flaky friend) at her house
becuase she hates to be stood up.
Now that we all have kids, I have a take it or leave it feeling. When
she is there it is great, but I don't ever expect to see her, even if it
was her idea.
Hope that helps.
I could have written this post five years ago (still could, actually.)
I have a friend
that sounds exactly the same as yours - hey, maybe she is! Anyway, it's
been five years of flaking out and I've just grown to accept the way she
is. I've added other, more reliable friends with kids to the mix and
spend most of my time with them. I just couldn't count on her to hang
out with and fill the long days that SAHM's have.
That said, when we do get together now - which varies in frequency
GREATLY because of her flakiness - we always have a great time. She's a
wonderful, good, affectionate mother and person and she has a huge
heart. She's also, well, just flaky. Her carefree attitude is one of
the reasons I love her. So, like I said, I've just accepted that as a
major feature of who she is and we have a friendship that is good, but
unlike any of my other, more reliable friendships.
From the people with the flakey friends. I am one of those flakey
friends and it was not something I was proud of and wasn't even aware of
until years later. Flakey friends can be fun and cheerful and
interesting but sometimes flake out because inside they feel
overwhelmed, they've overbooked, they try to people please too many
people and can't show up to everything they over scheduled. Sometimes
they are depressed or anxious but don't know how to reach out because
they only show up when they are the happy, cheerful, supportive friend.
They flake out not to hurt you but to re-group and slow down or even
hide because they aren't very good at taking care of themselves. They
don't pace themselves and don't want to say ''no'' but think that
''flaking'' is ok when it isn't.
I've hurt friends when I wasn't intending to, and I am learning to
commit to what really works in my life and say ''no'' when it doesn't.
Everyone wins. I take care of myself/family and when I say I'll be
there, they can count on it.
Recovering Flakey Friend
I need a reality check. Lately many of my friends have become
flakes. A couple have told me that getting for our playdates on
time (it's at an outside location where there is nothing to do
until they arrive) is very stressful for them because they have
issues getting there on time and they want to know I won't be
mad about it. I understand emergencies and occasionally running
late, but if I am meeting someone outside of their home, I
really make every effort to be on time in order to give them
the same courtesy that I expect in return. I think it is
inconsiderate when someone is consistently late. Are there
other people out there who feel this too?
Another friend of mine cancels our standing playdates at the
last minute. It is annoying - and a little hurtful - as this
happens on a regular basis. My two sons end up feeling letdown
and I am disappointed too, as the other mother is a good
friend. Again, legitimate things come up like sick kids and so
on, but I think that most of these situations relate to better
plans - or even errands - that have cropped up at the last
Don't get me started on RSVPs that aren't answered.
I am often the organizer of events, the person who calls/emails
to confirm plans, the kind of person who can be counted on. I
am frustrated by all this flakiness and lack of responsibility.
We all have two or more children and are SAHMs.
Sometimes friendships can be trying
I don't have an answer for your problem but wanted to let you know that
you are not the only one feeling unhappy about friendships. I agree
with you that is rude to be consistenly late for dates and to cancel at
the last minute. Unfortunately, there is no way to force people to be
''nice.'' Maybe you could try setting up play dates at places where
there would be things for you to do until your friends come. Or set a
playdate time, and then just add 30 min., then you'll arrive at the same
time they arrive (and if you are late once, then maybe they'll start
emphasizing more with your feelings). I guess the last resort is to just
forget about people who are not responsive and do not seem to be
interested in respecting you and your kids, and hope that other, more
responsive, friendships will form.
Welcome to Berkeley! You're obviously not from here, or you'd be
accustomed to the way things are done around here. wink The flaking on
plans/lateness thing used to drive me nuts when I first moved here.
Where I'm from people honor their committments to each other and arrive
at least 3 minutes early even if it causes great physical discomfort;
being on time is late. But flakiness is endemic to the culture here and
part of the whole going with the flow thing. You're not going to get
your friends to change, and as you can tell, they already are freaked
out about how ''uptight'' you seem to them. It's one of these things
that you kind of have to accept as part of Berkeley - or the bay area -
or California - or however it spreads. I don't bother feeling hurt by
lateness or changes in plan anymore - I know it's not personal. People
are just in their own groove. Knowing this, and knowing that plans often
change, you can expect it and be ready to adapt. If you have a friend
who always runs behind, have them meet you at your house first so you
can be attending to your own stuff until they get there. Or bring
something along to work on while you wait. Or show up late yourself. I
really think all you can do is find a way to not let it get to you any
Reality check, per your request:
While you find your friends flaky and unreliable, they find you rigid
and uptight. While your perfectionist tendencies make you a superb event
coordinator, your standards are difficult to impossible for the average
person to live up to. So, your friends can't help but feel judged,
unloved, and rejected because they are not good enough. You must be
pretty great for them to put up with feeling that way all the time, but
the prognosis is not good for the long term.
You need to decide where your priorities and limits are. If timeliness
is that important to you, it might be best to find a group of friends
that is as organized as you. If you love your friends dearly, you need
to learn how to relax and not expect everyone to live their lives by
your rulebook, regardless how 'in the right' you feel you are. That
said, there must be limits SOME where, and you'll have to figure out
where yours are. While it's a bit manipulative, you can always tell your
friends to meet you earlier than you really expect them. We did this at
holidays with a relative - always told them to come an hour prior to
when we really wanted them there and it worked like a charm. Some people
just don't have the skills to plan and manage their time well; some
people are in a constant state of chaos/overwhelm. Imagine the thing you
are worst at in life, and then imagine that you are expected to be good
at this thing in order for your friends to accept you and not be angry
with you. Losing proposition, right?
Part of friendship is compromise and meeting halfway. Another part is
accepting people as they are and not trying to change them. If your
friends back out a lot, then maybe you need to learn how to make
tentative dates, so when they flake, you were only somewhat expecting
them anyway. I know this will be hard for a personality type like yours.
You like precise details and knowing what to expect. But perhaps, in
learning how they operate and stretching who you are, you'll find less
stress and more joy in your friendships.
I truly hope this for you.
Congratulations on being such a responsible and organized mom!
I'm sure your friends are jealous of your ability to get places on time
and be able to keep all your appointments. I know I am.
For some of us, motherhood is a chaotic experience. Getting kids awake,
fed, dressed, shoed, and ready to leave is a frustrating and difficult
experience, and that's when the kids are in a good mood. I suspect that
your friends suffer from the same ailments.
can you ask your late friends to meet you 15 minutes earlier than you
plan to get at your meeting place? That way you might end up arriving
at the same time for things.
Have you tried making your activites less dependent on those particular
people? (ie, the ones who are always late) Try meeting somewhere that
does have things to do, in the absence of other people. Tilden Farm,
Aquatic park, the Zoo--somewhere that you and your kids can have fun
even if the friends never show, for whatever reason.
Lessening the pressure on them to be all of the entertainment might also
lessen the pressure on you.
A friend of mine saw your post and thought I WROTE it, so I feel your
pain. I share your view that just because you HAVE a 3 year old does
not mean you are entitled to have the MANNERS of a 3 year old. I think
there are just a lot of flakey people in this world; some of them were
flakes before they had kids, some hit the wall of flakedom after they
had kids because they were overwhelmed, and some were okay until the
scheduling nightmares of two kids, age differences and nap schedules
kicked in and were the final straw. That said, many of the people who
can't call to tell you they aren't going to show up just have bad
manners. Cases in support of this point include the fact that many of
these people can keep appointments for beauty and doctors, plan
vacations and other financially binding events, and be on time when it
benefits them in other ways, like work-related appointments etc. It is
especially heartbreaking for little children to not see their friends
when you have built them up to expect it, and really unforgivable when
there is no good reason, like illness, to cancel at the last minute on
little kids. That said I have never gotten angry at anyone who called
to explain even a reason like their kid falling asleep en route to the
playdate, etc. We all know what is reasonable and what is not with
kids, and that they are not always predictable. I have experienced
everything you describe and even had people fail to call me when
reservations were at stake and just not show up. I have had people call
me to change plans right as we were leaving the house (or after we did
and I didn't get the message.) Not keeping your word and not calling
when you can't make it and being late are all inexcusably rude
behaviors, also basically sending the message that your time isn't as
important as theirs, as well. My feeling is the more kids and
responsibilities you have, the less free time you have and the more you
naturally care about whom you spend it with. Let's not forget that these
people are setting a bad example of responsible behavior for their own
kids and yours in addition to wasting your time. I would (and personally
have begun myself) start deleting the flakes from your playdate list and
seeking out other more reliable ''mature'' people for friendships. If
you really like them, mention how ''disappointed'' your child is when
they are late or don't show up and gently remind them to try to call you
if this is necessary. I'd personally like to know how anyone who feels
stressed out by the prospect of showing up somewhat on time at the park
can get through the day with two small children (or walk and chew gum at
the same time,) but like most poor excuses, it's probably not the real
story. To quote my
husband: ''if you don't have a good excuse, I won't force you to come up
with a bad one.'' I used to work full time at a demanding job, then
worked part time with my first child, and now I stay home with two kids
and through it all, I could still figure out how to use a telephone and
write an appt on a calendar. I'd also like to add that my 12 year old
Mother's Helper is better at calling when she says she will than many
adults I know, so i think it is a question of good manners rather than
maturity. You have my sympathy and I hope you can resolve this with your
friends you value and otherwise meet some people who have their acts
together. Good luck!
Sick of It As Well.
The tactful thing to do, I suppose, would be to decline the next
invitation and then say, ''I'm sorry, it's just that my kids get so
disappointed when I make these play dates and then you can't make
them.'' Then, suggest an activity with a larger group so that a no-show
doesn't ruin the event.
For your friends that say being on time stresses them out, here's my
advice: Tell them where you will be at what time and then leave when
you're done, even if they have just arrived. Give 'em a hug and a smile
on the way out. If they want more of your busy day, they'll show up on
time in the future.
Your friends are doing you a favor by being honest and saying that
committing to a playdate is stressful for them (better for them to just
say it, than for them to silently harbor resentment toward you, no?)
In my opinion, people take this playdate thing a little too seriously.
It's challenging and often maddening to get out the door and somewhere
on time, with kids in tow (last-minute diaper changes, someone's hungry
NOW, etc.). Stuff comes up. People have lives. Sometimes there's a
time crunch. For me, it's not worth it the stress. It's no wonder that
my second-born kid has never had a formal playdate (but still gets lots
of social interaction elsewhere).
That's great that you are diligent about sticking to your commitments
and being prompt, but not everyone holds themselves to those standards,
at least when it comes to playdates. You'd be better off finding
playdate families who take the playdate arrangement as seriously as you
As an aside, I think the whole kid birthday party thing is out of
control too. We've declined a few invitations just because it gets to
be too much of a demand on our family time. But we ALWAYS RSVP when we
don't (or do) attend...
No playdates please
I strongly disagree with the suggestion that you are too "rigid and
uptight" to be worthy of a playdate. From what I gathered from your
post, you are simply asking for some respect from your friends. Just
because we are all mothers who sometimes have a hard time getting out
the door doesn't mean we are no longer individual, social, responsible
human beings who are capable of picking up the phone and respecting our
friendships. In this day and age of cell phones (unless you are
somewhere where there is no service), there is no excuse for not calling
if you are going to be more than a few minutes late (i.e. if you are
going to the zoo, call and say you'll catch up with them at the
flamingos or camels, for God's sake). I hope that your friends read your
post and start to feel badly for taking you for granted. You deserve
better. And I firmly believe that women should be nicer, and more
supportive, of each other. Don't forget that as SAHM, we are essentially
"colleagues" to one another. Would you blow off a meeting with a
colleague? I'd call if I were even 5 minutes late.
Finally, canceling at the last minute (for no good reason) when small
children are involved is also inexcusable. My kids can certainly
understand when their best friend is sick and can't make it, but I've
been waiting at a park for an hour before, explaining to my son that his
best friend will "be here soon, I'm sure". When he finally did show up,
it turned out that they had found something interesting to watch on
their way instead of meeting us at the park. Thanks a lot. I also know
the feeling of craving some adult conversation - when friends cancel, we
lose out on that, too.
Suggesting setting the meeting time earlier is well intentioned but
misses the point. I'm not always on time and I'm struggling with this
SAHM thing. But I always call to say that the poop-machine has hit and
we've had 5 tantrums already this morning. Then, I actually get SUPPORT
from my friends when we finally DO make it! Good luck.
mother of 2
I was very interested in the responses that came out last time on this
topic and I wanted to give some moral support to the original
I can understand being late (esp. when traveling with kids--we all know
how hard it can be to get out of the house). But in my opinion (and in
my circle of friends, some of whom are from the midwest like me and my
wife, and some of whom are native Californians), there is NO excuse to
cancel a get-together, or just not show up, for no reason. Sickness, an
unscheduled nap, etc., are good reasons to cancel something, but the
polite thing to do is call. Deciding that it's just too much effort, or
that you really need to run to the grocery store instead, doesn't fly.
Just my 2 cents...
Respectful of others' time and hoping for the same...
I just read the initial responses and wanted to add that I'm sad and
surprised by the number of people who are okay with being flaky. Even
though our Bay Area culture is more laid-back than most other areas, to
me that's not a good reason to be unreliable. Basic courtesies are
simply being polite & well- mannered, and respecting commitments,
striving to be on time, remembering to RSVP are part of being a
responsible person. I'm disappointed to hear many people take these
things lightly. I don't have any good advice to add, only that perhaps
seeking out like-minded people is the best answer.
Another reliable mom
To the person who responded to this question with:
''Welcome to Berkeley! You're obviously not from here, or you'd be
accustomed to the way things are done around here. wink The flaking on
plans/lateness thing used to drive me nuts when I first moved here.
Where I'm from people honor their committments to each other.''
As someone who was born and raised in Berkeley and has lived in several
other places in the US, I think you should look at everyone elses'
responses and note than no one else brought up the fact that tardiness,
courteousness, and general good manners were lacking in this area
because that's just how it is here. I am continuously surprised at
peaples' lack of consideration when it comes to scheduling or making
plans. Why just yesterday, someone showed up to my house an hour late
for an appointment (isn't that what an appointment means?), and seemed
genuinely shocked when I was annoyed. She presumed that telling me she'd
be at my house at noon meant she could arrive any time during lunch
time! And she's not only not from here, she's from another country. So I
wouldn't go attributing bad manners to someone's address.
This is something that is partly inherent, partly instilled. To the
original poster, it's difficult to manage other people's shortcomings,
so maybe just focus on what you can change--your level of frustration
and attitude towards it. Good luck.
Ms. Manners, too.
Just another 2 cents on this topic. When you do not demonstrate respect
for the people you care about, neither will your children. Getting out
of the house for a playdate may be difficult, but when you explain to
your child (even a toddler) that so-and-so is waiting for us and it is
not considerate of others to be late, then your child will learn some
social etiquette as well. This is not being too rigid, this is about
I think most of the crowd got understandably sidetracked by the comment
about Berkeley reliability so I wanted to give some concrete advice
about what our family does. (By the way, my best friend and I are both
Berkeley natives and we manage to keep our commitments to each other and
to others JUST FINE!
Flakiness is not in the water but perhaps the town attracts people who
are looking for an excuse to be flaky.) As you acknowledge, there are
factors that delay us (or force us to cancel at the last second)so I
always try to discuss the possible pitfalls beforehand and check in
shortly before departure to make sure things are running on time. Set up
a phone call before leaving the house (or via cell) as part of the play
date. I also do not tell my kids that we are meeting someone unless I
am positive the person will show. I also tell them that after a certain
time the date is basically cancelled, ''We will leave the park at X.''
For example we have friends who are INSANELY late so we tell them to
call before they leave and if it is too late we simply tell them to
forget it. My experience is that if people realize you will not wait
around for them forever they work harder to show up. And finally, if
people continue to be flaky, I just stop making plans. This,
incidentally, has happened to me too! I learned my lesson. Hope this
Try to be on time even with wee ones
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