How to Deal with a Flaky Friend

We all have that one friend. That friend that always seems so up for brunch or a movie or a great night out. Who gets you all excited for a great time by planning every detail of your excursion. Who then, just hours before you were meant to meet, almost without fail, sends a quick text to say that they’re sooooooo sorry, but they have to cancel.

Once again, you’ve trustingly set aside your time for this person and they’ve let you down! How dare they?! You vow to never make plans with them again, to remember how bad this made you feel, and yet, the next time they text, you inevitably start the whole process again until eventually you’ll hit breaking point and decide to throw in the towel completely.

It really is tempting to say ‘f**k it’, when it comes to flaky friends. To give up and decide that it’s just not worth investing your time in them anymore. And, if that’s true, if you genuinely feel that they’re adding nothing to your life other than consistently bursting your bubble, maybe now is the time. Maybe you do have to make the decision to set them aside.

But if, once you’ve weighed things up, you come to the realisation that you do still want them in your life, you’ll need to find a way of confronting and working around the issue so as not to let it keep negatively affecting you and your friendship.

A pinch of salt

The best way to avoid setting yourself up for disappointment with flaky friends is to take your plans with a pinch of salt. If their track record is that they end up cancelling 85% of the time, then you need to go into this with 85% dubiety. Instead of letting yourself get super pumped up for a fantastic time, come to terms with the fact that things may not end up working out and prepare to not be too shocked should this be the case. Perhaps form yourself your own personal plan B – a chilled night in with a glass of wine and a bath, for example!

Your mind frame should be ‘if this happens, it happens’ and not ‘if this doesn’t happen I’ll be mortified’. Of course, making plans that may never come to fruition isn’t exactly a fun or productive use of your time, so the next step might be a touch more agreeable…

Don’t make flaky friends the focus

Try not to make this person the focus of your plan. If possible, see them in a group setting rather than alone. This way, there’ll still be people to enjoy your time with and you won’t have lost out on a slot in your diary in which you could have made other plans. One word of caution though: be aware that group dynamics change when certain people are missing. If the flaky friend also happens to be the glue that holds the group together, things mayn’t turn out as fun as you were originally hoping. Make sure to choose a group that’ll still be able to enjoy themselves whether this person is there or not.

Plan small

Instead of counting on your friend to fill hours of your time, try planning small. Suggest grabbing a bite to eat here or there, or asking them round for a cuppa. It’s easier to fit in these mini-plans, and less devastating/disappointing when they fall through. If this person frequently finds themselves suddenly unavailable then perhaps the way forward is to keep giving them the option of short bursts of time together, in the hope that these smaller plans might be more manageable for them to commit to.

The underlying reasons

If nothing else is working and you’re becoming increasingly frustrated that your friend is consistently breaking plans with you, have an honest conversation with them. Let them know how their flakiness is affecting you and give them a safe space to open up in. There are always underlying reasons why people act the way they do, and it’ll benefit your friendship in more ways than one if these are out in the open.

It could be that they’re struggling with introversion, that something is going on in the family or that their job is working them too hard. There are any number of reasons why someone might be having a problem with committing and, while it’s totally justified for you to be disappointed, a touch of compassion will go a long way to prevent you a) resenting this person and ditching them forever and b) boiling over and letting it ruin your own mood and day.

What are your tips for dealing with flaky friends? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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