What to do when your friend "flakes"... again.
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
She’s cancelling. Again.
When your friend texts to say that she can’t make it, it can bring a wave of disappointment. And although things come up and people get busy, it can be tough to deal with a friend who makes a habit of bailing last-minute.
Read these 5 tips to understand how to deal with getting “flaked” on.
1. Give her the benefit of the doubt.
It’s likely that when she tells you she double-booked, got caught up with the baby, or is super tired from work… she means it. Extend a bit of grace and let her know you understand. Life is complicated and unpredictable—it’s sometimes hard to maintain commitments in the chaos of every day. Do your best to resist the urge to create a mental story about her trying to be deceptive or not caring. Take her words at face-value, and try to reschedule.
2. Send a reminder beforehand.
Is it almost time for the coffee date you arranged a week ago? It might be helpful to send her a friendly reminder 24 hours beforehand. If she no longer wants to meet up, this gives her a chance to say so before you find yourself dressed and driving to the coffee shop. It can also help if she’s genuinely forgotten about your plans, and it gives her the opportunity make sure everything is in order so you two can hang out.
3. Say what you mean.
It can be tempting to say “That’s okay!” when your friend has ditched for the third time. But that would be completely disingenuous to how you really feel. Instead try something that offers truth in a way that’s not accusatory or passive aggressive. Try “Aw, that’s too bad. I was looking forward to a good belly laugh! It was tough for me to find a day that worked with my schedule, but I can totally find a way to carve out time next week if you can link up then. Let me know. Miss you!”
Surely some of you may have gotten anxiety just reading that suggestion, but we encourage (kind) honesty here at the GIAR Movement. We suggest holding this one for times the “flaking” has happened more than once. Do not shame, blame, or guilt, but sometimes letting someone know you were looking forward to being together helps them see the emotional effects (and eventual strain) of apathetic cancellations.
4. Let them off the hook from the beginning.
If you notice uncertainty when you first suggest a hang-out, then remind the friend that you two don’t have to set anything in stone. Studies have actually shown that women have a higher level of “agreeableness” than men, which means we’re more inclined to say “yes”. This is definitely present when women feel the need to accept invitations.
So if you notice that she isn’t sure if she can come from the very beginning, then don’t force her to set it in stone. This way you’re not set up for disappointment when she realizes she can’t attend, and it helps her not to feel obligated.
5. Consider the track record.
If your friend cancels an outing, then show her grace and understanding. But if she repeatedly bails on your “friend dates”, then consider A. no longer initiating get-togethers and B. evaluating the priority of the friendship. There are several cultural factors at play as to why it’s more common than ever to cancel plans, but you don’t have to accept it—especially if it’s something that makes you unhappy. If you value follow-through and reliability, but your girlfriend has made a repeated habit of ditching, either have an honest conversation (which many women avoid despite its power to clarify and bring understanding) or look at the friendship and see if your expectations of the relationship align.
Life is unpredictable and sometimes leads to cancelled plans and forgotten agreements, but we owe each other a little understanding. But if “cancel culture” is having a negative impact on your friendship, we encourage you to have an open dialogue about it.
For more tips on how to do just that, grab a copy of Give it a Rest: The Case for Tough Love Friendships by our founder and women’s coach Danielle Bayard Jackson—available September 2019.