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Is he really flakey? Or am I crazy?
August 23, 2010 9:24 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is flakey and I have zero tolerance for flakey behavior. Am I reaching the point of being unreasonable, and should I learn to be more lenient?

I try to surround myself with people who don't flake. I had warned him that flakey behavior is a major pet peeve of mine at the beginning of our relationship. He understood, and I thought we would have no problem.

Turns out, we had a lot of work to do. He would agree to meet up in the morning, and then postpone it four times into the next day and show up an hour late to everything. Besides his flakey tendencies, I would say we're a good match.

He doesn't flake nearly as bad as he used to, but it still had us arguing every week for the past two months about more minor incidents. We're both in school and took the summer off, so we saw each other four times a week. I like to plan out a week at a time, and had him tell me the days he would see me. He promised that Mondays and Fridays were for certain.

Two weeks ago, he forgot about his promise and told me he was going to an art show with his uncle on a Friday. I became angry at him, and his defense was that notifying me early was not considered flakey.

He flaked again today, and tried to lie about it too. His reasons were that he didn't want my father to cook for him so often. Turns out he wanted to have dinner with his cousin, whom he rarely sees. I was looking forward to seeing him all day as he promised because it's a Monday AND our last day of summer vacation. He thought seeing me a few hours earlier today and having class together tomorrow would make up for it. This isn't about seeing him more, because we see each other often enough. I just want him to follow through and stop flaking once a week!

Is this a problem on my side? I'm starting to believe that I should learn to be more lenient or he'll start lying to avoid my crazy and our relationship would end. What do you think?
posted by squirtle to Human Relations (42 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some people don't like to schedule their time out so far in advance. Sounds like you guys just aren't a great match. I'd suggest moving on so you both can be with people better suited to you.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:29 PM on August 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


I like to plan out a week at a time, and had him tell me the days he would see me. He promised that Mondays and Fridays were for certain.
...his defense was that notifying me early was not considered flakey.
I just want him to follow through and stop flaking once a week!

I think you've answered your own question: you plan out a week at a time but had him commit that "Mondays and Fridays were for certain" to see you. Why don't you guys just plan out a week at a time?
posted by sfkiddo at 9:32 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is fair for you to want a certain thing. However, it would probably be in your best interest to take these things in stride, lest you have no energy left to deal with the real crises of your life and your relationships.

If he really can't ever keep a date, the onus is on him to get it together. But: it sounds like you're playing from a very strict rulebook, so I reckon you both need to learn how to bend a little. Else, your time together will be short indeed.
posted by thejoshu at 9:35 PM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I'm starting to believe that I should learn to be more lenient or he'll start lying to avoid my crazy and our relationship would end."

I think that's the gist of it. Learning to be more lenient, if you can, might be better for you in the long run because you'll find alot, alot of people are like this and have basically no concept of days and times. At the same time though, he needs to start respecting your well-stated needs and communicate his own needs too. So you both have stuff to work through if you really want to stay together.
posted by amethysts at 9:36 PM on August 23, 2010


Cut your losses. You didn't say a single positive thing about the guy in your post (ie. "I like the guy, but..."). That's a pretty clear warning sign.
posted by schmod at 9:38 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a lifelong flake, I can assure you: high-stress commitments encourage flakiness. And a girlfriend who hates flakiness, and required me to plan my visits out a week ahead of time, and warned me not to be flaky: well, I'd probably end up being superflaky with someone trying to exert that much control.

You're not wrong; he's not wrong; you two are probably wrong for each other.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:39 PM on August 23, 2010 [23 favorites]


Remove the relationship from the question, and ask it as if you were dealing with a non-boyfriend: If you had a friend or colleague who flaked the way your BF does, what would you do?

If the answer is 'adjust,' then do so with your BF.

If the answer is 'sever ties,' then do that.

Good luck!
posted by goblinbox at 9:39 PM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


DTMFA. Tell him "it's not him, it's you". Because it's you.
posted by pompomtom at 9:44 PM on August 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


He would agree to meet up in the morning, and then postpone it four times into the next day and show up an hour late to everything.

How frequently does that happen? If it's all the time, I think you have a case.

He flaked again today, and tried to lie about it too. His reasons were that he didn't want my father to cook for him so often. Turns out he wanted to have dinner with his cousin, whom he rarely sees.

This is problematic. That sounds like a very legitimate reason to break plans. He should feel comfortable enough to tell you why he wanted/needed to break them, and you should be understanding enough to let him break plans once in awhile.

If he's really being super flaky, I suggest giving him a taste of his own medicine. Don't pitch a fit, don't make demands. Simply disappear if he doesn't show up at the appointed time and go do something else. Make yourself less available and suddenly keeping those times to see you will be more urgent for him.
posted by unannihilated at 9:51 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's a clear cut answer to this, along the lines of "Of course that's reasonable!" or "No, you're crazy!" because these sorts of situations tend to have a lot of additional unvoiced subtext. Sometimes, "Flaky -- like, he missed appointments" really means that you don't feel he cares about spending time with you, thatyou're being wedged into whatever "leftover time" he has in his otherwise happenin' life. Sometimes, it can mean "He doesn't have a meticulously organized dayplanner, it bugs me, and I think less of him because of it." Sometimes it can mean "We really like each other but I don't feel he realizes it disappoints me when he breaks dates with me."

From what you've specifically spelled out, it just sounds like friction between two people who have different social and planning styles. If he's used to taking things as they come and hanging out with friends as the opportunity arises, and you're trying to nail down two to four days a week far in advance, and getting angry if he tries to reshuffle things is going to be problematic.
He promised that Mondays and Fridays were for certain. Two weeks ago, he forgot about his promise and told me he was going to an art show with his uncle on a Friday. I became angry at him, and his defense was that notifying me early was not considered flakey.
It's not flakey, and it doesn't sound like he "forgot" at all -- it sounds like he wanted to reschedule getting together based on an opportunity to see a relative. You may not like that he wanted to reschedule, but telling you a week in advance is pretty much the opposite of flakey. He shouldn't have lied to you about seeing his cousin, obviously -- he should have told you that he wanted to see his cousin for dinner, whether or not you got angry about it.

I'm not being snarky or mean-spirited when I ask this, but I think it's important: have you been in any serious relationships before? Did someone cheat on you and try to hide it behind a busy schedule? The level of intensity in your responses to, say, rescheduling something a week in advance when you're already hanging out four days a week just seems out of proportion.
posted by verb at 9:53 PM on August 23, 2010 [38 favorites]


You guys don't even seem to agree what flakey means which seems to be part of the problem. The thing with his uncle: you think it's flakey and he doesn't. You say "Monday and Friday are our days" and he wiggles out of it by trying to make comparisons and equivalencies. You think those sorts of things are not okay.

Really, I am a strict rulebook person and I am dating someone who is ... not and this sort of problem is either a communication problem that you can iron out [we ironed ours out, being very clear about what's optional and what's not, what "on time" means and how to communicate changes of plans, and managing the occasional blip on either of our ends] or it's a dealbreaker. It sounds like the two of you are really different and what I'm not getting is what the great parts are that make the hassle worth it. It' may be that you didn't mention those thigns which is fine, but you should at least be thinking abotu them on your own.

And, with your title question, the answer could easily be "both" or it could be "neither" It doesn't necessarily mean that someone is fucking up if you can't work this out, just might be a bad fit.
posted by jessamyn at 9:55 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


He doesn't like to plan a week in advance, and you've planned all his Mondays and Fridays for an entire summer.

So for one of those Fridays, something comes up (his uncle comes visiting), and he tells you about it ahead of time. And this is one of your examples of how flakey he is.

You make this Monday/Friday thing sound like some kind of binding legal agreement. I think you need to let go a bit. Drop this "Monday/Friday or else stuff and just try to see each other every week when it works out, taking into account that sometimes things happen. Don't put handcuffs on this guy.
posted by eye of newt at 10:01 PM on August 23, 2010 [14 favorites]


Thanks for asking those questions, verb. I had a feeling that this goes deeper on my side, but couldn't quite but a finger on it.

To clarify some questions, this is my first adult relationship. I've had a few short-term girlfriends and boyfriends as a teenager. All of them flaked when the relationship was heading to the rocks. I suppose this made me all the more terrified of being flaked out on.
posted by squirtle at 10:01 PM on August 23, 2010


Thanks for asking those questions, verb. I had a feeling that this goes deeper on my side, but couldn't quite but a finger on it.

To clarify some questions, this is my first adult relationship. I've had a few short-term girlfriends and boyfriends as a teenager. All of them flaked when the relationship was heading to the rocks. I suppose this made me all the more terrified of being flaked out on.
It's hard digging around in that stuff, but I've found it's almost always worth it. That kind of self-examination can salvage a relationship that was thought doomed, OR help recognized a doomed one.

I totally hear you on the fear of flaking-as-a-sign-of-your-SO-checking-out. Whether you and the guy are right for each other or not, figuring out where your fears come from and being self-aware about the things that anger or bother you in a relationship will help you become a stronger, happier person.

I say this, by the way, as someone who spent a lot of time in a really shitty relationship and had to do all of those things when I started dating my now-wife. A lot of the issues I had with her stemmed from the stuff that I brought to the table from that previous relationship -- I was terrified of relatively innocuous stuff because they'd been aspects of the previous relationship's death-spiral. The scary part was being honest with myself -- and then her! about what I was really irritated by/afraid of/etc. In some cases, they were reasonable fears and we just needed to talk through them. In other cases, they were unreasonable expectations I had, and I had to learn to set them aside. In still others, they were adjustments that she made for my sake. And she had a lot of the same kinds of issues too -- to some extent, I think that's what adult relationships are all about. We worked through 'em though, and it was worth it.
posted by verb at 10:12 PM on August 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Life is messy and cannot always be scheduled. If he's bailing on stuff (even with advance notice) for optional reasons, then he's not being "flaky", he's being inconsiderate and non-committal. If he's bailing on stuff for mandatory reasons (work, illness, etc.), then you're being inflexible and a bit of a control freak. Pretty fundamental incompatibility, sounds like.

Going forward, I'd call him on it when he bails for optional reasons, but be patient and understanding when it's mandatory stuff. He's going to have to commit more, and you're going to have to be flexible more. See how that goes.
posted by davejay at 10:14 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I had warned him that flakey behavior is a major pet peeve of mine at the beginning of our relationship."

It doesn't work like that. The sooner you realize and accept this simple fact, the more successful you'll be both in terms of personal and professional relationships.

As Jessamyn said, you and he disagree on what is considered flakey. Likewise, you'd probably expect him to be the one who changes the 'behavior' rather than you learning to be more flexible. And maybe you're right in this case. Then again, maybe not. Many relationships with amazing potential were ruined by inflexibility on one side. Then again, many relationships with no long term potential lasted because neither person put their foot down and said "If this doesn't work for dating, it sure won't work for something long term!"

What you need to do is find a way to see it from his point of view. Even if it turns out that he really is a flake, by understanding his logic, you'll help yourself avoid a lot of misplaced blame.

You're also going to have to really think about whether or not the two of you are, in fact, compatible. Maybe you are and this is nothing. Maybe you're not and this is a sign.

It sounds to me like you need to figure out what you're inflexible about and use that as a guide.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:25 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I personally think you are being too rigid. He told you ahead of time that he couldn't see you, and he had a good reason each time - art show with his uncle and dinner with his cousin. He's obviously close with at least some part of his family, (that's a good thing), and if you want to continue seeing him, you need to make allowances for that.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:25 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, and sorry to be a serial commenter, I think the most important thing to understand moving forward is the idea of compromise. That is, it can be tough for uber-scheduler types to see anything other than Keeping the Schedule as at all acceptable. This is great if your world is full of other scheduler types but in many cases it won't be, with your boyfriend and in fact with the rest of your life. So if you and your bf are really committed to working things out, you're going to have to deal with the fact that compromise means that you're not always going to have everything planned, and he has to accept that compromise means that sometimes he's not going to be able to change plans for any old reason.

The biggest thing that I had to get over [in my relationship with my delightful flakey boyfriend who is terrifically worth it] was that my way isn't right. It's just my way. His way isn't wrong. It's his way. I think you can argue that there are some norms [i.e. it sucks to show up late to a movie and sucks even more to be late to a flight, it's not a good idea to keep your boss waiting, last minute plan changes for Big Deal events can come across as disrepectful] but that there is also a lot of wiggle room [changing a dinner from Thursday to Friday hurts no one if there was nothing else planned, there can be good reasons for wanting to change plans, sometimes it's fun to just go do something that isn't on the calendar, it's good to be able to see friends and family who are in town even if they may not be on your calendar] and so the big trick is seeing if you can both give a little over your dream world situation to find a way to be together without feeling like you're no longer "you." Best of luck, I think it's doable.
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 PM on August 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


I have a low tolerance for flaky people or behavior, but I'm not really seeing it in what you've actually described. Standing you up without notice, being chronically late, constant "forgetting" or just chronic failure to plan, all of those things would be pretty legitimate complaints.

However, it just seems like you're trying to book up more of his time than he really wants to commit to spending with you, and he's canceling (with notice) on you or asking to reschedule in order to do other things that he prefers. Harsh, but that's what it boils down to.

On the very limited information presented, I'm voting less for "he's a flake" than "he's just not that into you."

Move on with your lives. Separately.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:36 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am the "flake" in the current relationship I have with my completely concrete boyfriend. I mean, I happen to mention that we might do something a week from tomorrow, and he's like, "OK! It's in my planner! We're going to go play golf, and then we're going to have dinner, and then we are going to drink precisely 3 glasses of chardonnay apiece, and then we might watch a half-hour of TV....." you get the picture. I'm more like, when a week from tomorrow comes around, "whaaaaaaa....? We're going golfing?"

Point being, we almost broke up because of this. Several times. It took a lot of love and a *lot* of trust before we figured out that I wasn't trying to "destroy his life because he could have made other plans!" And he wasn't trying to "keep me from ever doing anything with anyone else again!" He's organized, likes to plan ahead at least a month (!!!! ?) and quite averse to change. I'm disorganized, try to plan ahead for the next twelve hours but usually end up doing something else, and change is the status quo here. We've reached a balance. That status quo is:

As the "flake," I will not break plans without a damn good reason.
As the "cinderblock," he will not freak out if I do have a damn good reason (work emergency/family emergency).

Talk to him about this. Honestly, to me he had a good reason. This is not something that should blow apart an otherwise healthy relationship.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:00 PM on August 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Honestly, to me he had a good reason.

I should say, *good reasons.* Sorry.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 11:08 PM on August 23, 2010


You're not wrong but it sounds like you should be more flexible.
posted by xammerboy at 11:20 PM on August 23, 2010


I've always been one to schedule everything down to the last bit of details in a week advance, and would secretly get pissy at students from my short teaching gig, friends, and family if they flake, cancel, or reschedule. Yes, even at rescheduling because it throws me off! Sounds like being less rigid and being open to compromise would do wonders for my professional life, private life, and mood. I'm totally up for change.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment, especially verb and jessamyn for giving excellent perspective and being non-judgemental. You two may have saved my relationship which is otherwise great besides for this one major difference. Also, to deep though sunstar, your relationship sounds exactly like mine and I'm glad I'm not alone. I think I have enough to start with so I'll mark this thread as resolved.
posted by squirtle at 11:21 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Simply disappear if he doesn't show up at the appointed time and go do something else.

This is good advice.

I had your problem in a previous relationship. I responded about this way. When Dude would cancel plans at the last minute, I'd just go do something else. If I found myself waiting for Dude to show up, I'd just leave when I was ready to leave. If friends wanted to make plans with us as a couple, if I couldn't get him to weigh in meaningfully I'd just do whatever I wanted to do, and he could come along, or not. Basically, I sent the message that it's not my job to wait around for him to decide to show up. My time is as valuable as his.
posted by Sara C. at 6:00 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lots of good advice here already.

He doesn't flake nearly as bad as he used to, but it still had us arguing every week for the past two months about more minor incidents.

What you mean to say is, you have been starting arguments with him over minor incidents. You can admit that these incidents were minor and yet you still picked fights about them -- but you still think he is to blame, because he provided the trigger that set you off.

Being able to tell which incidents are worth arguing about is essential to being able to navigate an LTR. You seem to see the effect as cumulative -- each additional time is worse, because it shows he didn't learn the lessons from last time. But it's also worse because you didn't learn the lessons from last time, which is to not let truly insignificant matters ruin your day/week/month/etc. Save your steam for the day when he misses something important, or isn't there for you at a key time.
posted by hermitosis at 7:24 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ever heard the saying "teach a pig to sing"? Try all you want but it ain't ever gonna happen.

Perhaps your control issues make it impossible to have someone like him as your boyfriend. Spare him the further agony and cut him loose. Then think long and hard about whether your control issues are going to continue to be a problem with the next poor bastard. Seriously.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:31 AM on August 24, 2010


I respectfully submit that flaky behavior, which may or may not be what's happening here as people have pointed out, can also be a manifestation of control issues.
posted by clavicle at 7:54 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are two aspects to his behavior that you're lumping together as "flaky," and if you can separate them, you might find yourself more tolerant of his behavior.

There's the unwillingness to plan and there is the canceling/lateness. Try being very lenient on the first part in exchange for not flaking on the second. I think you'll find it works. People who don't want to plan a week or more in advance but find it hard to say no will tend to "flake" at the last minute. If your boyfriend and his family all make plans the day before, but you make plans a week before, he will never ever be able to see them without changing your plans. In my life, if people try to make plans with me too far in advance, I find it really hard to say "no, I won't agree to that plan even though I have that day open. Please ask me again in 3 days." It seems rude, right? But if I make plans within the time frame I'm comfortable committing to, I can absolutely keep those plans.
posted by oreofuchi at 7:56 AM on August 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


I dated someone like this.
He worked two jobs and was a musician.
So, well, it didn't last. He was still trying to figure himself out and as much as he would deny it - he didn't have room for a relationship in his life at that time.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:01 AM on August 24, 2010


My boyfriend is flakey and I have zero tolerance for flakey behavior
It seems that that kind of planning-flakiness often runs deeper than "behavior". As others said, some people just don't like to have everything meticulously planned out beforehand. Of course there should be some common ground, but just as well there should be some acceptance on your side that he does stuff his way.

Then, it may always be of help for you to search for better definitions: you use "flaky" as some sort of blanket term - seems that it is really the other way round: there are things you have zero tolerance for and you call them 'flaky behavior'.

"Zero tolerance" about whatever seems a bit red-flaggy to me. Zero tolerance why? Impatient? Feeling hurt deep down? Feeling like he's behaving in an - for you - uncontrollable way? Does his way of being/acting touch you emotionally as in: "can't really trust him?" There's a million options of how you could explore being more "lenient", no, dig down into yourself in order to find out why you get irritated.

That said, if you blow up in his face every time he's planning something the flaky way, yes, he's likely trying to wriggle his way out of discussions sideways, no matter how honest he may be if not under pressure.
posted by Namlit at 8:41 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You should also keep in mind he probably has other people in his life who are NOT planners. My husband is the more schedule-oriented person in our relationship, I am more "flakey." I respect his need for order, schedule, preplanning, and follow-through, even though I tend to be a little more spur of the moment on recreational things. (I'm very schedule-oriented for work, but that doesn't work for me socially.) BUT I do have friends in my life who like to call last-second and say, "Let's go get pedicures!" or "Sorry, I can't make it today, I am totally out of laundry." or whatever. Even when I respect his need for schedule, I have GOT to have some room to make these last-minute plans and changes, or I'll never get to see some of these people!

You also HAVE to give him a way to make changes to the schedule. You have to figure out what will work for you in terms of changing plans. Letting you know in advance he wants to see an uncle for a visit seems normal, fair, and respectful -- and it seems very, very rigid of you to be upset about it. I UNDERSTAND how it can upset you -- that kind of thing throws my husband -- but it IS rigid. He can also understand how it can upset you, but you've got to give him a way that he can make these kinds of changes in which you will not be mad at him. (You may still feel "off-kilter" about it, but you've got to promise not to be mad, and you've got to follow through.) Give you 24 hours notice? Do it by e-mail so you have it in writing so you can change your calendar? Okay to change "hangout" type plans but not special plans? Those are the things you need to do for him.

For you, my husband seems really helped by understanding my motivation behind changing a plan -- an emergency, or really wanting to see a friend I haven't seen in a while, or feeling socially obligated to go to this last-minute "thing" I don't want to do but can't see how to get out of, or whatever. When he understands my motivation, he doesn't feel like I'm being all, "Meh, I just don't feel like doing X with you." And he feels better about it. So if your BF can help you understand his motivations, that may help you.

You also may try having some unstructured time with your boyfriend where you just hang out and DO stuff. Or don't do stuff. But try being unstructured and spontaneous with him sometimes. It might help you relax a bit about fluid plans. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:01 AM on August 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


You say that he doesn't flake nearly as bad as he used to. That shows that he's listened to your concerns and is willing to work through problems. Based on the two recent examples you gave, it doesn't sound like he's constantly postponing plans or showing up late anymore. It may be easier for you to be more lenient if you keep in mind that he's made a real effort to work on this issue.

oreofuchi makes a good point about timeframe for planning. Maybe to start with, instead of planning a week, you can break up the week into Monday - Thursday and then Friday - Sunday (especially since school is starting again). I also like Eyebrows McGee's suggestion of practicing being more unstructured. Try calling him up and spontaneously asking him to hang out sometime when it's not already scheduled. Try being more spontaneous in other areas of your life too, so that you don't feel this is a part of yourself that you're just changing for your relationship. Because you're not. You say yourself that you believe loosening up would improve your life and your mood.

Also, it may be tempting to feel that being more lenient is giving people license to walk all over you, or something -- but remember that you can still ask for what's important to you (for example, hanging out on the last night of summer vacation).
posted by spinto at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds as if it would be pretty stressful to be in a relationship with you. Realize that life is in constant flux - things change all the time.

You've planned out his entire summer 4 days per week and you try stick to that rigid schedule. When the opportunity comes up to see someone else, of course he'd pick seeing someone he doesn't see often and postpone seeing you, because he's seen you 16 times in the last month, and doesn't see that other person often.

He even has to obfuscate the truth in order to spend time with his family. Using the last in first out principle someone mentioned in a previous post, if I had to choose between a girlfriend who was trying to monopolize my time and my family, it's an easy choice to go with the family.

If he's your boyfriend, of course he likes you a lot. But just realize that trying to stick down someone like this is going to create a lot of resentment, almost to the point where it feels unpleasant to attend these meetups.
posted by althanis at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2010


You're kind of controlling. You won't let him reschedule days to so he can do stuff like see family he doesn't meet with often. You think beause you wrote down a schedukle, they're your days, but they are not. They are his days.

I became angry at him, and his defense was that notifying me early was not considered flakey.

He's right.

You guys are wrong for each other. Not because he's a flake, but because he doesn't like his life planned out in that kind of detail, because you're more controlling than he can deal with and because you want more of his time than he wants to give.

Some of this is just totally legitimate differences of personality. Some of this is because of control issues that you should work on. Maybe 10% of this is him being flaky.
posted by spaltavian at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


...postpone it four times into the next day and show up an hour late to everything.

He doesn't respect your time, and expects you to work around his schedule. Also, he lied to you. Leave.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:25 PM on August 24, 2010


I just want to say that just because the other person doesn't do what you want, doesn't mean they're flakey. You can ask for what you prefer, complain about what you don't like or whatever, but it won't force the other person to do things they way you want them to.

Express yourself, but discover the wonderful benefits of being flexible and easy.
posted by Locochona at 2:52 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I didn't expect many more great comments after I marked this thread as resolved. Oreofuchi, your advice sounds wonderful! That way, I could compromise to him and still be myself. Though I'm working at being more understanding if he does reschedule for good reasons.

Eyebrows Mcgee, his family is exactly like him. My rigid schedule was keeping him from seeing them because they like to plan things last minute. Our incompatibility drove me nuts, but at the same time, I would like him to see his friends and family too. We turned to compromise and it's working quite nice. Thanks for your insights on being the more "flakey" one. It had helped me understand that it's just the way some people are, that they're not simply lazy or disorganized, and can't be changed completely.

I talked to my boyfriend and apologized to him. We discussed about the great advices here, and reached a compromise.

Also, I noticed that DTMFA gets passed around quite often in relationship threads. My boyfriend and I are great besides one major difference, and are overcoming it together. If I DTMFA every time there's a major disagreement, I would never hold onto a relationship.
posted by squirtle at 6:46 PM on August 24, 2010


Having "zero tolerance" strikes me as unreasonable. I mean, I don't like to plan. In fact, I don't know how - I grew up with a lot of chaos, and to get along in a work environment I do have to manage time and plan to some extent, so there's no way I want to do that much in my leisure time. It's awful and causes me a ton of stress to plan things because I'm so not used to it.

But FWIW in a professional world, even if I were a planner, I have no choice but to adapt and learn to go along and get along with people who constantly reschedule and sometimes flake. Because they run the place, and that's how it is, and I have to deal with them if I want to have a job.
posted by citron at 6:59 PM on August 24, 2010


"My boyfriend and I are great besides one major difference, and are overcoming it together."

You know, I really had to reach and think back to how my husband and I first started dealing with our different levels of preplanning/spontaneity (and we're not quite the same as y'all -- I'm always on time, he never is; but I used to blow stuff off when I was tired and cranky, which drives my husband NUTS), because while it made us crazy at first, today it's hardly ever an issue. We certainly had some big fights about it here and there, but through communicating (including fighting) and living with each other, we've come to a compromise where we understand each other. Just last weekend my husband had an event he wanted me to attend, bringing it up a week in advance. Instead of me just saying, "Sure!" which I would have done in the past because I had nothing going on then and he wanted me to go, I looked at my schedule and said, "I have a super-busy Friday and Saturday, I'm afraid I might be pretty worn out on Sunday, and that's not really my kind of event." And he said, "Well, I'll say yes for me and if you feel up to it, you can come along." (Lo and behold I caught a cold and on Sunday I just wanted to curl into a ball under the covers, and did not go along.) He knew it wasn't my kind of thing and I might not feel like it if I was tired; I was able to know I might BE tired and that he would hate it if I agreed but didn't follow through. No fuss at all. :)

I'm pretty confident if you communicate and cut each other some breaks and are respectful of each others' time and planning needs, you CAN work out this kind of thing.

PS -- sometimes my husband likes to have a Plan B. Plan B is usually, "Read this really good book" or "Play superfun video game" in case I make spontaneous non-him plans. It doesn't make him as crazy if he has a fallback plan.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's fine not to want to be in a relationship with a "flaky" person. From your past experiences, it sounds like you associate flakiness with relationships ending.

Your past experiences may have made you hyper vigalent to flaky behavior. You might want to change your definition of flaky. I think there needs to be more leeway in your definition. Sometimes old friends/family visit unexpectedly and it's perfectly reasonable for him to want to see these people. In fact, it's a good thing. It shows that he has close relationships with people other than you and that he is capable of maintaining close relationships. Plus, I think it's a good thing for a partner to spend time with his/her friends and family.

I can also understand his point about not wanting your dad to cook him dinner on a frequent basis. Maybe he's feeling like he's taking advantage of your family. It sounds like you two are rather young, so maybe he's trying to branch out from parental figures.
It seems to me that habitually showing up late and cancelling plans would be signs of flakiness. Giving you ample notice that he has to cancel your standing plans to spend time with his family, doesn't seem flaky to me.
posted by parakeetdog at 9:19 PM on August 24, 2010


Yes, I want to ditto that being judgmental can't help. I've actually heard that people who are often late or whatever have an entirely different relationship to time and to activities, and it feels true that this is a deeply-ingrained trait. And it's not all bad. For me, my spontaneity also means that I'm flexible and patient if friends want to change plans. I'm relaxed; I'm not triple-checking and worrying about things and needing everything to be nailed down to be comfortable; I just get there and then deal with it. I'm also pretty good at thinking quickly on my feet and at troubleshooting something. In certain situations I know I have to behave like a planner, but it's not my natural style, and it's not my first choice for me personal life. so e.g., if it's someone's birthday, I can promise to be somewhere a month ahead of time and force myself to keep the date, but if it's just a date to hang out, I often include caveats like "if work gets crazy again, I may have to back out because some weeks I'm just too tired after work." I value planning and love the planners in my lives, but it's not like they're Good and I'm Bad. I've also found spontaneous friends. It's funny how long it took to figure out who they were. We've all learned to act like planners, but it's a great joy to realize that this is a person who wouldn't view it as a ridiculous request if I asked them to do something at the last minute. I see those friends a lot more frequently. My point is just that there are downsides but also upsides. It sounds like maybe you primarily see the downsides and and resent him for that. It's okay for you not to be okay with something, but that is a fact about you, not about him.

All that said, it sounds like you guys are working through this pretty well, so good luck! In short: think about what's good about him and how those things connect to his relationship to time and planning.
posted by salvia at 6:05 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm, there were about four typos in that. Long day. :)
posted by salvia at 6:05 PM on August 25, 2010


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