Dealing with a friend whose tendency to vacillate with both plans and moods is driving me slowly mad. Should I speak with them about this, or find a way to deal with it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
We will refer to this friend of mine as B.
B is a close friend, whom I've known for several years. We share many mutual friends, and are ourselves close, to the extent that we discuss a lot of personal details and advise each other on various conundrums we encounter. I like B, and enjoy spending time with B, and truly care about B, but I have been finding it increasingly difficult to be patient and graceful about a particular pattern of B's, when I find it incredibly frustrating.
Here is an example: B and I were out with friends of ours, and I saw something that I really wanted to purchase. It was just a few dollars more than I had on me at the time, and I said as much. B immediately offered to lend me the money, and I said, "Oh, thanks! That'd be great. I'll pay you back, definitely." I imagined that we were not far from an ATM, and would have the opportunity to repay B shortly. However, almost immediately (like, two seconds later), B rescinded the offer, saying there might be something B would want to buy at the next place we stopped, and B didn't want to be without the money in that case, BUT IF, at the end of the outing, B hadn't spent the money, and I still wanted to buy the thing I was looking at, we could come back and then B would lend me the money.
The pattern I'm trying to represent here is: 1) make an offer/commitment, 2) retract said offer/commitment, 3) make a promise that it seems B imagines will make up for it, despite the fact that the promise in (3) is highly unlikely to take place.
Here is another example: A while ago, B and I were going to attend a gathering together, and I told B that I was interested in checking out Event 2 (where other friends of ours were in attendance) after Gathering 1. B said they might be willing to do so, and so we went to Gathering 1. Mid-way through Gathering 1, B expressed the thought that Gathering 1 was so enjoyable that maybe B wouldn't be into moving on to Event 2 after all. As I was dependant on B for a ride, this was pretty disheartening. B then proceeded to tell me that, even if B wasn't going to Event 2, B would still drive me there. Although I knew this was probably as likely as suddenly sprouting wings and flying there myself, rather than calling B out on this, I nodded and assured B that that would be fine. Of course, we did not end up going to Event 2, and of course, B did not drive me there after all. I felt bad, as I'd told a mutual friend I'd try to be there, but it was out of my hands.
In both of these scenarios, it's less B's unwillingness to do what I want to do (lend me $5, drive to Event 2) that irritates me, than the fact that B explicitly offers to do things, and then does not. I understand not wanting to give me $5. I understand deciding not to attend an event you weren't really stoked to attend all along. I don't understand verbally committing to something and then backing out of it at will, frequently.
This seems to happen a lot with B making plans: B will agree to an outing, and then realize several minutes, hours, or days later that it's in conflict with other plans, or B just doesn't feel like it anymore, or B agreed to the outing or commitment on a whim. B will then assure the host or inviter for the event that B might still come, if B feels like it - even when it is often apparent to me that B will most likely not end up going. I can understand doing this on occasion - everyone changes their mind, there's nothing wrong with that - but this is so frequent an occurrence with B that I feel I can never take B's word when plans are being made.
I cannot deny that this has begun to infuriate me every time I see an example of it (and of course, with confirmation bias playing into it, it seems to happen more often than it really does). This has been seriously affecting my mood around B recently, and my strategy so far has been to avoid having lots of contact with B, figuring that if I just reduce my exposure, I'll better be able to let it slide off my back. But, I'm still residually annoyed when I do see B, and I don't like interacting with B while essentially biting my tongue (hard) all the time; I prefer to have an open dialogue. In the past, we have had a few conversations about frustrating or hurtful habits that the other person does, and I am fighting with myself over whether or not I should bring this pattern of behavior up. The problem is that B is highly sensitive about criticism, and the last time I brought up anything about her habits, it was something I shouldn't have (it was a really minor quirk that was just driving me nuts at the time.)
But, I suspect this is something B should maybe address, because I know it's not just me that's annoyed by it. B is generally acknowledged to be kind of flaky amongst our group, but I don't see anyone else stepping in to talk with B about it.
So. Here are my questions:
1) Should I bring this up with B?
1a) If I do, what is the best way to frame the situation?
Throwaway email: email@example.com if you need it.