There aren’t many things that look or feel nice when they’re flakey. Flakey paint, flakey skin (pls no), but perhaps the worst of all are flakey friends. It’s a baaaad feeling when your party falls through because your mates decide their ‘going’ RSVP on Facebook doesn’t actually mean ‘I’ll be there’. It mightn’t even be your event, they might flake on their own events.
And it’s easy enough for other people to say “get rid of them” but, no, they’re your mate. You know they’re being rude by rocking up late or not at all, and you feel like crap when they blow you off (worse without warning), but you can’t just cut them off, can you? You don’t want to because they’re your mates, and when they do show up, it’s a blast. And if there’s a whole patch of flakes in your group, well, there goes a whole chunk of your social circle.
But you can’t let them get away with it. And guess what, it’s possible to keep unreliable people in your life without feeling like a doormat. So we’ve worked up some moisturising tactics with our mates at headspace to manage these flakes without having to whip out the exfoliator (pls, someone, stop me with the gross skin metaphors).
Ask Why Are They Flakey?
A flake will usually feed us an excuse why they couldn’t make it this time. But if they’re a chronic flake, you may notice a pattern in the kinds of excuses; their timing, or what events are being avoided. Notice the pattern, you’ll know how to stop it. Most of the time, a flakey friend wants to hang out. But they can’t commit because they’re having personal trouble, or there are some external forces at play. And this part requires you knowing your friends.
If your busy bee friend has been double-booked and they’re “SO GUILTY OMG DON’T HATE ME”, that’s probably legit. But if your bubbly mate is feeling ‘sick’ for the third time in as many months and is ‘too tired’ to see you, they mightn’t be a flake as much as having some personal struggles. And you can’t get mad at either of these flakes, because they’re both genuinely doing their best.
Talk To Them About It
Don’t rant to everyone else, ask them what the go is – without being an absolute dick about it. It could be a little awkward, but it’ll be worth it. Especially if ‘I’m tired’ or ‘sick’ is uncovered as something deeper. Even if you just confirm that your friend needs to buy themselves a planner and learn to use a calendar, it’ll make them consider doing it.
Not only will you show that you care about them (big yes), but it means you’re not simmering in possibly misguided anger. A lot of our friends often don’t realise the damage they’re doing by being flakey until you call them out on it.
If They’re Not Up For Socialising Now…
Not every flake is a flake. Many are just struggling a little. If your friend tells you that they’re dealing with some personal hurdles, this is your chance to buddy the heck up. Reach out, let them know they can come to you when they’re ready (rather than when you want), but keep the door open. Maybe don’t organise big group gatherings, stick with one-on-one hangs so they’re not overwhelmed. A movie night in? Going for a walk? (with a dog?).
If They’re An Over-Committer
The classic people-pleaser, whose texts always say how they’re so “guilty” they’re ditching. Because they are. They genuinely want to hang out, because they never want to disappoint (and they’ve got serious FOMO). But you’ve got to let them know to strike a bit more social balance. Let them know that you get it, they’re busy, but you’d love to see them more. A people-pleaser should be easy to recognise that your frustrations are legit and will actually help.
Maybe you could offer to help them run errands, try to fit into their schedule. Maybe give them big social events with your whole group so they can see everyone in one go. Then they’ll feel more productive (yay for to do lists) and you’ll get to see your friends, too.
People Who Run Perpetually Late
Now that’s just rude. You’ll wait and wait until you’re fed up and then wait a little more. The only way to teach this person a lesson (trust me, I am this person), is to treat them as they treat you.
Give them a limit past the agreed-upon time (maybe 20 minutes, or until you get annoyed), send the “where r u?” text, then take off. Do your thing, without them. Or do something else that YOU want to do. This person expects you to wait, and when they realise you aren’t waiting for them anymore, they’ll quickly change their ways. If they don’t, they’re a lost cause. And, it hurts but sometimes you have to know when to slough off the flakes. Let them go.
You don’t have to put up with flakey friends. But you don’t have to cut them off, just make sure they know how to treat you with the respect and courtesy you’ve been treating their crusty selves with. Check out these tips from headspace on making new friends if you do want to expand your social circles.