Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I have a friend whose schedule changes frequently. Recently, she changed our “plans” to get together from Tuesday to Monday to Wednesday. How do I spend time with her without feeling shuffled around?
— Frequently Rescheduled
Frequently Rescheduled: If you are being shuffled around, then you should feel shuffled around. Call it what it is.
What you do about it from there is the important thing, and that’s really a matter of personal preference.
● You can roll with the shuffling if you decide it isn’t a dealbreaker for you, meaning, the friend’s company pleases you more than the rescheduled plans annoy you;
● You can decide it bothers you enough to end the friendship over it, and spell out for her that you don’t like the constant changes of plans. After you give her a chance to change her ways, you can then end the friendship accordingly if the constant shuffling persists.
● Or you can be pleasantly immovable and say, “Sorry, Tuesday is the only day that works for me. Let me know if you change your mind and want to stick to our original plans.” That way you set out the terms upon which you’re willing to stay friends, and she either meets them or doesn’t. The more friendly and matter-of-fact you are about sticking to the original plans you made, the less drama there will be in the way the friendship plays out.
You don’t say why she changes plans, by the way, and to my mind the reason is everything. I’d be much more accommodating to someone with a difficult schedule — unpredictable job, multiple responsibilities, health concerns — than I would to someone who just is careless with details or who gets lured away by a better offer than hanging out with me. I’d feel sympathy for anyone with the former and not take the cancellations personally, whereas for the latter I’d get the message quickly that I don’t really count.
Hi, Carolyn: I am a single woman in my 30s. I’m happy with my life, have a satisfying career, lots of friends, many interests, and am open to relationships should one come my way.
Recently I had a pretty negative dating experience but I am doing okay with it and moving on. As this experience played out, a close friend of mine who is married made several comments about how glad she was to no longer be in my position — dealing with dating — and it rubbed me the wrong way. I think she has good intentions but it felt patronizing.
I don’t envy my friend’s life in the least and I guess it bothers me that she seems to want me to, or thinks I should. She is a good, kind person and a good friend and I want to maintain a friendship with her. How I can respond to these comments kindly and thoughtfully without saying, “Thanks, but I don’t want what you have”?
Anonymous: “Thanks,” you say kindly and thoughtfully, “but I don’t want what you have, either.”
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