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What is a "Flaky Friend?"
Sometimes, it helps to understand what's driving your friend's loathsome behavior.
Do you have an unreliable, flaky friend?
Thought so. It’s a pretty common conundrum we hear from readers and even amongst our own friends. And it’s something that often frays friendships— or can end them entirely.
Grrrr. Flaky friends can be so frustrating. And you may even catch some slack from your other (non-flaky) friends, expressing their astonishment that you'd be friends with someone like this and continue to put up with their antics.
What is a flaky friend?
Someone who is unreliable and unpredictable.
It’s impossible to count on them because they continually disappoint you.
Let us count the ways:
They change their mind frequently and without warning.
Even though they promise to do something, they constantly and habitually bail on you. They’re often a no-show, as in that lunch date you set up weeks ago. (There you sit at the table as the minutes tick by…waiting to no avail. When you call, they apologize, saying they forgot to put it on their calendar.)
The friend who cancels plans at the very last minute.
They show up late. No matter what time you plan to get together, you're always the one left waiting—10 minutes, 20 minutes, a half-hour, or even more.
The friend who leaves you hanging. These commitment-phobes always give you a “maybe,” rather than a “yes” or “no.”
The friend who tends to over-promise, giving you mixed messages that catch you off-guard and confused.
On the subject of such friends, Caroline Corcoran writes in Refinery29:
…every now and again they throw us a morsel: the kind of night out which is still being talked about a year later, a supportive chat when things are rubbish or a genuinely thoughtful present.
Something which reminds us why we are friends with them in the first place, which is usually because we love hanging out with them above almost anyone else. Which only makes their flakiness more annoying.
That’s all so true. Sometimes, we hang on to a flaky friend because, well, it’s hard to let go. And there’s often another side to the story: They can have a magnetic personality and can be fun, funny, kind, and warm.
Why would a friend be flaky?
Flaky friends usually lack self-awareness and don’t characterize themselves as unreliable. It’s the people around them who are likely to notice—and to suffer the consequences.
They can’t keep to a schedule and may have an unrealistic sense of time
Their intentions are good. They truly hope to come through but bite off more than they can chew. For example, if they agree to meet at the train, they may fail to take traffic into account.
Or they’re late to pick you up at your home when you have plans because it took more time to finish something than they had anticipated.
They can’t say NO
Some friends have a nagging awareness that they won’t be able to (or don’t want to) come through for you -- but simply have difficulty saying “no.” Or they think they should be able to “do it all” and have a hard time admitting they can’t.
They’re just inconsiderate
Your friend may be self-centered and so self-preoccupied that they show little consideration for the needs or feelings of others.
They may have problems they won’t reveal
It could be a case of adult ADD; a chronic health condition, an underlying anxiety, or an overbearing partner who is competing with you and putting tough demands on them (that they’d rather not share).
What do you do?
If your flaky friend is grating on your nerves, at the very least, you might want to decide whether the aggravation is worth the effort.
In the long run, if it’s simply not worth it, you may have to let the friendship go.
But before you do, perhaps a little distance will help put things in perspective and help to rearrange both the friendship and your expectations.
**Read our post on Tips for Dealing With A Flaky Friend.
It’s common to have a friend who seems flaky and irresponsible. There are warning signs to watch out for that suggest it’s them, not you.