April 13, 2015 by phicks2012
Okay, here’s my question. Why is it that people make plans with friends if following through on those plans is so low a priority as to be nearly off the scale? Further, why do people badger friends to host parties and other activities they have no real intention of attending? What is the point?
Throughout my lifetime I’ve tried to rationalize this sort of thing, and have finally decided the following:
1)Some people either can’t or don’t bother to remember what plans they make with others. They make plans, but don’t write them down, note them on their calendars, or do anything at all to assure that they will remember. So, when the time comes they do something else, or nothing at all, while their friend sits waiting for them in a restaurant or in front of a cinema, or paces around waiting to be picked up for an outing, or drives a long distance to pick them up only to find they are not at home. I’ve had all of these things happen, by the way. How about you?
2)Some people just don’t need much of an excuse to bail on something they’ve promised to do.They’ll beg off, if they bother to beg off rather than just no-showing, for the
most specious of reasons, again leaving friends in the lurch with little or no warning. I’ve also, incidentally, had this happen too many times, and suspect that I’m not alone.
3)Some people simply want to set up a fall-back activity just in case they find nothing better to do on a given date, and feel no qualms about leaving people they’ve encouraged to participate or host in the lurch. They will pester friends to host holiday parties that require a lot of pre-planning and preparation — oh, and expense — and then will not show up. Someone closer to home (and thus more personally convenient) may be having a party, or they’ll simply decide they aren’t in the mood to go out, and they’ll assume (I guess) that other people will be attending and that there is really therefore no pressing need for them to do so as well. WRONG! Again, from personal experience.
Now, this is not to say that everyone who bails on a friend does so without reason or excuse. Some people do at least call ahead to let their friends know that something critical has come up, and excuses like medical emergencies, deaths in the family, pet emergencies, household disasters and the like are perfectly viable, and understandable. Some call afterwards to apologise sincerely for having screwed up and missed the party, lunch, movie, or whatever, and if they really mean it that’s also understandable, as long as it doesn’t keep happening every time plans are made. If it does, then it’s habitual. and that IS a problem.
But let’s get real. One of my all-time pet peeves (and for good reason) is being stood up. When I was a teenager, I had a friend — hey, we’d actually gone to kindergarten together — who could never be counted on. If we made plans to do something together and something else came up that appealed to her more, she would invariably stand me up without any sort of warning. This continued throughout college, and the final straw was when I drove all the way to the other side of Atlanta (where she was living at the time) one afternoon to go to the park with her, and barely caught her as she was leaving to attend a “Billy Graham Crusade” with someone else. She told me I was “welcomed to come along”, but I was dressed for a day at the park, not for something like that, and she never even attempted to apologise. She just left me standing there. That finally did it, because at that point I finally accepted the fact that despite our having known each other practically from the cradle she was not really a friend at all. Friends didn’t treat each other that way, unless I had my definitions ALL wrong.
I suspect we all have had friends like her — “friends” who only behave like friends when it’s convenient or when it’s the most entertaining alternative they have at the moment, but who, when presented with a more appealing alternative, will simply blow off or “forget” previously made plans, leaving us sitting somewhere fruitlessly waiting for them to show up. Right?
I’ve also lost count of the times friends (plural) have pestered me to invite them to a function or to host a party, and I went to a lot of trouble to do so only to have no one (or almost no one) show up. When I was in high school (a girl’s school at the time) we had two formal dances a year at Christmas and Spring, and we were REQUIRED to attend whether or not we had dates. Some deal!! That almost GUARANTEED that a lot of girls would be sitting on the sidelines dateless and feeling rejected. As a result, girls would ask extra boys they knew to come so that the stag girls (can girls be “stag” or would they be “does”?) would have people to dance with rather than being left sitting morosely all alone in their finery. I had a cousin who pestered me constantly to invite him and his friends to one of these formals, so I did, lining them up with friends who needed dates, but then on the night of the dance not a one of them showed up and neither (incidentally) did the boy I myself was dating at the time. No warning. No apologies. Lame excuses later on when they were confronted outright. Listen, when you’re that age, having something like that happen can be devastating to your already fragile self-esteem, and I felt totally humiliated, especially since I wasn’t the only person affected. I never invited that cousin to anything again, and the boyfriend — Sayonara. Lesson learned there, too.
After college when I moved into an apartment my friends all badgered me to have a Housewarming Party. I actually quit my job to follow through on this because the ass-hat who was the assistant manager of the camera shop where I worked at the time decided to change my day off without warning, and then the only people to show up at the party were my roommate’s friends. Not a single one of the people who had been after me to host that party showed up — including (once again) my boyfriend at the time. If that wasn’t bad enough, when I called my boyfriend to ask where he was, he hemmed and hawed and told me he’d just gotten engaged to someone else. Talk about BAD NIGHTS! That one threw me into a situational depression that lasted MONTHS!
Now, I’ve hosted plenty of parties where we’ve had to toss out crashers and where the place was PACKED, but I’ve also finally about given up on hosting Halloween or New Year’s Eve parties because in recent years the turnout has been so abysmal. Let me tell you, when I’ve bought refreshments, decorated, and gone to a lot of trouble in advance it’s more than a bit disappointing to have no one show up. Try dressing up in costume and sitting in an echoing (if well-decorated) room with only two other people (one of them a housemate who had to make ZERO effort to be there) pretending to be at an actual party. NOT fun.
So here’s my point, if you’re still reading: Folks, if you want to be a real friend, don’t make a habit of this sort of thing. Friend is not spelled d-o-u-c-h-e. If you actually care about your friends, don’t stand them up without warning and without a good reason. Be a f-r-i-e-n-d.