Broken Promises (05/30/07)

Dear Zelda,
My best friend is famous for making and then breaking dates with me, and it's all about men.  We'll plan to go to a movie, out to dinner, or even have tickets to a concert, but if something better comes up, like a date with a cool guy or even a date with an un-cool guy, our scheduled outing is scratched. This has happened so many times and I'm left home alone watching re-runs.  I don't do this to her, and I think she is being rude.  What do you think, and what can I do?

Home Alone Again

Dear Home Alone Again,

We all know that politicians aren't the only people who break promises, but when a friend's promise falls by the wayside, it hurts. I firmly believe that "a friend is always there for you," and that you should expect a lot from, and provide a lot for, your good friends. For me, that's true... unless, of course, a juicy steak comes along just when I'm about to go out on a playdate. Perhaps your friend's taste for "cool guys" is like my inability to pass up steak.  It's not an excuse, but just a weakness.

Everyone has a right to alter their plans or change their minds now and then. But if you're constantly playing second fiddle to those last minute men in your friend’s life, it's time to evaluate what this friendship means to you, and what it means to her.  Guys are good, steak is even better, but promised plans with pals should come before both. If they don't, you can end up feeling like the leftovers. You have two options: intervene now and fix this dysfunctional friendship, or take your friend's cues as a sign that this is a more casual friendship, and don't continue investing so much into it.

If you decide it's worth the investment, it's time to sit down with your friend and have a frank discussion.  Remind her how many times she has cancelled plans with you at the last minute and let her know how much it hurt.  You might even convince her to play by some "ball game rules:" three broken promises and she's OUT (or at least she owes you something big).

Alternatively, you may decide this level of commitment to your friendship isn't worth it if your friend is constantly treating you as a glorified safety net. This doesn't mean you have to abandon her altogether; you may just need to change your outlook and expectations for the relationship. Friendships wax and wane over time; just because it's in a low point now doesn't mean it won't blossom again later.

Ultimately friends are worth fighting for, but you can't keep putting in all the effort and taking all the abuse. A good friend is worth their weight in gold, but a bad friend? Give me a juicy steak any day.

Dear Zelda,

I have been dating a man for almost five years and when he shows up, he's great. He's smart, successful, funny, and terribly sweet to me WHEN he's with me, BUT... the problem is, I can never count on his presence despite many, repeated promises to attend events, show up for romantic weekends, etc. He's even  promised to meet me for a romantic getaway weekend at a luxury hotel, only to leave me waiting in the room myself until I eventually check out the next day (because he was tied up at work).

He is of course apologetic and pays for the room, but his lack of dependability spills over into so many areas of the relationship, and he gets angry when I confront him on his behavior. He even had me do some consulting for his business briefly, and never followed through with payment. "I do the best I can" is his mantra. Or, "I'll do better next time." Both are dead ends. Zelda, what would you do?

Promises, Promises, Promises

Dear Promises,

Zippity-do-dog, you've got a cheater repeater on your hands and if you can't trust him to show up or to pay your consulting fees, well, it's not good enough. Honey, trust is so basic to a relationship that we feel deeply wounded when we don't receive it or when we lose it. Broken promises make for broken hearts, and in your case there isn't a pot of glue big enough to put the pieces back together. You've spent five years with Mr. Wrong and the sooner you say "good bye" to him the sooner you will put some happiness back in your life.

Should you, for some reason, still want to give it one last chance, there is an excellent book, Broken Promises, Mended Hearts by Joel Black that might help. His book offers couples solutions for restoring trust and repairing relationships shattered by betrayal. That said, mending broken relationships requires the commitment of both parties, and I don't hear any evidence your bad beau has any interest in changing.

I think your man's track record is rotten and your relationship has reached, as you said, a "Dead End." You've loved him, now leave him. I'm with you and waggin' my tail good-bye to your bad guy.  Get 'em up and move on. Happy tails await you.


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