The Existential Expert tackles the issue of flakey friends

The Existential Expert responds to your questions. Photo: Pixabay/LEEROY Agency.

Our resident Agony Aunt returns to provide their customary blend of sage advice and no-nonsense, stiff-upper-lip, quit-your-whining TLC.

An opening comment from the EE for 2022:

Dear readers,

It’s somewhat bittersweet to return in the new year. Of course, we’re only too happy to provide our patent brand of wisdom, our guidance and beneficence. To help you negotiate the profound existential issues that characterise even the most mundane lives (although, to be honest, we prefer juicy topics).

But, in another way, the demand for our services, evidenced in the correspondence we continue to receive, reflects a society still suffering the angst of tormented uncertainty, the weight of reality’s profound dilemmas and ongoing confusion about how to get laid. 

We hope our regular monthly column provides some succour and spiritual nourishment in 2022. 

All the best,

Q: Dear EE,

One of my closest childhood friends is a total flake. We make a plan, and then without fail she bails on the day… yet, she wonders why we haven’t caught up? She seems completely oblivious to why this is happening, it’s infuriating. 

How can I ask her why she finds it so hard to do something as simple as stick to a plan without insulting her? Isn’t it simple?

Amanda,

Surry Hills

A: Dear Amanda, 

People’s inability to commit to a schedule is one of the great existential issues of modern times. 

The fault is, ironically, largely with connectivity. Just as it has become easier to make plans, so it has become easier to unmake them. 

What’s more, it seems commitments made on the strength of a phone text or a Tinder chat also acquire the taint of digital ephemera. Dismissed as easily as swiping left or deleting an app from your phone. 

In this world, nothing has any significance beyond the fleeting, commitments can be filed in your junk box, and you can stay in and watch MAFS in your trackies when you just don’t feel like going out now. Whatevs

Artist’s impression of Amanda. Image: Pixabay/Robin Higgins.

This is different from the olden days, like the 1980s, when it took literally months to set up an engagement to meet for coffee on a Sunday morning. 

Under these circumstances, people committed to their commitments. 

It became common for contracts to be signed guaranteeing the appearance of each party on the amounted hour – negotiations which, as far we can remember, would expend the lives of many carrier pigeons. 

Violent interventions, duels and jail terms applied for contract breakages (ask your parents).  

By contrast, nowadays we have the dreaded ‘Maybe’ option on Facebook invites – one of the ultimate concessions to flakiness. 

People press ‘Maybe’ to say: ‘No I’m not coming but I’m too mentally lazy to even commit to the idea of NOT doing something.’

This laissez-faire attitude to real outcomes applies more broadly as well. We can see it in everything from the delivery of RATs to the rollout of an effective national broadband network. 

But this sort of behaviour is, nevertheless – timelessly – selfish, careless and inconsiderate. Of course it infuriates you. 

Calling this behaviour out

You’re entitled to point out this rudeness.

And we don’t see why the issue of “insulting her” should enter into the equation. Your life and your time has an existence beyond her ephemeral schedule and the lifestyle she leads via her phone.

To be honest, it’s tempting to say “kick her ass to the curb”. But if you want to sustain the relationship, it’d definitely be good to confront her. You can use text message – which would sorta be ironic under the circumstances. 

But your better bet is to talk her, reasonably and rationally and with a minimum of screaming, in person. The shock of actually being confronted like this, in reality no less, will be profound.

Obviously, you’re going to have to factor in her flakiness when planning to confront her about her flakiness.

Why not add an incentive and/or a little, light emotional blackmail to your follow-up text messages on the day?

Nothing too heavy-handed, just something elegant like, “Hai bae, I’ve got something like really, really, really, really HECTIC to tell you about, fo reelz, something cray on which I think our whole relationship hinges and sudden death could be involved, BITCH xxx.” Or maybe, “Hey-hey bae, really can’t wait to c u – oh btw, I’m bringing Mitch from MAFS along, hope yas don’t mind, Laterzzzzz xxx”.

Good luck! 

All the best,
The EE

A panacea for uncertain times, The Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, email us at: existentialexpert@gmail.com – or tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns are published regularly, on the first Sunday or each month. You can check out previous ones here!

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice and should not be treated as such.

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