Flaking. You know you’re guilty of it. Whether the flaker or the flakee, there’s nothing quite like it when plans you’ve found you really don’t want to go to are cancelled. Research suggests that flaking is something of a British phenomenon: of the average 104 social arrangements we make, we only turn up to half of them.
Whilst any extra me-time is welcome in our increasingly busy lives, when it comes to maintaining your relationships with friends and family, you need to stop with the flaking. Cancelling or bailing on plans last minute might provide a rush of relief for you, but for the person you’re flaking on – aka, the flakee – it’s not satisfying in the slightest.
If you don’t have a mirage friend, it’s probably you
Mirage ‘friends’ are the sort that repeatedly make plans, remind you how much they’re looking forward to seeing you, and then BAM: surprise, surprise, at the last minute, they can’t make it. When it comes to mirage friends, the concept of actually seeing them in real life is an illusion.
If you don’t have someone in your life with these flaky tendencies, then you’re probably the one that’s doing the flaking. The flaking isn’t necessarily done with ill-intent either – living increasingly stressful lives, we’re bound to overstretch ourselves. Perhaps when it comes to flaking, you’d rather flake on your closest friends or family, on the basis that they would give you the free pass you wouldn’t enjoy from lesser friends who won’t love you unconditionally.
But the fact of the matter is, when you just assume or expect your loved ones to accept your last minute, short notice flaking without holding any resentment towards you, you’re ultimately taking advantage of them.
You make them feel disposable
I’m not about to lie and deny I’ve never flaked out on a friend, but alas, karma is a bitch and I have duly been flaked on by friends as many times as I have flaked on them and trust me – there’s no worse feeling.
Flaking on your friends makes them feel disposable and disrespected; that something better has come up that you would rather do with the time you arranged to spend with them. When it comes to that perfunctory “I’m sooo sorry, I’m the absolute worst…” text – whether you construct a semi-believable excuse or flippantly say “absolutely EXHAUSTED from work. Can we rain check?” – they’re going to feel equally as stung.
Whilst the flaking every once in a while is forgivable, when it’s happening on the regular, it’s time to consider how your flaking habits are effecting your relationships.
Stop making plans you can’t keep
The thing with flaking is that it’s very rarely meant with malice. Often – in my case, at least – the prospect of catching up with a friend over coffee or cocktails sounds really good. It’s not about making plans with absolutely zero intention of ever committing to them.
(Though if it is, you need to reconsider why you feel this way, and if this person is really worth the trouble of making plans for the sake of saving face.)
More often than not, once the day or time for those pre-planned social arrangements you were genuinely looking forward to roll around, the idea of getting up and out feels like the very last thing you want to do. Maybe this is because you’re over-worked, over-stressed, and over-committed – maybe you’re something of a social butterfly that is used to seeing different people all the time, but when it comes to the inevitable desire for a night in by yourself, it always happens to be the same person you’re flaking on.
Sound familiar? I know I’m guilty of arranging to see people for their sake rather than a mutual one, and when I don’t make the plans, I feel like crap for letting them down, and so will try to make up for it by making 101 different plans… before flaking again.
Stop spreading yourself thinly and invest in the relationships you value most.
If you find it regularly feels good to flake on plans, then consider the fact you probably shouldn’t have made them in the first place.
Rather than scheduling endless mate-dates with not-so-close friends or colleagues for the sake of looking popular and well-liked, invest your time and effort in those closest to you. Rather than flaking on them because you know they won’t hold it against you, don’t impose expectations on them and stick to your plans.
Even when you’re at your most tired/hungover/lazy, you’re likely to be glad to have got up and gone out to spend time with these people in your life, and when you treat them with the respect and trust you rely on them for, you’ll find you’ll get flaked on less, too.