So, I have this friend. Let’s call her Schmamy. Schmamy is, like, the most fun to hang out with. The only thing is…she’s unreliable. When I invite her for drinks, she always says something like “OMG yes! I love that place!” But when it comes time to meet up, I’ll get an 11th hour text: “SO sorry. Work was crazy and I’m just getting home. Rain check?”
Does Schmamy hate me? Is she looking for excuses to get out of our hangs? Nope. She’s just an “attendon’t,” a person who RSVPs yes knowing full well she won’t be able to make it. And here’s the thing…I think I’m one sometimes, too.
What separates an attendon’t from a crappy friend? Intention. They want to see you. They want to be there for you. But if they were to look deep within themselves, they’d know the truth: There is no way on God’s green earth they’re driving 45 minutes to Brooklyn on a Sunday morning to make it to your one-year-old’s birthday party.
How do you handle one? Force her into commitment. Since identifying Schmamy as an attendon’t, I’ve become much better at asking for what I need: A clear yes or no. So instead of blindly inviting her some place (with the wiggle room to get out of it), I’ll say, “It seems like you’ve been so busy recently, so no worries if you can’t make it. But can you please let me know for sure either way by Thursday, so I can make a reservation at the restaurant?” There’s still a chance she might bail, but in my experience, that chance is greatly reduced if you give her a chance to think about what she’s actually saying “yes” to first.
And what do you do if you are one? Give more nos and stand by your yeses. Got a sneaking suspicion that you’re going to be tired after the wedding? Don’t say you’ll go to the after-party. Know you have a ton of client meetings that will keep you at the office late? Tell your pal you’ll catch up in January when things settle down. Alternately, if you do say yes to something, treat it like a dinner date with Kate Middleton. Mark it in your calendar, don’t schedule any conflicting appointments and, for the love of George, show up when you say you will. See, you’re a better friend already.