We've all had at least one "flaky" friend who can't be counted on for anything. She says she's in for the potluck? OK, just don't let her be in charge of an entree. He RSVP-ed for that birthday dinner? To be safe, make a reservation for one fewer. She says she'll pick you up at the airport? Do you have another option? Can your beagle drive?
There's some anecdotal evidence that our new technology is actually making it even easier for us to be flaky. With the proliferation of Evites, Facebook RSVPs, and the like, you can get out of a commitment at the last minute with the touch of a screen—without hearing a disapproving voice or getting a guilty lump in your throat. You can even try to convince yourself that you didn't actually inconvenience or disappoint anyone.
There's no doubt that some of the negative repercussions of canceling plans disappear when you do it in hit-and-run fashion from your smartphone. And the fewer the negative consequences, the more tempting it is to do it again. (To sample just one group, 43 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds admit that they have cancelled plans online, according to a recent study commissioned by the social network Badoo.)
Before you decide to flake out on a commitment, here are some factors to consider:
The more often you cancel, especially at the last minute, the more frayed your relationships can become. There are simply only so many times you can put that exhausted/coming down with something/hard week at work/just want to veg mindset first without your friends feeling like they'll always come last.
Pushing through your fatigue, at least sometimes, to just show up at that happy hour, and resisting the urge to bail on a friend's brunch just because some other people did and you never liked that restaurant anyway, will help keep your friendships in working order.
copyright Andrea Bonior, Ph.D.