General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Why are people flaky?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) August 22nd, 2010

When people routinely make plans and then don’t show up, or don’t return calls and messages, but they aren’t trying to end the relationship, what’s going on there?

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47 Answers

marinelife's avatar

They are just not thinking of the other person’s time. So, careless and selfish.

gravity's avatar

I can at times be a bit of a flake… I know, thats not a good thing. I do at least admit it though. Much of my activity is based on how I feel at the time… if I don’t feel like doing something, then I don’t… unless I can’t opt out at all. I know this is selfish and I don’t like it about myself so I avoid the issue by just not making plans. haha it works for me though -

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gravity So if, say, you had plans to meet for a movie at 7, would you call and tell them that you weren’t coming?

If you don’t like it about yourself, why don’t you change it? Or do are you personally fine with it, and others aren’t?

gravity's avatar

@papayalily Yes, I would definately call and let them know I wasn’t going to go. I wouldn’t wait until right before either. I do try not to be a flake so like I said, I just don’t make many plans. I am more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” type of girl anyway. I don’t like making decisions much at all…. I analyzed this once about myself and decided it was bc my mother made all of them for me when I was younger and I just don’t have much confidence in making good decisions. sorry to ramble there, just giving some background.

Nially_Bob's avatar

I am hugely flaky. It derives primarily from a bad memory and mellow attitude; while many thrive on routine i’m rather indifferent to it and often inadvertently assume that others feel similarly in this regard. As a result i’ve found myself very confused by peoples aggrivation when I cancel a meeting or show up late as had that person done the same to me I wouldn’t mind.

It’s not a trait i’m particularly fond of but to overcome it requires far more work than some may think as it’s a very intricate aspect of my character.

mrentropy's avatar

My first ex-girlfriend and her friends were the Queens of Flake. With them it wasn’t not caring, or forgetting or anything but some sort of weird competition and statements about the people any of them were seeing at the time.

We might start at one restaurant or bar, decide to go somewhere else and then see who didn’t show up at the next place. I was told on several occasions to drive us home, or someplace else because “we do it all the time to each other.” In some cases it was so a friend and her new boyfriend could be alone. I guess it was decided in one of those super-secret bathroom meetings.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I am guilty of being a huuuuuge flake.
Mine comes from terrible social anxiety.

Coloma's avatar

Lack of a personal code of integrity.

It’s that simple.

Do unto others and all.

This is a deal breaker in all my relationships.

As Don Miguel Ruiz say’s in the ‘four agreements’ IMPECCABLE with your word!

Plone3000's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I agree, When I am flacky im not doing it to be a jerk, but rather I am nervous or stressed.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Coloma it isn’t always that simple. Especially if you chronically avoid going out and doing things with other people – often my friends and family will practically force me into agreeing to do things that I don’t want to do.
Sure, they are probably right that it would be good for me. But that makes it even less likely that I will actually go when the time comes.

SundayKittens's avatar

Agreeing to something at a moment when you’re pumped about it, then later on you realized you over-committed or were just excited at the time. It’s a lesson you have to learn, I guess….be impeccable with your word, like @coloma (aka corn on the cob) said! :)

Coloma's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie really is that simple. Just say no!

No one can force you against your will, it is not the other persons fault, you have to break your habit of agreeing in the moment and then flaking becuse you were not interested in the first place.

I know it can be hard to communicate and set boundaries especially within family, but the best thing you can do is have a couple of catch phrases and stick to them, like…

:“I’m sorry that won’t work for me today” or ” Thanks but no thanks”

This is better than setting yourself up to feel guilty for being a flake and you are not disappointing others.

SundayKittens's avatar

Right. A lot of flakiness comes from a fear of not being liked, or wanting to please. But in the end, if you over-commit….that’s what will happen!

Plone3000's avatar

@Coloma, true but then if you say “I’m sorry that won’t work for me today” then aren’t you makeing up excuses, and lying?

Plone3000's avatar

@Coloma, Never mind, technically I guess you are telling the truth.

Coloma's avatar


No, it would be best if you could be completely honest and just say, ” I’m not interested in doing that today” but…baby steps.

Saying that won’t work for me today is not a lie, it WON’T work for you because you don’t WANT it to work, that is true. lol

Obviously if you care at all about maintaining your relationships you do need to be willing to give something, but, you should never allow others to push you into something you are not into being involved in or doing.

You are not responsable for others feelings, short of blatently doing something harmful to them.

This is tough for a lot of people and you get better at as you mature.

Doing something you really do not want to do is the big lie, to yourself and others.

I don’t care if it’s christmas or a wedding or a birthday or whatever, you CAN choose, and without guilt. It’s anothers problem if they cannot allow you this basic human freedom.

Plone3000's avatar

@Coloma Maybe you did not notice my answer from above, or maybe you wanted to finish your crazy long paragraph.

SeventhSense's avatar

I’ve given up in figuring this one out and it doesn’t help to point it out the offending party either. They just either come up with a lame excuse, ignore it or make like you’re the one who’s crazy for making a big deal out of it. There is a serious disproportionate weight that some people give to this and I sometimes understand it but I have a hard time accepting it. I’ve grown much better at it.
I’m convinced it springs from low self esteem so I don’t take it personally. I have a friend I’ve known for years that will never acknowledge a phone message and after beating my head against the wall forever I gave up. If I get him on the phone we have a nice conversation and maybe get together and hang out. If I don’t I just hang up. I have no expectation of a return phone call or even hearing from him.

DominicX's avatar

I’m not a rigid schedule-driven person, but I really can’t stand flakes, sorry. If you make plans to do something, try to follow through on them, otherwise don’t act like it will happen. If you’re not sure or if you know you’re flaky and are admitting to it, then say “maybe”. I’m fine with “maybe” unless it’s something big. But don’t make it sound like a guarantee when it isn’t.

A friend of mine made plans to see me several times this summer, but flaked out so many times that by the end I was like “do I even want to see this person anymore?”

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Plone3000 @TheOnlyNeffie So then do you talk to them and say that you aren’t feeling well? Do you suggest something you’d rather do? Do you let them know you aren’t coming?

Ivan's avatar

If I’ve told someone that I’m going to be somewhere at 8pm, I’m there at 7:55. Seriously, if I were to make a list of all the things I would like to see eradicated from the earth, it would go something like this:

1. Cancer
2. Flaky People

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily yes, I always let people I know if I’m not going to come. I don’t just not show up, I cancel plans.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie How quickly do you let them know?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily it’s almost always well ahead of time… I know I’m going to chicken out long before it actually happens. heh.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Huh. I might not consider that flaky.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

No? I mean, I cancel plans a lot.
I don’t really do the no show thing, but people usually expect me to back out if we make plans. And although @Coloma is right, I should just say no… people only take so many “no“s before they start to get upset. If you’ve ever spent years trying to avoid making plans with everyone you know, you would understand that.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie No, I’ve been there, mostly with my mother. It’s a lot better now. I guess the difference was, I didn’t want to have a relationship with her, so it wasn’t like she could have suggested that we go somewhere with less pressure, the problem was her.

Not to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong (you can totally tell me to shove off) but if all these people twist your arm to get you into situations you aren’t comfortable with, why are they in your life?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@papayalily it really isn’t the people, necessarily. I’m not really comfortable around anyone. I would be perfectly content to never be in a social situation ever again as long as I live. Ha, sad, but true.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Ah… Yeah, see, I don’t see that as flakiness. I see that as more of a social anxiety disorder type of thing. I mean, yeah, that’s probably frustrating to your loved ones, but not nearly as much as if you were ditching them to go clubbing or not letting them know you weren’t showing up so they just waited at a restaurant for you for an hour, repeatedly.

SeventhSense's avatar

And although I think it’s low self esteem it’s a kind of self absorption as well. On one hand one is saying I really don’t want to show up, face these people, feel shy, embarrassed, not good enough or whatever. But then on the other hand it’s like saying “I must agree because these people need me there. If I don’t show up it really doesn’t affect them and they should still love me and accept me regardless. It’s really all about what I want and need.” It’s kind of a test of their love. It’s misplaced parent issues and immaturity I think. Other people are just “stand ins” for parents and completely interchangeable.

You said If you’ve ever spent years trying to avoid making plans with everyone you know, you would understand that.
That’s sounds like less a particular issue but more a disorder. And I’m not saying it from a standpoint of indifference. I am well familiar with it and it takes a tremendous effort to start acting as if others have just as much importance as ourselves even if it doesn’t feel authentic.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

That’s what I said in the first place…

“I am guilty of being a huuuuuge flake.
Mine comes from terrible social anxiety.”

@SeventhSense you’re on the right track, but way way off base with me. Just saying. But thanks, anyhow.

SeventhSense's avatar

I think I’m dead on but it’s not social anxiety.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@SeventhSense So it’s like the idea that suicidally depressed people get that no one will miss them and will even be better off if they were dead mixed with geek social fallacy #2 ?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If between friends then this is someone who should be relegated to being an acquaintance because they’re looking at you as a distraction to their own selves instead of an addition to enriching their lives. If it’s a dating thing then people act like that when you’re not their primary interest but you’re still good enough company for them to fill in last minute holes others have left in their plans.

BoBo1946's avatar

Flaky people: prone to strange or erratic behavior;—of persons.

After the first time this person is inconsiderate, no more! Fool me once on you, fool me twice, it’s on me! remember George W having problems with that comment…loll!

SeventhSense's avatar

I’m bowing out because I have overstepped the bounds of good form. No offense to Neffie.

le_inferno's avatar

I honestly don’t understand flakiness either. I have a friend who will just not answer texts, says she’ll call and then never calls, makes plans and then doesn’t follow through, says she’ll be there in 20 minutes, shows up 2 hours later. It’s infuriating and inconsiderate. She just started antidepressants and anxiety medication, but I really don’t think her psychology is an excuse for being straight up rude.

Coloma's avatar


Must have crossed posts, oh well.

I always double space my writing, if it bothers you don’t read my sharings, just my style.

I’m not looking to publish my postings. lol

zen_'s avatar

I highly recommend Head and Shoulders (registered trademark thingee here, I’m too tired to look for it.)

Edit: Oops – didn’t read the details part. I’m such a flake.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@zen_ I literally just snorted.

citizenearth's avatar

Wow, I don’t expect lots of feedback to this question. Actually, these people are not really flaky. Some people tends to be ‘friendly’ and ‘helpful’ when making plans with you but they have no desire to follow through with their plans. They forget about it or worse, do not take seriously what they have ‘promised’ with the other party. Maybe some of they are not being genuine with you when they say they will do this or that. You know, they just ‘talk’ for fun! There are people who don’t expect other people to take their words seriously. They just want to talk ‘something’ at that moment and making themselves visible, that’s all.

Nially_Bob's avatar

I didn’t quite expect such a barrage of notions on where “flakiness” derives from. As I mentioned previously I believe i’m simply forgetful and don’t place much importance on routine (though obviously in some aspects of life it is necessary which is why I shall remain eternally grateful to the inventor of stick-it notes). To apply Ivan’s example, if someone were to ask me to meet at 8pm i’ll swear I was meant to do something at 8.10pm, shrug it off and assume my participation in whatever it may be isn’t essential and then get a phonecall at 8.15pm leading to me running somewhere.

This whole matter has peaked my curiosity. To those who resent flaky people, what is it particularly about the whole concept that irritates you if you don’t mind my asking? Do you feel that people, upon agreeing to meet, should treat you as you would them when organising and attending meetings?

@SeventhSense I apologise for the bother but would it be possible for you to elaborate on your theory and explain to what extent you think it is accurate regarding all “flaky” individuals?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Nially_Bob Ask that last part of the answer as a separate question since I’m not sure many people are following this question any more.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Will do, thanks for the insight Papay :)

citizenearth's avatar

@Nially_Bob I think you are one of those who don’t take things seriously when you make appointments/promises to meet other people. Maybe you think it is OK to be flaky?

Nially_Bob's avatar

I do not think it reasonable to be flaky but I accept it as being a natural part of who I am and make extensive efforts to work around it. You are correct in believing that I don’t typically take appointments as seriously as others (or simply forget them). However, for me (and no doubt fellow ‘flakes’) it’s difficult to comprehend how much more seriously others take appointments as I can only perceive matters from my own perspective. For example, while you may rush out to meet someone on time because you would expect the same effort on the part of others, I may take longer as I have no serious expectations of others to show up on time when I arrange something.
I would like to emphasise that i’m not attempting to justify this character trait but simply explain it.

obli7vion's avatar

your flakiness is inconveniencing many other people. It comes down to respect for other people. They may have different standards than you, but you should still respect their expectations. You don’t have to comprehend their expectations, you just have to respect them. And, if you can’t, then let them know up front. Anything less is selfish… and I’m sorry if that is innate for you.

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