Nobody likes to think they’re a flake. Nobody knows when they’re a flake. But, of course they don’t, because they don’t feel the effects of their actions—everybody else does. Flaky people just think everyone else is uptight, difficult, stubborn, or unaccommodating. They think other people haven no chill. It’s like how dumb people don’t know they’re dumb—they think something is wrong with everybody else. Meanwhile, everybody else can usually come to the consensus that that person is dumb. Or flaky. Or whatever the trait is that makes everybody else’s life annoying.
Flakes tend to have a very self-centered mentality. They aren’t trying to be rude or hurtful. They aren’t trying to make someone else’s day difficult. They aren’t thinking about other people at all. They are just thinking about what is easy, fun, or convenient for them, forgetting that their actions have consequences. Every time someone flakes on me, it’s so obvious to me that this person genuinely thinks what she’s doing is okay. She truly doesn’t anticipate any pushback or protest from me. Flaky people aren’t bad people, they’re just bad for the people in their lives. It’s something I can’t deal with in my friendships.
Flaky people need to understand that, those who do what they say they will, when they say they will, don’t do so because nothing else came up. They don’t do so because the thing they said they’d do is exactly what they felt like doing. Reliable people aren’t reliable because they’re somehow blessed with a life that makes it easy to be reliable. They face all of the same temptations and struggles of flaky people, and make the choice to be reliable, even when it isn’t fun or convenient. If you can’t imagine living like that, you may be flaky. And here are other signs you may be a flake (sorry, not sorry).
Cancel over a mood
You cancel because you are sad, feeling out of it, a little down, had a hit of inspiration and want to write a short story, are feeling more in the mood to party than relax, so you’d rather go to a party than a yoga class. Flaky people allow their moods to dictate whether or not they show up.
Cancel over a small headache
A small headache. A little neck pain. A stubbed toe. Allergies acting up. Flaky people only show up when they feel their bodies are in perfect condition. Non-flaky people pop an Aspirin, take some Claritin, and show up where and when they said they would, knowing that everybody present probably has some small physical ailment right now.
Cancel because you forgot
It’s hard to be mad at someone for forgetting because it’s a mistake. But it’s not just a mistake: it was the neglect to take actions that would prevent them from making a mistake. Like writing it on a post-it note. Or putting it in a G-cal. Or setting an alarm. We have resources available to us to help us not forget, and flaky people don’t use them.
Cancel because you were asleep
Imagine if the rule of thumb for the world was, “Everything will go as planned, unless people are asleep.” Businesses wouldn’t open. Roads wouldn’t be fixed. Planes wouldn’t take off. We have something called an alarm clock for a reason—so we wake up and do what we said we’d do.
Something else came up
Something more exciting, more enticing, more alluring—you get the idea. The flaky friend doesn’t show up to your plans and texts days later saying, “So sorry but I met a celebrity who invited me to go on the road with him so I just had to—you understand, right?”
You forgot you had something else
Flaky people are double bookers. Triple bookers. Quadruple bookers. They flake on you because they forgot they told someone else that they’d do something else at that exact same time. Or they semi-flake, by showing up to your plans, but letting you know they can only stay for 20 minutes because they have somewhere else to be. Meanwhile, you put aside two hours for this plan.
Never fully commit to a plan
Flaky people absolutely refuse to commit to a plan. Someone will ask, “Do you want to do this thing on this specific date at this specific time?” and a flaky person will respond, “Can I see how I feel/how my schedule is looking as it gets closer?” Because they think it’s totally normal to back out at any given moment if they aren’t feeling up to something or something else comes up.
Try to converge plans
Flaky people will sometimes try to cover up their flakiness, and the fact that they double booked, by converging plans. So you’ll make lunch plans with a flaky person, and she’ll suggest you eat at…the café inside the bookstore where her friend is doing a book signing because she also promised to be at that.
You say you “Might stop by”
Oh yes. Flaky people love saying they “Might stop by.” Those words “stop by” mean it will be just a drop in. They never commit an entire evening to one thing. But, they want the credit of having made an appearance by literally stopping by for 20 minutes.
You say, “Don’t plan around me”
That’s literally how plans work. When I ask someone, “Would you like to go to this concert on this day? There is a set of tickets for sale for this price,” I am planning around this person. If she says yes, I’ll get the tickets, and I’ll clear my schedule. But flaky people can’t be held accountable for holding a plan together.
You always hit “Maybe” on events
When sent an E-vite, physical invitation, or Facebook event invite, you always choose the “Maybe” option. If you get the choice to select how many guests you’ll be bringing, you try to push for the most possible in case you triple book and need to bring your other friends along as a form of converging plans.
Your excuses were preventable
So your car is in the shop and now you can’t make lunch, that’s scheduled for ten minutes from now…But your car has been in the shop for three days, you knew it would be in there for three days, and you bring this up…now?
You’re so late, why did you show up?
Another way flakes try to get credit for showing up is by showing up so incredibly late that they may as well not have shown up at all. I used to have a friend like this. I’d invite her to dinner parties going from 7 to 10pm. She’d show up at 9:45 when I was cleaning dishes.
You accept flakiness in others
If you are a big flake, then you probably don’t care when others flake on you. In fact, you don’t notice it. You always assume any “plan” you make is very fragile and not a real plan, and if someone flakes on you for a preventable excuse, you totally understand and don’t get mad.
And don’t take responsibility for your flakiness
When people try to explain to you that you messed up their day by flaking—that they moved things around and made accommodations and hired babysitters—you don’t feel bad. You get mad at them for not being more understanding of why you flaked.