- Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings
One of my biggest pet peeves, that I have admittedly done plenty of times but am trying to stop, is when people don't ever really deny you. They deny you under a lot of maybe's and false hopes. When people respond to an invite with "I don't know if I can come." Or "I'll try to come!" or "If I get done with my homework in time!" or "If my only other option is to hang myself, sure, I'll come!" Across the board, people have learned to accept this as a "no", but technically it's not a no. It's a very cowardly way of saying "I don't want to come." I have done that so many times even when I know without a doubt that I can't come. "I don't know if I'll be able to make it because I will be working." I'm so afraid to say no. To hurt their feelings. But, I do have work.
While that is a pet peeve, I think a deeper frustration is how easy it is to flake out on people these days. Back before cell phones, if you had a plan to meet up with someone- if you didn't show you were standing them up. And they might think you're dead. Now, all you have to do is send a quick text "I'm going to have to cancel!" So people follow through less and less and become increasingly flaky. Or, maybe the better way to say it is we make a lot of empty promises. I have done this countless times, but I have also been on the receiving end of it. And I realize how crappy it makes you feel. Especially when you know they're empty promises. You can read it through every text they send promising they will come soon. And they keep pushing back the time. Keep adding on the excuses. Now, sometimes the excuses are real. Like, your friend is throwing up everything inside of them at the moment. And I've had to cancel for health relating reasons in the past too.
I think we just need to be better at meaning what we say. And we need to learn how to say "no". We can't be afraid of that word. But we can't say "yes" in the moment, knowing later we'll find some reason to say "no". If you say "yes"-- do everything in your power to do it. Be there. Follow through. Don't say "yes" unless you know you can and you want to. I know I would be less offended if people outright denied my invitation. I'd still be offended, but it wouldn't sting as bad. At least there is no room for false hope.