Reader Mailbag: Unreliable Boyfriend

I am a member on a forum that frequently discusses relationships, and one day last week I got a private message from another member. This woman gave me permission to post her question here as long as I didn’t use her identity.

I’ve been seeing this guy for four months. I would say things are going well except for one thing, he’s unreliable. He’s cancelled plans with me on numerous occasions and he forgets to call or text when he says he’s going to.  At first I excused it as everyone makes mistakes, but I have noticed it become a bad habit. I have kind of joked about it with him, but he kinda just laughs it off and then does it again. I don’t want to seem like I’m nagging if I bring it up again, but I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

His behavior is definitely not good. Is he unreliable to other people too, or just you? I wonder if he’s unreliable or if he just sees you as a low priority. Either way, it’s something you can’t just let go. Unreliable and undependable partners will make it impossible for you to maintain a healthy relationship. If you are having these frustrations after only a few months, imagine what they would become after a few years. You end up losing all trust and respect for that person.

Don’t worry too much about coming off as a nagging girlfriend or a bitch. Next time he does this, bring it up right then. You don’t have to be mean about it, just come from the heart and present it from your perspective. Something like, “I love our time together, and I’d really love it if we could schedule plans we could follow through with.” That’s about as nice as it gets. If he doesn’t seem to get it then something a little more firm would be, “I don’t appreciate be kept waiting by the phone.” Be calm and concise.  If he gets defensive, then I’d say he’s not worth the trouble. There’s no excuse for him to defend his pattern of being disrespectful to you that way.  If he apologizes, that’s good but don’t immediately take his word for it. Watch his future actions instead. He can say whatever he wants, but remember that correcting the problem is the goal. If it keeps up, it’s probably a lost cause. At that point, I’d say it’s useless to tell him anything else. Show him that you won’t be treated that way by moving on.

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Ash Pariseau
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Comments 25

  • I agree.

    Have to admit that I used to let guys get away with this type of behavior for two reasons:

    1) I wanted to be the cool, carefree girl
    2) I didn’t think I had any other options

    What wrenched me out of this pattern was being too busy to care about what any particular guy thought of me, combined with a phase where I refused to commit to anyone and instead had a roster of preferred partners – good times!

    Anyway, over time I allowed myself to develop much higher expectations, and when I finally decided to get married, it was to a guy that met all those expectations.

    • Well done! I think a lot of other women can relate as well. Most at some point want to be the cool girl, or at least seem like they are one. I’ve learned that there are times to be carefree and times to put your foot down, and I hope to explain these in further detail on this blog in the next coming year. Then, as you mentioned, there are those gems we meet that already meet our expectations and that’s always a blessing.

    • There seems to be a shift that happens when you make yourself your first priority. It automatically puts you back into the drivers seat and in control over your own emotions and also your own destiny. Congrats on finding one that’s right for you.

  • Thank you so much for this! My boyfriend just blew off New Years plans with me for something be said he forgot about. I found out his friends were planning a trip out. So then that fell through and now he wants to hang out again but too bad, I have other plans now!

  • No kidding. I actually had a great night. He showed up at my place yesterday and apologized for blowing me off. Then he assured me it wouldn’t happen again. We’ll see. 🙂

  • Excellent advice. He could just be unreliable with everyone, then again, maybe only with her. I think it’s okay to confront him about it, and demand some respect, but she needs to be prepared to walk away if he doesn’t deliver. This guy could just not be that into her.

  • I once had a boyfriend that did this sort of thing. He eventually grew out of it, but we broke up for other reasons (He was an asshole in other ways). But maybe it can sometimes be an immaturity thing.

    • Immaturity could be part of it, and one could grow out of it, but it may also be a permanent and persistent issue. You can only confront this so many times before you realize that either this person doesn’t think they have an issue, or they refuse to change their behavior.

  • Ashley, I agree with everything you said. There should be no logical excuse for someone blowing her off. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be treat that way either.

  • meant to comment when I first saw this but Holidays! Whenever I read a post like this, I think back to my Singledome Era (married now). I never treated a lady like this yet often I never achieved boyfriend status or even any more dates.

    Perhaps I was a bigger loser in some other way or these guys offered something more promising short term that these women fall for and then after they get what they want, they show their true colors. Perhaps if people could place higher value in other areas (being treated right over flashy shiny things) they might recognize the deception sooner?

    • You bring up a very important idea that I have often wondered myself. Heck, I’ve even been guilty of it myself. I think when we are physically attracted to someone, we look for some other personality trait that we love as well. We also look for a connection and spark that is uncommon. When all that happens, that’s when we fall in love. But that doesn’t mean they are perfect. It doesn’t even mean they still won’t treat us like shit in other ways or later on down the road, as you said, show their true colors. But once you fall, you want to make investment. You want it to work, so you make excuses. Sometimes women are blind to red flags, and sometimes people just don’t show who they really are until the other one has fallen in love.

      I wish I could tell you why you haven’t achieved boyfriend status, but I doubt it’s because you are a loser. I think it’s true that women are just trying to go for all the wrong guys. That’s why I write, hoping to knock some sense into someone at least. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  • You’re much more patient than I am! I would just bolt. That is completely unacceptable behavior and hard to come back from. Adios! ha

  • Don’t accept actions in a relationship, that you would not accept from a friend.

    Ignore what they say. Pay attention to what they do.

  • Beautifully written article, Ash.

    I’m sure your mom would be proud.

  • I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and reporting! Keep up the very good works guys I’ve you guys to my blogroll.

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