On Wednesday night, I was supposed to meet up for drinks with an old friend I hadn’t seen in many years. We had texted on Sunday about it. Wednesday evening, we said. Neither of us could think of where to go, but we agreed we’d think on it and get back to one another.
I had an idea for a venue and texted him on Monday. I never heard back.
On Tuesday, confused, I texted him to see if he was still game for getting together the next day. I never heard back.
On Wednesday at 4:00, he texted to ask if we were still on for that evening.
I didn’t respond. Since I hadn’t heard from him, I had already decided I was staying at home that evening.
This behavior is normal, I know, particularly from a certain breed of men. This notion that it’s okay to not actually make plans, to not communicate anything about when or where something is happening until the last minute, is insanely common.
And I hate it. I can’t deal with it. It drives me nuts.
We had said we’d get together on Wednesday and then he didn’t respond to texts about where or when to meet. I gave up on him.
Am I the asshole?
I hate not knowing what to expect, not having a plan in place. If I’m going to do something one night, I imagine myself doing that thing. I emotionally prepare for that activity.
Switching gears isn’t something I manage well. Not knowing for sure what I’m doing is horrible for me.
When I didn’t hear from the friend I made other plans. They weren’t real plans; I decided to make a nice dinner and read and maybe watch some TV. I emotionally prepared to do that. I started looking forward to doing that.
When I did hear from him, I was at home, but my hair and makeup were still fine. I hadn’t washed my face and put my hair in a ponytail yet. It wouldn’t have taken much effort to get dressed and go out.
But when someone doesn’t communicate plans with me until the last minute like this, it makes me feel like they don’t care about seeing me. They don’t care about my time or energy. I’m an afterthought. Every single thing a person might do over the course of a three-day time span was a higher priority to him than responding to a quick text to firm up plans.
It hurts my feelings.
And it requires so much energy for me to deviate from what I thought I was going to do with an evening and go do something else. Socializing in a general sense is stressful for me. I need time to prepare. Without that prep time, my energy is off. I don’t have a good time. I wind up wishing I hadn’t gone.
To a normal person, all that was required was changing out of comfy clothes and walking out the door. To me, it would have taken so much energy at that point to put on real clothes, get in the car, deal with the drive to wherever we were going to meet (and the rush hour traffic I’d inevitably hit), manage to not be overwhelmed by the noise and presence of other people at the venue, find or choose a table, pull out a chair and sit down, and THEN actually have the presence and energy to hold up my end of a conversation with my friend. Ah, and let’s not forget looking at a menu and interacting with a server. That requires energy, too.
Thus, when he reached out at 4:00 on the day we were meant to hang out, I didn’t respond.
I didn’t know how to better manage it. I don’t know how to tell someone who has waited until the last minute to firm up plans that this doesn’t work for me, that this triggers anxiety for me, that this makes me cry.
So, I run away from it. I don’t respond. I don’t know what to say, how to tell them I no longer want to see them even though I don’t have other plans and in every way am pretty much ready to walk out the door.
I recall now that this particular friend has always been like this, and I used to push aside all the emotions it caused and try to roll with it. I judged myself for not being more easygoing and pretended I was cool with not having any idea what was going on until an hour before the planned meeting time.
This isn’t something I’m able to do anymore. I don’t have the energy to pretend. I’m exhausted from years of playing a role and not being myself. I want to relax into authenticity.
Even if doing so kind of makes me an asshole.