“Sometimes the boundary is with us, and we have to change the way that we engage with this person,” Tawwab adds. That doesn’t mean you should purposefully exclude them all the time—but if you have an event or social gathering coming up that feels a little more high stakes, maybe choose someone a bit more reliable to accompany you.
If you don’t feel comfortable editing your invite list, Tawwab also recommends having an open and honest conversation with your flaky friend. “There are other times where you do need to have a conversation and say, ‘It is very important to me that you come to this thing. Can you honor that? And if you can’t, please say no,’” she explains. After all, it’s important to express your needs and speak your boundaries—otherwise, how will your friend know to respect them? “We think there is this level of common sense that exists in society, [but] people don’t know better,” Tawwab continues. “We have to teach people how to be in a relationship with us; we have to speak of things that we think are common sense; we still have to communicate those things to people.”
And, look, good, lifelong friends can also be flaky—setting these boundaries does not mean you should end the relationship (unless it’s just time). Quite the opposite, actually: “Often when people are setting boundaries in relationships, it’s because they care about the relationship,” Tawwab says. “When people are placing boundaries with you, it is best to consider it a healthy step because they are trying to continue with the relationship.” That said, think about these boundaries as enhancing the value of your friendship.