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Friend has trouble following through...What to do?

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Hi Everyone --


I'm having an issue with a friend of mine, and I'm not sure what I should do about it, if anything. The rundown:


We've been friends for about 12 years, and we've been through a lot together -- stuff in her life, stuff in mine, good times, bad times, etc. She's 20 years older than me (almost my mom's age), so she has been sort of like a second mom to me at times. For the MOST part, I feel like she's been there for me when I've needed her (and vice versa), but there have been times, particularly recently, that she has not followed through with something that she said she would do, and some of these things have been important to me. For the most part, I've let it slide. She's always had a *valid* excuse, but at times I've suspected that her excuses weren't entirely real -- that they were things she either made up or exaggerated in order to get out of doing something (some of these things are work-related -- we're colleagues, too, and she's sometimes left me holding the bag and having to do all the work on something that was a big job). I've kept my mouth shut, though, because she has always been a good friend, and I know I need to pick my battles - some things aren't worth stirring up.


The most recent issue that has me perturbed is this one: This friend had offered, on her own(I did not ask her) to write me a letter of recommendation for something I'm applying for at our workplace. SHE came to ME when she found out I was applying, and said, verbatim, "I don't know whether or not you'll need a letter, but if you do, I'd be delighted to write you one." I thanked her profusely and told her I'd let her know. Well, it turned out that my application did not require a letter -- it was optional -- and I told her this but asked her to write one anyway because she's known me and worked with me for so long AND she writes exceptionally well, so a letter from her would really enhance my application. She asked when the deadline was, and said she'd write the letter. Well, I didn't hear from her for awhile, so I e-mailed her, not just about the letter, but about other stuff, and I reminded her about the letter. I told her I was turning in my application early, but that she could send me the letter anytime before the deadline and I'd take it to the workplace and hand it in separately. I told her there was no hurry, and again thanked her profusely for helping me. So...days went by, no response. I mentioned to another colleague that I hadn't heard from her, and the colleague said "Oh, I think she's out of town." Ok, so, the deadline approached, and I KNOW she was back in town, because I saw her online quite frequently, and I doubt she hauled her computer with her to where she went. She didn't contact me, though, as she usually does. So, after a few days I sent her another e-mail, not mentioning the letter -- it was completely about other things -- asking her how she's doing, etc. Again, DAYS went by, and NO response, even though I could clearly see she was online, and I KNOW she checks her e-mail daily. It is very unlike her to not respond to e-mails; she's on her computer so much that she usually responds almost immediately.


So, last night, I saw her online, and I decided to send her an IM asking how she's doing and telling her I hadn't talked to her in a long time. The FIRST thing she said -- didn't even really greet me -- was "Sorry I dropped the ball on your letter. I know it was optional. I hope it didn't have any negative affect on your application." Then she went on to say she'd been out of town, etc. etc. and went on to other things. In my reply, I told her not to worry about the letter, that yes, it WAS optional, that it would have been more for ME than for the application, that it would have perhaps boosted my confidence a bit (I've been down lately due to a number of issues). She ignored my comment and started talking about work and other stuff. We proceeded to talk online for over an hour, and the conversation was normal, but I found myself still really upset about the letter. Yes, it was optional, but I'm going through a rough time, this application was stressing me out, and it would have really helped me to feel more confident to have that letter. Yes, she did go out of town, but she knew WELL in advance of that what the deadline for the letter was, and she was back in town WELL before the deadline (at least 4 or 5 days before). And, finally, I feel like she didn't handle the situation well, and when I finally contacted her and didn't even ASK about the letter, the first thing she said was "Sorry I dropped the ball on your letter." She knew the application was important to me, and that I've been stressed over it, and I felt like she didn't really take it seriously. Later in the conversation, I expressed a worry about something related to it (not the letter or lack thereof), and she said "You're just fabricating worries, now." She was very dismissive about it.


I guess this wouldn't bother me so much if things like this hadn't happened with this same friend before -- her OFFERING, without being asked, to do something and then not following through, or initiating plans and cancelling last-minute. It's not about the letter, per se; I feel my application was very strong even without her letter, but I am hurt and disappointed by her lack of follow-through and her seemingly blase attitude toward it. And, the fact that she was avoiding me for so long is bothersome too. This woman is constantly on her computer, usually e-mails me daily or every other day, IM's me all the time, and she was clearly avoiding contacting me.


I'm not sure why I'm posting this; maybe it's just a vent. Any thoughts? Should I say nothing? Should I wait and see if something like this happens again and then bring it up? Do I just need to give her a break and realize that she tends to over-commit herself and then change her mind, and that's just how she is?


Any insights would be most helpful.

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i think when you let things that are important to you slide time after time, you become a doormat and people treat you as such. you have to stand up for yourself, not necessarily all the time, but at least when it really matters to you. otherwise, life is just one frustration after another and you're always the victim.

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It's important to be realistic in your expectations. It's one thing to expect people that you've given to - to give back. That's basically realistic.


But you do have to evaluate the habits, character, and past actions of the people you're expecting to give back to you - to see if that is in thier priroities and style and history.


If it's not, then it is unrealistic to expect THEM to do anything but take whatyou offer, no obligation.

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"Now better" is giving an opinion about what you can do about it.


For me, it's about that particular person. I think the person is the type who doesn't follow through regardless of whether it's you or someone else. That's just the way she is, and the fact is that you chose to be a friend for a long time with her and now you're being affected by who she is, and you know it.

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