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Don't expect an unreliable person to suddenly be reliable

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Don't expect new responsibility to change an unreliable person

Q: My sister-in-law is a very nice, very intelligent flake who is never on time and never accountable. My guess is she has narcissistic personality disorder because there is always someone else for her to assign blame. My wife has always let it slide because she thinks the sister-in-law is fragile. I call this appeasement.

We asked her to prepare and conduct a naming ceremony for our daughter months ago; she came to town having done nothing. I considered this the last straw, but she decided to ignore the harsh e-mail I wrote to her. How can I make this person understand it is her fault I cannot trust her to do anything she promises?


A: Why did you give her the responsibility of conducting a naming ceremony? Translation: Why are you still expecting her to be reliable?

Her failure to do things she promised is her fault, of course, but it's your/your wife's fault for seeking that promise, and for counting on her to keep it, knowing what you know about her.

Accept who she is and what her limitations are, then interact with her accordingly. That will be a lot more satisfying in the long run than creating opportunities for her to disappoint you, and then getting tie-severing angry when she — surprise! — disappoints you.

You have to admit, it's funny that you're blaming her for your choices, and supporting that charge by noting she's "never accountable."

Quick bond too much to expect in burgeoning relationship

Q: I've been seeing a guy for about a month. Over the last week, I sensed he was withdrawing, so I confronted him about it in what I thought may be a relationship-ending conversation. He said that was not the case and he was still interested.

The next day, I texted him and asked him to come over one night of a holiday weekend and I would cook him dinner. He said he wasn't sure because he'd be celebrating with his buddies.

I'm confused and a little irked. I texted him and said as much, and he just ignored it. At this point, I haven't seen him in over a week, have no commitment from him this weekend, and have talked to him once on the phone since the last time I saw him. Am I right to be mad? If it's over, I won't be devastated, but I hate being jerked around. My friend says I'm being demanding.

Not interested?

A: One month? I don't have the benefit of knowing how this guy was with you on your early dates (days 1-7), or how well you and he meshed in the comfy middle dates (days 8-21), which presumably created the expectations that were knocked down in the rocky late stages (days 22-28). However, even if he laid on the affection and grand pronouncements, such an instant bond from anyone is more worthy of skepticism than trust. You just don't know a thing about each other yet.

Things came on fast, and now you've gotten clingy faster. In the unlikely case that this relationship isn't over, your next move is to apologize for getting ahead of yourself, then ask yourself why the rush.

Don't expect an unreliable person to suddenly be reliable 10/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 4:30am]
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