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Always Trust Your Gut

First of all, apologies for how vague this is going to be. I can’t give away many details without it being very identifying. It’s also going to be loooooonggggg.

Last year, myself, a friend and another friend who we both kind of know but not particularly well decided to book a trip. It’s a two week trip that’s centered around a particular activity. Think of it as like a camp, but for grown ups.

Now, I had been planning on just booking for myself and Friend one. Friend Two overhears us talking about it and wants in. Fine. I don’t know her very well, but just enough to think I can travel with her without problems. The camp is popular enough that it needs to be booked a year in advance, the camping spots for the year open at a particular time and you have roughly a five minute window to book before all the spots for the year are gone. It’s like buying concert tickets but infinitely more stressful.

We spend a few months before booking deciding on which dates we want so I can pounce on the website and make the booking for all three of us. Stressful, but the other two work full time and can’t sit on the internet at work waiting for this website to open. My work doesn’t mind so it falls on me to make the booking. Booking three spots is actually tricky because the website only lets you book two at a time. You have to go back in for the third and risk not being able to swing it.

Maybe two months after booking and paying for the trip, Friend Two pulls out citing parental duties. I’m annoyed, we discussed the dates in length and picked the ones that suited her best (because myself and Friend One had more free time) but I understand parent duties. I find out more details and the child I thought was school age is actually in college. Friend Two’s double booking is something that friend wants to do but not necessarily *has* to do, it’s something that she was aware of when we were booking but evidently had not made her mind up about before we had to book the camp.

One of my bug bears is people who say they will do something, commit to dates and then pull out. But this still isn’t a disaster. She’s paid me back so it’s her own money she’s wasting. Friend One’s sibling decides to join us instead so at least her spot isn’t being wasted.

Now, Friend Two lives in a city that’s a few hours away from camp. It’s close enough that we decide to go and visit her on our free weekend, but still far away enough that it can’t be a day trip and we will have to stay the night. All good. Festival that this city is famous for will be on at the same time. It’s a great time to visit and Friend Two is excited to see us. Friend Two offers to put all three of us up in her house. At this point, my instinct is saying “yeah but can we rely on this?”, but in the end, free accommodation in an expensive city is hard to pass up. Regular readers of this site have probably already worked out what’s about to happen.

Well… it’s a week before we are visiting Friend Two and she’s booked out her house on Airbnb, we can still spend time with her but now we can’t stay with her. This is the last straw for me, had we asked if we could stay I’d be less annoyed, but she offered the accommodation to us. Again, we don’t know her that well, I would have been ok with booking through Airbnb and paying to stay with her, had she asked us to. Popular festival means we are now scrambling to find an alternative and I can’t imagine it’s going to be very comfortable or affordable. I’m letting Friend One sort this out. I’m done.

I kinda wish I’d trusted my gut and said “no” to her offer of a place to stay. But on the bright side, next time Friend One suggests visiting Friend Two I can cite this fiasco as a reason that we should do our own thing. And I”m not booking her camping spot for her again! 0806-18


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  • Anon August 14, 2018, 6:54 am

    Friend 2 sounds annoying and flaky. She’s making decisions based on her own interests and convenience, and is treating commitments and promises made to you (her friends) as utterly optional and non-binding. I think she did ok by paying for her spot in the camp, but her renege on having you stay at her house should have consequences: i.e. don’t go to her city during your free weekend! Stay at camp, or do something else! “It turns out everything is booked up, and the accommodations that are still available are really expensive and not comfortable. We’ll have to see you next time!” She has no problem telling you ‘no’, you shouldn’t either. And if Friend 1 is the driving force behind this visit, you can tell her ‘no’ too. You’re not joined at the hip, you can decide how to spend your free weekend all on your own!

    • Liz August 14, 2018, 7:30 am

      I agree. She sounds like my one family member who I like to say never thinks about how her requests or plans will affect or inconvenience anyone else. Its always about her. And when you pint out that no, that won’t work or is convenient for ME, its like OH, i didn’t think about that!

      One memorable example is when we were thinking of going on a cruise. Leaving out of a city about 3.5 hours south of me, and maybe and hour and a half north of her. My plan was to take the train to said city, and then cab to the cruise pier. and meet her there. This is also after driving an hour to the train. But actually cheaper than driving to the ship and parking there for a week. HER brilliant idea was for me to drive to her house, about 4.5 hours away from me, and then her then BF would drive us UP the hour and a half to the ship. And then do the same on the return trip. Um explain to me WHY i would drive about 6 hours extra and out of my way, for YOUR convenience?

      I’d also let friend 2 know, oh, sorry, since finding a place to stay now will be almost impossible, we won’t be coming after all. And go and do your own thing. She does sounds like a total flake, and an “its all about me” person.

      • Sarugani August 14, 2018, 12:11 pm

        I have people like that in my family, too… a few years ago, one of them called me to say she’d be in Big City (about 75 minutes from where I lived at the time) the Saturday two days later and couldn‘t we get together for coffee. I had a previous RSVP type commitment with the in-laws and told my relative that meeting her would not be possible. She knew that the in-law shindig would be in Big City as well and even years later, she was unable to comprehend that even just planning an hour for the actual coffee drinking part of her plan, I‘d have had to take the train from ohne end of Big City to the other, one way taking at least 45 minutes.
        And my mom recently called, she and dad would be going to visit friends for a long weekend and had planned to spend the night at our new place. I had to tell her no for several reasons: 1. they were planning to stop by on a Thursday, leaving Friday. I have to get up for work at 5:30 on a normal day, having 4 people to crowd the bathroom would mean getting up at 5:00 at the latest, impossible, because 2. they never arrive at the agreed-upon time, last time they were 3 hours late and never picked up the phone when I called to check, then, 2 hours after ETA, they called to ask for directions and still managed to get lost, because they didn‘t bother writing things down and I had literally explained the way in one short sentence, because we lived across the street from a very well sign-posted family resort. This time, they even wanted to visit with other friends on their way to me, so I estimated they‘d arrive around midnight. (3. we don‘t have a guest bedroom, 4. I don’t feel comfortable with more than a polite coffee, my mom doesn‘t respect boundaries at all and having her spend the night would just be asking for hurt feelings on all sides – me, because she does what she does; her, because she doesn’t understand what my problem is…).
        A few days ago, the in-laws called, they‘re going on vacation in our part of the country. If it was okay with us, they‘d book a night at a hotel near us and come over for coffee on a weekend day. That’s was a much more successful way of getting invited to our home.

  • Charliesmum August 14, 2018, 7:34 am

    With you on the bugbear. Especially when it’s something that requires booking tickets, reservations, etc. And the AirB&B thing is just beyond rude. I agree that maybe you should just not go into the city, unless you’ve also purchased tickets for the festival? I’ve not been to that festival ever so I don’t know how it works. (Assuming it’s the festival I’m thinking of)

  • shoegal August 14, 2018, 8:06 am

    We book the same vacation every year and invite friends of ours to come with us if they want to. A couple we spend time with claim to want to go but back out every year. There is always an excuse, some other commitment, some other trip, other vacation plans, family commitments so we completely stopped inviting. I’m not going to beg anybody to come on our vacation but instead of leading us to believe this was something you really wanted to do and waiting the 2 to 3 years of turning us down repeatedly for us to take the hint – why didn’t they just say no? Don’t make plans like you intend to come only to back out later. Why not be honest and say you don’t want to come. Fine – Done.

    • staceyizme August 14, 2018, 3:49 pm

      People like that are just annoying! You’re grown up, for Heaven’s sake, and your lips should be able to form a simple “no, thank you!”. I sometimes wonder if people commit to things like this initially with the idea that they don’t want to miss out? Then, when arrangements have to be made, time taken out of work and other commitments or money has to change hands, suddenly it’s not so attractive. C’mon now. You can size up most offers pretty quickly and decline any invitation with a simple thanks and regret. No explanation or fancy footwork is needed.

      • Juliet August 14, 2018, 5:13 pm

        Actually, and I am NOT drawing this from shoegal, just the scenario – I would decline something only to be, in my view, cajoled and harassed into saying ”yes”. And I mean a person sitting there going ”oh come on, there’s no reason not to! Don’t be a stick in the mud, we will have sooo much fun! Oh So-And-So, Juliet doesn’t want to come!!!!! Come over here and make her come with us!!!”. OMG. So finally I’d say ALRIGHT while having ZERO intention of doing so and ZERO guilt in bailing because I SAID NO. Now I am much older and stronger and can say no firmly and dismiss the person if they continue to cajole me without being rude, or being rude if I must be. So it IS a two way street, I can certainly imagine someone writing in about me when in fact they are the one in the wrong.

        • LizaJane August 16, 2018, 8:16 am

          Juliet, exactly. We have a dear friend who shares the love of an outdoor activity with us. We can do this in our area, but there is a place about 7 hours away which is a very popular place for it. We’ve been there many years ago and really liked it. Our friend goes every year and meets some other friends of hers there. She always wants us to go and it sounds like fun, which we say to her but we never say yes we’ll go. We got the feeling that she resented us not going (when we never said we would), and this year she didn’t ask us.

          There are several reasons why we’ve never committed to go. None of them are anything personal about her.

  • Michelle August 14, 2018, 8:23 am

    Friend 2 has shown what kind of person she is. Believe her. Don’t count on her for anything and if she wants to do the camping trip again, tell her she’ll need to book her on own accommodation.

    I work in a museum. Several times a year we will put on events that require a ticket and are usually well-attended. We have to put a limit on the number of tickets, so we cap it a few hundred below maximum capacity so we don’t get in trouble with the fire marshal. It never fails that people wait until the “sold out” info is put on the website to call and complain that they were waiting to buy because their child “might” be playing sport or going to a camp or something. Then they beg and ask can’t we sell just 3 more tickets and/or play the “But I’m a MEMBER” card. Well, members got 2 weeks advance ticket sales before they went on sale to the public so sorry, but there’s nothing I can do for you. Our refund policy is up to 48 hours in advance so if little Johnny has to play you can get a refund.

  • JD August 14, 2018, 9:02 am

    I’m with the others — it doesn’t sound as if the festival was part of the original plan, so I’d skip it now, since accommodations were rudely rescinded. “Friend” Two just isn’t someone I’d make plans with or for, from now on.

  • Bea August 14, 2018, 10:24 am

    You’ll be grouchy if you visit her after all this nonsense! I don’t think you should follow through with the visit unless your other friend is truly invested in the add-on.

    At least I would be grouchy. I wouldn’t say this woman is a friend at all. Friends don’t offer a place to stay and then change the plan to “nah. I rented extra space instead!” Also she’ll have strangers staying with her, how uncomfortable to then add a few friends stopping in.

  • Essess August 14, 2018, 12:02 pm

    I agree with others. You were going to visit and she was going to put you up. The offer to stay was cancelled too late for you to find other accommodations. Because of Friend 2’s lat cancellation, now that you can’t find a place to stay then the visit should naturally be cancelled.

  • NicoleK August 14, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Can you skip the weekend? Is it before or after camp?

    • Queen of the Weezils August 15, 2018, 8:48 am

      I’d also skip the camp. After all, alternate accommodations are hard/expensive to find late in the planning process, so…..

  • staceyizme August 14, 2018, 3:42 pm

    Your friend was fine up until the withdrawal of her offer of accommodation. (Well, technically, she wasn’t, because she invited herself along, allowed you to change dates for her convenience and then flaked out. But she wouldn’t have qualified as a real pariah, as yet.) However, the withdrawal of an invitation that she issued would probably have me crossing her off of my list permanently and I don’t think that it would be out of line in the slightest to ask her why she offered an accommodation that she later withdrew or to make her aware of the impact her total flake-outs on the initial camping trip and on your subsequent one day trip have created. The very least that she could offer would be dinner out at an upscale establishment (and she’d better be buying the wine), along with an abject apology for her “oversight” and a promise of no future variance when giving her word in situations where changing her mind changes outcomes for others. (But I’d still cross her off of the list for some time to come.)

  • MzLiz August 14, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Yeah, add me to the list of those who’d bow out of going to see her. Anon’s response above has some great non-confrontational wording. I’d use some version of that when letting Friend Two know the visit was off.

    I will say though; People don’t usually pay in advance for things they don’t intend to go to. Friend Two might very well be a super-flake but she also might have a really good reason for being that way – Stuff happens & since you’re not particularly close friends she may not feel like disclosing why her college-age daughter needs support. It could be nothing, could be serious – who knows? If she needs to be there for her kid, she needs to be there for her kid. What wasn’t mentioned in the post is if the sibling taking the spot is refunding Friend Two for the cost. If not, that could be a sticking-point & unless Friend Two expressly agreed that it was OK for the sibling to take her spot without getting full or partial repayment for the ‘ticket’ (or whatever), she might feel a like she’s been scammed. Renting out her apartment during the time of your visit may be her way of sending you guys a message. Just a theory!

    I have a close friend who’s a single mother with 2 lovely but very high-maintenance teenage daughters (I seriously love the girls but they are WORK! Lol). She flakes a lot because of them so I never make plans with her that involve a big commitment & she gets why as we discussed it when I’d gone to an event she said she would’ve loved to attend with me as my Plus-1. I explained that I would have invited her in a heartbeat but I didn’t want to risk going alone in case she had to back out last-minute. She’s self-aware enough to know it was a legit concern & completely understood. I respect her parental responsibilities & choices but my time & interests need to be respected too.

    • OP August 20, 2018, 3:19 pm

      I decided when I sent this in that I wasn’t going to by joining in the comments lest I let slip some identifying remarks. However, I do want to address one point you e raised:

      Sibling paid friend 2 for her spot. My comment in the original post was more that friend 2 was wasting her own money pulling out because I had no plans to pay her back if we couldn’t find someone to take her ticket or if the venue wouldn’t change names. Basically, I refused to be left out of pocket because she couldn’t get organised.

      • MzLiz August 21, 2018, 6:01 pm

        Gotcha! Thanks for the clarification.

  • Mary Sgree August 14, 2018, 6:12 pm

    So, ok. We all agree this lady seems wackadoodles, but because I’m bored, im going to play devils advocate and because theres always 2 sides to a story. 🙂

    When someone backs out, citing parental duties, even for a college age kid… its permissible. No one can know that many months in advance what they may have to do in regards to the family. So know this is a thing that happens and just go with it.

    2. I don’t understand the “double booking” thing but that all worked out well.

    3. I think theres more to the story here –I dont see where Friend 2 actually invited them to her city but it does look she offered them a place to stay. Most people would not renege on this. So I wonder, was she waiting for you guys to get back to her and you didnt so she rented it to someone else? Is there a reason that just because she also rented it out that you think theres not enough room for you as well? Or does it just bother you that there would be others there as well? What did she say when you asked her why she was going back on this particular promise? Did she forget she offered it to you? Or that her accommodations arent what you were hoping for?

  • AJ August 14, 2018, 10:58 pm

    “Parental duties” for a “child” who’s an adult? LOL! Sounds like she was scrambling for an excuse – any excuse. The AirBnB could also be an excuse.

    She doesn’t want to spend time with you beyond a coffee; certainly cancelling TWICE for get-togethers for longer than an hour or two points strongly to this .

    • Rebecca August 15, 2018, 10:11 pm

      But she invited herself to the camp. Sounds like she wanted to spend time with OP and Friend One.
      “Parental duties” for a college-aged child could be anything, and it could be legit. Maybe the kid has been hospitalized for serious depression, on suicide watch. Maybe she finally has been booked into an eating disorder clinic or some appointment involving important decisions about medical treatment. Something serious and unforeseen that is more important than this camp. Or maybe it’s something good, but equally unforeseen and important. As long as she didn’t leave OP on the hook for the ticket, I feel that bowing out for family reasons is OK.

      But offering a place to stay and then deciding to AirBnB the place instead, well unless there is more to the story and OP has offended Friend 2 in a way that hasn’t been disclosed here, then that’s just plain weird and rude.

  • Queen of the Weezils August 15, 2018, 8:47 am

    I have a few friends like Friend 2. Whether it is forgetfulness, flakiness, selfishness, or (in one case) illness, you cannot rely on them to stick to planned arrangements. (The illness one is completely not the person’s fault and I know they’d change it if they could, but the result is the same). So you make plans that can go on without Friend 2, that don’t require any changes to accommodate the presence or absence of Friend 2, and that way you can enjoy Friend 2 on terms that don’t make you crazy.

  • Catherine St. Clair August 17, 2018, 7:15 pm

    This sort of thing is the reason I travel alone. If you want to come, you make your own arrangements and I’ll see you there. Don’t promise to drive and then decide a hour before we are to leave that you don’t want to put the miles on your vehicle or agree to a hotel with free breakfast and then decide you don’t want to eat there and I have to just grab a piece of toast because you want to go out for breakfast and I have to go with you to keep you company.

  • Store Manager August 18, 2018, 10:44 am

    I’m sorry for the stress Friend 2 put you through. I wonder Friend 2’s behaviors may be resulted from personality problems and economics. She actually cannot part from the revenues from renting her home out for the festival, nor the foreseeable extra expenses associated with the camping trip, yet she cannot offer to be alienated from her friends. Such complicated situations. My pearls necklace powdered by her crunching so tight and hard.
    Well, I think the best what do next about this particular friend is never take her proposals ever.