Dear Amy: I moved to a new city about a year ago.
I've made one really great friend here, but there's a hitch: our incongruous approaches to timeliness.
"Sam" has been, without fail, late to everything we've ever planned. His tardiness ranges from one to three hours. Sometimes, I wait an hour and politely ask, "What's your ETA?" and he replies with, "Sorry, I'm just going to do 15 things and I'll be on my way!"
Recently, he and I were studying at his place and I got hungry, so I said, "I'm going to go to the grocery store next door, I'll be back in five."
I would have been back in five, except he wanted to join me. First, he had to change his contact lenses and fix his hair, and then he started telling me this story about his mom that I didn't pay much attention to because I was annoyed.
About 10 things and 25 minutes later, we finally left.
At the store, he spent about 30 minutes trying to decide on a snack to purchase. I'm a very structured person and need him to try and follow a schedule.
What makes everything worse is that he apologizes ALL the time — and he's aware his tardiness is a problem.
I've been told I can be abrasive, and I'd really like to avoid conflict since he's is one of my closest friends here, so I'm not sure how to move forward. Advice?
Amy says: You report: "I'm a very structured person, and need him to try to follow a schedule." Nope. That is not going to happen.
"Sam" has been Sam as long as you've been annoyed. He is already aware of his behavior and its impact on you — you know this because he is constantly apologizing.
You two seem like a classic mismatch, but many great friendships thrive despite very different temperaments.
One perspective on this is that Sam was sent into your life to test your patience. Will you pass this test? (You seem to be working hard on it.)
You need to decide on some common-sense boundaries, as well as a useful way of communicating those boundaries, including the consequences when Sam lets you down. Don't act annoyed or judgmental, but be honest with him about the impact of his behavior on you. Will you wait an hour for him? Maybe. Should you wait three hours? No.
The amateur diagnostician in me believes that your friend might have ADHD. For many adults, identifying their scattered focus and attention challenges as ADHD (rather than a character flaw) can be a game-changer.
It's OK to disengage
Dear Amy: I am struggling in these uncertain times. I am finding people are showing their true colors with how they are responding to "stay at home" orders and how the government is trying to reduce the risk associated with the novel coronavirus.
Unfortunately, political ideals are also being exacerbated because of this. People who I thought were good people are now deliberately ignoring orders, traveling across state lines, having gatherings of more than 10 people, dismissing hygiene practices and posting polarizing things on social media.
I have started to block these people from social media and other virtual interactions to escape the negativity.
Clearly, I have no intent to control these people's views and actions, but how can I cope with this better?
It feels as if I am losing all faith in people that I once considered to be close friends.
Amy says: Now is the time to adopt the axiom "you be you" with a vengeance. In this regard, you should continue to disengage on social media. That means disengaging from people you disagree with, but also avoiding the bubble of anxiety that can come from connecting with people who are enraged and afraid.
Drop back. Read a good novel. You be you.
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