Q: Hi Meredith,
I'm 28 and met "Jay" 8 months ago. We've been together ever since and he is funny, affectionate, caring, and I always have fun when we are together. However, we have one big problem. I work full time and take classes at night so I am incredibly busy. However, I have always made time and followed through with our plans to spend time together. He has a few stressful things going on in his private life. One is that he works temp jobs and then has breaks until he finds a new one. He is terrible at following through with plans. In the past two weeks he has canceled on me six times, once he actually forgot he had promised to come make me dinner because I was sick. He isn't working right now and he didn't even call. This has been a particularly bad patch but he frequently cancels at the last minute about once a week. I am more surprised when he shows up than when he cancels.
I have explained that with my tight schedule it isn't fair to me because I frequently turn down invitations thinking I have plans. Even though his excuses are often legitimate, he doesn't have time management skills and will cancel plans for Friday and Saturday night to do things he should have finished during the week days. He also shuts down and won't leave his room or have anyone over if he's having a bad day. He knows it upsets me, he knows why, but seems unable to change this behavior. He says that I am too rigid in my need to plan things. I have tried to compromise by no longer asking him to be there at a certain time (he is always running late) and instead just ask him to meet "Friday night." However, I have to plan at least a few days in advance because of my work, classes, and homework. He insists he is much better when he has a regular schedule but he’s been temping the entire time I have known him.
Do I leave someone who is great in so many other ways but can't be counted on to follow through? Am I being too rigid and should I try and be more flexible? Is this a small detail in the big scheme of things?
– Waiting by the Phone, Boston
A: He's great in other ways, WBTP? It doesn't matter how many ways he's great if you don't get to see him. Being late every now and then is understandable. So is canceling plans. But once a week? Six cancellations over two weeks? Unacceptable.
These constant cancellations and late arrivals bum me out because they suggest that Jay isn't excited to see you. When I'm psyched to see a significant other, especially during the first eight months of a relationship, I make it happen. I keep promises. I put off work to get quality time, not the other way around. He should be making you feel ... like you're something he's looking forward to.
Maybe he is great when he's on a 9 to 5 work schedule, but you said it best -- he's been temping for eight months. You have no greater context. It's his job during the first eight months to show you what he's capable of, and for the most part, he's been a bit of a flake.
I can't tell you whether to stay or go, but I will say that this isn't a tiny detail in the scheme of things. It's a big, fat, annoying one.
Readers? Am I right? Will he ever respect her time if he doesn't respect it now? Anyone dating a late/unreliable person? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.