• Resolving Problems

My friend is a no-show without a reasonable explanation

Published: January 29, 2014 | Last Updated: January 29, 2014 By | 18 Replies Continue Reading
It’s upsetting when a friend is a no-show especially if she doesn’t have a good explanation.


Hi Irene,

Recently I’m having difficulties with one of my friends. We have been really close about five years and get on really well but sometimes she never makes as much effort with me as I do with her.

She will only talk to me or see me if I initiate the conversation or if I ask if she would like to meet up or go out. Most of the time she does come out when I ask her or if my other friend asks but not show up.

I have confronted her about it and asked why she didn’t show up and she just says she was asleep or her phone broke and never says she’s sorry for not turning up or for not letting us know that she won’t be coming.

I can understand that what she’s saying might be true but she has done it countless times and it is always the same excuse. I’ve asked her to be honest with me and tell me if she doesn’t want to go out but she never does. She’ll just say she’s coming and then not turn up and just ignore our phone calls.

I don’t understand why she can’t just say sorry or just say no if she doesn’t want to go. Do you have any advice on what I can do in this situation? Would be much appreciated. 🙂

Signed, Emma


Hi Emma,

There can be many reasons why someone may be unreliable or a no-show. Just a few examples:

  • The person may have chronic medical problems (e.g. pain or fatigue) that prevent her from making and keeping plans.
  • The person may get so nervous or anxious before being with other people that she bows out of the situation.
  • Some people take others for granted and aren’t good at keeping their word or may simply be poor communicators.
  • Some people have secrets or something else going on in their lives that they are embarrassed about and unwilling to share with friends, even very good ones.

I can’t even begin to guess why your friend keeps disappointing you without an adequate explanation or apologies. It may be one or more of these reasons or something entirely different.

You did the right thing by asking you friend for an explanation. Unfortunately, that’s all you can do. Now you have to decide if her behavior is so upsetting that you don’t want to place yourself in the same position again or if you are willing to accept her on her own terms.

My best, Irene

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Comments (18)

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  1. lottie says:

    Hi Lauren,
    I agree with much of what as been already said. Jarod is right when he says they do not respect your time. It is rude which means not being awhere of others feelings.Please spent your time with others who care. Some people are so wrapped up in their own importance. You will not be the first she has done this to.
    It happened to me only last week when a supposed friend wanted to meet up with me on her way home from Australia.I am off to UAE and at her suggestion she asked me if she could meet me there.Of course I was pleased and she said that she would leave it up to me to make some arrangements.I actually altered my flight dates to fit in with her which cost money.Two days later after hearing nothing more I rang her only to be told she couldnt make it after all.WHEN was she going to let me know. Her answer was she was too tired to call me!!!!
    What sort of friend is that. NO friend just a lazy time waster.Last year she didnt arrive for a meal with the excuse the traffic was bad so she went home.
    Of course I am annoyed but totally insulted that she thinks I believe her.Lauren spend your quality time with friends who have thought for you.Take care.Lottie

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Lottie,
      Your advise is so wise. I am sorry that this so called “friend” did that to you. It was really inexcusable. You deserve so much better.
      Thanks for your support and good advice. All the best to you, Lauren

  2. Dinah says:

    I agree with the earlier comments below. But since you mentioned that your friend stays home a lot and doesn’t have a good home life, I think it’s possible that she may be suffering from depression or going through something that you don’t know about. Like someone else said, she hasn’t tried to be direct and honest with you about whatever is going on. This isn’t good grounds for keeping a close friendship when you consider how she isn’t showing up when you guys make plans. It’s hard, but like everyone else said, it’s best *for you* that you move on. In this case it’s a matter of respect. She is wasting your time by not showing up and is being rude by not directly addressing whatever her issue is and being truthful or trying to be punctual and show up.

  3. Denise says:


    I agree with many of the comments here. With the patience, flexibility and many times of giving her the benefit of the doubt, I think it’s time you become comfortable with not initiating contact. You may want to limit it to contact where you don’t need a response to anything, but not make plans where you will be left waiting.

    She’s done everything but be honest about her behavior after you’ve asked in different ways. She has shown you she won’t tell you and verbally avoids answering your questions. She is saying every which way except directly, “I don’t want to tell you.” “I can’t tell you.”

    For me, the whys and trying to figure it out would finally take a toll and I would turn my energy elsewhere. You will meet someone who wants to spend time with you and have an mutually giving friendship.

  4. Sheryl says:

    This would be enough to drive me crazy. A true friend needs to be considerate of their friends’ feelings and respect their time and space, too. Of course, as Irene points out, there could be very valid reasons for her behavior, but I do think it’s imperative to talk things out if the friendship is to be preserved.

    • Emma says:

      Yeah I think it’s just time to move on and let her get on with it. If she does make contact with me I’ll be more than happy to talk to her but for no I won’t try as hard any more. Thank you for all the support and advice 🙂 helped a lot,

  5. Carol says:

    Emma, You deserve a friend who is capable of being there and who is healthy enough to enjoy life with. All of us who have been “helpers” to our friends, but if it is all they are looking for, most likely won’t get our own needs for healthy relating met. People are drawn to me because I am open and a good listener. However, now I am the one who decides on a new friendship based on my needs and a lifetime of experiences of ignoring those needs. Remember one of the first lessons we all learn when venturing out? Look both ways before crossing the street. Same is true for friendships;it needs to be about both people’s needs.

    Carol O.

    • Emma says:

      I’ll keep that in mind and won’t let myself get too hurt again. I just can’t give up on her yet. I’ll try one more time and if it doesn’t help then I guess I’ll have to let her know that I can’t carry on being her friend if I don’t get nothing back.

  6. Amy says:

    When reading your letter, my first thought was that perhaps your friend is going through some type of depression, that makes doing anything, even getting together with someone she likes, difficult. This isn’t an excuse for being inconsiderate, but a possible explanation.

    If it were me, I’d call ask ask if everything is ok, or if she has anything she wants to talk about.

    My question to you is: Why are you continuing to make an effort when you’re unsatisfied with the results of that effort?

    For whatever reason, your friend is not able or willing to initiate contact and/or keep commitments with you. If she won’t or can’t tell you why, there’s not much of a basis for a relationship at this point in time. I would at least ask if everything is ok, before making any decisions about not contacting her in the future, simply out of respect for the five good years of friendship before the no-shows began happening. That way, if you walk away, you can do so with a clear conscience,

    • Emma says:

      Thanks for replying. I have thought at times maybe she is depressed or something is going on that she isn’t telling people about and I have asked her in the past if she wants to talk about anything but she says she’s fine and when I do see her she is normally quite happy . I know that she isn’t doing anything with her life at the moment and she normally just stays in her house. That’s why I always try and get her to come out so she can get some fresh air and cheer her up a bit. I do think that she suffers from social anxiety even if it is only a little bit and she doesn’t have any confidence in herself. And the reason I continue to make effort with her is because I know she had lost a lot of friends in the past and she doesn’t have many other friends she only has 1 other friend that she sees apart from me and I don’t want her to feel as if she has no one.

      • Carol says:

        If you truly have the energy, time and love for this friend, then it surely is a decision on your part to be someone in her life she may benefit from knowing. However, if who she needs is a counselor or therapist (sounds like it), then if it were me I would encourage her to get such help. You know and I know the only person we can “save” is ourselves. It took me a very long time to understand what that mean when true friends of mine, would encourage me to understand this. It’s very painful to watch someone suffer. But with the help of a therapist or counselor, your friend may be able to get to the bottom of her suffering. From what you just described it doesn’t seem like she can really be there for you and that would be my concern for you. Of course, in time you will decide what you want to do in this situation, be her “caregiver” which is way different than being a friend who has needs and wants of your own. I hope all of those online who are so helpful will add to your decision making. Just take care of you too. Carol O.

        • Emma says:

          Thank you for all the advice, I think I will talk to her one more time and see if I can get through to her. I just know her home life is difficult because her mum doesn’t give her much support and doesn’t make her go out and do something with her life. I know her and her mum are very close but sometimes I think it crosses the barrier of the mother and daughter relationship, I know I shouldn’t really comment on her relationship with her mum but I don’t think it helps Chloe much. I’ll talking to her again but I’m very doubtful about it helping, I’ll see what happens and go from there.
          Thankful for your time and advice 🙂
          Emma x

  7. Jarod says:

    Lauren hit it right on the nose. She wrote: “It is really sad, but some people, when they are trying to “dump” a friend, use this “no show” approach. I even read about it in a book about friendship. I found this quite depressing, but it seems to be factual.”

    I’ve experienced this myself, and it’s a hard lesson to learn. Whenever someone has ended a friendship with me, it was rarely through direct conversation but more through their actions: not returning phone calls, e-mails, or the worst–the no-show at events.

    When someone is a chronic no-show (chronic is the key word), they clearly don’t respect you or your time. I believe it’s a huge sign saying that they don’t care about your friendship and want you to stop inviting them out. They simply want to avoid an awkward conversation by saying that they don’t want to be your friend anymore.

    • Lauren says:

      Well said, Jarod.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Jarod,
      She may not want to be my friend anymore but she has been like this since we became friends back in school. When we were at school she hardly ever came to school and I did all I could to help her and to see her. She has never made much effort ever since I’ve known but back then she normally did show up.
      For example, if I had a party or if our other friend had a party she would always come or if we were going out somewhere she would always come. It just recently that her not making effort an effort has begun to annoy me and I’ve reached a point where I’m not putting up with it no more.

      The thing is when we she does meet up with me and my other friends she always mentions doing things and saying we should go to places or meet up more but she never asks me or her other friend if she wants to meet up or go out , shape just expects us to do plan and do everything.


  8. Carol says:

    Hi Emma,

    Have you ever heard this quote: “I know I’m not seeing things as they are, I’m seeing things as I am.” Laurel Lee. As I read your story, it may be you are dealing with a friend who can’t or won’t be honest with why she is behaving as she is. I assume you have told her how you feel about being stood up. As the I understand the quote, you may just be ready for a friend who wants to be close and wants to respect you by showing up. If that is where your need is, then you may just have to move on. Telling someone that the friendship as it has become doesn’t work for you any longer. Of course this would mean you are making a choice to leave it. All of us are entitled to spend our time with those who enjoy and most importantly for me, one I can trust to grow. Of course, as it is I have no idea why this long-time friend is behaving as she is, but if a person won’t tell me why they are behaving in a particular way, what more can I do but keep putting up with a situation I don’t want in my life and thus keeping myself unhappy, or move on to find the kind of friend I want.

    Best to you, Carol O.

  9. Lauren says:

    Hi Emma,

    I am sorry that you are going through this very upsetting and confusing situation. I agree with Irene that there could be numerous reasons for her being a no show so often.

    Could it be that she is trying to drift away from you, and this is her rather clumsy way of doing it. You gave her ample chances to come clean and give a valid reason (such as she is suffering from social anxiety, she has nervous problems, depression, going thorough a bad time, etc). However, she did not give you a believable reason at any time.

    It is really sad, but some people, when they are trying to “dump” a friend, use this “no show” approach. I even read about it in a book about friendship. I found this quite depressing, but it seems to be factual.

    I had a former friend do this to me repeatedly, and then another friend told me quietly that she was “friend dumping” me. I was mad at myself for not picking up on it at the time, but I always tend to look for the good in others and to over look faults and failings.

    When I read your post, I wondered if she is doing that to you. If so, try not to let it bother you (easier said than done…I know). Perhaps just include her in group outings and group get-togethers; and this way, if she is a no-show, then it won’t really matter so much or hurt so much.

    All the best to you, Emma,

    • Emma says:

      Hi Lauren,
      Yeah, now that it has been brought up I may think that my friend (I’ll call her Chloe) has maybe got something’s going on and she’s too afraid to be honest with me and open up and get help. Also, I can see what you mean about maybe she’s ‘friend dumping me’ but ever since we have been friends she’s never made much of an effort and normally waits until I ask her to do something or her other friend asks her to do something, yet we have managed to remain friends for this long. It has never really been a major problem till now, I think I’ve just reached a point where I’m not putting up with it no more because i’ve dealt with it for such a long time.
      I have asked her in the past if spheres anything she wants to talk about and she normally says she’s fine or if I try and have a serious conversation with her she’ll turn it into a joke and say something silly.
      I might ask her out one more time and see if she comes and try and talk to her again.

      Thanks for the advice 🙂

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