He doesn’t return my calls or messages

I have a male friend who travels a lot for his work. The pattern of our relationship is that I will be the one to get in touch (SMS), he says he’ll call, then doesn’t. I’ll remind him to call, then he’ll say he’s coming over in 15 minutes. I’ll text to ask him where he is and get no reply. Finally, after a 3rd text (or so), he’ll text back to say he’s busy with a client or phone call (he’s a freelance IT consultant) and makes absolutely no reference to the fact that he said he’d come over (3 hours ago). When confronted and told that his behavior is unacceptable, rude, and disrespectful, he’ll say, "apologies" in a very off-hand, insincere way. I then won’t attempt to communicate with him for a while, until I inevitably get the urge to find out how he’s doing---and then the pattern of standing me up and the unreliability begins all over again. He’s 45 (not a youngster), divorced, Muslim. What’s up with this man?


People from different cultures have different understandings about the use of time. In some cultures, saying I’ll get back to you in a couple of hours means just that. In other cultures, it can mean a lot of different things. It might mean I’ll get back to you when it happens or when you contact me again.

Additionally, there are individual differences in how people use time. When someone says, “I’ll call you back in five minutes”, depending on the person involved it can mean a variety of things, such as I’ll call you right back or in “five” minutes (actually, I’ll call you in two or three hours). Given how different words mean different things to different people, it helps not to take such behavior too personally.

Confronting someone about their behavior is not an effective means of solving problems. Rather than tell him what he did wrong, which most people do not want to hear, it helps if you can frame the issue from your point of view. Focus on how it made you feel—neglected, not important, hurt; rather than evaluating his behavior (as being rude and disrespectful, see, talk about problems). If you can get him to empathize with your point of view, he will be much more likely to change his behavior—assuming that he is an empathic individual. If he lacks empathy, then you need to decide if you want to invest your time in someone who is not likely to take your feelings into account.

 shows no interest

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