Your flexible friend… No, I am not talking about your credit card here. I’m talking about the friend that appears to be happy to change their plans, travel to see their friends and just generally work around other’s arrangements.

Avoid resentment.

Now, the reason I say “appears to be” is that sometimes being that flexible person can not only be very tiring but can also build resentment.

Recently, I was having a discussion with a client who is that flexible friend.

As a person with no children, the common assumption is that she is more flexible -particularly when it comes to travel. She was explaining to me that more often than not, she’d be invited to various engagements, which although lovely came with an expectation that she would do the travelling.

Throughout our session, she shared other situations where personal circumstances made her feel like others expected her to constantly adjust her plans. This built-up resentment as she felt she was always accommodating their needs.

How to navigate a new pattern.

Obviously, it is not just people who are without children or partners that are deemed to be flexible. Sometimes we set ourselves up to be that person by always being the one in the past who has made the effort. Once we’re on a particular path though, changing course can be tricky. How can we navigate this effectively, considering both our own needs and the understanding of others? Here’s how:

  • Don’t feel mean! Just because you’ve always been the flexible friend, doesn’t mean you have to continue being that person. Life changes and so do we. If you need to do things differently, do it.
  • Manage expectations. Right from the off, the minute you get asked to attend something, give yourself some space to look at whether you really want to do it. Don’t say yes instantly, as in theory you’re also saying yes to your previous ability to be flexible.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no – without justification. Saying no can feel very alien if you’ve always said yes. Once you start justifying why, you can tie yourself up in knots. “No, I’m sorry but I’m not around that weekend but would love to catch up another time” is enough.
  • Offer up opportunities for others to make the effort. Make suggestions of times when you could get together but on your terms. If the other party is unable to commit or makes noises about how tricky it is, let it go. You’ve offered up a chance to meet, they can’t make it, they’ll be another time.

Friendship is a two-way thing.

It’s not always down to you to be that flexible friend, to be the one to make the effort. Friendship is a two-way thing and yes, sometimes it is very difficult for people to meet up due to their circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that you have to make it right or