Over the past few days since I wrote about whether you’re ready to date again, there’s been a flurry of discussion in the comments about people who rely on making last minute plans under the guise of being ‘spontaneous’ and who when you try to make plans, or call them on their lack of commitment, get all shirty with you.
This is what spontaneous looks like: You’re dating or in a relationship for a while, you see each other regularly, make plans in advance and then one day they phone up and say “I just found out that X is doing a gig tonight – do you fancy it?” or “Surprise! We’re off to Paris/having a weekend away/eating out tonight” or giving a gift just because.
This is not what spontaneous looks like: You’re dating or in a relationship for a while and you only find out what you’re doing on a Friday evening or on the day that it’s happening. Plans are rarely if ever made in advance and when you try to, they’re difficult to pin down, so in the end, the decision for them to agree to your suggestion is so last minute that they’ve pulled their usual stroke on you again – passive aggression.
Spontaneous also doesn’t look like: You haven’t heard from them for several days, a week, a few weeks, or even months and then a text comes through “Hey…hope you’re well. Fancy going out tonight?” And then after you spend time together, you don’t hear from them again for another several days/weeks/months until the next textvite comes through. That’s mind f*ckery. You can be damn sure that it also doesn’t sound like a call after dark asking whether they can ‘come over’ – that’s a booty call.
Spontaneous: “performed or occurring as a result of a sudden impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.” (Oxford Dictionary)
I’m all for seizing the moment but if the only time I hear from you is when you’ve seized the itch in your pants, or your ego needs some pumping, or when you’ve finally decided to get around to thinking of me and considering me in your plans at the last moment, I’d rather take a raincheck.Sometimes it’s nice to fly by the seat of your pants, but the type of person who relies on keeping you on ‘standby’ as an option to avail of and actually expects that should they choose to only spring their plans on you five minutes before, that you’ll drop everything, is someone who is like the seat of someone’s pants…after a bad day – shady.
It’s like you’re on standby for a flight or a backup generator!
Do you want to be someone’s ‘sudden impulse’ or do you want to be considered?
Would you be happy with someone not thinking ahead, planning, and committing to something as basic as short-term plans?
Just like the whole ‘busy’ issue, it’s a question of valuing other people’s time.You can be damn sure that the person who doesn’t make plans with you assumes that you’re on their ‘waiting list’ without something better to do. Often, it’s not a question of what you’ll be doing together; it’s a question of whether you’ll be seeing each other at all.
Much like people who keep emphasising how ‘honest’ or ‘nice’ they are, suffer with Those Who Doth Protest Too Much, when someone goes to the trouble of telling you that they’re spontaneous, you’re dealing with a Future Avoider that has basic commitment issues. If you can’t get them to commit to making short-term plans, may the force be with you for anything bigger.
These people expect you to go with their flow – this will gnaw at your insides, having you anxious about whether you’ll be ‘picked’ each week. Feck that!
One of my ex’s wasn’t keen on ‘making plans’, often using the phrase “flying by the seat of my pants.” Most weekends I’d be ‘summoned’ after he’d decided what he wanted to do, or be subjected to having to listen to him whining about finding something to do that ticked his ‘spontaneous’ boxes. Invariably, 99.9% of the time, it was boring. So I did the smart thing – I went ahead and made my own plans. If I was around and I wanted to go, I’d meet him, but if not, hey ho – you snooze, you lose.
Sadly I didn’t heed that lesson as he wasn’t my last Mr Unavailable and after being summoned here, there, and everywhere by text, phone, and email, I recognised how devaluing this was – it’s like floating around on the coat tails of other people’s lives – you have a life of your own!
This shouldn’t be so hard for us to recognise as worthwhile, valuable individuals: We are people worth thinking ahead about and making plans with.
You will know you’re dealing with someone who really isn’t all that spontaneous and who in fact has commitment issues, when the things that they’re being spontaneous about aren’t really all that exciting.
It’s also important to consider the bigger picture: If someone rarely plans ahead, them leaving things till the last minute isn’t spontaneous – it’s routine. This is a bit like the person who is so inconsistent that they become consistent at being inconsistent.
Everything is contextual. If you have a healthy, mutual partnering and they surprise you periodically or you both decide to do things on the spur of the moment, that’s spontaneity. Them doing things on their terms and you being shoehorned into one way or the other is passive aggression.
Your whole relationship can’t be one big ‘ole impulse. Part of being available and committed is being able to commit to doing basic things that if you’re not too busy trying to micromanage your intimacy and responsibility levels, you’d take for granted as being part of your relationship and enjoy it.
You are not a ‘standby ticket’. You’re not.
You are better than sitting around waiting to be called up for duty. You’re also better than being a standby option after they’ve made sure they haven’t got better plans.
You’re someone to be made plans with. You’re also someone that can be surprised and seize the moment but within the context of already having the freedom of a relationship where you can talk about making plans without being shut down.
And that’s the test: Spontaneity cuts both ways. You can be damn sure that you’re with someone who has commitment issues when it’s all on their terms and you can’t be spontaneous and get together on impulse.
Don’t be a passenger. If you’re not comfortable with being dialadate, then don’t. Instead of giving a big explanation or even a small one, just say that you’ve made other plans, which you should do anyway as leaving yourself as an option makes you a passenger giving people the option of choosing you, while you’ve already chosen them. They’ll either meet you in the middle and make plans, or beat it. Or…they’ll pretend to meet you in the middle and gradually eek it back to last minute, at which point you bounce them and walk.
Start as you mean to go on because really, you don’t have time to be teaching a grown-up to value and prioritise you. Remember – when you don’t allow yourself to be on standby, they can’t treat you like an option.
Your thoughts? If you have been reluctant to step up and make plans and have relied on them doing all of the ‘chasing’, read my post on why you shouldn’t make it the guy’s job to do all of the calling and making plans.
Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.