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AIBU or is my friend overly scheduled/controlling?

(30 Posts)
DIYapprentice Wed 24-Apr-13 12:31:12

Not sure if IABU or not, actually.

I have a friend who always wants to book things well in advance. She wants us to come over for dinner and is giving us dates in June. She is in her 50s, no children. We have 2 DSs, 3 and 6 years old. She wants the DSs to join us, so no babysitter issues. But the meal HAS to be an extended affair, if it’s a Saturday dinner we have to come earlier so she can spend some times with the DSs and she sets up a bed for them, but they take forever to get to sleep there and can be quite ratty the next day. Sunday lunches drag out and the DSs end up out of sorts on Monday morning. (Can’t be Saturday lunch time because her DH ALWAYS plays golf, it only gets cancelled for cricket at Lords and even then he tries to move golf earlier in the day to do both.)

But she can NEVER be spontaneous. Unless she has put it in her schedule, it doesn’t happen. She won’t meet up for a coffee if we happen to go to her town on a nice Saturday afternoon. (Various other commitments have been – needing to update Linkedin Profile, moving spring wardrobe in and packing winter wardrobe up, needs to do some grocery shopping (this one is most common, even though she gets her groceries delivered), was looking at tiles for the bathroom, etc, etc. She was made redundant over a year ago, so it’s not like she doesn’t have the time if she WANTS to. But she just doesn’t WANT to. But quite honestly I really don’t like booking a lunch/dinner up so far ahead, but she just doesn’t seem able to operate on a timetable of less than a week or two in advance and actually prefers a month or so in advance.

She always offers to help me if I’m stuck, but the only time she managed it was when I got really ill on a day she and I had scheduled to get together with my DSs so I was ‘in her schedule’ so to speak, so she took the DSs out for the day without me. Every other time she has had other commitments so says no to helping but gets upset if I don’t ASK her to help when I’m stuck. (DH and I have no family in this country so I have no help other than what we pay for).

I have NEVER known her to alter a commitment, even if she is the only one involved! There is simply no give and take from her on this. But with 2 DSs, a DH who is working long hours and travels a lot, trying to get back to work myself and struggling with the juggling act at the moment, I'm feeling a bit aggrieved that it always has to be her way and she can never be flexible.

I have accepted it in the past, shrugged my shoulders and just said ‘Ah well, it’s X’. But her controlling behaviour recently at a time when I was in a really bad place physically and emotionally really upset me. I know I’m still carrying a grudge about that and I’m not sure whether it’s colouring my perception of this.

So, hit me with it. AIBU, or is she? Or is it a bit of both?????

CocacolaMum Wed 24-Apr-13 12:35:30


She should be more flexible but in going along with her you have facilitated her behaviour.
Be straight with her and refuse to plan so far ahead.

WilsonFrickett Wed 24-Apr-13 12:38:01

I would say she's overly scheduled, yes. But not controlling. That suggests a desire to control you rather than what seems to me to be a desire to control her life.

I am ridiculously over-scheduled and take a regular ribbing from my friends for it. I try to be a bit more spontaneous, but it doesn't always work for me. However, I then accept that if other people don't want to book things up in advance, I won't see them, so I have to change my ways and make an effort. although making an effort to be spontaneous seems to be missing the point somewhat

You say there was an incident recently - I think you're upset that she didn't do what you wanted to her to do. That is totally fair enough, but being upset because someone acts in character is a bit pointless, really. She isn't going to change and you can't change her - all you can do is change your response to her.

whois Wed 24-Apr-13 12:39:08

Some people like having their plans all set out. Friend does, no biggie. My friends and I have stuff 'in the diary' up to Sept...

Andro Wed 24-Apr-13 12:39:15

I don't think either of you are being unreasonable; you are perfectly reasonable in being upset, but she is completely reasonable in keeping other commitments. Some people need order, routine and predictability - they can't function without it.

ilovexmastime Wed 24-Apr-13 12:40:41

I think you need to either suck it up or end your friendship. What else can you do?

I can't say that she's being unreasonable, as it's her life and if that's the way she operates then that's the way she operates, it's no crime to not be spontaneous. However, you are not unreasonable for finding it annoying either. if that's the way you feel then that's the way you feel.

Sorry, not much help...

redskyatnight Wed 24-Apr-13 12:44:15

I don't see the problem tbh. She wants you to come to dinner so she offers dates in advance. June is not that far away. I have friends who I have to "book up " about 6 months in advance or we never meet. IF you don't like her plans for the way you want dinner to go, then tell her.

As regards the being spontaneous, some people are set in their ways - she may even be of the type that gets very anxious if things change. And I know some of these excuses seem minor to you but if I've set asisde time to do a mundane task, sometimes it's just not convenient to drop it and do it another time.

Movingtimes Wed 24-Apr-13 12:45:50

Her behaviour is not controlling. The only thing she is controlling is her own life and she is perfectly entitled to do that. OK, most people wouldn't be quite so inflexible in how they run their lives, but it suits her so if you want to be her friend you have to learn to live with it.
You seem to be presenting the friendship here in terms of what you need from her. What does she need from you? Does she get it? You seem dissatisfied that you are not getting your needs met in the friendship, but it is hard to see why you feel entitled to have such one-way traffic unless there is a lot more input from you that you are not mentioning here.

StanleyLambchop Wed 24-Apr-13 12:46:08

Every other time she has had other commitments so says no to helping but gets upset if I don’t ASK her to help when I’m stuck

Have you actually mentioned this to her? Next time she gets upset that you did not ask for help just say (in a jokey way) Well you can never do anything if it is not scheduled in advance (or something similar) Perhaps she is really not aware of how she is!

purrpurr Wed 24-Apr-13 12:53:08

I wonder if this is a 'spoons' issue. I just can't socialise on the fly, unless I've woken up in a really good mood. I need to fire up the socialising area of my brain, let it look for updates, install them, defrag itself etc, so by the time I meet friends or family, I'm ready to play the game. I have buckets of free time but rarely want to spend it with other people, I just don't have the energy, the spoons, to slide a great big smile onto my face and be Sociable at the drop of a hat. I was better when I worked, I just never switched off, but on a weekend then I was totally drained.

I agree that I don't think she's trying to control you, she wants to control her own time. And it's up to her if she wants to spend that time doing online grocery shopping or whatever. I don't think you are being unreasonable though, I think it must be terribly frustrating at times for you, but I wonder whether you may need to accept this is how it works with this friend?

DIYapprentice Wed 24-Apr-13 12:56:50

Wilson - Actually, the incident goes much further than that. She did her level best to make me feel crap for not doing exactly what SHE wanted me to do, on a group holiday, which WE paid for (holiday house we bid for at a charity auction and paid for their flights out of DH's frequent flyer points - they only paid the flight tax). But I had injured myself badly a week prior so was physically in a lot of pain, drugged up to the eyeballs on pain killers, had a DS who broke out in chicken pox while we were away.

Stanley - I have - she wasn't best pleased!!! grin

Up until middle of last year I would have said she was just overly scheduled. But I guess it's since then that I've felt the 'controlling' element. She's also tried to control her mother recently (discussing it with me over the phone, trying to 'help' all on her terms and getting furious with her mother for not getting all organised like she is - I tried to pull her up on it gently)

I haven't always let her get away with it, but have tolerated it for the sake of the friendship. When she complains about not seeing us often enough both DH and I point out that we have often asked her to join us for things but she is never available so she really has only herself to blame. We only get silence in response.

I don't know, maybe she's become controlling since she was made redundant? A few of our joint friends have been pulling away from her as they can't deal with her right now.

What do I put into the friendship? I call her a lot to 'chat'. DH was her friend first, and she sees him more than she sees me though. I've supported her in her job hunting efforts, listened to her, let her get all her 'grief and anger' at different things (like her family) out of her system. Hard to say what else I could put in, can't put much more in if you don't get the opportunity to actually SEE the person, can you?

MonstrousPippin Wed 24-Apr-13 12:57:55

I really don't understand the problem.

What is wrong with penciling in a date in June? Are you waiting for something better to come up? What difference does it make whether you planned the date a month in advance or a day in advance?

I'm a busy person so my diary is quite full. I don't consider myself controlling but I have to do my best to fit things in and one way is to pick a date a few weeks in advance so that I can tell other people I'm not free that day because I'm meeting my friend for dinner. I don't see why it makes such a big difference.

PrincessOfChina Wed 24-Apr-13 13:01:32

I'd don't think it's all that unusual to book weekends in advance. We have a few weekends free between now and September but to be honest it's probably only 4 or 5 and at least a couple of them have things pencilled in.

The random excuses are a bit weird though. Wraps she just doesn't like socialising on the fly.

DIYapprentice Wed 24-Apr-13 13:01:32

Monstrous - I have no problems pencilling in a date in June. The problem is that we can ONLY see them if we pencil in dates well in advance. She said no to a dinner on Friday, which we asked her about on the previous Tuesday (Actually, she didn't say no, she just didn't say yes and waffled about diaries, and difficulties and it was so hard to know....). She and her DH did NOTHING over the whole weekend and she was moaning to DH on the Monday about her boring weekend and got all offended when he pulled her up on it.

MonstrousPippin Wed 24-Apr-13 13:04:50

I agree it seems stupid if she's refusing to make last minute arrangements on principle simply because it wasn't arranged earlier, even when she's free. It's fine if she wanted a free day but to actively complain about having nothing to do afterwards is ridiculous.

YANBU in that case.

DIYapprentice Wed 24-Apr-13 13:07:32

Is it a British thing??? Did I offend her suggesting she wasn't popular enough if she wasn't booked up for the weekend??? wink

In Australia we do a lot of last minute socialising ('Hey, anyone fancy a bbq on the beach tomorrow?' in a round robin email) - I know it's not quite the done thing here!

higgle Wed 24-Apr-13 13:15:43

I'm the same age group as your friend. I would need to look at dates for June for sicialising as over the next few weeks I have DS1 at home one weekend, a charity meeting, have to go and see my mother one weekend, a trip to a gallery another. All very ordinary stuff but it does make it hard for me to just say "yes" to spontaneous things. I don't think your friend is being unreasonable, though her need to be super organised in her life probably increased with redundancy. I use full time work as an excuse for not having a perfect house, I'd be less tollerant with myself if I wasn't working.

OutragedFromLeeds Wed 24-Apr-13 13:17:06

I don't think anyone is BU.

She likes to be organised. You like to be spontaneous. Fair enough.

Can't you see her in an organised fashion and save all the spontaneous fun for other like-minded friends?

She is BU to complain that you don't see her though if she is the one choosing not to meet-up.

OutragedFromLeeds Wed 24-Apr-13 13:18:26

I also don't think June is that far in advance.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Wed 24-Apr-13 13:19:37

I think you're approaching this from very different angles. You are a busy mum, employee, wife and have multiple demands on your time. Pretty common for a family with young children, I'd say. Life is busy and it can be tricky keeping up at the best of times, without injuries and chicken pox and any other unforeseen circumstances cropping up. You'd like to meet up as and when you can and not plan too far into the future as who knows what's happening tomorrow, let alone in 3 months' time?

Your friend, on the other hand, appears to have just herself (and sometimes her golfing DH) to attend to. I wonder if she's like an elderly acquaintance of mine who basically fills her diary with 'stuff' so she has something to do - to justify her time, as it were. Hence, jobs that most people fit in around many other things, work, school, hobbies, become events in themselves for lack of other activities to do. To her, grocery shopping will be an event and she won't recognise that it could be done any other time! It's a shame really as she's the one missing out - but I imagine this kind of behaviour has been her norm for so long that she finds comfort in her organisation and routine and can't seem to break it. I doubt, in her heart of hearts, she's trying to be awkward. She just doesn't see things in the same way as you do.

It would drive me batty, it has to be said, especially the complaining about nothing to do when she has had options, but she's the one locking herself away. Ultimately it's her choice.

woozlebear Wed 24-Apr-13 13:20:34

I know loads of people who I have to 'book' at least 3 months in advance to be able to see. Lots of people are very busy.

I don't let myself get so booked up as I'm very introverted and work full time, so my weekend alone-time is very important. Theoretically I'm 'less busy' than many people I know, but what with various commitments, plus errands and my need for down time, I also want to plan weeks in advance. If I'd already socialised on a Saturday and someone else wanted to make last minute plans on Sunday, I'd make excuses because it would really mess with how I need to plan my time. Maybe she suffers from social anxiety and doesn't like last minute plans because they stress her too much. Lots of possible reasons.

It's just taste, isn't it, anyway, rather than an AIBU? You say you actively don't like planning so far ahead...that seems just as subjective and personal and illogical as her liking for advance planning. It's just a taste issue, surely. You'll have to try and find a middle ground.

TheFallenNinja Wed 24-Apr-13 13:22:16

I'm an event planner and I LURV people who book well in advance smile

diddl Wed 24-Apr-13 13:28:53

I don't think that it's a British thing, no.

At the end of the day-do you want to see her & do you enjoy her company?

polishthisturd Wed 24-Apr-13 13:35:47

I have a friend who cannot deal with anyone popping in to see her. She will only let you in if you have told her you are coming an advance. She's italian so no, its not a british thing. I just know that if I pop over, I will not get shown in and so I dont do that and no one is offended.

It's just the way she is, same as you are the way you are.

VonHerrBurton Wed 24-Apr-13 13:36:16

I'm a bit of a plan-ahead er. I have a friend who is always, always last minute Larry with all aspects of her and her dcs' lives. She will ring five minutes before a big night out and say 'im not anywhere near ready' or the kids will wander up to me at hometime and say 'mum said you were bringing us home' . It drives me fucking crazy.

Then i have another friend who when we decide to get together for a night out, she has to see where she can be available...sometimes weeks in advance. That makes me feel a bit, well, second best.

So i guess you either take your friend with their little ways, or get rid if its not worth it. She would probably say you drop things on her and seem to have a problem with planning anything.

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