Copyright 2006 Vivian Banta
Picture this. Youve been sitting in a restaurant for 10 minutes. You peer at your watchyup, your lunch companion is late. By five minutes because you were 5 minutes early. You glance at the two menus that the waitperson placed efficiently on the table and sip at your ice water. You dont worry too much because he/she is usually late. 15 minutes. You read the menu again and try to radiate confidence when the waitperson checks on you. You said youd wait until your other party arrived to order but now youre starting to get really hungry. 20 minutes. Youve reviewed the menu so many times that you almost feel you could recite it from memory. You almost want to order an appetizer but considering the portion sizes, you know that youd never finish your entrée. 25 minutes. Now, you are worrying. Maybe they got into an accident or had a flat tire. Did you get the day/time wrong? You check your cell phone but no one has called. You check your other voice mails just in case but to no avail. 30 minutes. Youre starting to simmer. Where are they? At 25 minutes late, theyd better have a really good excuse. And they better not cancel again. Not after last time. They promised that this time would be different. Suddenly, your cell phone is ringing and it is your friend, apologizing profusely, making excuses and full of future promises. Bottom linethey arent coming. They have bailed on you once again.
Has this ever happened to you? Perhaps it took a different form. A promise to help out with something, such as moving, running a bake sale or cleaning out a garage followed by a last-minute withdrawal? Or maybe it was an invitation to play tennis, go to the movies or go shopping which never actually transpired? Most of us have encountered this and many times, the reasons why things dont end up happening turn out to be fairly innocuous, everyday things. But if any of these has happened to you repeatedly with the same person at the heart of the matter, then you may be in the hands of that master or mistress of manipulation: the bailer.
Bailers vary across the board with lots of different reasons driving their behavior but the important part for you to focus on in dealing with one is this: they dont respect you or your time. If that statement puts you on the defensive, Im not surprised. Many of us make excuses for bailers because they employ such beguiling tools and tactics. We are drawn in by their charm, their sense of self-deprecation, their business and so on. They are playing on our low self-esteem and our low self-worth. After all, what does it say about how little you think of yourself, if their excuse always seem better than you? Why are you not worth the time and effort?
Once you realize and accept that you are important and worthy and fabulous and all of those things, its so much easier to see the bailer for what he/she isan energy drainer who is taking up your time, effort and emotions. It also becomes much easier to set boundaries regarding your terms for acceptable behavior. For example, it might look like this: The next time we are scheduled to have lunch, I wont wait more than 10 minutes for you. Period. If you dont show or make excuses, I wont be inviting you again. If you invite me and I accept and you still dont show, I wont be going out anywhere with you ever again.
If after all that, you still hold onto a bailer, then understand that you are choosing to tolerate their behavior. No complaints about being stood up since you put yourself in that position. No temper tantrums when they pull out of a commitment at the last minute. Its their nature and you accepted them. Personally, Id rather spend my time with people who value and respect me and my time and who stand by their commitments. For me, life is too full and I no longer have any patience with bailers.