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Two hours late without calling/texting the host?

Tuesday before Thanksgiving, a chronically late-for-family dinner (and somewhat estranged) cousin emails me out of the blue with the request that she come to my home for Thanksgiving dessert (she would be at her mother's near by for dinner). She says she wants her daughter to get to know me. I would be hosting dinner that day for 9 people, so I told her I'd love that and, because of my guests and our dinner timing, I'd be serving dessert no later than 5. Five, 5:30, 6….no cousin, no phone call. I held off dessert for a half hour, but we finally gave in. At 6:30 my guests left, leftovers were packed and put away, we were cleaning up and the PJs were on. Then, after 7, came the phone call they were on their way. I told her it wasn't going to work out, guests and food were gone, and I was exhausted. Her reply ( she is 43) was "Whatever" via text. The next day, I learn from family at her Thanksgiving dinner that she was napping on the sofa & playing with her daughter from 4-5:30, the time we were waiting to see and/or hear from her. Is it wrong for me to express my disappointment - after all, she invited herself - and ask her why she didn't call to tell me she'd be running late? As encouraged as I was to open my home (and heart), I'm now pretty bent…. Thoughts?

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  1. I wouldn't bother because it sounds like it will fall on deaf ears and be more frustrating/upsetting for you. My view would be she's a "write off."

    1. Why? You know she's chronically late and you chose to wait for her. It's silly to know something about a person and then get upset about it. If I knew you were a bad cook, I wouldn't go to your house for dinner and complain about it. I'd have a pocket full of snacks! You should've gone ahead with your plans and if she showed up too late for anything, politely told her the festivities were over and it's too bad she missed it.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Hobbert

        Ultimately we did move on with the rest of the night. I suppose I'm a sap because I was optimistic that she wanted to bond after all these years & it seemed like she had turned a page, wanting to be close again. After telling her I wished she called earlier she told me I need to stop feeling like the sun revolves around me. And that's where we are today. What a gal.

        1. re: yumyumjen

          "...she told me I need to stop feeling like the sun revolves around me. "
          How ironic, coming from someone who seems extremely self-centered.

          That statement just reinforces my comment to say "no" when she next invites herself to your house.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Yep. Took me off guard too. Part of my family is very involved with her and it will certainly make for some uncomfortable family interactions in the future. There should just be a rulebook on these things :)

            1. re: yumyumjen

              My only suggestion is that you remind yourself not to feel uncomfortable. You have no *good* reason to feel that way. The fact that she does not feel uncomfortable when she should does not mean it's a zero sum game and everyone else has to bear that feeling instead!

              1. re: Karl S

                Solid advice. I'll have to snap a rubber band on my wrist or something to make me remember what SHOULD cause pain :)

                1. re: yumyumjen

                  Yes. There is no Law of Conservation of Pain that requires you to bear pain that another person should but is unwilling to bear.

          2. re: yumyumjen

            Ha. She sounds like a gem. I think you can have a relationship but it has to be based on her not needing to be on time. Maybe go to her house? If it was just her, I'd ignore her. But it sounds like the daughter could use a good influence so that could be a reason to keep up with her. Just don't expect her to be punctual :)

            1. re: Hobbert

              :) Yes, that was why I was so optimistic, the little one.

              1. re: Hobbert

                LOL -- i was thinking it would be the kind of relationship like where you'd poke a nasty gobbling grasshopper with a long scraggly stick just to make it hop out of your garden.

              2. re: yumyumjen

                Projection is a classic tool of narcissists. Frankly, that comment from her is anti-social, and would exclude her from further invitations to polite society.

                1. re: yumyumjen

                  I just read this part, Yumy. This girl is infuriating. Yes, she's a girl inhabiting a woman's body. Even more reason to write her off.

                  1. re: yumyumjen

                    Goodness, who wants someone like that in their life? It sounds like she will continually disappoint you and continually be completely oblivious to the fact. If you do want her in your life, just don't get yourself frustrated when she pulls stunts like that. Is there a way you could just spend time with her daughter - offer to babysit, take her out on a jaunt?

                2. You stated she's chronically late. She doesn't *care* what you think or how you feel, quite honestly.

                  I'd not even bother. And next time she invites herself, just say no. If she asks why, you can tell her why then, should you choose to do so.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    we think alike, LW!

                    i'm at the stage in my life where i am straight-forward with addressing crap like this cousin's conduct.

                    as others have said, life's too short.

                    and, for the benefit of your own sanity: caveat emptor. don't expect the leopard to change its spots, and any other truism that reflects the age-old human experience. ;-).

                  2. I wouldn't bother either. She is clueless. If she reaches out again, be clear about timelines (as you were) and don't expect anything magical.

                    1. I don't see this as so close, although fraught family relations are the common denominator.

                      But this cousin's behaviour is not on. Not at all. She invited herself, behaved inconsiderately of others (yumyumjen and her guests), and then opted, instead of apologising, to send insult. Yumyumjen acted entirely within acceptable bounds: stating the boundaries clearly and directly is not rude.

                      All that said, I do hope that there is no grudge held against the cousin's daughter (and there doesn't appear to be) because this girl will be in need of responsible adults in her life.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Lizard

                        Never a grudge for the little one. Always attentive to her and will continue to be. :)

                      2. I'd be annoyed, but I wouldn't bother following up with her unless you want to foster a closer relationship with her (or get it off your chest by throwing down). If you're happy with the current relationship, which isn't particularly close, then I'd shrug it off. Next time she invites herself, say no, or give the timeline, expect that she won't show up, and stick to your routine. I vote for the first option, and that lovely way of declining - "I'm sorry, it just won't be possible."

                        I have several close friends who operate on a very...fluid timeline. Because they are friends, we talk and joke about what time they really mean that they'll show up - they try a little harder for me, I try to relax and go with the flow a little more for them. But that's because we care about each other, and they know that I'm not anal to control them, and that they aren't relaxed to the point of being horizontal just to piss me off.

                        But, those are friends. They would never respond with 'Whatever'. That takes it from beyone the "oh, I thought you'd be up all night, sorry to mess you about" to just plain rude.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: ultimatepotato

                          Good thoughts. And I thought long on this one, maybe I wasn't clear about the 5 pm time (it was in writing so I knew I was) and I gave her a mental "benefit of the doubt" for a good hour, thinking it wasn't so bad. But two hours later without an apology - combined with the let down and "Whatever" comment…I needed input from others. Believe me I expressed how excited I was to have them and have my family/dinner guests finally see the little girl. I guess that's why I don't get her turning it around on me, the evil hostess….

                          1. re: yumyumjen

                            Sounds like she just wanted to know if you still cared. Suck you in, alienate you and then let you take the blame for ongoing estrangement! She sounds pretty awful and manipulative, this is way beyond ''clueless". Clueless would be trying to come late and then saying 'oh sorry I didn't realize' when it didn't work out. I wouldn't worry about it anymore. She has, as they say, "issues".

                            1. re: julesrules

                              Yup, Narcisisstic Personality Disorder. I would've served dessert at 5, as promised.

                          2. re: ultimatepotato

                            I have one friend who I always invite 30 minutes early. She's always 1/2 hour to an hour late. It works, and if she actually arrives at the appointed time, she is a great helper and organizer so I put her to work. :-)

                          3. She sounds thoughtless. Good thing you went ahead with your dessert despite her no show. I suppose you could have called her at 5:30 to see where she was, but it probably wouldn't have helped since she was asleep! Shrug it off and if there is a next time, give her an arrival time of one hour before everyone else; maybe then she'll be on time.

                            1. I'd let it go with no further consideration.

                              5 Replies
                                1. re: yumyumjen

                                  I have a close relative who thinks--in her mind--that we are VERY close, as in there for each other. During diagnosis and treatment of cancer a couple of years ago, I never once had a call from her to come to see me, bring food, offer to take me to treatment--absolutely nothing after the initial call to say how sorry she was. She lived 25 miles away. She was still under the impression of how "close" we are when they recently moved out of the state and never came to see us before they left. I finally told her in an email (the only way she communicates these days) that I was not interested in continuing our superficial relationship--not in a mean way but simply stated as such. She was shocked and furious (right).

                                  I guess what I'm trying to say is you have every right to be ticked off and, IMHO, insulted. She obviously set you up. I don't believe in enabling bad behavior so I would ignore any further communication from her and if you are stuck together at a family event just make the best of it and try to stay away from her. People like that are not going to learn any lesson from you and will not listen to advice. She's on her own path so let her go.

                                  1. re: sandiasingh

                                    I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis and her lack of involvement….& I respect your sensible decision to send that email and the way you stated your feelings. That's the time you need people, especially the "close" ones, and the time you discover who the real close ones are. Be well.

                                    1. re: yumyumjen

                                      Thanks, yum. Doing really well here.

                                      Good luck with this one. There is some good advice in this thread.

                                  2. re: yumyumjen

                                    Not necessarily drop contact but I woulnd't make a lot of effort and I wouldn't bother inviting her over again or accepting her self-invite, either. Life's too short.

                                2. Simple solution for tardy guests: communicate an ending time for all events to which they are invited. It really does work, so long as you are ready to lower the boom at the announced ending time. If that means tardy guests are there for just 5 minutes, so be it....

                                      1. re: yumyumjen

                                        yes, and he should be known as "wise uncle bob"!

                                    1. Or she may have wanted something from you but didn't want others around when she asked for it. Sounds like just the type.

                                      1. "Tuesday before Thanksgiving, a chronically late-for-family"

                                        It seems to me you already knew what her tendencies/habits are. What are you going to do if you contact her, alert he she once again lived up to her expectations?

                                        Trying to shame someone into changing their established habit's is just a waste of time and energy. Sorry.

                                        1. I, too, have a cousin who is chronically late (I prefer to think of her as "timeless"). It doesn't matter what the function is or how formal, she'll be late. We have learned not to (a) wait for her; and (b) invite her to things that are very time-sensitive. She has missed being in family photos and starts of weddings. She sometimes doesn't hear announcements ("cousin so and so is expecting!"), and in at least one instance was assigned a task because she wasn't there to defend herself. We don't cut her out, but neither do we cater to her time issues.

                                          I used to think it was a control issue, and it bothered me when I took it personally. I still think it's a control issue, but now I think it's her inability to control her own time that's the problem.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ricepad

                                            bingo - you hit the nail on the head.

                                            1. re: ricepad

                                              I'm used to people w/ time problems. My mom and sister are chronically late and it's become a joke. If they turned angry and blamed the rest of us, that's when we'd' have more of a problem w/ the situation.

                                            2. Your 43 year old cousin sounds like an immature louse, and you have every reason to be upset and express your upset to her. Unfortunately, it is clear your words will fall on deaf ears if she is so self-centered as to not think of calling to let you know she'd be late, and by responding with a "whatever" in a text, rather than a personal apology and thank you.

                                              Life is short. Cut her off. If she ever wants to come over again so that you can "get to know" her daughter, tell her simply, "No thanks. Unfortunately that would require me to reacquaint myself with you."

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                                I think we should make more allowances for family than we would for friends because there are often others involved whose relationships might be affected if we choose to cut off a family member.
                                                My inherently lovely but utterly clueless parents are a case in point. If they weren't my folks I would NOT choose them as friends. If any of my friends made the comments my parents sometimes make, I would definitely have less and less contact with them. However, since it's parents, I'm more tolerant.

                                                1. re: Billy33

                                                  To me, parents are parents, and barring some heinous acts, deserve allowances.
                                                  Cousins, not so much.

                                                  1. re: Billy33

                                                    I completely agree that we need to be patient with and be willing to put up with the foibles of people we care about (God know, my loved ones put up with me). Sometimes - perhaps especially with family - a relationship requires some effort.

                                                    But I got from the original post that this is already an "estranged" cousin, not someone who the OP really sees much or cares much about (and vice versa) and that this relative is acting in her standard, disrespectful way. I think this is a reasonable place to draw the line.

                                                    I read my previous post and realized how irked I was by the situation. I would suggest not being as aggressive as I suggested, but just to pull back and have zero expectations from the cousin from now on. It's also okay for the OP to express that she didn't like the way she was treated. But just let the cousin reach out and be a good guest if she's able to, but to do absolutely nothing from this point on to reach out to her.

                                                2. We have family member(s) like that. Chronically late, self centered, attention seeking, and never in any way appreciative.

                                                  If she ever calls again hopefully you will not wait for her, but just go about your event as planned. If not you only have yourself to blame

                                                  Going out on a limb, I'm guessing that her family either bends over backwards to keep her happy (and keep the peace), or simply makes up excuses thereby enabling her.

                                                  I doubt that whatever you say or do would be pointless. More that likely she'll forget all about this and act as if it never happened.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Withnail42

                                                    It's historically handled as "well you know her….she marches to be beat of her own drum." Excuses are made and it's brushed over. So she definitely has been enabled, and I suppose that behavior will never change, no matter what I have to say about how it impacted on me.

                                                  2. I'd say something like this: "Oh dear. So sorry you were running late and missed all the goodies. Maybe next year. Sorry we can't stay up to entertain you; we have an early morning ahead of us. Good night."

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                                      But that's just so passive aggressive.

                                                      How about just being honest?
                                                      Perhaps her daughter will appreciate it.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        The honest passive aggressive will be hopefully conveyed to the daughter. The goal should be a good relationship with her, so baby steps might be needed, as Mom seems to leave a bit to be desired

                                                        1. re: autumm

                                                          I'm not sure what 'honest passive aggressive' means?

                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                            passive aggressive is in no way incompatible with honesty. of course some passive aggressive people are not aware of those tendencies in themselves.

                                                    2. I get the fact that this cousin is not the most thoughtful person, let alone a family member.....but since you were expecting her at some point...late or not, have you considered the fact it could go both ways? If may not have had concern for the mother, but how about the daughter? You could have called them to make sure they were okay and not in any type of trouble...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                        My father was with her at the house for dinner(her mother is his sister), so I knew she was there & not in any trouble. I really had no reason to think she would not arrive as promised. I could see how a phone call may have helped if I didn't hear from my dad.

                                                      2. Thanks, everyone, for your helpful perspectives and advice - as a new gal here I appreciate the stories and input during the past 24 hours. I don't want to stew (ha, food pun) too long over this so I'm stepping away from the discussion but not the community. Keep Calm and Chow On - that's what I'll do too.

                                                        1. You were more than patient. But, this situation sounds like that definition of insanity--it's happened before so you shouldn't expect a different result. I feel bad for the daughter because someone so self-centered will be the same as a mom. I hope,despite the headaches, that you continue to reach out to the little girl. She could use more people like you in her life.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Just because someone happens to have 'family members' in no way means they should be liked/put up with. I had to cut a family member loose after years of enduring a relationship from hell with them.
                                                            I never think about that person from one year to the next and that's fine by me.
                                                            The next time the cousin calls tell them to eff off and stay out of your life. You'll feel much better for it.
                                                            As to the 'little one' see what happens over time. Whatever you do do not allow the cousin to emotionally 'blackmail' you visa vi being able to see the little one.
                                                            You will end up not only hating her but you will end up hating that part of yourself which allowed the black mail to happen.

                                                          2. Well, we don't choose family, but we can choose who we allow into our lives. You may be better off excluding this woman from yours. My own capacity for this sort of thing, be it from family or friends, is barely minimal. I have essentially ended contact with family who I know are brilliant at creating something from nothing. And the same goes for "friends," who thought it was appropriate to berate for me for the crime of "not meeting up with the girls," every. single. week. Cut these people from your life.

                                                            1. Sorry about the rude relative's behavior. You were gracious to respond with a welcome to your home. You did exactly what you should have. You did not do anything wrong. She should apologize but you will probably not hear it from her. Move on and keep your gracious self for others who will appreciate it!