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Can Flaky People Make Good Partners?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - January 29, 2010

They're charming, generous, intriguing, creative ... and completely unreliable! What should you do with this personality type?

Krista faced a tough decision. Her boyfriend of ten months, Alex, was a charming guy with nearly all the qualities she wanted in a man: generous, sincere, creative, and fun-loving.

But she couldn’t deny he also had a conspicuous fault — he was flaky, as in unreliable and irresponsible. He often did not follow through on what he promised he’d do. And his lifestyle was chaotic and cluttered.

“I wish I could say he’s guilty of just the occasional brain blip — a sporadic moment of absentmindedness,” Krista says. “But it happens all the time. He’s late to pick me up for dates, he doesn’t return my phone calls, he forgets appointments, and he calls in sick a lot to work so he can goof off with his buddies.”

She adds, “Not long ago, Alex offered to drop off a work package at Fed Ex to save me the trip. It was an important set of mock-ups for one of my graphic design clients. Three days later, when he picked me up for a movie, I spotted the package on the back seat of his car! I was livid.”

What’s a girl like Krista to do? More to the point, what would you do if you realized your dating partner was consistently undependable?

Let’s be honest — all of us let things fall through the cracks now and then. We forget to call Mom on her birthday, fail to pay the phone bill, or misplace the car keys. It happens. But the concern comes with those who exhibit chronic flakiness. While these people frequently have enjoyable personalities — optimistic, spontaneous, and playful –they are also extremely frustrating for those who rely on them to complete a task or show up on time.

This is a critical factor for singles to evaluate. After all, numerous studies have shown that long-term romantic partners rate reliability as a key ingredient for relational happiness. At the heart of the matter is a person’s dependability: Can I believe you when you promise to do something? Do I have to wonder if you’ll drop the ball? Do I need to expend my mental and emotional energy worrying that you’ll come through?

For a relationship to achieve excellence, both partners must act responsibly. They need to keep their word and honor commitments. If a woman says, “I’ll call you tonight,” she should do it. If a man says, “I’ll meet you for lunch at twelve o’clock sharp,” he should be there on the dot. If one or both persons are consistently negligent, the relationship is sure to suffer.

Psychologist David Niven says this: “With all the complicated advice available about relationships, sometimes the basics can be overlooked. Relationships depend on communication; we all know that. And meaningful communication demands reliability. Your words need to mean something. Say what you mean, and do what you say you are going to do. Always. If you do, you will have taken a huge step toward positive communication and a positive relationship.”

If you want a great relationship, find a partner you can depend on. And of course, it goes without saying that you should be dependable as well.