“A doubtful friend is worse than a certain enemy. Let a man be one thing or the other, and we then know how to meet him.” – Aesop, Aesop’s Fables

Reliability builds trust. Whether it’s a relationship with your partner, family or friends, you should be able to rely on the people in your life. It’s difficult to trust someone who is unreliable and this will always cause major problems moving the relationship forward. Unreliability is a sign of immaturity and these types will waste a great deal of your time and energy leaving you feeling disappointed and frustrated. If you are dating or currently involved with a man who is unreliable he will frequently:

• Break promises you believe in good faith
• Delay or forget to carry out important tasks he agreed
• Procrastinate for long periods of time
• Break promises you relied on to make plans
• Fail to remember important information (these failures could be deliberate!)

When a person doesn’t have a plan or goals for their life they will lack motivation and direction. A partner who lacks motivation will eventually become extremely frustrating especially when you’re trying to get him kick start his life. Moods and attitudes can be very contagious and you could become ‘infected’ by your partner’s complacent approach to life sharing his lack of any clear goals or plans. The obvious danger with just drifting through life in a relationship lacking direction is you never know where you are going to end up. When you can’t depend on a person this results in always double checking and feeling slightly on edge because it’s hard to relax with an unreliable partner. Consciously or subconsciously you will begin to treat him like a child and starting acting like his mother. Eventually you will probably lose any trust or respect for him due to increasing feelings of resentment and anger.

Reality Check

It can be easy to excuse the occasional unkept promise; these things happen to all of us at times. However, when a partner is constantly breaking promises or failing to meet commitments their actions are clearly unreliable and undependable.


“If he’s not calling you, it’s because you are not on his mind. If he creates expectations for you, and then doesn’t follow through on little things, he will do same for big things. Be aware of this and realize that he’s okay with disappointing you. Don’t be with someone who doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do.” – Greg Behrendt, Comedian & Author

Ask yourself:
Would I be happy with a partner who is unreliable?
How important is it to me that my partner is reliable?
What is my intuition telling me?

During your first few conversations with a date pay attention to any signs of distractibility. If he frequently lose’s his train of thought or has to ask you to repeat something you’ve said, he may be a person who cannot focus for a period of time. People who are distracted easily are often unreliable because they are disorganized in their thinking and in their lives. If the man you are dating is late to call or meet you more than once pay attention. Being late is a major sign of either disorganization, selfishness or both. If he is late twice within a short period of time seriously consider not to continuing dating him anymore.

Chronically unreliable people can be carefree and fun to be with at first but this type of attitude can cause a relationship to suffer greatly in the medium to long term. After dating for a while and the unreliable behaviour continues, your trust will probably begin to deteriorate as promises continue to be broken. Trust is very important in a relationship; if you cannot rely on what your partner says this isn’t the basis for a healthy relationship.

Already Involved

“You need not wonder whether you should have an unreliable person as a friend. An unreliable person is nobody’s friend.” – Idries Shah, Reflections

When you have experienced many repeated broken promises and stressful situations caused by your partners unreliability the cracks in the relationship will begin to appear. You probably feel upset, angry or sad a great deal of the time and cannot understand why your partner is so inconsiderate and disrespectful while wondering if he actually has any genuine feelings for you. Your mental state is likely to be troubled and your emotional energy is constantly drained burdened by his unreliable behaviour. You probably speculate endlessly and have asked more than once why he behaves this way. He may be taking you for granted or just completely oblivious regarding how his behaviour is impacting negatively on the relationship. The question isn’t; ‘Does he care?’ The real question is this: ‘Is he as committed or interested in the relationship as you are?’ According to several studies the reliability of both partners is a very important component of an intimate relationship as being reliable equates to being trustworthy.

The Way Forward

There isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’ solution as a variety of factors can come into play. How long has the relationship been established and what has been happening? Are there any other concerns besides chronic unreliability? If your partner is unreliable how much does it bother you? Is it impacting negatively on your feelings and the relationship? If you are unhappy have a conversation with your partner; speak calmly and clearly. Explain how you feel and why his unreliability has hurt your feelings or caused chaos. Ultimately, you are responsible for your behaviour, not your partners and you have a right to choose what is best for you. You are also responsible for the type of behaviour you accept or allow to continue. Being a mature adult in part means being reliable along with honouring promises and commitments; if your partner cannot show you the respect you deserve then it’s time to seriously consider whether the relationship is viable.

Do You Consistently Attract Immature, Unreliable & Irresponsible Partners? Check Yourself Out

“Maturity is when you’re able to say, ‘It’s not just them. It’s me.” – Criss Jami, Healology

Does your relationship history includes a pattern with partners who:

• Struggled with issues associated with growing up
• Have been significantly younger than you
• Had childlike personalities
• Failed to define themselves as adults but had ‘great potential’
• Demonstrated adolescent attitudes

Review your relationships honestly whether you’re single or currently in a relationship. If you’re constantly attracted to the above types, this indicates an attraction to immature partners. These kind of relationships quickly evolve into a parent/child relationship dynamic where you act like the ‘parent’ and your partner acts like a ‘child.’ You probably assume most of the responsibilities in your relationships and this pattern will not change until you heal the issues that compel you to mother a partner. Seek professional support or therapy if necessary as it is highly unlikely you will not ready for a healthy relationship until those harmful patterns of relating have been healed. There are people in this world who prefer to let others assume responsibility for their lives and it’s a sad fact of life there are many who will not change.

Nigel Beckles – Author