A friend of mine is miffed at her boyfriend for not making good on a promise to take her to Europe for a recent birthday.
Considering all the issues plaguing people today, a delayed foreign holiday doesn't really seem so bad. At least, that was my initial thought.
However, my friend said, it's not about the trip itself; it's about him saying he was going to do something and then not doing it. It's about the follow-through.
I saw her point, but I also think I have some sympathy for a person who has the best of intentions without the best execution. I sometimes fall into that category, although typically I'm breaking promises I've made to myself.
"Don't you think she's being too hard on him?" I asked Joe, expecting him to validate my perspective.
"No," he replied, bluntly. "If I told you I was going to take you to Prague and I didn't, you'd be mad at me."
He's right, and this is one of the reasons I love my boyfriend. He doesn't let me get away with anything. In the spirit of honesty, I should say that the aforementioned sympathy doesn't always extend to him if he doesn't follow through on something he says he will do. For the record, I have never claimed to be devoid of hypocrisy.
Another trusted friend agreed: You say you're going to do something, you make good on it.
I think I can offer a solution: Don't talk about things; do them. I think that can also be translated as "actions speak louder than words."
To use another cliché, however, it does in fact take two to tango. So while he screwed up by saying he would do something and then didn't do it, perhaps she could have been a bit more gracious about it, even if her irritation was entirely founded.
Sometimes relationships are about taking that box of lemons your partner gives you and, instead of saying, "Hey, why are you giving me lemons, you jerk," you sigh, pull out the butter and tell him, "OK, start separating the eggs. We're going to make lemon meringue pie."
But promises should not be presents. Unless you've bought the plane tickets or you have several dates in mind and just need to choose the best one, never say "I want to take you to Prague for your birthday." Take her out to dinner and give her a necklace or something. Then, another day, say "I want to go to Prague with you. Let's find a time and plan a trip."
Yes, it's not as romantic, but at least you're not that guy who didn't follow through.
Contact Holly Leber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber. Subscribe to her on Facebook at facebook.com/holly.j.leber.
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...