6 subtle signs you’re dealing with someone who frequently breaks promises

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We’ve all been there, right? 

That friend who’s “always down for an adventure” until the actual adventure involves, you know, leaving the house. 

Or the colleague who swears they’ll “totally have that report done by Monday,” only to hit you with the “my pet ate my work” excuse on Tuesday.

But before you start thinking that everyone is just unreliable, consider this: sometimes people don’t realize they’re making promises they can’t keep. 

They might be overly optimistic, or they might not fully understand what they’re committing to. And other times, well, they might just be straight-up liars.

Either way, it’s important to learn how to spot the signs of a promise-breaker. That way, you can avoid getting your hopes up only to have them crushed.

Let’s go!

1) They’re always “busy” when you need them

I understand—people can get overwhelmed with life sometimes. 

Work, family, and personal issues—it all adds up. And sometimes, even though we want to keep our word, circumstances can get in the way. 

That being said, if someone is consistently breaking promises and always claiming to be busy, there might be more going on than just bad luck or a full schedule.

Maybe they’re not as committed to their promises as they should be. Perhaps they don’t take their responsibilities seriously or struggle with managing their time.

They could also be avoiding confrontation by using busyness as an excuse not to follow through on their obligations.

Sure, life keeps us all on our toes.

But if someone is always too busy to make time for you, maybe it’s time to think about whether that relationship is really worth holding on to.

2) You notice a pattern of weak excuses

When someone makes a promise, they’re basically saying, “Hey, I’ll do this thing for you because I care about you and our relationship.”

But when they break that promise repeatedly, it can make you feel like they don’t actually care enough about you to follow through on their word.

And it’s even worse when they come up with lousy excuses.

For instance, imagine asking your bestie to help you move, and they agreed. But on moving day, they suddenly have a “work event” they can’t miss.

Mistakes happen, sure. 

But if it keeps happening, it shows they might not care as much as they say.

When you notice a pattern like this, you’ve got to decide: keep giving them chances or rethink if this relationship’s worth your time and energy.

3) Their words and actions don’t match

When someone constantly says one thing but does another, it’s a clear sign that they have a habit of breaking promises. 

You see, when our words and actions don’t match, it means we’re not being honest or reliable.

Promising means committing to doing something, right? But if what we do doesn’t match what we say, we’re not keeping that promise.

We’re basically lying to ourselves and others.

One example of this is when your partner keeps saying they love you but always cancels plans or ignores your needs. Clearly, their actions don’t match their words

Unfortunately, it could also hint that they’re not as invested in the relationship as they claim to be. In short, it’s a red flag. 

So, when you notice that someone’s words and actions don’t align, it’s worth considering whether you want to continue trusting them or counting on them in the future.

4) You feel like you’re constantly chasing them down

When someone consistently fails to deliver on their commitments, it can feel like you’re constantly chasing them down to get anything done. 

It’s like they’re always running away from their responsibilities, leaving you to pick up the slack.

And you know what’s crazy? People like this really do exist. 

At work, you might find yourself sending reminders or checking in with that one colleague, only to hear excuses or empty promises. 

It can be super draining to think that you probably need to hound them just to get them to do what they said they would do.

And the worst part is when you realize that you’re not actually being taken seriously. 

Because, more often than not, people who frequently break promises couldn’t care less about your time or your expectations.

So, if you find yourself constantly chasing someone down, it’s time to evaluate whether this relationship or partnership is worth continuing. 

After all, life’s too short to spend it chasing after people who simply don’t care.

5) You are their backup plan

They might be saying things like, “Hey, I’ll hang out with you if nothing better comes up,” or “I’ll call you if my other plans fall through.”

This implies that they’re only thinking of you as a last resort, rather than someone they genuinely want to spend time with.

Sadly, if a person says these things to you, it’s a clear sign that you’re not a priority in their life. Thus, you can almost always expect them to break their promises. 

Being treated like a Plan B can hurt your self-esteem. 

If this happens a lot, it may be worth taking a step back and reevaluating the dynamic of the relationship. 

Ask yourself: Is this person worth my time and energy? Are there others who truly care about me? If yes, consider putting your energy there instead.

6) They’re serial apologists

Picture this: You make plans with a friend, and they promise they’ll be there. But when the time comes, they bail, and you’re left hanging.

But you know what’s more annoying?

It’s the fact that this isn’t even the first time they’ve done this. And every time, they’re quick to say sorry, promising it won’t happen again.

That’s what we call a serial apologizer. It’s like a toxic cycle with them—they make a promise, break it, and then apologize. Rinse and repeat. 

People like this always have an excuse. And even though they say they’re sorry, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still left high and dry.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to stop being a crutch for their irresponsibility.

Don’t let their apologies and excuses hold you hostage anymore. Break the cycle and move on. You deserve so much better.

Final thoughts

I understand that dealing with a chronic promise-breaker can be emotionally draining, but you don’t have to be their victim anymore. 

Remember, your time and energy are precious. 

So choose to invest them in people who show you, through their actions, that your trust and expectations matter. 

Always surround yourself with people who keep their word, because your well-being deserves that kind of consistency.

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Julienne Merza

Hey, I'm Julienne - a freelance writer with a passion for all things spiritual, wellness, and personal growth. I practice slow living in the countryside, where I have constant access to trees, wildflowers, and bodies of water. I love romanticizing the mundane and finding magic in life's simple moments. Through my work, I aspire to share my stories of healing and overcoming. If you feel aligned with my energy, please say hi to me on Instagram: @irishjulienne

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