What to Do when He's Always Late
Edited by Kathy McGraw, Maria
You've been sitting at your table in the restaurant for the last hour, munching on breadsticks, while you wait for your boyfriend to arrive. He's still not here, even though his last text to you said that he was only his way. And that was half an hour ago. Your irritation rises as you consider that he was so late picking you for your last date that you missed the movie and had to settle for a night of Netflix and ordering in. Is there any way to make him mend his tardy ways, you wonder? If not, is he worth this hassle?
Why Are Some People Always Late?
Why are some people never on time? Psychologists and sociologists have been very interested in this question for a long time and have come up with several reasons why some folks seem to be running on slow clock.
- 1This fallacy involves the amount of time people believe will be required to complete a task or travel somewhere. It turns out that people routinely underestimate both. However, when asked to put themselves in someone else's shoes and visualize the steps needed to complete the task or to get somewhere, their time estimates get more accurate.The Planning Fallacy.Advertisement
- 2Type A personalities tend to be early or on time while Type B personalities are less so. Type A personalities are very concerned about scheduling and making the most efficient use of their time, so it makes sense that they would be early or at least on time, while Type B personalities are concerned about enjoying life and thus less pressed for time or at least, less concerned about it.Type A versus Type B personalities.Advertisement
- 3When someone is habitually late, they could be making the statement that their time is more important than everyone else's. They could also be asserting their dominance, in effect saying that they believe they are more important than the people waiting for them.Passive Aggression.
- 4Sometime during the last ten years or so, we have recently begun to refer to a non-specific unit of time called the "ish" in scheduling events with other people, as in "Come for dinner at 7-ish." How much time is included in the "ish," no one precisely knows, but in surveys, people seem to think that it could be as little as 15 minutes or as long as 30 minutes on either side of the specified hour. With the inclusion of such an imprecise measurement of time comes a relaxed expectation of what being "on time" means.Cultural shifts in talking about time.
- 5People who are narcissistic view themselves as more important than anyone else. Since no one is as important as they are, no one's time is as important, either.Narcissisim.
- 6When someone is late, they receive attention, whether negative or positive. In the case of negative attention, they might be scolded by the person who was left waiting for them, and in the case of positive attention, they may be the object of humor where everyone laughs about how they are never on time. People who seek attention in this way often lacked attention from their parents and siblings in childhood and learned that they could get the attention they were missing by being late.Attention seeking.
- 7Some people agree to be somewhere, even when they know they can't possibly get there in time because they don't want to disappoint the other person by refusing. People who overschedule genuinely want to be on time, but they can't be in two places at once.Overscheduling.
Dealing With Your Boyfriend's Tardiness
How you deal with your boyfriend's tardiness depends on why he is always late. Some problems are correctable, while others are less so. If your boyfriend can't or is unlikely to change his behavior, you have to decide whether or not you can live it.
- 1Even though the result of his tardiness is that you might feel disrespected and annoyed, he doesn't intend to hurt you. In fact, he wants to be on time and isn't setting out to arrive late at all. Rather, he is either having some issue with assessing time, or he sees time differently than you do. None of this is to say that you have to accept him; it's perfectly acceptable for punctuality to be a make or break relationship issue for you, but it is important to be charitable when looking at his motives.Recognize that his intentions are good.Advertisement
- 2Don't do this while you are still irritated with him for being late; instead, talk to him when you are both relaxed and in a good mood. Use "I" language and tell him honestly how you feel when he is late and lists the concrete ways it affects you. Speaking in concrete terms that he can relate to will help him to empathize with you better. For instance, you can mention how you missed your own appointments because you've had to wait for him.Tell him how his lateness affects you.
- 3Here are some tips to help him manage his time better:Help him with his time management skills.
- Encourage him to use the calendar app on his phone. Virtually every smartphone has a calendar app and a way to set up reminder notifications and intervals. Ask him to calendar your plans and set as many reminders as he needs.
- Ask him to visualize the steps needed to accomplish a task or to travel somewhere. Doing so helps him to avoid the planning fallacy and to get better at estimating time.
- Ask him to give himself an hour buffer zone between the time you expect him and the time he leaves the house.
- 4Tell him that it's okay if he can't make it when you suggest a date. Tell him that you'd rather he tell you no than keep you waiting.Give him permission to refuse a date with you if he has too much going on that day.
- 5If you know that your boyfriend is always late, that he isn't likely to change, and that you value your relationship too much to leave him over it, then you need to accept that he is habitually late and stop expecting him to be on time. Once the expectations stop, you won't be disappointed, and you can relax and enjoy your time together once he arrives.Stop expecting him to be on time.
- 6Fool him into thinking he has to meet you earlier than the actual time you expect him. It's important that never catches onto what you're doing, or it can backfire on you, and he'll still be late.Tell him a time half and hour to an hour earlier than you expect him.
- 7Bring a book, a sketchpad, or load your phone with games and your Kindle app with books. You can even bring work with you so that you feel like you're accomplishing something productive while you wait for him.Bring materials to occupy you while you wait.
- 8If he isn't on time, then you don't have to be on time either. If he gets there on time one day, well, then, he can take a dose of his own medicine, can't he?Be a little late yourself.
- 9For example, tell your boyfriend to meet you at 9 p.m, not 9-ish.Avoid expressing time with the "ish." Make plans using solid time increments rather than the non-specific "ish" units.
- 10If you have made plans to do something with your mutual friends and he isn't there within a reasonable time, then go without him. It isn't fair to you or your other friends to have your schedules put off by his tardiness. After a few times of missing out, who knows? He may change his ways.Leave without him.
- 11If so, there might be an underlying issue and being late is his passive-aggressive way of letting you know that things aren't okay between you. Wait until you both are relaxed and have time for a chat and talk about it. Ask him if there is anything wrong, and if he says no, then press him and explain what you have observed. He may give you other reasons, but hopefully, he'll be able to articulate his problem with you.Is he only late when he makes plans with you?
- 12Trying to change someone is a losing proposition, so if you determine that your boyfriend's continued tardiness is a deal-breaker for you, then it is clear that he is not the right man for you and you need to cut your losses and move on. You will spare yourselves a lot of grief that way.Break up with him if you can't accept his habitual lateness.
Categories : Relationships
Recent edits by: Kathy McGraw