Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
How do You Feel About Friends who are Chronically Late?
Posted in Healthy Relatio... by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Aug 05, 2013
Everyone is late now and then, well maybe not my in-laws, but most people have an occasional slip up that can be forgiven. Some people however are repeat offenders and may chronically keep you waiting for them to arrive. At what point do you decide you’ve had enough? Before you delete them from your contact list there are a few things you can try.

It does help to understand where they are coming from in terms of their chronic lateness. That said, understanding them doesn’t mean that you are giving them permission to continue the bad behavior but it may motivate you to try and salvage the relationship.

There is some research that says that people who are overly anxious tend to run late because they are worried about whether or not they have what they need, or if they have turned off the stove. These sometimes-obsessive concerns can delay leaving the house. People who suffer from depression often have difficulty managing their time among other things. Then of course there are those people who are constantly late solely because they are inconsiderate.

Mental health issues aside, being late all the time is definitely inconsiderate and if someone is a good friend, then you need to address the issue with him or her head on. The first step to changing negative behavior is acknowledging that it exists. So often people just nod and smile uncomfortably when their friend arrives late for the umpteenth time. They may even try to make the late person feel better by saying something like, “Don’t worry about it, I had emails to return.” If you find yourself constantly forgiving a late friend, you are not doing them or yourself any favors.

If the behavior is chronic then let your friend know directly that you really don’t enjoy waiting at a restaurant or coffee shop for half an hour every time you are scheduled to meet with them. No doubt it is an uncomfortable conversation to have, especially if you are conflict averse, but one that you will most likely not have to have with them more than once.

If the behavior continues then make some changes to the dynamic. Tell your friend to call you when they are on the way to the meeting spot and let them know that you plan to arrive after they do. This doesn’t mean that you will be late but it means you won’t be waiting for them. Call your friend half an hour before they should be leaving the house and ask if they are doing what they need to do to meet you on time. You can even try a little deception by telling your friend that the meeting time is earlier than it actually is. So if you have a reservation at 8pm, tell them it is at 7pm, if they are typically an hour late. Lastly, if you can’t seem to get your friend to show up anywhere near the agreed upon time then you may need to resist scheduling in-person visits with them for a period of time.

Only you know what your limit is and when enough is enough to make you want to terminate the relationship. Being on time shows respect and a concern for the other person and their time. Being late does the exact opposite and being chronically late is an insult to the relationship despite what the tardy person’s reasons may be.

- Cyndi


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I feel very disrespected and insulted it is rude when people turn up late.Especially if they do not ring you. I am never late. I am either too early or spot on time. If there is going to be a delay due to traffic or an emergency i will text or ring. The best thing to so with late people is to tell them a party is starting an hour or so earlier.
By sadandunsettled  Jan 16, 2014
Late, I can deal with late. It's not showing up at all that takes the cake. Dealing with someone that is late can be as easy as showing up a little while after said time. With depression, it makes it look like the person is being inconsiderate but in reality the person being inconsiderate is the one that takes offence. Just my opinion.
By sweatingbullets  Aug 16, 2013
For me is clear a chronic late person in not in my circle of friends, after a couple of times that are late, I will not plan to see them.
What irritates me are doctors that run late all the time,delivery people, I live in a State that nobody is prompt.
I have changed my oncologist twice when I moved , because they will run late , over an hour.
I was raised in a family where tardiness was not an option and I raised my family the same way,
When I attend a work meeting and they are late,and if the meeting was planned for 1 hour, I leave when the hour is done.
My time is gold.
By deraming  Aug 06, 2013
If it is a meeting with just that one person then there are several options as you have outlined. But if the meeting is for several people (for example, a group of friends meeting for dinner) then I say when the time to begin comes then begin. If/when they show up I think a "Nice of you to join us" is in order.
By ThePepperMan  Aug 05, 2013
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