Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

If you think it is ok, even desirable, to show up early when meeting someone at their house, why do you think that is a good thing?

Asked by JLeslie (59050points) January 4th, 2013

Whether you are going there to hang out, or going there to pick someone up, why would you show up early? How early do you think is ok? Does it matter who you are meeting, or why you are meeting whether you show up early?

I also wonder if people who think it is ok, also think it is rude when people are late, or are ok when someone is a little tardy.

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31 Answers

Pachy's avatar

For me, it’s simple. Be where you’re supposed to be at the time agreed upon. Earlier is better than late, but on time is best.

DrBill's avatar

Showing up on time is the only respectable answer.

bkcunningham's avatar

Tardiness is one of my pet peeves. I don’t have a problem with someone being, I don’t know, I guess maybe ten or fifteen minutes early. If they are fifteen minutes early and I’m not ready for whatever they are meeting me for, I expect them to politely wait. I try to show up on time or at the very most five minutes early. I’d rather not show up at all if I’m showing up late. I don’t exactly think “rude” is the word I would use. We’ve all been late. That is part of life. I think the rudeness or I’d rather think disrespect, comes in if you don’t apologize or have a reasonable excuse for making someone wait.

harple's avatar

Whilst I try to be early when meeting people, the exception is when you go to someone’s house – I imagine that they may be running around sorting things out at the last minute before I am due to arrive (certainly that’s the case for me!) so I wouldn’t want to add that pressure to them.

If I’m travelling a long way, and realise I’m going to be early I will text/phone ahead to check it’s going to be okay and so pre-warn them

I remember arriving early when meeting my then-partner’s mother for the first time, and she got so flustered she put the electric kettle onto the gas hob and set fire to it!

Gabby101's avatar

I don’t do this – I would wait in my car or drive around the block before going to the door at the appointed time. I actually try to be about 5 minutes late, just to give the person a little extra time (unless I know that person is very punctual).

My parents, however, used to do this all the time and even as a child it was embarrassing because I could see the discomfort of the other people when they were not ready. My parents were very simple people who never did a lot of preparing for company, so I assume this is why they didn’t see a problem with it. I also think they may have thought that if they showed up early (for a wedding or something) that they could help. The idea of someone not wanting you to see their house when it was messy or to see the “event” before it was entirely ready to be seen, would have been completely foreign to them.

jca's avatar

I would rather someone come to my house late than early. I have had guests show up early to a party and I’d be totally embarassed, not taken a shower yet, still tidying up, and then having to entertain them and explain how I still need to take a shower, etc.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham You don’t mind if someone is early, but what I wonder is do you show up early?

JLeslie's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room Why is early better than late?

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m a little ocd about being on time, so I’d be early, but would sit in my car until about 5 minutes until meeting time.

I think it’s completely rude to set a meeting time and be late or have my friends be late. We call it “A dime holding up a dollar!”

marinelife's avatar

If there is an arranged meeting time then I think you should show up as close to it as possible.

jca's avatar

For a regular meeting, let’s say we’re going to meet up at somone’s house and drive together to another location, to me, ten minutes is an acceptable amount of time to be late. Any more than that deserves a phone call saying “I’m running late and I’ll be there in about ____ minutes.”

bkcunningham's avatar

If I’m early by more than I’d say 5 minutes, I do like @Gabby101 and wait before going into their house.

@JLeslie, my husband golfs every Wednesday with friends who are retired military. They will say they are going to pick him up at 8:03 or 7:34. It is the funniest thing. My husband and I think it is funny. A couple of the fellows are dead serious with the precision and another one says it as a way to be funny and mock the other two sticklers.

Seek's avatar

I’m generally always early, however I don’t go barging into people’s houses while they’re still showering. You know what’s worse than that? Telling someone to meet at your house, then being upset when they show up bang on time, and you’ve not rolled out of bed yet. Because not only did I have to be up at the same time as you, but much earlier than I would have had to because we had to meet at the home of your lazy arse.

Going to a party? A little late is acceptable. Showing up after dinner is over? Not.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham That’s hysterical. I remember once sleeping over a friends house when we were little and her mom saying in a loud voice, “you girls are not going to sleep all day tomorrow I am going to wake you up at 8:27. Even at the age of 12 I thought that to be ridiculous and retorted, “8:27? Not 8:25 or 8:30?” She said again, “8:27.” She was dead serious I think. She does have a good sense of humor usually, but I don’t think in this instance she understood why I thought it was funny.

ucme's avatar

I pride myself on my punctuality & always turn up on time, neither early or late…i’m hoping i’ll be late for my own funeral however, really late!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When I do that, if I do that, it means that the person who invited me loves me without reservation, doesn’t mind what time I come and doesn’t care that I showed up early. I can show up anytime at my best friend’s house.

mazingerz88's avatar

Hanging out-? I don’t see myself arriving earlier but either on time or maybe 5 to 10 minutes late and does not mind my own visitors to do the same. Picking someone up is different, I may arrive 5 minutes earlier as I give allowance for traffic and don’t mind waiting as long as it’s not 15 minutes tops.

If a friend arrives earlier to pick me up, I’ll offer a drink then. And I try always to be ready on time and not more than 5 minutes late.

augustlan's avatar

If it’s my best friend, I don’t worry if I’m early or she is (both of us are much more likely to be late, anyway!) It wouldn’t annoy me even if she were half an hour early…she can just make herself at home while I finish up.

Anyone else, though, five minutes before would be the earliest I’d be okay with, whether they’re visiting me or I’m visiting them.

Blackberry's avatar

Just from being in the military, we’re brainwashed from day 1 to be early. The whole being prepared thing, you know lol. I like to be on time or early but I know it’s not that important for everyday matters.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I’d rather them be a few minutes late than early, unless they warn me first. Knowing me, I wouldn’t be ready earlier than planned. I’d prefer them to be on time though.

If it were a good friend or a family member, I wouldn’t mind them being early.

woodcutter's avatar

The bathroom could still be stinkin’ from that last one for the road. So don’t be too, too early. Just a little or right on time depending on who’s watch you look at.

Brian1946's avatar


I have had guests show up early to a party and I’d be totally embarassed, not taken a shower yet, still tidying up, and then having to entertain them and explain how I still need to take a shower, etc.

As someone who is usually late whether I’m preparing for arrivals or arriving, I can really relate to that.

It seems to me that it’s almost common courtesy to assume that a party-starting time means that’s the earliest the host expects the invitees to arrive.

Perhaps an exception to that might be a surprise party, where the guests kinda have to get there before the honoree does.

Bellatrix's avatar

I try to arrive reasonably closely to when I was asked to be there. So, five minutes early wouldn’t faze me but not much earlier because people may still be getting things (or themselves) ready. I also wouldn’t arrive much later than the requested time. I have had people arrive for dinner more than an hour late. When you have planned a meal so that things are ready at a particular time it’s frustrating to have the food ruined because people are late and don’t phone.

So 10–15 minutes either way is fine but no earlier or later.

Kardamom's avatar

I live in a part of the country where the traffic is heavy and un-predictable. So I try not to make too big of a deal about people showing up late, as long as they call and let me know the situation. A few of my relatives are notoriously late to every event they’ve ever attended. We know this about them and plan accordingly.

It completely depends upon who you are visiting and why if you are going to show up early. If you are going to a big dinner party, it would be rude to show up early because the hosts will likely still be getting ready and they shouldn’t have to entertain you during that time. I too, have sat in my car and read the paper or listened to the radio for awhile if I’m early. And because of the traffic out here in Southern California, it happens often (both early and late).

If it was my best friend and we were just going to hang out or go to the movies or go out to lunch, she wouldn’t care if I came early. I would just play with her cats and converse with her from the other room if she was still getting ready. No biggie.

You should show up to work, at least a few minutes early, so there are no problems. If you got stuck behind a huge accident on the freeway, you should call your boss immediately and then expect to work overtime to make up the difference.

If you are meeting someone for a date (especially for the first time) you should show up at least a few minutes early. That way you have time to park, to use the restroom, to walk from the parking lot, to look for the exact address or whatever.

If it was a big casual family party or big casual picnic with friends, showing up late or at any time while the party is still going is fine, at least it is with my family and friends. One of my cousins is an emergency room nurse, so she has weird schedules of being on and off work for extended days and her husband is a firefighter with a similar odd schedule. We usually have our casual family parties on the weekends so it’s convenient for most guests, but we expect that these 2 may not be able to come until the party has been going strong for a few hours, or may be able to stop in at the beginning to say hello and then have to leave, but we’re always grateful for their company.

I think if I had a friend (especially and S/O) who was regularly late without a good explanation, especially if they made me miss events like concerts, movies, dinner reservations or plays that have a specific start time and for which I’ve paid money, I would have a serious discussion with them and maybe stop planning on going to events with them.

Coloma's avatar

I am usually impeccably on time, maybe a wee bit early.
I have one friend that is always 20 minutes late when we meet for lunch, I have finally just started leaving 10 minutes later and it usually works out. haha
Extreme lateness can be a sign of passive aggressive behavior. I dated a guy once that was always, at minimum, 30 minutes to an hour late….it didn’t last long.
I HATE being kept waiting for more than a few minutes and while I am an easy going personality I detest feeling “trapped” waiting for someone to get their shit together and show up.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for all the answers! I think being early is just as inconsiderate as being late. If you arrive at my house before I am ready to receive you I know feel some pressure to get ready faster, when I had had my getting ready all planned out. If you are actually someone I don’t know well, and I am still in my bra, wet hair, and finishing my make-up, then that really is annoying. Or, maybe I wanted to tidy up and out the dishes in the sink in the dishwasher before you came over. Just 5 minutes would be not a big deal, but anything more than that I am not happy. Unless you are a close girlfriend, then I don’t mind at all. You can see me naked and my place out of sorts and it doesn’t matter. Although, still if you manage to drop me a call you will be early it still would be appreciated.

If I am throwing a party, please do not be early I don’t care who you are.

Showing up late is inconsiderate of the person waiting for you, but being early is inconsiderate of the person expecting you also. The way I see it, if I am at home, you are meeting me at my house (which is what this question is specifically asking) 10 minutes early and I might not be ready. 10 minutes late, and I am ready and in my house, I can watch TV, file away a bill I haven’t tended to yet, fluther, do whatever to kill time.

What I tend to do is give a window. 10:00 to 10:15. Or, I call when I am leaving my house so they know I am on my way. This helps in places that have heavy traffic, but honestly I do it with friends who live 5 miles away on country roads. If I get there towards the earlier side and we are going out for a dinner reservation or movie, then we can doddle before leaving. If I get there towards the later side we will leave right away. Being on the dot to me means you have to plan to be a little early, or you risk being late, which is why I figure people who really get annoyed with people who run late, often show up early. When I need to be on time, I often am a little early. I don’t do that when I go to someone’s house though. Especially if I am going to just hang out at their house.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Exactly, close girl friends are the exception. Yes, easier to fill the time waiting, if you’re at home, but worse to be caught unready to receive your company. The exception is being kept waiting at a public place where there is nothing to do but stare at your water glass. lol

gailcalled's avatar

One of the few jokes I remember;

People who are early are anxious,
People who are on time are compulsive,
And people who are late are hostile.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Can’t win I guess.

Coloma's avatar

Haha…..aaah…..guess not.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if I am all of those or none? I do all of them. I tend to run late. If it is important to be on time I am. If I need to be on time I would likely be a little early to be safe. I used to be on time all the time, but then a boyfriend I had in high school was chronically late. At first it drove me crazy, angered me, but then we agreed within 20 minutes late is ok. It solved everything; we never fought about it again. I just changed my expectations and stopped worrying about being on time when meeting with him. I usually just adjust to the other person. If they run late I plan for that, if they care a lot about punctuality I am punctual. However, people who are obsessively punctual, who actually get bent out of shape if someone is 5 minutes late, after a while it does kind of get uncomfortable for me if I am meeting up with them a lot. It isn’t a judgement about them, but rather just not my gig. It become stressful since I tend to naturally run a little late, and they tend to be rigid in other areas too.

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