Social Question

partyparty's avatar

How do you deal with people who are always late?

Asked by partyparty (9139points) August 20th, 2010

We have a particular couple of friends who are always late.
We arranged to meet on holiday and they said they would be with us lunchtime. We waited and waited, and they eventually arrived at 4.30pm (they were coming by car, so no flight etc)
Today they are coming to our home, said they would be with us at lunchtime. I have made food for them, which is now ready. Just received a call to say they won’t be with us until 1.30–2.00pm.
How can I politely tell them their behaviour is not acceptable?

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60 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I have a few friends who are chronically very late. Makes me feel undervalued. One is someone I will keep in my life and forgive for that, but I have mentioned it to others. If they say “No big deal, you’re over reacting” I just don’t make plans with them anymore. However, some have actually tried to see my point and respect my feelings on this. Try to be gentle (but firm) if you mention this, most people don’t mean to be rude. Let them know that your time and effort are valuable… Good luck.

deni's avatar

Unfortunately my boyfriend is one of these people. But usually by a long time. An hour or so. It’s really really frustrating. I tell him that it annoys me mostly because it is disrespectful and rude to the person who is waiting for him, whether it be me or any one else. And it is. If I plan to eat dinner with you at 5 and am hungry at that time, when you roll up at 6:15 I might be on the verge of passing out. If you know you are prone to being late, estimate that you’ll be there at a later time. That way, if you’re on time, I’m happy, and if you’re early, well it must be Christmas!

partyparty's avatar

@JilltheTooth Yes I do forgive this couple… continuously. But sometimes I reach a point where I think ‘enough is enough’. My food is ruined, and I will now have to take them out for food, or make an additional meal. I think they are quite inconsiderate. (I will try to be gently with them when they arrive) :-)
@deni Yes, we are both hungry now, waiting for our friends to arrive, and my food is ruined. I understand exactly what you are saying, thanks

JilltheTooth's avatar

@partyparty : Good luck. I personally think that they should take you out when they do this… and, no, I’m not sure how I would tactfully suggest that…sorry

Austinlad's avatar

At the office I have to deal with tardiness constantly, and it makes me nuts. I do everything I can to be on time for meetings, literally sweat when I’m running late, which is very rare, but few of my co-workers, including my boss, exhibit the same ethic. I regularly counsel my staff to be at meetings at the exact time it’s called, even a few minutes early, explaining that it’s thoughtless and rude to make others wait. More often than not, they’re on time. I don’t think they like the look on my face when they show up even a few minutes late.

ucme's avatar

I’d just tell them straight up to try & make more of an effort.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Do not plan around them. They are not respectful of your time and are not reliable people. I would give them 10 minutes past the appointed meeting time, and then call them to so say that you are going on without them, and where you can find them. Do not expend the extra effort of cooking for them.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

F**K em. If they’re chronically late, ignore them.

second_guessing's avatar

Be straight up with them, i find this disrespectful and rude. Grrrrrr!

marinelife's avatar

The only way to tell them is to go on with events without them. Your mistake is in waiting for them. If, for example, you and your husband went ahead and ate lunch, and then when they arrived you looked flustered and said, “Well, let me see if there is anything I can heat up. Lunch was scheduled for 12:30.”

If you are to meet for vacation, make sure you meet where there is stuff for you and your husband to do. Then don’t wait for them. Leave them a note telling them where you are off to and why: “When you were late, we couldn’t wait to get started on holiday.”

That is if you want to salvage this friendship. Your other option is to stop inviting them and if they ask, tell them why: Their chronic lateness finally got to you.

Cruiser's avatar

No real biggie as I always leave on time.

AmWiser's avatar

When you stress yourself out over other peoples actions, you take away from your own enjoyment in life. You are not responsible for other people’s behavior. Move on with your plans and let the late-comers catch up, after all they are grown-ups (I assume). Some people have been allowed to act certain ways and the only ones who are upset are ones who allow such actions.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In business, as long as it is not the customer who is late, I start the meeting and do not go back for catch up. Late attendees only get a passing nod.
I would do the same for dinner plans. If there is one more couple in attendance, I would start on time as planned. When Jed and Ellie show up late I’d say with feigned surprise, “Oh you’re here! We waited until X (five minutes before they showed) and decided we should enjoy the food while it was Y (hot, not burned, etc) Please feel free to serve yourself. We were just discussing Jack and Jill’s trip to New York.
Don’t feel bad about being perceived as rude. It is not on their radar.

If your late guests are the only other attendees then you need a different tact. Tell them a time one hour before you actually want them to arrive. If they arrive on time apologize profusely about how you are running late and detest inconveniencing others.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

If there always late by an hour ( my uncle ) tell them the party starts at 11 when it really starts at 12.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

While it is disrespectful, learn to accept this character flaw in your friends. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. There is very little that can be done to change their behavior; they have do it themselves.

As for the lunch, were they forewarned on the front end that you were fixing something that is time-sensitive? When they called to say that they would be late, were they reminded of this? Sometimes, communication is the key. What seems obvious to others just isn’t for some.

The above posts provide some great suggestions about moving ahead with the plans. My BIL is this way, and after 25 years, my sister finally gave up and goes herself. She’s become a much less stressed person because of this.

MissA's avatar

“We need you to be here at 6:30 prompt.” I believe that when people are told, “We’re starting at 6…” who knows what they really hear.

If this has truly become a bone of contention, after dinner when everyone is full and happy, bring up the fact that “we need to be kinder to the cook” (or whatever). It is more than a little inconvenience to wait and watch.

It goes both ways. I’ve been invited to dinner where the hosts were beginning preparation when we arrived. Depending upon the menu, that can sometimes be a lot of fun. Other times, it is quite awkward.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In your shoes and since this particular couple is known to do this as part of their makeup and not because of any emergency or whatever then I’d tell them to arrive when they will and to please pardon you to go ahead and have the lunch you prepared.

In my life I try to bump people I really care about spending time with by a few minutes, fib about the set meeting time. Acquaintances or co workers though, ick I hate lateness I wouldn’t care about otherwise if it didn’t affect me.

misstrikcy's avatar

I am a ‘late’ person. Late for everything!

My best friend wont stand for it though. She absolutely bollocks me if I’ve let her down, and good for her. I need to be told if I’ve ruined her plans and be given the opportunity to apologise.
Fortunately we’ve been friends sinse we were kids, so we are both comfortable with giving/recieving a bollocking. It’s honest, and it gets dealt with straight away.

Other friends have had to adapt to me…
Nowadays friends will arrange to meet up with me at say 10am. Then when I roll in at 12 all the food is ready and everyone is happy. Then I find out that everyone else was meeting at 12..

MissA's avatar

@misstrikcy Shouldn’t it bother you more? Why do you feel you can be so thoughtless?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@misstrikcy Thank you for your honesty. May I ask what causes you to be consistently late? I know why my BIL does…he gets side-tracked very easily. We’ll go to the store to pick up something his wife needs for a meal, and he’ll get caught up in a conversation with a stranger and lose track of time. Or, we’ll be heading home, and he’ll take a detour through a neighborhood to point out copper gutters, slate shingles, and shutters that have been hung upside down.

I’m curious why other people are this way. Maybe if we learn the cause, we can better accept it and learn how to properly deal with it.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I used to leave and wave to Ruel as I drove past him on the way to my house.A few doses of that and he was cured!!

BoBo1946's avatar

When i was coaching, if they were not on time to get on the bus, we left them. A very good life’s lesson to be learned. Being considerate of others.

misstrikcy's avatar

Sinse childhood I’ve had difficulty grasping time. Difficult to explain…
For example, I cannot in my mind imagine 5 minutes of time. If someone says call back in 5 minutes, it’ll be 40 mins (unless I use a clock). I actually think there’s a flaw in my brain… Unless I use a watch or clock, I can lose time…
If I daydream, I can come out of a daydream and several hours have passed, but to me it feels like only 15 mins have gone by. It’s nuts…

@MissA it should bother me more, yes. It is something I’m going to work on because I dont want to be selfish or thoughtless, and upset my friends.

CMaz's avatar

You love ‘em or you hate ‘em But, you referred to them as “friends”. If that is who they are accept it. Or kick them to the curb.

Aster's avatar

If a relative is always late I simply arrive an hour later than I say I will. For instance; I want to meet them at 2pm but know that they’ll be there at 3pm full of lame excuses. So now I just say , “see you at 2!” and show up at 3.
I had a doctor, an elderly lady, who would make me wait 45 minutes in the waiting room. So I went to my appointment 45 minutes late . Next time I saw her she gave me a dirty look. lol

misstrikcy's avatar

Last year I travelled from Paris to Nimes on the TGV (a very punctual train)...
Needless to say, I arsed about so much I missed the train. Had to wait 6 hours for the next one and pay nearly £100 for a new ticket… Sigh….

Late people… we frustrate ourselves as well (and deservedly so…)

KatawaGrey's avatar

I have no good way of dealing with it except being unintentionally late myself. I have had? I’ve stopped making an effort to hang out with her because of this a friend who would always be at least 45 minutes late on a good day but usually be around 2–3 hours late on an average day. This was because she would always do something else beforehand. If we were to meet up at 4, she would call at 3:30 and say, “Oops, I have to help my bf babysit his little siblings. I’ll see you around 6.” The thing is, she always had to look after her bf’s younger siblings when she was at his house, so why didn’t she plan for this? Then she would call at 6:30 and say, “We’re packing up the car now.” Then she would call at 7:30 and say, “We’re actually packing up the car now.” By then, I would be doing something else knowing that she wouldn’t be there until about 8. This just bothered me so much because she would often choose to do something else rather than meet with me at the agreed-upon time. So, I haven’t spoken to her in months, because, what’s the point?

When others are late, I get angry and agitated and have no good way of calling them on their lateness without being nasty.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@KatawaGrey : another stunning exaple of genetics at work! ;-)

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

One of my best friends is chronically late, and it’s quite sad. I really enjoy his company, but he’s typically late by at least an hour, so I’ve had to except the fact that I often can’t count on him. We’ve had many discussions about this, he’s always very sorry, and I can tell that it’s not a conscious choice to be late on his part, it’s just him being simply unaware of time as @misstrikcy pointed out. I haven’t stopped being friends with him, or stopped trying to do things together, but I had to get a bit tough with him and lay down some ground rules.

For instance, if we’re going to go somewhere that is very time sensitive, like an concert, I will pick him up rather than trying to meet up with him. If I’m driving, we adhere to my schedule, period. No room for slip-ups. I’ve also learned to go to some events with a group of friends. If we were to go to a movie, everybody would decide on a time, and most of the group will show up promptly. If there are a few stragglers, they know that they group will not wait for them so they usually show up on time. If not, they aren’t gonna be able to see the movie with us. Plain and simple.

The most important thing is, I’ve learned to not get frustrated with it. I was very frank and clear with him about his tardiness, and he has gotten better. But, I had to learn to expect a bit less from him, and not be afraid to simply leave without him on occasion in order to retain the friendship. Sad but true.

mowens's avatar

No one is ever later than me.Everyone is always ready and waiting when I get places.

That isn’t entirely true. As long as it doesnt envolve waking up, I am very punctual. But, I am rarely on time for work because the medication I take makes me a very, very deep sleeper. My alarm clock is 120 decibles…. I sleep right through it and annoy my neighbors.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Your answer was wonderful and the best one yet, IMO.

@mowens You have nothing on my BIL. Sis finally starts the family vacation without him now. We take bets on when he’ll show up…and we are talking which day of the week.

MissA's avatar

@misstrikcy Let us know if you have any success. I realize it has to be frustrating for everyone, including you.

Trillian's avatar

Well, I would have a discussion and make a few “I” statemets; “When we make plans and you are late I feel like you are taking me for granted.” Then I would make clear that the offer is not on the table indefinitely. The food has to be eaten when it’s hot or it will get cold. We have to leave by “x” to get there on time, whatever. We’re all grown and your friends cannot rationally, logically expect the rest of the world to stop and wait for them. Start the festivities without them. Period.
Oh lord. I just read a post you had put in. “Yes I do forgive this couple… continuously. But sometimes I reach a point where I think ‘enough is enough’. My food is ruined, and I will now have to take them out for food,,,,” What? Why do you have to tak them out for food when they were late and lacked even the bare, common courtesy of a phone call saying ‘sorry, we’re runing late…’ Wherever did you get such an idea? This is actually a conflict, and your way of dealing with it is obviously accommodation. The probelm with being an accommodator is that the persons you are doing this for are unaware of your sacrifices and have come to expect them and take them for grated. This leads to resentment on your part. You must stop accommodating. Have some value for yourself, and stay away from those who have none for you.

partyparty's avatar

@Austinlad Yes I think in an office situation punctuality is paramount
@marinelife Yes I think in future it would be easier for me to go out for a meal, rather than have my food wasted, thanks
@AmWiser Very true words, thanks. The male friend is always apologising for their lateness, but he tells me it his SO who makes them late
@worriedguy @daytonamisticrip I absolutely love your answers about inviting them round an hour earlier than I wish them to arrive. I must remember that LOLL

Frenchfry's avatar

My husband diddles around the house and makes me late all the time. Checks his email. Blah Blah I leave with out him now. He has a car .Meet ya there. He moves a little faster now once I did that once.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I just noticed that I made a mistake in my first response. Except should be replaced with accept. Silly me, I need to put the coffee on earlier in the morning.

Aster's avatar

@mowens where can I get some of your meds?

Trillian's avatar

I’ve been going over some more posts. It amazes me the way people are so careless with other people’s time. My ex was that way too. My time has a value. It is like money in that it is spent in various ways. I choose how my time is spent. After him, I am very adamant about not allowing others to spend my time. I told him this one day after a particularly ridiculous expenditure of my time involving him trying to procure drugs, which I hate. You may spend your time in whatever foul, depraved way you see fit. You may not spend my time. That was the last time I did that for him.
@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities I would except this explanation , accept that I didn’t even notice. Maybe I should make my coffee a bit stronger. ;-)

Aster's avatar

My husband is a stickler about being on time. Maybe it has to do with being in the Navy in the past.

christos99's avatar

I agree, my brother is always late so our family always invites him early and he shows up on time!!!

mowens's avatar

@Aster You don’t want them. I have never woken up refreshed. It is a terrible quality of sleep. And I have them for epilepsy.

mowens's avatar

Also, gay people follow what we like to call Gay Standard Time… We show up where we want when we want.

partyparty's avatar

@BoBo1946 Yes, I think you are correct in saying it is inconsiderate to be late, thanks
@ChazMaz Yes they really are friends, but constantly late ones. I think I will have to start telling them to arrive sooner than I actually want them at my home.
@Aster Love your answer LOLL
@KatawaGrey Yes people being late can be very frustrating can’t it?
@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Yes I must try to be more tolerant of my friends, thanks
@mowens Well at least you have a valid reason for being late, thanks

KatawaGrey's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities: I would be much more forgiving of my friend if she was simply late but often she does something else when we are supposed to hang out. I often hear, “Oh, we decided to go to the store,” or, “Well, we wanted to watch a movie,” and I wonder why it couldn’t have waited. My boyfriend is late a lot but I know it’s because he hit traffic or because as he was leaving his mom asked him to do something or because the activity he’s participating in simply ran much longer than thought.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Around here if we have to be somewhere at a set time, we figure out what we call an “ETA” – estimated time of Aleaval. That means hands on door handles – not hands on PCs checking email. Tragically, I once left my then 14 year old son home from an event becasue he said he could not possibly be ready in 45 minutes.
You snooze, you lose. My family is on time. It has helped all of us in the long run.
Friends know we will be on time. It is a sign of mutual respect.

perspicacious's avatar

I dealt with this for many years. The last few I started leaving home without him because I was tired of being late to wherever we were going, or I would simply undress and announce that I was not going when he finally got here. I didn’t argue about it, I just took the attitude that if we could not get somewhere on time I would not go. It can drive you crazy.

NaturallyMe's avatar

@JilltheTooth Don’t dare spend more money on taking them out or making another meal for them! You can say in a very polite way that you’ve prepared the food, however it has since become cold/hard (whatever went wrong with it while it sat there waiting for them) since you had it ready for your meeting at so-and-so time.
It is indeed very inconsiderate and i will out of principal NOT spend extra money on them just because they were late and didn’t bother to let you know timely that they won’t make it on time.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@NaturallyMe : Look again, I said they (the late ones) should take the waiting ones out to eat. (Or did you hit the wrong name? If you did, sorry, I’ve done that…)

BarnacleBill's avatar

@misstrikcy, Frequently people who have ADD have time issues as you described. This is an explanation, but not an excuse. If you can’t manage time, then leave early to be where you need to be. Overestimate how long it will take you to get ready, drive where you need to go, and plan on getting there early. You’re not sure how long it usually takes, time yourself doing certain tasks, and write it down. Use that to assess how much time you should allow based on what you have to do to get ready, and where you have to go.

Being on time is a way to convey that your relationship with people is important to you; chronic tardiness conveys the opposite.

partyparty's avatar

Thanks for all your answers. Our male friend was extremely apologetic when I asked who made you late. It is always the female. He always apologises (on her behalf), but she never says a word. Very rude of her I think.
We did go out for a meal because I wasn’t willing to serve up ruined food. We had a lovely meal, and the good news is we had a delicious slice of my chocolate gateau when we returned home. Then my SO and our male friend had a great time playing their guitars and entertaining us.
I must remember not to stress about their lateness in future, and accept this is how they are.

mowens's avatar

I just hate making plans. People always force me into them..

MissA's avatar

@mowens “Also, gay people follow what we like to call Gay Standard Time…We show up where we want when we want.”

Are you serious about that point of view?

Jabe73's avatar

I do not know what else to say except to not make plans/or as many plans with them in that case. I am being a hypocrite here however because very few people are late as often as I am. I am infamous for not being on time (even at work).

NaturallyMe's avatar

@JilltheTooth oops…yes, it was meant for @partyparty! :)

JilltheTooth's avatar

@NaturallyMe: I did that in another thread, confusing you with @DutchessIII…purple butterfly mix-up. I so get it!

partyparty's avatar

@mowens Why do you not like making plans? Do you enjoy yourself when you go out with friends? I am sure they understand why you are late sometimes.
@Jabe73 Do you have any particular reason for always being late? I think you must have the answer, as you yourself are always late. Can you explain so I can understand my friends better :-)

Jabe73's avatar

@partyparty Stress may be a factor with me as well but honestly I do not know why I do this. When I was younger I was always early for everything but as I’ve gotten older I seem to procrastinate everything.

mowens's avatar

@MissA No, I was told that is what I was on, that or Mowens Standard Time, but MST is already taken. I was going to petition for them to make MST Mowens Standard time, but that takes a lot of work.

@partyparty I just like deciding what to do at the last moment. On Monday, who knows what I will feel like doing on Friday? I used to work with this guy, who had a cookout about once a month. He’d say it starts at my place on Friday at 8. For a year he invited me, and I never showed up. One time, he called me at 7:30 the night of, and asked if I wanted to come and I said I’d be right over. My reasoning is 2 fold.

A: I have a terrible memory, and I never remember I agree to do stuff with people. So by Friday, I told 12 people I’d think about doing something with them on Friday. Then, someone else calls me and says “HEY! Lets do this!” It sounds fun, and I forgot that other people wanted to do stuff, so I go out with them.

B: If someone invites me to something on Friday, I have all week to get bored with the idea. It is not new and fresh in my mind. If you remind me every day to do something, I don’t want to go. The time of my life I liked the most was in College, where no one ever made plans, they just showed up at your door. I looove the idea of impromptu hangouts, over planned ones. Planning takes too much work. I plan at work, and I am damn good at it. I don’t want to plan for anything other than my job.

misstrikcy's avatar

@BarnacleBill I was diagnosed with dyspraxia only a few years ago and you’re absolutely right, that should not be an excuse. But it’s also not the easiest thing to completely change how you’ve lived your life for 35 years…
My life is completely driven by lists now and it’s taken many years to accept that I need to have these lists in order to acheive anything at all…. I cant always organise my thoughts properley so sometimes if I forget to look at a list, or make one, then everything can go to pot.
I am always consious of the need to make more of an effort but sometimes, I’ve got to be honest, I just find it exhausting. Probably why my attitude to my tardiness can come across as somewhat cavalier.
I will keep trying though, but it’s going to take many more years of trying before it stops being such an up-hill struggle.
Thanks for the tips on timing yourself to do certain activities. I’ll give it a go and see how I get on..

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