General Question

Jude's avatar

Anyone have an issue with being late? I'm late for pretty much everything (not work, though), and I can't figure out why?

Asked by Jude (32134points) August 27th, 2010

What’s the psychology behind it?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

49 Answers

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m borderline OCD about promptness. I’ll actually plan on showing up early, then waiting in my car until the exact moment. Just something that was trained into me since childhood. Maybe your lateness is due to some inner conflict about wanting to be there at all?

misstrikcy's avatar

There was a similar discussion last week on fluther about friends and their tardiness.
I’m totally inept – I’m dyspraxic and a bit lazy as well.

MacBean's avatar

I am ALWAYS late for EVERYTHING. I have no idea why. Even when I plan ahead and give myself what should be WAY too much extra time—I’m talking an hour and a half or more—I always end up late.

marinelife's avatar

It means (wince) that you value your time more than that of others.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I find that when I am late and when I’m very early, actually, it’s because I didn’t approximate my time of arrival very well. There are times when I think it will take me half an hour to get somewhere but it really takes me forty-five minutes or more.

Usually, I’m like @stranger_in_a_strange_land. I plan to show up about fifteen minutes early and if I’m there only five minutes early, I freak out about almost being late. I routinely show up to work twenty to thirty minutes early though, in my defense, I’ve hit some nasty traffic that has made me late before.

janbb's avatar

I’m usually not late because I start getting ready early, but I seem to have a lot of trouble leaving the house at times and often go back in for things. Trouble leaving the nest perhaps.

Coloma's avatar

Yeah, it is a subconscious resistance to whatever you really don’t want to be doing.

A sort of passive aggressive covert rebellion. lol

I am rarely late, infact, if anything I am slightly early, or, as I have been told, more than once, impeccably on time.

The only time I am late is when I am meeting my biz. partner who is always 10–20 minutes late, so I know that I have a margin, lol

Being on time shows respect for others time as well.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@marinelife: I’ve actually known and still know a lot of people who are chronically late and often it is less about whose time they think is more valuable and more about being deeply scattered. I know a few people who actually don’t care about other people’s time and they have a tendency to make other plans on the fly when they are supposed to be doing something with other people. I just figured out recently that a friend of mine would always do this. If we were supposed to meet at 4, she would go see a movie at 3:30. She didn’t value my time.

Scooby's avatar

The only issue I have is other people being late…. It drives me mad sometimes, how inconsiderate…. I always arrive early :-/
A-hem, if I’m going anywhere that is! I am always on time, never just in time. On time for me is fifteen minutes early, I’d rather sit & wait on my time than be late & waste other peoples time.. I just bloody wish other people thought like this!! :-/

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Other people being late (within reason) doesn’t bother me. My standard I apply only to myself. My fiance is the same way as me about promptness, so we have no conflicts over this.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Coloma-Well said….the way it was explained to me,a former chonically late person,is that it is a “Fuck You!” to whomever you keep waiting and the late one thinks their time is more important than the people they keep waiting
.It cured me . ;)

JilltheTooth's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land , and all of us who are chronically early, I take a book and sit in my car, but I park around the corner so the hosts don’t feel uncomfortable or think I’m creepy if they look out the window. :-)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@JilltheTooth Exactly what I do. I use audio books in the car. :^)

Cruiser's avatar

“Time waits for no one”
“Time is of the essence”
“Time is valuable”
“Time’s a wasting”

Being late just broadcasts loud and clear that you don’t really care or at the very least sufficiently disinterested to be late and ‘nuff said. There are the obvious out-of your-control interference obstacles that make being punctual impossible. IMO it is up to the “lator” and “latee” to evaluate the importance and relevance of the moment. For me, if you agree to a set time you have a responsibility to make good on that agreement and it is all about respect for that other persons time….waiting just plain sucks.

Aster's avatar

Many people are late because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to wait. It is so egotistical.

Austinlad's avatar

I’ve made it a habit all my life to be on time or early for all my commitments anything including business meetings and deadlines, medical appointments, social engagements, airplane flights, email replies, bill remittances, income tax payments, and birthday rememberances. I have many imperfections, but tardiness isn’t one of them. And I have to add, I don’t have much patience for it in anyone else, especially in the workplace.

Jude's avatar

I’m thinking that the events that I’m late for, I really don’t want to be there.

I really am working on it, though. It’s one of my worst flaws and I would like to change it.

Also, both my sister and my dad are notorious for being late.

Cruiser's avatar

@jjmah I might add that being late or on time is probably a learned behavior. I have no idea how my mom got us 5 kids anywhere on time but she did. And getting my 2 boys out the door is a challenge every time unless it is off to Dairy Queen of course. So for us it comes down to how much time do you want to devote to getting ready just to be on time. Give them a choice they would take 2 hours just to put on their socks. So I just start them 2 hours early if need be and they soon catch on that they just wasted 2 hours goofin off testing dad’s patience and that they could have been playing their Play Station IF they had prepared to be ready when need be Now those 2 hour wrestling matches are 15 minutes of pretty efficient drama free getting out the door on time.

janbb's avatar

@Austinlad However, you are late for you own party!

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

My number one pet peeve. Oh @jjmah, say it isn’t so!

I think there are probably many reasons as to why some people are habitually tardy. Perhaps it is that they value their time over others, or they simply don’t care what affect it will have, or they simply don’t have a good internal clock, and don’t understand the true amount of time many activities take.

I have a friend who is habitually late, and it had begun to cause serious problems to our friendship. One day we sat down and I let loose with all of my frustration, and as we discussed the issue, I slowly began to see that he truly didn’t have a good grasp on how long it takes to do many things. I asked him many questions about how long it would take to do this and that (like driving to and from a destination we both knew well). He was really underestimating time, and never allowed for any variability in his schedule (traffic conditions, for example). After me letting him know how frustrated I’ve been, and him explaining his side of things (not to mention my getting a grasp on his sense of time), the friendship has been salvaged, and he is certainly working on being on time.

I think our internal clock is something that is developed at a young age, and it can be difficult to try to re-learn a sense of time. But that would be my first suggestion to you, @jjmah. Take a good hard look at how much time you allow yourself to do certain activities. You may find clues as to why you’re often running late.

Jude's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities I will. I’ll look into it and change it. I know that I will.

harple's avatar

I used to frequently play for peoples weddings, and I would be so concerned about not being late that I would arrive about an hour and a half early! Excessive, I realise, but I had to allow for any eventuality on the journey there and still be able to be on time… The further I had to travel, the earlier I would arrive.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’m in the early/on time camp. If you say 7:00 pm, I will be parked right next to @JilltheTooth sitting in my car around the corner so I am absolutely sure I arrive on time.
I consider it rude to be keep others waiting or be kept waiting. If the other person shows up 10 minutes late and does not at least make a perfunctory apology, I will write them off.
I figure that is a sign of untold heartache and stress in years to come. It is not worth it.

To those people who think coming late helps then get more done, I say BS! When you are on time, you beat the lines, beat traffic, get the best restaurant seats, never miss your flight and don’t have to sweat a surprise traffic tie-up.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@worriedguy: the door’s unlocked, I’ll pull a cold one out of the cooler for you.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Many people are late because they don’t leave soon enough.

onesecondregrets's avatar

Time is an illusion…. I like to go by my own schedule..even when I shouldn’t and even when I do plan ahead I’m late. I set all my clocks fast. I also suck at waking up on time. Time and I have a very unhealthy relationship. So you’re not alone. I wish there was a legitimate way to fix it, but 21 years and I’m pretty responsible..and I still suck at it. I feel bad for the people in my life. I even tell them to tell me a half an hour earlier than our plans are so I can be on time. Even with work. Hope I at least made you feel better about your chronic lateness. :P.

It’s something I hate about myself, a wee bit.

Trillian's avatar

Yeah, no. I was in the navy for a long time and there is no such thing as late for me. I’m fifteen minutes early and if I’m not there on time and haven’t called, I’m probably dead in a ditch somewhere.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@onesecondregrets Be careful. If you believe time is a illusion you might find your paycheck an illusion too.
Like it or not, time does mean something. Some of my clients are billed by the hour. If I said it was an illusion I’d be eating mac and cheese with cornflakes for dinner every night.

@JilltheTooth Iced tea or lemonade would be fine. Thanks. (I’ll bring the cheese.)

Cruiser's avatar

@onesecondregrets You comment reminded me of an experience I had a long time ago that stuck with me was when I was in the Virgin Islands I was in a store wanting to pay for my stuff….and I was just being my old impatient self and this older lady store clerk looks at me and says….”“Slow down young mon”....take it easy…no rush, no hurry….we take things real slllooooow down here in the islands…try it and you will enjoy your time down here much better”!!

She was right!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I blame public transportation – it screws us over ALL the time.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Cruiser Dat may be fine down dere mon. But, when you get back to the real world, time (and spelling) counts. It is a nice place to visit though.

Sarcasm's avatar

I’m the opposite. I am never late. I can’t be late.
If I have somewhere to be by 4pm, I’ll go to bed by midnight. I’ll lay awake for an hour worrying that I’ll sleep for 16 hours and be late. I’ll eventually fall asleep, I’ll wake up at 7, thinking “Oh god! Is it 7am or pm? did I sleep for 19 hours?!”
I’ll eventually get my bearings. For the next 9 hours I won’t do anything enjoyable. I’ll worry too much about getting too into the activity and losing track of time.
If I know that I need exactly 45 minutes to get to the place by 4pm, I’ll leave an extra 30 minutes early, being prepared for a stop at the gas station, or unexpected traffic, or a flat tire, bad parking, or a million other things.
This is for pretty much anything. School, doctor’s appointments, going to my own parents’ house, meeting up with friends, whatever.

If we want to analyze this deeply, I think it’s because of my parents. My dad was always slow to do everything. And I hated it. he’d wake us up telling us we’re leaving for somewhere “in 30 minutes!” We’d rush to get ready, we’d be ready in 15. Then we’d wait another hour and a half for him. That was so annoying. So I guess I made it my mission to not be like that.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@jjmah: Maybe you need to evaluate how long it takes you to get ready for whatever it is you’re going to. I think a lot of people are late because they don’t anticipate how long it will take them to get ready. If you need gas, leave twenty minutes to do so. You never know if your favorite station will be full or if a pump is out of order. haven’t showered or brushed your teeth? Do them at the same time. Have to dress up? Pick your outfit out the day before, then you can just throw it on when you’re leaving.

I’m glad to hear you’re never late for work though. I don’t understand how people can consistently be late for work…

rooeytoo's avatar

A shrink told me that if you grew up in chaos of any kind you become sort of addicted to it and inject it into all aspects of your life. Therefore waiting until the last minute and then rushing like a mad person creates a certain kind of chaos and excitement and it feels good in a perverse sort of way.

jca's avatar

I had an aunt (recently passed away) that used to go to church like an hour early and sit in the pew – she had her pick of the spots – and i used to think what a waste of time. that would be one hour that she could have done something productive at home, but to each his own.

i am a last minute person. i am a person that if i know what time i have to be somewhere, and how long it takes to get there, then i deduct how long i know it takes me to get ready, and i do whatever until that time. However, i often kill more time than i planned and then i run late. or else if i’m home alone i may get lazy and take a nap, and then run late. i mean no disrespect.

i am also chronically late to work. my former supervisor told me she figured it out. she said she figures i never want to be at work longer than i have to, therefore, when i’m running early i find things to to at home to take up the time, so i am either running “on time” or “late.” she was right. if i am running early i may decide to load the dishwasher, or throw in a load of clothes, or something like that.

JLeslie's avatar

I have not read the above. People are late for many reasons in my opinion.

- don’t really want to go where they are going
– habit
– family or culture
– you don’t want to give up your time and arrive early and have to wait
– no serious consequence to being late

I used to always be on time when I was young. Then I dated a guy who was always late. We fought about it several times finally agreeing that anything within 20 minutes would be considered on time, and we never fought about it again for years. That 20 minute rule has sort of stuck with me. But my husband is very on time, very, and I just made a commitment to myself to always be at least 5 minutes early when I have to be ready to go out with him or am going to meet him. We’ll see how I do.

GracieT's avatar

I’m much like @Sarcasm. I’m notoriously early. Anywhere from a half hour to one to two hours early, even though I know the time I should be there, my internal clock is so worried about not allowing me to be late, I’m always early!

Response moderated
shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I am. I like to stay at home as long as possible. I hate sitting in my car with nothing to do when I’m super early.

Coloma's avatar

4:39 now.

This thread ties in perfectly with my afternoon.

I left lunch at exactly 2:24 and walked into my 2:30 appt. (which was 2 minutes from where I was), freshend my makeup in my car, gathered my paperwork and walked right into a handshake at promptly 2:29. and 24 seconds.

Damn I’m good! lolol

le_inferno's avatar

My mom has a big issue with lateness. Once, we were a little late to our family gathering on Christmas day at my aunt’s house, right after her dad died. So she fuckin’ lashed out at my mom. Saying stuff like, “You don’t give a shit about anyone’s agenda but your own!” I feel bad cause it wasn’t completely my mom’s fault. We’re a family of 5, it takes some time to get us all ready and out the door. I don’t think it’s because my mom is selfish or doesn’t care about people’s time. She’s just really terrible at planning her time and keeping track of it. She’ll decide to take care of some cleaning or laundry or gardening that she wants to get done before she goes, and then doesn’t leave enough time to get herself ready. And she’s just not anal or anxious about these kind of things, so I guess she’s not motivated enough to change it.

KatawaGrey's avatar

To those of you who claim to be chronically late, how do you feel when you’re on time and someone else is late?

MacBean's avatar

@KatawaGrey Doesn’t bother me a bit when people are later than I am. I see my time as pretty worthless, so I don’t feel it’s wasted waiting for other people. I figure they must’ve had something important to do, or got caught in traffic, or whatever. Most of the time I don’t even ask what took the extra time, unless they look distressed about something.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey if it is under 20 minutes it does not bother me at all, unless it is something that being late means missing something specific, like the beginning of a movie, or if it is a specific dinner time, and being late makes it difficult for the person cooking, or miss a reservation, or if I only have an hour for lunch. If I’m just waiting 10 minutes for someone I don’t mind. I typically run late, but not when it really counts. My husband is super punctual, sometimes early, and he has no concept of the etiquette for when it is more appropriate to be late, that is a problem too.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@MacBean @JLeslie: GA’s both of you. I have met people who are chronically late and then get mad when I am late for meeting up with them. Sometimes, there have been times when someone has been multiple hours so I’ve started to do something else and, as a result, am not ready when they are ready two, three or even four hours after we were supposed to meet up. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous.

@JLeslie: Being only ten minutes late is not, in my opinion, all that late because that’s the kind of thing that could be explained by a number of different things. your watch might be slower than mine, you may have had to run back into your house to grab your purse, the drive may have simply taken a little longer than it usually does.

Coloma's avatar


I agree a few minutes is no biggy.

I am exactly 15 minutes from the freeway on a rural highway. I always allow a few extra minutes though because, inevitably, I will get stuck behind a motor home coming out of the state park by my house or a logging truck or other slower situation.
A few minutes in traffic delays is totally within reason.

It’s chronic lateness that is the issue not an occasional thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I have some friends who are chronically very late, at least a half an hour, if not more. I just assume they will be late, and I adjust myself for it. If they complain that I am late or not ready when they show up, well f**k them. That is ridiculous! What a crazy double standard, totally obnoxious. I guess they are the sun, and the rest of us planets have to revolve around them? No way. None of my friends who run late are like that though.

busymommy247's avatar

I have always had a time perception issue. It has gotten a little better over time but not by a whole lot. The only way I have learned to help myself make it to appointments and such on time is to set all but my wall clock about 30 min. ahead of time. I set my alarm for about 10 min ahead of that already adjusted 30 ahead to get my kids ready to go. (the 30 min is ahead for driving time since it takes about that to get anywhere I need to go in town.)

GracieT's avatar

I agree with @busymommy247, but if I set my watch or my clock ahead, my husband- who is usually right on time or a few minutes late figures out that I did that, and stays the same way he is already or gets mad at me and then doesn’t want to go. So I don’t try that anymore!

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther