What To Do When A Friend Is Always Late

What To Do When Someone Always Turns Up Late

Do you know someone who always turns up late? It can be hard to be on the receiving end of someone's tardiness; left waiting and wondering when they’ll turn up. Often that person doesn’t mean to be disrespectful; some people simply manage their time better than others.

So what can you do when a friend is always late?

It's helpful to remember that we can’t change other people, we can only change ourselves. One good way to approach this problem is to set your own time boundaries.

Here's an example from How Kind People Get Tough.

How Kind People Get Tough

Robina, 23 and Jo, 22

Robina had a thing about timekeeping. Her friend Jo did not. Every time they met for coffee, Jo would turn up at least twenty minutes late. As the minutes ticked by, Robina would grow steadily more frustrated, humiliated, and hurt. 

‘I sit there getting worked up’, she told me.

I’m thinking that Jo thinks so little of our friendship that she can’t be bothered. By the time she arrives, I’m in such a foul mood that I end up snapping at her, and then later I feel embarrassed about being so rude. I wonder if I’m just being oversensitive.’ 

Whether Robina was being overly sensitive or not, the fact was that Jo’s constant lateness did annoy her. We can get so caught up with trying to decide if we are justified in our feelings, that we forget that what we feel, is what we feel—and that is OK. Clearly, Robina was feeling disrespected.

I asked her what meaning she attached to Jo’s lateness. Robina realised that much of the stress was due to having to sit there, feeling powerless, wondering what was happening. We explored ways that she could feel more empowered by taking responsibility for her part in the situation—after all, annoying as Jo’s tardiness was, she wasn’t physically forcing Robina to sit around and wait for her.

How To Set Time Boundaries When Someone Is Always Late

She decided to be more intentional by asking Jo to always message her when she was running late. She also decided that she would set a clear personal time boundary with Jo—she would never wait for her for more than thirty minutes. That way the stress would be reduced because she would always know where she stood.

Having these clear boundaries in place made it much easier for Robina to have a calm and kind conversation with Jo. The reality was that Jo had always been a terrible timekeeper. She was inclined to get distracted easily and would often get side-tracked by something just as she was leaving the house. She certainly didn’t mean any disrespect to Robina.

Because Jo now understood how important it was to Robina and to their relationship, she made a real effort to curb her tardiness. As Robina relaxed about the situation, she came to accept that Jo was simply not good at timekeeping. She could let go of her frustration about the occasional late arrival because she no longer took it as a personal insult. 

Courage To Be You!

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