7 ways to deal with your chronically late friend

Guest post by Lisa Birch

I have always been that person who is a little bit early. Then, enter a new friend who has the chronic lateness bug. Which would be fine… except the bug stays… and becomes your best friend.

Some advice you’ll often hear from those also dealing with the chronically late, is to tell your friend the wrong time. If you’re supposed to meet for coffee at 2:30, tell her to meet you at 2 instead. This doesn’t work.

Other people would say that “a good friend would make more of an effort.” I don’t agree. Although people who are often late can be on time for things they need to be there for, I find that it is the less structured times of social hang outs and cinema trips that can cause headaches. Another friend of mine finds being on time to everything an undue stress, and doesn’t conform to time schedules for her mental health.

After a year of dealing of my friend’s lateness to most events, a mutual friend and I held a mini-intervention. There wasn’t an ultimatum, but the premise was that Things Had To Change. Unfortunately, the thing that had to change was me.

So here are my tips for dealing with your chronically late friend…

1. Meet somewhere you don’t mind waiting

For me, usually it is my house, or somewhere I will keep busy, like a mall.

2. Decide not to watch the clock

Do something to take your mind off waiting. Read a book, do something creative or call a friend. Soon you won’t be waiting for someone, you’ll simply be being expecting them.

3. Confirm your get together the day before

Chances are that your friend totally remembers, but while you’re counting down the minutes the next day, you might find yourself panicking and wondering if your friend forgot.

4. It’s okay to tell other people that so-and-so is usually late

Sometimes people who aren’t aware or don’t really know the late-comer very well, will start nagging you. Or making “helpful suggestions.” Or question whether the person is actually coming. Ignore this.

5. If you’re eating out, just order from the menu

I have always figured that if I am running late, I’d much prefer someone to be happily doing things (eg. slurping down a hot chocolate), rather than standing outside a cafe, writing endless text messages asking, “where are you?”

6. Call once you start feeling a little tired, or frustrated

If you give a grace allowance of about 15 minutes, then phone, they have a much more accurate time of arrival, as opposed to calling right on your meet up time.

7. When they arrive, just be nice

Some people will tell you why they were late, others won’t worry about the excuses. You’re there to see your friend, not to be their time keeper.

Over time, my family and friends have came to know lateness as a trait, rather than a defect. They have stopped nagging about where my best friend could be, and have started asking if we should save some dinner for them. The acceptance of the crowd certainly helps.

It all can be frustrating, I know, but a truly good friend is worth waiting around for.

What are the hacks you’ve implemented to help you deal with your friend who’s always late?

Comments on 7 ways to deal with your chronically late friend

  1. I don’t see why I should be the one to change. What is being said is that the punctual person should accommodate rude behaviour. There is no excuse for chronic lateness.

    1. There is no place where I ‘don’t mind waiting’. If I agree to meet someone at 4.30pm, it is not acceptable to be kept waiting for an hour, no matter where I am.

    2. It simply is not possible to not ‘watch the clock’, when I have to go to work, or get to a store before it closes, and the friend turns up, yet again, an hour late. When they refuse to answer their phone.

    3. When you confirm the ‘get together’ a few hours before, and they are still an hour late.

    4. You point out they are late all the time, and they laugh it off.

    5. ‘order from the menu’. Eat the meal, pay for it, leave. My friend still hasn’t arrived…

    6.When you call and they say ‘traffic’, when they say they will be there in ten minutes and arrive 40 minutes later…they are lying to you.

    7. ‘When they arrive, just be nice’. It’s difficult to be nice when they arrive to find you are no longer there, because you stopped waiting for them some time ago.

  2. “Another friend of mine finds being on time to everything an undue stress, and doesn’t conform to time schedules for her mental health.“

    I’d suggest that if this friend started being on time for everything her mental health, just maybe, would improve. People who are always late invariably find excuses.

    I have, possibly had (past tense) a friend who is always late. What makes it particularly annoying is that he often sets the time and then doesn’t show. An hour is usual. Once he was six hours late. Spectacularly, he once managed to be 24 hours, an entire day late coming to my home, and no he didn’t mix up the date.

    There seems to be this attitude of ‘it doesn’t matter when, as long as I show up at some point’, like the only thing that really matters is him. He crossed the line on my birthday when he was an hour late to a restaurant. Despite having spoken a few hours earlier to confirm everything. He didn’t call of course, so when I called him he blamed traffic (not an excuse, GPS is very accurate these days, and I can use google maps too you know, to see how long the journey will take). That also doesn’t excuse him from lying to me, because he told me he would arrive in less than 15 minutes, and was another 45 minutes late (GPS does show minutes to destination). Having had enough (as I’d already left the restaurant) I sent an email asking why, specifically, he was late, as everything pointed to him not having set off until after he was supposed to have arrived. Over two weeks have passed, and it seems I’m being ignored.

    Sometimes it’s time to let friends go. We all change. A trait you once found funny, or at least were tolerant of, can, after years, drive you crazy. Perhaps if you have a lot of difficulty making friends, or are insecure, it may seem like hell to lose a friend. However, I don’t need friends like that. All punctual people should kick those that are late to the kerb. We should stick together. Those who have chronic, habitual lateness can befriend each other.

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