When Someone’s Always Late

How long are you willing to wait?


I once knew a tardy couple. No matter what, they sauntered to wherever my spouse and I waited and offered armfuls of excuses about why they were late.

Traffic was crazy, they lost something or the other and had to find or replace it, or another catastrophe stopped them appearing on time.

Now I’m a forgiver. I’m patient and considerate, but you know if you’re being ‘had.’ You get an uneasy sensation in the pit of your stomach that growls ‘doormat’ when you let someone walk over you too many times.

I didn’t talk about boundary issues with them, though, despite my better judgment, because they were my husband’s so-called good friends (he knew them way before we met) and he spoke highly of them.

I let my hubby conclude the friendship wasn’t worth the hours lost waiting. Not being the catalyst meant I wasn’t the bad guy who broke up a long-term bond.

Knowing the unreliable couple made me ponder tardiness. How long, exactly, is too long? The reason for being late makes a difference, of course.

As a former counselor, I look at what makes people tick and why they operate as they do. Not obsessively. It wouldn't serve to read something into nothing. People often tell you secrets about themselves via their conduct though.

So, I puzzled over why certain folks are unreliable.

Was it passive aggression? Lack of care? Could there be a peculiar twist to their reason for tardiness?

Maybe they don’t think you’ll miss them or they consider they aren’t valuable? Or they have ADHD?

My conclusion, in the couple’s case, was they got a kick out of being late. Strolling into a room where others wait for you lends you power. Nothing can begin without you. People can’t order their meals, go into the theater, or view the museum if it’s a group activity.

Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. has similar thoughts on tardiness saying “Over time, chronic latecomers, may start to experience some benefits from their tardiness which only serves to strengthen their tendency to be late. This is how the narcissistic tendency to be late can develop. Like the actor who flounces in to occupy center stage in the middle of a crowded scene, the latecomer sweeps in and becomes the center of everyone’s attention.”

The poor timekeeping of my ex-friends, the type Susan Whitbourne mentions, isn’t the same as when a pal is bad at managing time. It is intentional tardiness, despite the myriad of excuses (that weaken as lateness turns into a custom).

At some point (when an undependable individual has been tardy often enough) they know they put people out. They understand their actions aren’t friendly.

Lack of punctuality isn’t a great behavior when it turns into a personality trait. People only have so much patience and time to spare. Do you wait for consistent offenders?

More importantly, how long are you willing to hang around for them? Do you recognize your worthiness? Know your boundaries and listen to your gut-feelings. Ask people why they are late too. If their excuse doesn’t ring true, or is repeatedly the same, you might question your relationship.

Copyright © 2018 Bridget Webber. All rights reserved

Independent content creator, ghostwriter, author https://tinyurl.com/y2cgqhgv mental health advocate, and poet. bridgetwebbber@outlook.com

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