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Finding the right relationship is all about timing, but what do you do when your partner is never on time? How long do you have to wait at a restaurant or bar before your partner shows up? How many times have you been late because you were waiting for them? Have you been tempted to tell your partner that an event started at an earlier time with the hope that you both could arrive at a decent hour?
If you find yourself dealing with a partner who is never on time, it’s time to take action—you don’t always have to be tardy to the party.
Talk It Out
If you’re finding that your significant other is constantly late, the first thing to do is tell them how their actions are affecting you. They may not recognize how their tardiness is causing you stress, anxiety, or even embarrassment, and letting your partner know exactly how you feel can help them truly understand why it’s important to you. Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. and author of In the Name of Love states, "People can be unpunctual not because they disrespect a partner or fail to pay attention to his or her needs; it can simply be due to absent-mindedness or an inability to estimate time correctly."
Perhaps your significant other's tardiness caused you to miss watching your friend walk down the aisle. Maybe you were frustrated when you had to arrive late to the office party because it made you look bad in front of your boss. Perhaps you feel that their tardiness is a sign that they haven’t made you or your relationship a priority. Everyone has different boundaries on this topic. For example, relationship expert April Masini of Relationship Advice Forum says, "They’re not considerate of your feelings or respectful of you or your time. This is going to show up elsewhere in the relationship."
Whatever your reasons may be, when you openly and honestly vocalize how their behavior is negatively affecting you, your mate can be more incentivized to make a positive change going forward.
Set a Good Example
If your mate is always late and/or also causing you to be late with them, it’s important for you to demonstrate the alternative behavior that you’d like to see. That means employing your own time management strategies.
For time management ideas, try making a to-do list, prioritizing your responsibilities, and designating appropriate amounts of time to complete certain tasks and projects. Even the act of procrastinating less can help demonstrate to your partner how to do the same.
Show your partner how you don’t wait until the last minute to get ready to go out because you know how long it takes you to get dressed. Prioritize your chores so that you don’t waste time with minuscule tasks that can wait until later. Serve as an example of the change you want to see in your partner.
Make It Easy for Your Partner
While we know it can be incredibly frustrating to always be the one waiting, if you know time management just isn't your partner's strength, perhaps you can muster the compassion to help by giving them extra support. Provide them with as much information as possible so that much of the unknown is eliminated.
For example, if you’re bringing your significant other to a dinner party, tell them ahead of time what the attire is, where it’s located, and what time you would need to leave in order to arrive on time. Or if you’re meeting your partner downtown for drinks, provide them with the exact address and route so they can see in real-time how long it would take them to get there. These little acts of assistance can make a huge impact, and hopefully, their own time management skills will start to improve so you won't need to do this forever.
Don’t Miss Out
It’s important to keep in mind that your partner’s tardiness doesn’t mean that you have to be late to or miss certain events, pastimes, and activities that are important to you. Since you don’t always have to arrive with your partner, don’t be afraid to take action so that your partner’s tardiness doesn't affect what you consider to be important moments.
In many cases, by simply taking the initiative to be on time no matter what, even if that means driving separately and going ahead to your friend’s graduation party without your partner, it’s a big incentive for your partner to work harder toward being on time so they don't miss out on spending quality time with you.
Make a Judgment Call
In the end, it’s up to you to figure out if your partner’s behavior is something you can deal with or if it is, in fact, a deal-breaker. Everyone is late once in a while, and remember, compromise plays a vital role in any happy, successful, and long-lasting relationship. It’s up to you to decide if your partner’s tardiness is something you can live with or would rather live without—only time will tell.