Meet My Boyfriend, Tardy Ted
Question: My boyfriend is chronically late—he never gets anywhere on time. I’ve learned to get used to it; when he’s running behind, I return calls, check email, etc. I barely mind it anymore. But when we’re meeting other people (friends, family), I find it mortifying. What do I do? Stop caring? Keep apologizing for him? He knows it’s an issue, but he doesn’t seem inclined to change—he says everyone’s late all the time these days.
Answer: Last time I checked, being on time was common courtesy, and something anyone with a watch, iPhone, or sundial is perfectly capable of. Some people consider it fashionable to be late—it gives them a sense of self importance—but in actuality, really important people tend to be on time, because they have places to be and a lot of shit to attend to. They can’t afford to throw a major wrench in their schedule by taking their sweet time getting out the door.
Everyone runs late at times—that’s life—but being chronically late is unacceptable, especially when multiple people are waiting. Some are chronically late because they live in a different world (adorably scatterbrained scientists, for instance) but most chronic offenders are late because they’re allowed to be: they have enablers. Hate to say it, but that sounds like you. By waiting patiently and apologizing for him, you’re minimizing the fiery scorn that should justly befall him.
It’s time to teach your tardy boyfriend a lesson. If he isn’t where he’s supposed to be after 15 minutes, don’t wait. Leave. Get out of there. Go do something else and let him figure out where you are. If you’re with friends at a restaurant, start on time without him. Boy won’t he be sorry when everyone is eating their prime rib and all he gets is the leftover table bread.
Putting the onus on him means that you can make a point without nagging or cajoling. If he wants to partake, he'll make more of an effort to be on time. If he doesn't, he won't. Either way, it gets you and those who accompany you out of his time zone and back in your own.