How to Deal with a Partner Who’s Always Late

Woman looking at her watch
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Finding the right relationship is all about timing, but what do you do when your boyfriend or girlfriend is never on time? How long do you usually have to sit alone at a restaurant or bar before your partner decides to show up? How many times have you had to arrive late to different occasions and/or other activities because you were waiting for him or her? Have you even been tempted to tell your partner that an event actually started at an earlier time just in the hope that you both could arrive at a decent hour?

If you find yourself time after time dealing with your partner who’s 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 partner is constantly late, there’s no better time to tell your partner how his or her actions are affecting you. Your partner may not recognize how his or her tardiness is causing you stress, anxiety or even embarrassment, and letting your partner know exactly how you feel can help him or her truly understand why it’s important to you.

Perhaps your boyfriend’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 your girlfriend’s tardiness is a sign that she hasn’t made you or your relationship a priority. Whatever your reasons may be, when you openly and honestly vocalize how your partner’s 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 him or her, it’s important for you to demonstrate the alternative behavior that you’d like to see from him or her. That means employing your own time management strategies, whether it’s 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 miniscule 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. When you’re in a relationship with someone who is continually running late, you can also help your partner by giving him or her extra support. If time management isn’t one of your partner’s strengths, you can assist your mate by providing him or her with as much information as possible so that much of the unknown is eliminated. For example, if you’re bringing your boyfriend to a dinner party, tell him 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 girlfriend downtown for drinks, provide her with the exact address and route so she can see in real-time how long it would take her to get there. These little acts of assistance can make a huge impact.

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 isn’t causing you major FOMO. 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 mate, it’s a big incentive for your partner to work harder toward being on time so he or she doesn’t end up making his or her own life harder or 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’s in fact a deal-breaker. Nobody’s perfect and can be on time all of the time, and in some instances it’s just the reality of your partner’s job, responsibilities or outside commitments that are causing him or her to be constantly late.

Remember, compromise plays a vital role in any happy, successful and long-lasting relationship, and 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.