How to Deal with a Partner Who Is Always Late

always late partner

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Finding the right relationship may be about timing, but what if timing is your partner's downfall? If you've found that your S.O. is always late, there are several different ways to approach it without hurting your relationship. Some people just simply can't stay on schedule. So when you find yourself waiting for what feels like forever at a restaurant, missing out on plans, or being late yourself because of them, take a deep breath. You won't have to lie about the time of an event (in hopes of arriving as planned) forever.

Some of us are guided by an internal clock that ticks loudly in our minds. If you can't stand an open timeframe, but your partner loves being fashionably-late, it's okay. Odds are that they're not doing it to get under your skin—they just move to a different rhythm. Let's find a healthy balance with those we love, and be tardy to the party no more.

Read on to learn how to deal with a partner who is never on time.

Talk It Out

If your S.O. is constantly late, a great first step is to let them know how their actions affect you. They may not recognize that their tardiness can cause you stress, anxiety, or even embarrassment. By letting your partner know exactly how you feel, they can understand how important a tidy schedule is to you.

"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," says Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D., author of In the Name of Love.

These two personality types are vastly different, and it can cause plenty of difficulties when a strict scheduler and a "go-with-the-flow" kind fall in love. Think of your internal clock as a gift that not all are so lucky to have: Work with your partner when they struggle to keep up with you.

Whatever your reasons may be, when you openly (and honestly) vocalize how their behavior affects you, your partner might find the incentive to make a positive change going forward.

For time management ideas, try making a to-do list, prioritizing your responsibilities, and designating appropriate amounts of time to complete certain tasks or projects. Even the act of procrastinating less can help demonstrate to your partner how to do the same.

Set a Good Example

Maybe you've been frustrated when you arrived late to the office party because it made you look bad in front of your boss. Perhaps their tardiness feels more like a sign that they don't make you—or your relationship—a priority. Everyone has different boundaries on the topic, but that doesn't mean you can't work well together.

When your partner is always late (and causing you to be late with them), it's important to demonstrate the alternative behavior that you’d like to see. That means employing your own time management strategies.

Show your partner how you don’t wait until the last minute to get ready for plans because you know how long it takes to get dressed. Prioritize your chores so you don’t waste time with minuscule tasks that can wait until later. By serving as an example of the change you want to see in your partner, it might be easier for them to get in their own groove. It's also helpful to gently nudge them when it's time to start getting ready for an event: Show them exactly how much they need to plan ahead.

Make It Easy for Your Partner

While it's incredibly frustrating to always be the one waiting, time management might just not be your partner's strength. Try mustering up some compassion to give them extra support. Provide them with as much information as possible to eliminate the unknown.

"When you ask someone why they are perpetually late, they will often inform you that the typical or assumed reasons do not necessarily explain their habit. Even when they try to be organized, consider the time of others, or set an alarm, they still tend to be late," says expert Adoree Durayappah-Harrison, MAPP.

For example, if you’re bringing your S.O. to a dinner party, begin by telling them what the attire is, where it’s located, and when you need to leave in order to arrive on time. Or if you’re meeting your partner downtown for drinks, give them the exact address and route so they can see in real-time how long it will take them to get there. For those especially-important events—like weddings and office parties—plan your schedule to be at home when your partner gets ready. When you're by their side, you can help get them up and ready according to schedule (and ride together to prevent delays in travel).

These little acts of assistance can make a huge impact. Hopefully, your partner's time management skills will begin to improve so you won't have to encourage them forever.

GETTY IMAGES/WOLF IMAGES
GETTY IMAGES/WOLF IMAGES

Don’t Miss Out

It's also important to understand why your partner is always late, and you might need to change the way you make plans in order to ensure that it doesn't affect your punctuality.

According to Durayappah-Harrison, some people are actually late because they're afraid of being early (as strange as that may seem to you). "They feel awkward and uncomfortable waiting. They might even feel as if others are watching and judging them, whether this is true or not…Arriving too early can make you feel foolish," Durayappah-Harrison says.

If this sounds like your partner, there's no need to worry. You shouldn't have to be late to events that are important to you. Remember that you don't always need to arrive with your partner: It's okay to set out early on your own. If they're met with confused (or even judging) eyes when they show up an hour late, it won't reflect on you. It might even be an incentive for them to work on time management so they don't miss out on quality time with you.

Make a Judgment Call 

In the end, it’s up to you to figure out if your partner’s tardiness is something you can adjust to or if it's a deal-breaker. Everyone is late once in a while. Compromise plays a vital role in happy, successful, long-term relationships, so be understanding as your partner starts to get the hang of it. With a little help, it's likely that you can find a routine that works better for you both.

Ultimately, your partner might learn to make the date on time, or you might just need to adjust the way you make plans—only time will tell.

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