Adapted from a recent online discussion.
She's chronically late; what's a guy to do?
Q: I recently had a fight with my girlfriend. We were on our way to a works do (mine). She asked me to detour past her friend's house so she could drop off some stuff from work. I said okay, but don't take long. Twenty minutes and two un-picked-up calls later, and she still wasn't out. So I left.
She says that was controlling and rude. I say I'm sick of being late. This isn't the first time — she's always late.
Was I really so out of line? It wasn't like I abandoned her in the bad part of town. Or should she try not to make me late all the time?
Carolyn: Leaving her after 20 minutes seems perfectly fine to me. That she blamed you, vs. apologizing for making you wait so long — especially when you agreed to stop only on the condition that she hurry — says she's fine with being late "all the time." So the question here isn't who's right, but instead whether you'll ever figure out that your girlfriend's perpetual lateness is controlling, rude and here to stay. Stop thinking she'll change, start thinking of her actions as a reflection of who she is, then decide if you still want to date her.
I've said this before: Recurring fights are never okay, or justified, because they mean two people are making the same mistake over and over again. Figure out the mistake you're contributing to this recurring fight, then fix it, either by deciding her tardiness is a price you're willing to pay for her company, or by breaking up.
Anonymous: My God! What if that was your daughter? Would you like someone abandoning her on the street at night? That is not right, no matter how late she was. That is not how mature people deal with late people. That woman is better off without that passive-aggressive jerk.
Carolyn: I totally disagree. The girlfriend wasn't on the street, she was at a friend's house. The guy called twice. If that were my daughter, I'd be horrified that I raised her with such a sense of entitlement.
Seattle: I used to be chronically late and keep my husband waiting, sometimes up to an hour. And I was late to meet everyone.
Then I read somewhere that chronic lateness indicates that you either (1) value your time more than others and it's a display of power, or (2) subconsciously don't want to go.
After taking a hard look at myself I realized that I had an inflated sense of self-importance.
I'm now usually early. And if I don't want to go to something, I say no, instead of saying "yes" and showing up an hour late.
But I still see this in other people. They don't really know the message they are sending.
Carolyn: Well done, and well said.
Anonymous2: Next time, you both might want to be clearer in your expectations. Instead of "Don't take too long," saying "If you're not out in X, I'm leaving without you" is simply fair and straightforward.
Carolyn: Thanks — setting clear limits is the relationship-saver for a lot of couples who have one prompt half and one tardy half.