Make It Stop: “My Friends Are Always Late And I Am Over It”

I have a few friends who cannot make it anywhere on time. We’re all busy and yet, I still manage to make it to places on time. What can I do to make them show up?

As someone who was awarded the “most punctual” award in eighth grade, I totally feel your pain. I’m of the mindset that if you’re on-time, you’re already five minutes late. Unfortunately, not everyone holds that tenet dear.

Before we get to how to address your friends, let’s make sure we’re on the same page for a second, because “being late” means different things to different people. We can all agree that five minutes late is annoying, but understandable. Thirty minutes late is irritating, but as long as your friends give you the courtesy of letting you know that they’re running behind, you can catch up on social media on your phone or have a beer until they show up. Anything over an hour late is inexcusable unless a life and death situation is involved. Like, they better be sprinting to meet you with a crazy story involving $100,000, a tub of chocolate pudding and Ryan Gosling’s erect penis if they’re gonna pull that shit.

While you can’t control other people’s behavior, there are some strategies you can apply to minimize your headaches. Given that you are aware of their propensity for lateness, I’d bake the consequences into the plans. Say, “if you don’t come by 10:30pm, I’m gonna roll into the party solo. Then I’ll text you where to find me.” Or, “If you’re more than 20 minutes late, then I’m going to start shopping without you.” Your job is to stick to the consequences you’ve laid out. It’ll give you and them peace of mind to have a plan of action in the event of lateness.

Also, when you make plans, refrain from time-sensitive activities like going to the movies, eating at places that need the entire party to show up before the you can be seated, or meeting up any place that has fussy hours of operation. Those kinds of activities are a recipe for disaster.

Instead, stick to activities that give you some wiggle room and that will allow you to entertain yourself until they show up. Like, arrange to meet them at the concert instead of at a bar beforehand to grab a drink before the concert. That way, you can grab drinks together after the band plays, once you’re already in the same place and it’d be easy to roll somewhere else as a posse. Or meet up for coffee but bring a book so you can catch up on reading if they run late.

Another thing you can do is instead of meeting at a destination, ask them to notify you when they leave their house to meet up so you can gauge their arrival time better. That way you can relax doing whatever it is you’re doing until they alert you that they’re en route to meet up. Once you know for sure that they’re on their way, then you can head over to meet them.

And, lastly, be upfront about your time limitations when you make plans. Say, “I can only hang out until 7pm because I have dinner plans afterwards.” “I want to get there by noon because I have my friend’s art opening at 4pm.” Hopefully if you explain why you have a time limitation, they’ll be more respectful of the window of time they have to hang with you.

If all of these strategies fail and they still are chronically late, then, I hate to say it, but maybe you need more mature friends who can manage their time better. It sounds like you’re a responsible person and it’ll probably make you happier in the long run to surround yourself with like-minded friends who value each others’ time more.

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and Shlooby Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.