Girlfriend doesn't let me know when she's running late until last minute
August 13, 2017 10:11 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend has a really annoying (to me) habit of only letting me know she's running late either at the very last minute or after the time when she's supposed to have turned up. It's caused us to get into a couple of big fights recently and it happened again tonight as I was cooking her dinner, so I told her not to bother coming over at all because I knew we'd just get into another circular argument about it.

It mostly seems to happen when she's coming over to mine for dinner and it always plays out the same way - I get annoyed, she gets defensive, she accuses me of trying to control her, I get even more annoyed because she won't take responsibility for her actions, and when the dust finally settles she agrees to try and be a little more thoughtful... and then it happens again.

Tonight she texted me at 7.50 to say she'd be at mine at 8.30 when she was supposed to be at mine at 8. Am I being a lunatic that it bothers me so much? It's not even the lateness that bothers me, it's the fact she must know she's going to be late way before it happens yet for some reason she never let's me know - It just feels so inconsiderate to me.

From her perspective, I'm the one with the problem, from mine it's her, so I'm not really sure how to deal with this. I've tried to explain to her why it bothers me so much on several occasions now, but she always flips it on me and makes me feel like the dude from Sleeping With The Enemy. Which I'm pretty sure I'm not. Hold on, I have to go straighten the towels in the bathroom.
posted by AllTheQuestions to Human Relations (59 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If your primary goal is to stop being inconvenienced by this, then you could plan for her to be late every time. If you can't stand the thought of doing that, then this might be a deal breaker for you. I wouldn't rely on her changing - my aunt, for instance, has done this for decades now. People just lie to her about when she's expected to arrive, and assume she'll be there an hour after the time given.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:15 PM on August 13, 2017 [19 favorites]

Ditto. Some people are lazy about punctuality. You either roll with it and do the management around them (or more likely get others to do things that matter), or you live with it. Very unlikely you'll change someone.
posted by tillsbury at 10:21 PM on August 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Texting you beforehand to tell you she's running late is pretty much the opposite of inconsiderate. Inconsiderate would be showing up a half hour late and not bothering to tell you she's going to show up late, and not apologizing for being late. (Note: I'm a compulsively on time person, and I think her behavior here is perfectly appropriate.)

And no, you don't always realize beforehand that you're going to be late; sometimes public transport gets stuck, or you get stuck in traffic, or you're running an errand that takes longer than expected for reasons beyond your control, or the dinner that you stopped to pick out is slow coming out of the kitchen, etc etc etc.

Frankly, if I texted my boyfriend ten minutes before I was supposed to be at his house to let him know I was running late and he responded by telling me to not bother showing up at all, I would likely oblige his request on a permanent basis. It would at the minimum trigger a serious reconsideration of the relationship.
posted by holborne at 10:30 PM on August 13, 2017 [40 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to be clear, it's not the lateness that bothers me, it's the fact she doesn't let me know.
posted by AllTheQuestions at 10:32 PM on August 13, 2017

I agree with you.
She knew (or should have known) that if she was forty minutes away, she wasn't going to be on time unless she had already left at 7:15. If she got on the road at 7:25, she should've then texted you right then (at 7:25) saying, I'm 40 minutes away and only just got on the road so I might be 5 minutes late.

The fact that she waited until almost the last possible moment before 8pm--when she had agreed to be there--to send a text that says "I'm not going to be there in ten minutes--in fact, I am going to be thirty minutes late." is like, flakey teenager behavior.

She is telling you through her actions that she doesn't live up to her word, and that her time is more important than yours.
posted by blueberry at 10:37 PM on August 13, 2017 [16 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, not to be a thread sitter, but I guess there's a lack of context on my part. We live 20-40 minutes apart depending on traffic and we drive everywhere. If something comes up that's unforeseeable I'm understanding, but on the occasions this has really bothered me that hasn't been the case.
posted by AllTheQuestions at 10:52 PM on August 13, 2017

As a recovering time optimist (in my case, probably ADHD related), I can attest that what looks clear-cut to you and any person with a normal sense of time could look more fluid to her. She might think until very late that she could still make it or only be a few minutes late and thus the potential delay not warranting sending a heads-up. Or thinking that sending something will slow her down too much. I know it's not rational. The specific example you gave was within this margin of estimation error and she seemed to have realized the delay at least before you were supposed to meet. It wasn't early enough for you, but I personally would cut her some slack. It sounds like other instances were worse and maybe that's why you reacted so strongly to this perhaps otherwise not so bad one.

What I think is the bigger problem is her defensiveness and apparent lack of self-insight or willingness to admit having difficulty keeping time and how that affects you.
posted by meijusa at 10:54 PM on August 13, 2017 [31 favorites]

Given your update, I (in your girlfriend's shoes, a former version of myself) might have left at 7.43, thinking I'd make it with perhaps no or a tiny delay. Then I'd be surprised by heavy traffic and call and add a big margin to make up for my too optimistic estimate before and say 8:30.
posted by meijusa at 11:00 PM on August 13, 2017 [15 favorites]

It's somewhat flip, but if she knew at 7 she was going to be late, she wouldn't be late.

I say this because my wife (who, for the record, is a fanatic about being on time) has raging ADHD and if something slips her mind, it's not her making a choice about what to prioritize, it's gone. Hers seems more focused on objects than on appointments, but she has had to set up a very robust system of calendars and notifications to even *have* an appointment-based business, because if she doesn't, she will forget them entirely and potentially not remember for days.

The way we deal with this is not by asking her to try harder; it's not a question of trying. We set up systems to backstop her instead - her keys live in a very specific place and never go anywhere else, and she basically clicker-trained herself (using Habitica) to put them there every time. She religiously writes down to-dos and appointments the instant she makes them, and equally religiously checks those lists at specific times. And so on.

The end result is that if she were late to something more than once, she'd set up an alert on her phone with enough time to get out the door in time. And - this is important - I can ask her to do it (and she can ask me to do it with stuff I tend to space out on, like, say, the dishes) and it's not a refusable request in our relationship. We can renegotiate the doing of the thing, but setting an alert after you fuck up is how you fix the fuckup.

I dunno if your relationship is in a place to have this sort of problem-solving-focused kind of negotiation. If it's not how you've done things in the past, it may require something like relationship counseling to get to the point where these conversations don't turn into fights. And it may not be a relationship worth putting that kind of effort into. But if it's a problem you both want to solve, figuring out a system to solve it is a good way to go about it.

(If it's a problem she doesn't want to solve - like, she prefers to leave at a fixed time and roll with the delay if there's traffic, or if her schedule is such that that's actually the only option - then resetting your expectations may be the best option, but I've made fancy dinner and then stressed as it spent 20 minutes congealing, I get that it may not be workable for this scenario.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:03 PM on August 13, 2017 [27 favorites]

I have similar issues, but I've tried to frame it as "hey, it makes me anxious if I'm waiting for you to arrive, can you let me know when you've set off, that helps me to worry less". We've also talked about using something like Glympse so you can see if someone's stuck in traffic or otherwise on schedule without having to have text back and forth. Honestly for me it is partially an anxiety thing, I find it hard to concentrate if I'm waiting for someone but haven't heard from them, so the framing isn't just underhanded manipulation on my part.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:06 PM on August 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

it makes sense to be intolerant of lateness for ticketed performances that start without regard to your arrival, dinner with reservations, other people's weddings, funerals, surprise parties, doctor's appointments, plane flights, anything where you're out somewhere waiting for her to pick you up. those are all legitimate lateness fight-starters.

but in an established relationship where she's coming over to your place to spend the whole evening in? for this, you expect arrival times to the minute? I have never expected this from good friends or partners and I have always taken it for granted that "around 8" means "between 8 and 9." and usually I expect people "as soon as I get out of work" or "I have to stop off at the store and then I'll be right over." among some sorts of people, it is even an extra courtesy and consideration to arrive half an hour late because you know the host will be running around trying to clean their filthy apartment right up until the doorbell rings, and they would die of an apartment-shame heart attack if you actually showed up at 8 on the dot.

but I have also never been so comfortable, if that is the word, in a relationship that I would yell at a guest for arriving late, especially when they told me in advance. that seems less normal/acceptable than chronic lateness, which isn't great either. more of a taboo-breaking etiquette violation for sure. this is the kind of thing you complain about, not fight about.

the simplest explanation for why she waits until nearly the last minute to tell you she's running late is that she knows it makes you mad and she hates it when you're mad. and I would recommend that you start telling her to pick up takeout on her way over, or save special elaborate dinner prep for nights when you're over at her place.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:06 PM on August 13, 2017 [48 favorites]

Is she a keeper? Because it sounds like the subtext for you is that she just doesn't care enough to bother. Does she give you that feeling in other parts of the relationship too? If, overall she is making you insecure then you need to step back and look at the big picture.

I think your request is reasonable. It's not the only way to do things but I get why it is important. But this cycle of fighting is really hurting your relationship. If the big picture is good and it is only timeliness that causes you stress then first thing you can do it make a list of all the reason why you love her and all the reason that you know she loves you. Then, run down the list (a few dozen times if necessary) so you can stay calm and loving when you talk about it.

Some time when you are calm, try to talk about it. Start by apologizing for getting so angry and reminding her that you really care and want to make it work and want her help to find a way that the two of you can make plans without driving each other batty. Then talk about some of the options above and see what works for and what works for you and go from there.
posted by metahawk at 11:21 PM on August 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Does she only do this when she's coming to your place? Is she otherwise good at telling you when she's running late? Because in my mind it is a bit different if you're going over to someones place than if you're meeting someone in a third location. I generally, I will gauge my communication on how inconvenienced I personally would feel if I was left waiting. And mostly, I don't really care if someone comes over to my house later than expected. I actually often prefer it, because it gives me time to clean the bathroom and find matching socks. Leaving me sitting at a train station for 20 minutes without telling me as soon as possible with updates, though, will have me fuming.

if this is the case, I'd change the default to, "Come round to my place tonight. Can you message when you leave?". Then you've got a good eta.
posted by kjs4 at 11:44 PM on August 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

But the defensiveness is a sign of immaturity, and I'm not sure I'd put up with it.
posted by kjs4 at 11:45 PM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who is terrible about this. Maddeningly awful. I'm not, except in one narrow set of circumstances, obsessive about being on time myself, but I hate waiting around in public for people, and she can be relied upon to make me do it.

If a person reaches adulthood like this, the odds of their changing are vanishingly small. They cannot be unaware of their lack of timeliness, and how it affects those around them, at that point. If they gave a shit, they would fix it. They haven't. may have to decide if this is a dealbreaker for you. Can you live with constantly lying to her about when things are? Can you deal with always assuming that she will show up half an hour later than she said she would? Are her other qualities worth it?

Note I said I "have" a friend, not "had." It got to the point that I had to decide whether to accept that this was one of her characteristics or give up on her as a friend. I chose option (a); I lie and I build in time margins, but I can't be resentful about it, because I'm the one who decided to accept it. It's perfectly okay for you to choose either option, but I think building your hopes on getting her to change will only lead to heartache. Especially since she is already very defensive about it.
posted by praemunire at 11:47 PM on August 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think you've gotten good advice about this, including some basis for alternative hypotheses about what was or wasn't in her mind. Maybe you can just ask her if she'd text 'omw' every time as she leaves.

Regarding the repeating cycle of getting annoyed and facing defensiveness, I'd offer a more general suggestion that if you can avoid worrying about what's in someone else's mind (what they must have known/realized, what they must not have considered, whether they're thinking about how you'll feel, etc.) you're less likely to get mired in a difficult discussion where you're speaking from limited imagination and they have some truth or self-perception only they know but may not be able to articulate or reconstruct very well.

So, in this case, the two of you set a time, she texted shortly beforehand to say she'd be late, and you were disappointed. If she refused your characterization of what she had in mind or should have been thinking about, then that may have been all the two of you really agreed on. But it was plenty of reason for you to have had a brief conversation about what's possible in the future. It's not clear she'd have been ready or able to do anything different, but perhaps that was discoverable with less debate.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:09 AM on August 14, 2017

I dated someone like this. The continual lateness drove me nuts. After years of it I spat the dummy and said "I don't understand, you can clearly be on time, I mean you're never late for work?" Before he could think, he blurted out, "Well yeah, but work is important." Reader, I dumped him. Ask yourself, if this person can make it to work on time, to the airport, doctor's appointments, but somehow can't make it on schedule for you, it's not because they lack the time management skills - they've already proven they can do it for things that matter - it's because you're not important and they don't respect you. I got it from the horse's mouth.
posted by Jubey at 12:30 AM on August 14, 2017 [43 favorites]

One issue is her running late, and you don't have a problem with this issue. Which is good, because that could be construed as controlling.

The other issue is her letting you know she's running late, and you do have a problem with this issue. Which is fair because failing to do so is rude.

If you have dinner plans for 8, how would she feel about setting a reminder on her phone for 7:30? "Text AllTheQuestions if not in the car yet." To me, this is the real test; you are not asking her to change her behaviour, but merely to give you a polite heads up when that behaviour will impact you.

If she isn't willing to do that, then I think you have a basic incompatibility issue. If she can't do that and has a chronic lateness issue, then she may have an ADHD problem. You get to choose if you're willing to make that your problem too.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:52 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would not be up for this. The lateness, if chronic, is annoying and problematic all by itself, imo. Of course there are circumstances when ppl have genuine difficulty with this pertaining to ADHD. There's also a huge chunk of the population who think their time is more important than yours.

The lack of texting...sounds annoying but your specific example is an odd one because 10m does not seem that unreasonable...?

Telling you that expecting her to show up on time most of the time or communicate otherwise is controlling seems like major gaslighting to me though, and is the most egregious thing here. I mean, if you have a mutually agreed upon time to meet how is it controlling to expect someone to make that, barring unfoteseeable issues? It's like...the opposite of controlling, assuming that you did not dictate to her that she show up at 8 without her input...
posted by jojobobo at 1:57 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Re: the idea that arriving for dinner at 8 means 'between 8 and 9'- I know of circumstances when I have interpreted events this way, to be fair. But if that is the case why couldn't the two of you simply have that conversation eg I'm not sure when I'll be there but it will be between 8 and 9- I'll text you when I leave. But it sounds like she finds that kind of conversation to be cramping her free wheeling style...?

Fwiw I prefer not to do that style of socialising often. It's hard to entertain/prepare for a loose deadline and I like to do things nicely. I guess I gravitate towards more timely ppl as a general rule. It's ok for you to, too. I don't think those ppl are's just not me. But (correct me if I'm wrong) that doesn't sound like that is what is going on here.
posted by jojobobo at 2:05 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm kind of shocked that people think it's unreasonable to be bothered by this, or that the 7:50 text is good enough. If I'm cooking dinner for you, I'm on a time schedule. I'm working hard (well, maybe) doing something nice for you, and maybe that nice thing will be ruined if you're suddenly 30 minutes late. Warning me 10 minutes in advance is *too late*, I've already started cooking. Maybe not, but you don't know that. I think it's a very inconsiderate thing to do and I completely understand the OP's annoyance.

OP: think hard about whether you're prepared to change yourself, to work on not being bothered by this. Because you're not going to change your girlfriend...
posted by Skyanth at 2:38 AM on August 14, 2017 [24 favorites]

It's not about the timeliness, at all. It's about consideration and priorities. This is why it bothers you so much. Behind the lateness issue, you are seeing her de-prioritize you and you (naturally) are hurt and frustrated by being continually forced to confront that, over and over.

When you do ________, it makes me feel _________
is a good place to start. It's important to stop making it about her lateness, and start framing it as a conversation about consideration and respect and boundaries. These are universal relationship elements that our actions reflect, and anyone should be OK with discussing them without feeling attacked.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:46 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

What I am seeing is that both of you have encountered an issue that is charged enough to trigger you. Yours is when she is late. You equate her not warning you that she will be late with abandonment. That twenty or thirty minutes of having to change your expectations makes you anxious enough that it ruins your evening. And hers is being confronted with being late, where being late is being equated with being a bad, not acceptable person.

Your basic message is: "I need you to never, ever make me anxious like that again." and her basic message is, "I need you to accept me and my time sense and scheduling and whatever issues cause them." Right now you are at a total impasse.

I am going to suggest that you observe your girlfriend closely and try to figure out why she is late. There are several possible reasons. One is that she is executive impaired and cannot figure out how to schedule. In that case, no matter what you tell her, she will never be reliably on time. One is that she has a poor time sense. In that case she will sometimes surprise you by showing up half an hour early instead of half an hour late, but she would probably not warn you. She would never be reliably on time then either. One reason might be cultural, that she comes from a micro or macro culture that doesn't require her to be on time and she is late for everything, doctors appointments, family gatherings, trains, etc. And one reason is neurotic, that she is damned if she is going to cave in and let anyone tell her where she is going to be.

You can't change her. Nope. You can only make her unhappy trying. If it is the last situation, the hostile neurotic one, I suggest you dump her. Otherwise, the only thing you have control over is yourself, so I suggest you start setting meeting times with her half an hour earlier than you mean with a back up plan in place in case she shows up twenty or fifteen minutes early before you are actually ready to serve. So if you are meeting at the train station at five thirty, tell her five o'clock and show up at five with a book and wait for her, or if you are meeting at your place at seven, be ready to pour drinks and entertain her in the kitchen while the sauce simmers because you tell her six thirty. But plan on meeting at five-thirty and at seven. Don't try to change her, write the time down as five-thirty and as seven.

Try this for a month. If you can't adapt to this then you can't make the relationship work - you're just not adaptable. But don't try to bend her to fit you. Just test and see if you can reasonably work around growing and adapting a bit yourself. I'm not saying it's reasonable to do this. I'm saying it's the only way to avoid long term conflict.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:31 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Your example is extremely ungenerous and 30 min is NOTHING and I'm worried for you that this is such a big deal. I live in LA where traffic is horrific, last week I took the wrong street and got stuck in event traffic AND a major roadwork detour - a 12 minute trip took an hour. I think I might have walked there faster. It seems you live somewhere like this? It's so hard if you want to take an extra moment in the bathroom or whatever, then a 5 minute delay at home can become 25 minutes on the road. C'mon. I know you know this!

I can't believe how many people in this thread are validating your example. Unless this person is late for movies, performances, airplanes, or group activities - I think you just have to be less up tight. 30 minutes in a big city without a hard deadline (like the start of a movie) is not late. Please be more generous with yourself, she's not making a statement about her feelings for you. This is not that, based on your examples.
posted by jbenben at 4:56 AM on August 14, 2017 [13 favorites]

Tonight she texted me at 7.50 to say she'd be at mine at 8.30 when she was supposed to be at mine at 8. Am I being a lunatic that it bothers me so much?

I think so, yes.

I'm the type of person who gets annoyed when people are late, even if they're coming over to my place. Once the planned time has rolled around I've mentally switched from "I'm at home relaxing" to "I'm waiting for someone," and I find waiting for someone to be distracting. So it wastes my time, in a way.

So I understand, I think, where you're coming from.

At the same time, I think it's extremely reasonable for someone to show up thirty minutes late after they sent me a message, especially if they sent it ten minutes in advance! Things come up. Their advisor might email them. They might need to go to the grocery store, and underestimate the time it takes. And so on.

Yes, it's inconsiderate to be chronically late, but demanding that level of punctuality strikes me, honestly, as a bit egotistic. You can also be inconsiderate by being too strict, by not recognizing that there are other things going on in your loved one's lives besides you. There's a happy middle ground here, which I think involves her making more of an effort to be on time, and you loosening up and letting it go when she does inform you in advance that she'll be late.

Honestly, I find that working on being less uptight about people's punctuality instead of simmering over it has made me both more relaxed and sociable. And to be honest, gender would play into my evaluation of the situation if I were her: It does come off as controlling - in the sense that it doesn't really consider her as a separate person with activities outside of you.

Re: not being late for work -

I don't believe in replicating the power relationships of the workplace in personal relationships. Yes, people who are often late for personal things can manage to be on time for work. Yes, that means that they are, technically, capable of being on time for personal things. But I don't want my friends to be on time because they fear I'm going to fire them, or demand the same rigidity re: scheduling in their personal lives as they have to deal with at work. It's just not the kind of relationship we have.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:38 AM on August 14, 2017 [16 favorites]

I've got an ADHD partner who used to be not only terrible with lateness but also not great at letting me know he was going to be late. For situations like "Hey I'm making dinner" and other things where scheduling actually mattered, we'd use a team approach to figure out how to make dinner work decently for us. For me this meant not worrying whether he'd even left yet and for him this meant not having to get stressed about his own timing/planning/time compression issues but also prioritizing my feelings over his distractibility.

What we do now is instead of agreeing on an arrival time, we both talk back from a "What time would it be good for you to arrive?" time and determine a reasonable leaving time and the plan becomes not "Arrive at 8" but "Leave no later than 7:20, send me a text when you are leaving" and then he shows up whenever.

Now, we've been together a long time and this is a thing we do together but it wouldn't work if both of us didn't acknowledge that the others' feelings are legitimate and worthy of respect. So, to your questions: you are not a lunatic but you may be asking for something that is more sdifficult to deliver than your "meta-ask" which is just "Hey please make me and this even a priority" When things don't work, don't ask for more consideration/thoughfulness (she may be being thoughtful, she may not, it's hard to say from your story) but "Hey I'd like to know when you leave, drop me a text when you are en route" or something. Some people don't like that level of oversight/control but I know in my relationship it's pretty important so that both of our personalities feel we can get what we need out of hang out time. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 5:43 AM on August 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm one of those compulsively on-time people. I'll even double check with people if the invite for 8 means 8:00 precisely or if they really mean "sometime after 8 but probably before 9."

So to me, the key questions are if you clearly and directly communicated that the 8pm deadline was important (for the dinner prep, say), and on the occasions that you have communicated this clearly, does she manage to hit the mark?

It's hard to be precise about arrival times when you are both packing for a night away and your drive could take anywhere from 20-40 minutes with traffic (and longer if you notice that you need to get gas, get cash at an ATM, or any other normal necessity). If it was a job interview, the advice would be to leave early and hang out somewhere nearby, but that is crazy talk for a relationship. I mean, I'm a compulsively on-time person, and the best I could do in her situation is to say "I'll try to be there around 8, and I'll text you as soon as I'm on the way," just because there are unpredictable aspects.

So I guess I'm giving a double answer. On the one hand, clear communication about time and expectations (on both your parts) either isn't happening, or isn't being followed. On the other hand, there are situations (like your dinner prep, maybe) that call for more communication, and situations that call for more flexibility.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:49 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can't tell if either of you is being unreasonable. There isn't enough information about surrounding context, other situations involving lateness, whether you said "I'll have dinner ready around 8" or "come over at 8, I'll make dinner" or "dinner will be on the table at 8, it's a special meal, please don't be late." I don't know if she told you on your first date that she is "always late," or if she has requested your help and feedback about her lateness.

And my own time management is so deeply fucked and heavily buttressed by "coping mechanisms" that I boggle at folks who just....get where they need to be. I have adult inattentive type ADHD and a bangin' case of anxiety, with a heaping helping of childhood trauma blended in.

When you describe the situation with your girlfriend you are describing things that I do when late.

The anxiety about disappointing the person who is waiting for me makes it harder to get going, and harder to send the head's up text. There are lots of anxieties around completing the task I'm "leaving" and perfectionism that also make it hard to leave. I've done a lot of therapy around these things, I set timers, I make lists. I am working on this, and I can't speak to whether your girlfriend is or not.

The key to relationships is the question, can you continue if this doesn't change? Because it might not change. And if it goes change it won't be a result of you demanding the change.

For things you can do: read the books by John and Julie Gottman about healthy relationships, and read Getting to Yes, as well as Difficuot Conversations. These things are all effective even if your partner doesn't read any of them. They'll help you with the insight you need to decide whether and how to move forward.
posted by bilabial at 6:56 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

The anxiety about disappointing the person who is waiting for me makes it harder to get going, and harder to send the head's up text. There are lots of anxieties around completing the task I'm "leaving" and perfectionism that also make it hard to leave. I've done a lot of therapy around these things, I set timers, I make lists. I am working on this, and I can't speak to whether your girlfriend is or not.

Same here. There is a lot of shame surrounding my issues with time, and what doesn't help is when the person I'm in the midst of disappointing reminds me that I'm disappointing them and that I am bad and wrong for being late. I also, in a not-super-healthy train of thought, will turn on the person I'm supposed to meet and feel resentment for them asking me to break my neck to meet what is (often) an arbitrary deadline. Then when I arrive, I'm mad at them, and I sure as heck feel defensive. I know it's not right. I've been working on this my whole life. But it still happens every now and then. And it doesn't say anything about how much I love or respect my spouse, friends, doctors, or employers.

What does work is when someone says "Hey, I was hoping you'd be here closer to 8 because this sauce has been simmering and I put a lot of effort into it. This is important to me, and you are important to me." Show that your request isn't arbitrary, show that this is a top priority to you, something that makes you feel loved and respected. I think that's where you'll make some progress and come to a resolution that will last.
posted by witchen at 7:13 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

While I agree that she should be more cognizant of how her actions affect you, I also can see it from her side. And if she is late because she is driving, she might not call or text you for safety reasons. I know I don't when I am driving. I rather just apologize when I get there rather than text on the road and cause a possible accident.

And in a perfect world she would change her ways and at least let you know when she will be late. Technically that is the right thing to do. But it doesn't sound like she is willing to do that, for whatever reason. So as frustrating as that is, you have to decide whether she is worth waiting an extra 30 min for every time without any expectation of notice on her part or whether it is enough of a deal-breaker for you.

And from a psych perspective, I am wondering what her previous boyfriends were like. If she was in a previously controlling relationship, maybe she sees your concern as a form of control on her? I'm not saying that is your intention at all and I want to make that clear. but sometimes women who have been abused in some way (and as a woman with personal experience in dating some real assholes...I have done this) will lash out when they feel any hint of perceived controlling behavior.

Either way, I would just assume she isn't going to change her ways and decide from there whether this is minor enough to ignore on your part
posted by Fullofcrazy at 7:15 AM on August 14, 2017

My husband was/is like this. (Although he often didn't bother with letting me know even ten minutes ahead of time. It was usually me calling him saying "where the F are you? You were supposed to be here 30 minutes ago" ). He has ADHD. Before we lived together, I'd just lie about times and tell him a half hour earlier. He was also late for everything. It was frustrating, but I didn't take it personally, because it was the ADHD and it wasn't only me as the victim..... if that wasn't the case, it might have been a deal-breaker.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:18 AM on August 14, 2017

Re: the idea that arriving for dinner at 8 means 'between 8 and 9

to be clear, that's not what I mean when I say it, it's what I expect when I hear it. I had stricter training around this kind of thing than some people and while some of it is culturally dependent, the essential principle I think is more broadly applicable, and it was: you never, ever fail to have a double standard: you expect certain things of yourself, both as a guest and as a host, that would be shockingly rude to expect of other people. so, as a guest, I show up between 8:05 and 8:10; as a host I don't even officially notice that nobody's there yet until 9.

it's like the way as a guest you have to fling yourself into the river if you don't bring a bottle of wine to dinner but as a host if you asked your empty-handed guest where the fuck her bottle of wine was, you would tried and convicted for treason against humanity.

so, the idea that you owe your partner the same politeness you owe a boss or a stranger? perhaps so, but in that case it must go both ways.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:18 AM on August 14, 2017 [11 favorites]

Very interesting range of perspectives. I manage to be on time for flights/critical train connections but I allow a lot less time to get through airports than a lot of people need to be comfortable. I generally manage to be on time for client meetings, dr's appointments and such. But for internal meetings this drops to 'majority of the time', especially if physical presence can be replaced by dialling into a meeting (dialling in happens on time).

For personal stuff I generally manage to turn up on time for anything ticketed or an 'event' e.g. dinner party. But if I go round somebody's house for the evening I aim for somewhere within a range of possible ETAs. I can see this would be annoying if I screw up a precisely timed meal and if I am aware it is a precisely times thing I'll do my best to be there at a specified time.

But I also don't expect anybody to sit there, drumming their fingers waiting for me. As busy adult one hopes people find things to do with their time and will eat when hungry. So unless her giving you ten mins notice meant your soufflé would collapse (and she knew you were doing something that requires exact timing?) I am surprised at the level of anger still evident in your post.

You know this about her. So prep dinner as much as possible and pour yourself a glass of wine or whatever and start the relaxing part of the evening/do something you enjoy/cross something off the domestic to do list. Or if you're starving finish cooking, eat and hers gets heated up when she turns up. If you can't do that without significant resentment the two of you may not be compatible.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:33 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your response strikes me as very unreasonable. She's only 30 minutes late *and* she let you know beforehand for an event that doesn't have a set start time, like a movie showing or restaurant reservation. I don't think I've ever met or socialized with anyone who would have the response you did. I wouldn't say one of you is more 'right' than the other but I would say that your response is certainly the atypical one and if I was in your girlfriend's place, it would strike me as controlling and self-absorbed.
posted by armadillo1224 at 7:41 AM on August 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I had this same issue at the beginning of my relationship. My bf was the one who would run late and not even bother with a text because I was "just hanging out at my house." This drove me nuts, and what made me more mad was that he wouldn't even realize it was an issue when he finally showed up and didn't really get why he had to apologize. It created several huge fights.

What finally worked was when I communicated the issue in the often-recommended "I feel" statement. I said when he's late and doesn't tell me, it makes me feel disrespected, like my time and schedule isn't as important as his. Even if I'm just hanging out at my house, what I do is vastly different if I know I had 15 minutes to pass vs an hour.

So now he texts me as soon as he know he'll be running late. At the same time, I adjust my expectations a little and don't expect him to be exactly on time every time. We both had to shift our styles to meet in the middle.
posted by monologish at 7:56 AM on August 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

I agree that lateness doesn't always have the same importance, depending on context.

It seems to me you're in that stage in an established relationship wherein you have two homes/apartments. She thinks of your apartment as "second home" most likely, which is why she's not thinking of her visits as deeply formal arrangements. In fact, there's almost no situation I can think of where it is LESS crucial to be on time than the "second home, visiting partner after work as one does 3/4 nights a week" scenario. Surely you can see that? It's a very casual, relaxed scenario by its nature. Yes, if you're cooking and can estimate a hard stop time to your cooking, that adds importance to the timeline. Otherwise, nah man, not really.

I can tell you when my now-husband and I were doing this back-and-forth-between-apartments on weeknights arrangement, it was actually pretty stressful and here's what I was doing that may make me late: get home at 6, changing out of work clothes, putting out any fires at my apartment that may have arisen, feeding cats/changing litter, packing overnight bag, showering/shaving/doing hair/doing makeup (still wanted to impress him yo), making triple sure everything was locked and okay overnight, that I had everything for work the next day, possibly putting in a quick call to my parents/friends, you know, just in general getting the 10,000 little nitpicky homeownery everyday cleaning and organizing life tasks out of the way, since I expected to stay the night at his place. All this in one hour, then back on the road to his place.

I also want to add, when we were really in the swing of this, and he wanted to see me every dang night, I started missing alone time after work. In that whole montage would be at least 10-20 minutes of me just sitting on the couch, being alone with myself, savoring a few minutes when I was beholden to no one- no boss, no boyfriend, no mom, etc.

It's completely possible this is going on with her as well. Please also keep in mind that in general, women have more "personal care tasks" to do than men, and in hetero relationships, much of the time the woman is doing a lot of the "emotional work" (perhaps unconsciously even to both parties) so alone time is often more crucial for her, IMO. That adds up to needing more time.
posted by stockpuppet at 8:08 AM on August 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

It's not even the lateness that bothers me, it's the fact she must know she's going to be late way before it happens yet for some reason she never let's me know - It just feels so inconsiderate to me.

We live 20-40 minutes apart depending on traffic and we drive everywhere.

Just to be clear, it's not the lateness that bothers me, it's the fact she doesn't let me know.

Are you sure it's not really the lateness that bothers you? Because she DOES let you know she's going to be late. In the example YOU chose to provide, she gave you a heads-up ten minutes before she was supposed to be there and gave you a revised ETA. What more do you need? When exactly should she have told you she was running late in order for you not to be angry? What arbitrary number would make her being 30 minutes late not a big deal? I think you're being remarkably ungenerous, particularly given that you admit travel time could vary by as much as double the normal amount. Why don't you check traffic yourself an hour before she's supposed to arrive and give her a helpful heads-up? "Hey honey, just saw that traffic's really bad on 95 right now, so how's about...[we meet a little later/I'll expect you to be a little late/I'll keep dinner warm for you, I'll come to your place instead, etc]" is so much friendlier, kinder and more constructive than telling her not to come. Deploying that move is a relationship nuclear strike. You are lucky she hasn't DTMFA'd you.

Chronic lateness can be due to lack of respect, but in my experience it's much more often due to other factors, which have already been discussed above (ADHD, depression, anxiety, different cultural norms, etc). She most likely know she has a problem and is immediately defensive with you because she's already feeling some amount of shame and humiliation at "failing" to achieve the task of being on time. If you care about her, being angry is not going to solve anything. Calm communication using "I-statements" + a large amount of self-reflection on your part as to why exactly you are so angry + an apology is what I recommend...but only if you truly feel that this is a person and relationship worth fighting for...and bending for. If you can't visualize yourself learning to support and accommodate her in the way multiple posters have described supporting their "temporally challenged" loved ones, then do the both of you a favor and let her go.
posted by the thought-fox at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

Telling her at 7:50 not to come for the scheduled 8:00 dinner because she'll be late does seem like an overreaction, and it does seem controlling-- it's literally "my way or the highway."

Now, it's not wrong for you to be annoyed by chronic lateness, especially with insufficient (by your standards) notification. You should know that some people are just like this with time, and it doesn't mean to them what it means to you. Sometimes two people can overcome this difference, but sometimes one or both parties deem it a permanent incompatibility, and cut ties. That's an option. Changing someone else isn't. It's not clear whether you've had a heart-to-heart about this where you've really tried to understand each other with open minds.

I'm too anxious to ever be late anywhere, but I have friends who I have come to learn will be so very late, all the time, and I have learned to let it go because I want them in my life. I can't control their sense of time, and they can't control mine.

Even when annoyed, I don't think it's appropriate to punish anyone for this, and calling off dinner seems like punishment.
posted by kapers at 8:31 AM on August 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

Yeah, my wife was like this too. Then we moved in and that part of it got easier because she was already there when I made dinner.

And then I started to see that she gets ready to leave the the house at the same time I do, but her prep takes twice as long mine does. Se we end up 10 mins late for a lot of things.

Don't use lateness as a litmus test for the relationship. Her being habitually late just tells you that she's habitually late. It's not about whether she values you or cares about you. You have the whole experience of being in a relationship with her to tell you that. Don't pin a whole lot of meaning on it. She gives you a heads up and she's not so horribly late that it ruins the meal.

This is not a dealbreaker. Any successful long term relationship is going to have an issue or two like this that you'll have to resolve. Some of it is going to be about expectations. (If you agree on 8 for something that doesn't have a ticketed time attached to it, you're going to have to change your expectations that 8:20 is good enough.) Some of it is about communication. (Maybe you'll get less stressed about this is you aren't so precise in your time setting. "Come by around 8.")
posted by thenormshow at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Your example is extremely ungenerous and 30 min is NOTHING and I'm worried for you that this is such a big deal. I live in LA where traffic is horrific

The OP already explained that unforseeable delays aren't the issue.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Work out what vulnerability in you is getting triggered here. Do you feel uncared for? Disrespected? If you can express your feelings about this dynamic in a vulnerable manner rather than a blamey accusatory manner you're less likely to set off defensiveness.

But also, nthing punctuality issues and defensiveness as a possible sign of ADHD in which case this isn't about "not caring" but rather "can't function that way". The sooner you find out if that's happening AND reframe it accordingly, the sooner you can stop this fight that absolutely will continue to happen otherwise.
posted by crunchy potato at 8:39 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I want to add that when I was less understanding of how time works for people who aren't as keyed up as I, I used to unconsciously set up situations where I knew or should have known the habitual-latecomers would fail. I would sit there righteously stewing, which I suppose worked for me on some level. That's obviously ridiculous and it's healthier to get over it. I'm not saying you're doing that, but cancelling dinner with your girlfriend ruins both your nights-- what did you get out of that?
posted by kapers at 8:41 AM on August 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Wow, tons of answers. It seems that the late-running people all think you're a jerk, and the on-time people all are on your side. I think that you have to decide if this is a deal-breaker, because I've known people like her all my life, and they never ever change. Even when they have children and the children have to be places on time. Never. Change.

Also, she knows. They all know. Some of them just roll with it and think the on-time person is crazy to get so bent out of shape because time just isn't anything to get worked up about. Some of them get really anxious about it and arrive stressed and full of apologies, but still never manage to be on time. I had a co-worker at an old job that used to allow the bare minimum amount of time that it might possibly take to get anywhere (like he drove it once at 2am in perfect weather, and it took 13 minutes, so 13 minutes is how long it takes to get there even in rush hour in a blizzard). We used to literally take bets on what time he'd arrive to work. The one who chose the most outrageous time was usually right.

I do think your particular example is a little over-the-top. I am usually on time everywhere, but not a fanatic about it. Since you are not being inconvenienced by her coming to your house (I mean, you're not standing in the rain on a street corner in the bad part of town; you're sitting on your couch with you favorite beverage playing your own music with your own cat in your lap!), you should be flexible about arrival times. Start cooking after she arrives! Snack if you need to. It depends on if she's worth it or not. IF she is, you will have to learn to bend. Stop fighting, because that's just not worth it.

And for things requiring firm arrival times (concert tickets, plane flights), send her calendar entries for at minimum a half hour earlier than you need her to arrive, but never tell her this.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:28 AM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are you from the same culture?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:35 AM on August 14, 2017

It seems that the late-running people all think you're a jerk, and the on-time people all are on your side.

This totally isn't borne out by reading the responses. The third response here (mine) specifically says that I'm a compulsively on-time person and I think the OP is being completely unreasonable. So no, it's not just tribalism talking.

Another thing that occurred to me: is it possible she's relying a lot on Google maps to gauge the time it will take? I know that seems like a weird question, but it took me a while to accept that Google maps ETAs are completely, irredeemably fucked up. Like if Google maps tell me it will take 25 minutes to get somewhere, I know for absolute certain that it will take me at least 40 minutes, if not more. That's true whether I'm walking, driving, or taking public transport. At first I thought it must be me, because, you know, Google knows everything, right? It wasn't.
posted by holborne at 10:36 AM on August 14, 2017 [7 favorites]

Here's the thing. And I say this as a pretty rigorously on-time human.

Once you're late, you can't become un-late. Yelling at/punishing someone for being late *while they're in the process of being late* is not going to make them be on time. What you're doing is telling the person, "I want you to have already been different," which is incredibly demoralizing and would make anyone defensive. Because I guarantee your girlfriend is thinking "YEAH I FREAKIN KNOW, I'M DOIN WHAT I CAN HERE, SORRY I DIDN'T INVENT TIME TRAVEL YET."

If the kind of advance mutual planning and communication people describe above sounds 1) too onerous or 2) like a thing that she wouldn't contribute to, then maybe she's just not a good fit for you. It's ok if that sounds like too much work! Maybe you need a partner who is just more in sync with you. That's cool.

But basically you achieve nothing by punishing her in the moment, either with rage or with retraction of your invite, except further resentment.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:37 AM on August 14, 2017 [13 favorites]

I empathize with you. I think I find other people's lateness rude because I am a very punctual person and when I'm late it's usually out of rudeness, honestly. I try to remember that a lot of people are like my dad, who tells you when he really wants to be home, rather than the actual time he'll arrive based on down-to-the-minute analysis, which is what I tend to do, and then I cut them some slack.

Also, I suppose this is not a fully responsive answer but could you wait to cook until your girlfriend shows up, or at least has an updated ETA? If I were you, that would go a long way toward lessening my irritation about her lateness.
posted by ferret branca at 10:53 AM on August 14, 2017

The fact that this mainly happens when you are cooking dinner for her suggests that she has a different idea of what acceptable punctuality looks like in that context. I think the two of you need to talk about that and you need to make your expectations clear.

I am more like your girlfriend and if I'm invited to a casual dinner somewhere, I will endeavor to arrive at the appointed time but I also generally assume that the food will not be served at that time. So I consider there to be about 20 minutes of wiggle room unless told otherwise. If I knew that dinner I was going to be completely prepared and starting to get cold at a certain time, I would do my very best to be there.
posted by delight at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2017

10 minute notice for being 30 minutes late is not reasonable, IMO, unless it's out of the person's control or a once in a while occurrence.

But it's also not reasonable to know someone is flaky like this and continue to hold them to that standard. I've had friends like this and I either learned to accept it, or I stopped making plans with them. They won't change. In fact, I've known chronically late people who see it as a point of pride. I had a friend who would show up on time to events and sit in his car for 30-45 minutes before joining everyone inside.

You need to decide whether this is a deal breaker for you personally, because it's a very divisive thing, as you can tell from the answers here.

If this was my partner, and everything else was going great, I'd learn to accept it. If it was just one of many issues, that's a different story.
posted by blackzinfandel at 12:37 PM on August 14, 2017

In my experience, this is one of those things you just have to accept. Some people are very punctual and some are always running a bit late ("time optimists", as meijusa termed them above). My mother was a time optimist, and her lateness was constantly putting me in uncomfortable situations as a kid (for example, showing up late when it was her turn to bring snacks to the soccer game, all my hungry teammates and their irate parents having left already), so maybe that's why I turned out punctual.

I have almost the exact same issue with my SO, and for a while it was hard for me not to feel like my time was being disrespected when they consistently showed up late for things with little or no warning, even though it was mostly things without "hard" deadlines. I kept thinking, if they can show up on time to work every day, why can't they show up on time for dinner more than once in a blue moon? Honestly, it still does get to me occasionally. But eventually I realized that many of the things I love about my SO--their spontaneity, their relaxed, go-with-the-flow attitude--go hand-in-hand with the lateness, and I've been learning to be more relaxed about it. We all have flaws.
posted by dadaclonefly at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

This sounds to me like you're scheduling hard deadlines for no real good reason. People getting off work and trying to do home chores and packing and maybe errands can't always be so precise. You are being unreasonable. Don't make some fancy dinner in danger of congealing when you know there's a traffic variable and she often runs late anyway. That sounds like a test you know she'll fail so you can lord it over her. Switch it up to having her text when she's on her way, and maybe again if she runs into traffic or needs gas, etc.

Also people are jumping on her for being, as you describe, defensive. How does this look in practice? Are you angry and then whatever she says by way of explanation is deemed "defensive?" Think about whether there's any response she could have that would be considered acceptable to you.

Whoever pointed out that replicating a boss-subordinate relationship between significant others is problematic at best has a great point. Of course you can't compare being on time for work versus making your arbitrary deadline. And no she should not have to leave extra early like someone pointed out you would do for a job interview.
posted by JenMarie at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2017 [8 favorites]

I can see this being reasonable and unreasonable depending on context/more specifics. If the time to travel from wherever she is to your place is really so wildly unpredictable, then you need to cut her some slack and adapt your food prep to include making things that do OK sitting for a while after you've made them (soups, stews, salads and things that can wait in the fridge, pasta sauce that can stay warm and cooking the pasta when she arrives).

I live in LA like one of the commenters above, and I can vouch for the fact it can take a couple hours to go 14 miles with no apparent cause, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect that will happen every time someone goes somewhere. In LA there's a minimum built-in 15-minute grace period, but people are still able to get to concerts and other time-locked events on time most of the time.

So if you've made a date for her to come over at a specific time, and you're prepping a dinner that doesn't do well if it sits long after you make it, then yeah, that's irritating. The key factor here is that you've set a specific time and have both agreed to it. In such a case, she really should make an effort to get there on time and let you know she'll be late as soon as she realizes it so you can adjust accordingly. That's just courtesy.

But if you're not being clear and specific, it gets murkier. There's a lot of room for both of you reasonably to have different expectations since things aren't clear to both of you. It's really hard to tell from the info you've given what dynamics are really in play here.

I don't think you'll have much success changing her behavior. By adulthood this kind of thing is cooked-in, and will only change if the person with the behavior is motivated to change it. If the fact that it's a problem for you is not enough motivation, then of course it will sting to realize your feelings about stuff like this are not a priority for her. You don't have a lot of options at that point, seems like you can adapt to her priorities or break it off.

But it also seems like you haven't had a real conversation about this when you're both calm and relaxed, and not in the heat of annoyance when the issue occurs. Have you tried talking about her with it at some more neutral time, when you're not in an episode of the cycle? Maybe you could approach it as "This is stressing us both out in different ways, is there any way we can find a mutually acceptable solution?" You need to talk to her about it without accusations, and be receptive to what she has to say. Repeat back to her what you're hearing her say and make sure you really are getting it. Hopefully she'll participate in the same spirit.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:28 PM on August 14, 2017

Does she have a phone that you can set up a Find My Friends / location tracker thing on? It's very handy for estimating arrival times.
posted by lucidium at 5:31 PM on August 14, 2017

Dude, she is okay with being late for things. It's just her personality. She doesn't care that you're trying to time the souffle. She wants to show up relaxed and not rushed.

Now I'm like you and I am a bit intense about time too. In that 30 minutes of waiting I get exhausted. All my happy anticipation turns sour. I think if dinner gets pushed back until 8.30, then we won't be done cleaning until 10, then tv, then xo, then sleep all get pushed back and I am tired and late for work, or I skip my am workout and wtf. Its all ruined!

What's the solution? Honestly, dont start cooking until she arrives. Then dinner gets pushed back so far it inconveniences HER too. Or start eating without her. Or go to her place. It doesn't matter, she will never be on time.
posted by charlielxxv at 5:39 PM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

So if you live 20-40 mins apart depending on traffic, she's calling you 10 mins into her trip to tell you that she won't make the best-case scenario. This sounds overly optimistic rather than deliberately inconsiderate. Maybe you should both just assume that the trip is going to take 40 mins all the time.

But this leads to another question: are you one of those people who is okay with someone showing up unexpectedly early? Personally, I am not, and I would prefer that someone is 15 mins late instead. If your girlfriend is like me, she probably thinks it's more rude to show up ahead of the estimated time. It might be worth having the discussion with her.
posted by rpfields at 7:23 PM on August 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Since a lot of this is subjective expectations, I'll add both I'm personally with the "late is OK for a home visit." Also a secondhand one: I finished a book just this weekend with a comically and heartbreakingly over-the-top socially inept narrator, and the author used her not realizing that "a 7 PM invite doesn't actually mean 7 PM" as one symptom of this.

I'm more punctual than not, and I have friends way less punctual that I've *never* gotten to budge, like even missing the beginning of movies late (a pet peeve of mine). Home visit late isn't that bad IMHO, which obviously doesn't mean it can't bother you. Maybe she'll specifically because it bothers you, but I'd say realize she's not being objectively rude as it stands and you're asking for a bit of a favor or accommodation

Since I'm not *always* punctual one thing I think you can't get out of her is the thing that you claim really bothers you, the putative lack of warning. I've done exactly that. The half-hour late thing for me happens when I start getting ready at normal time then it's looking for my keys, my wallet, realizing my good shoes are in my gym bag I left in the car after work, then run to bathroom, need gas--it's amazing how quickly I can chew up 20 minutes doing something that usually takes two. In your example I literally don't know at 7:30 that I'm going to be late. At 7:40 I know, but not exactly how late. The 7:50 text goes out when I'm getting in my car. If someone complained I'd be like what do you want, a webcam so you can watch me run around the house?

One last thing of the home visit aspect I don't think was mentioned: It's ruder to show up early than late at someone's home. For public meeting spaces where it'd be unquestionably rude to leave someone hanging around alone at a bar or late to a movie, I ensure punctuality by actually planning to be 15-20 minutes early and bringing a book. Then worst case I'm a few minutes late. Obviously it'd be laughably rude to knock on someone's door 15 minutes early and say, no need to start entertaining yet, I'll sit on your couch and read until the official start time. But if your attitude is that you personally would rather have someone drop in early than late, why not just formally move the time up?
posted by mark k at 9:37 PM on August 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

This would bother me, and I've experienced it enough in early stages of romantic relationships to know that it always ends up being a problem for me, so it's a dealbreaker in romantic relationships for me. That doesn't mean it needs to be a dealbreaker for others. And just on the entertaining front -- I always expect anyone I'm inviting for dinner to be late, and I plan dinner to be ready-ish about 30 minutes after the stated time they'll arrive, and I make sure I cook something that can sit (either before or after being cooked) for at least 15, if not 30, minutes after that. Because I realized that my desire to cook overly fussy foods does not confer upon others the responsibility to be unusually punctual (because, seriously, everyone shows up 15-30 minutes late for a dinner invitation a great deal of the time, especially those dear friends who choose to drive long distances to make it to my place). It may be worth examining how you can relax the timing of your prep work so that her arrival doesn't have to be so exact.
posted by lazuli at 9:34 PM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and, as a bit of a control freak: Relaxing the timing of my dinner prep has not felt like a surrender to others' chaos. It has instead felt like a reclaiming of my own time, and a mastery of the art of gracious hosting. I don't want my dinner guests to feel anxious and rushed, so there's no reason for me to plan a menu that's going to be anxious and rushed. And developing a repertoire of dishes that are either so slow-cooking that they can sit for a while or so quick that they can be put in the minute I get an "On my way!" text has been fun.
posted by lazuli at 9:38 PM on August 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm on your side here but that doesn't do you any good - you're the one choosing her as a girlfriend.

I think 8 means 8, which means I need to time myself for 7:55 latest, and if I show up early somewhere it's not appropriate to show up early at, I entertain myself on my phone or with a book as I wait outside. 8:05 is actually late for 8, but not really a problem. 8:10 is meaningfully late for 8 and I would expect to get a head's up. If I'm meeting someone somewhere I have to travel to and they will be more than 5-10 minutes late, I want them to let me know in time for me to adjust my own travel accordingly.

I recently had this conversation with a friend. She was regularly texting me to reschedule to about half an hour later about 5-10 minutes after I'd left home to head to where we were meeting. I pointed this out and asked her whether it was because I was scheduling things with her too early, or that this is par for the course and I should plan around likely delays. I said it in a friendly way and she answered in a friendly non-defensive way (it's the latter), and will ping her before I start seriously moving towards the door. I'm happy to do this for a friend and she was happy to work with me. There are myriads of variations on this and if you can't figure out one that works for both you and your girlfriend that's not great.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:31 AM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

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