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I have been dating a guy for 9 weeks and we’ve been exclusive now for 2. He is always late for our dates, and it drives me crazy. It’s been this way from day one. It usually ranges from 10 minutes to over an hour. Usually he checks in, but I could be doing other things. He is perfect in every other way except this.

The first time I spoke to him about it I did so by cancelling a date on him. He had given me a time range of 3-4 that he would be at my house then texted me at 5:10 that he was on his way and would be there at 5:30. That’s when I replied and told him I wouldn’t be going. We talked about it and he said he thought that I was just home not doing anything, and that it wouldn’t matter. I told him it was disrespectful to me and my time and didn’t make me feel very important. He said he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. However, he’s continues to be late. I can tell he’s really nervous when he gets to my house because he’s worried about me being mad. I just don’t know what I should do about this. I talked to him again the last time he was late because he was basically an hour later than he originally said he would be even though he checked in with me. I was upset because I could’ve gone on a bike ride if I knew I had another hour.

He said I’m one of the most important people in his life, but why does he continue to be late? I asked him why he’s late all the time. He owns his own business and said he’s typically coming from work (not all the time though), and has people to take care of issues and needs to just let them handle them. He said that he’s usually a pretty prompt person except when meeting me. I asked him, how do you think that makes me feel? I asked him if his lateness has been an issue in other relationships, and he said yes, but it has never jeopardized a relationship. That tells me he’s not always prompt except when meeting me otherwise it wouldn’t have been an issue with others. I don’t want to break up with him because again, he’s so perfect everywhere else, but I expect if he says he’s not going to do it again to not. It also makes me feel like if he can’t be on time and continues to tell me he’s going to change and isn’t, what else is he going to tell me won’t do and then do?

I know he’s going to be late again. I want to compromise with him about his lateness, and I want to be able to be flexible, but I don’t want him to end up taking advantage of me. If I tell him if he’s more than 30 minutes late that I’m not going on a date I feel he’ll think I’m giving him permission to be 30 minutes late. I understand that life happens, but he’s literally been late to every single date.

I spoke with a male friend about this and he said that if I was a business transaction and had money for him he probably wouldn’t be late. I need to let him know I won’t tolerate lateness. But how can I do that and still be flexible? I believe he’s just a chronically late person and it’s not going to change and that it has nothing personal to do with me.

Marlene

Once upon a time, there was a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women. This dating coach prided himself on his New York sensibility. He paid his bills the day they came in. He RSVP’d to parties as soon as the Evite arrived. His word was his bond. This worldview, plus his tell-it-like-it-is-attitude and ability to understand others’ perspectives made him a success…

That is, until he met his own wife.

The dating coach’s wife, like your boyfriend, was habitually late. Her family joked that she ran on her own schedule, which just happens to be 15 minutes later than everyone else’s. While she’d protest that she never missed a flight in her 16 years of international travel, it still didn’t make her boyfriend feel any better while he was stuck waiting for 30 minutes as she curled her hair before a date.

People’s issues exist on a spectrum and so does people’s tolerance for said issues.

Ten years later, they’re still together — and still arguing about the definition and value of being “on time.” But let’s say that she is still highly attentive to detail and that such attention often sucks up a disproportionate amount of time. She can spend a month preparing for a four-year-old’s birthday party, a week packing for two nights away, and an hour getting ready to drive the kids to school. It’s just how she rolls. All the talk about respecting others’ time — she gets it intellectually, but really, it doesn’t change anything. As you said, it’s just how she’s wired.

The compromise she and her husband struck seems to be this: she does her best to not let her time management affect him, and he does his best not to yell when he’s affected by it. Usually, it’s about a 10 to 15-minute wait, followed by 30 seconds of grumbling in the car, followed by getting back to normal.

Yet despite all that, the dating coach swears that he’s got a great marriage since this is literally the only thing about which they continually argue — and even those arguments are pretty mild, ten years into their relationship.

After all that, you might think I’m telling you to stay, Marlene. I’m not.

Ultimately, this is about one thing and one thing only: how much this bothers you.

People’s issues exist on a spectrum and so does people’s tolerance for said issues. Despite my misery-loves-company story above, it would be unfair to conflate my story with yours. I’m different than you. My wife is different than your boyfriend.

Ultimately, this is about one thing and one thing only: how much this bothers you.

Sounds like it bothers you a lot. Sounds like it’s not getting better. Sounds like he’s not going to change.

Which leaves us with a very straightforward question: if you could marry him right now, knowing that he will continue to be this way for the rest of your respective lives, would you be content?

If not, dump him on the spot. This IS a glimpse at your future.

And if the answer is yes — despite his chronic and maddening tardiness, the good far outweighs the bad – do your best to bring something to read wherever you go.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the iPhone saved my relationship.