Have a Friend Who's Always Running Late? Here's How to Deal, According to an Etiquette Expert

"I'm a block away!" Lies.

Tick-tock, how long must I wait?

We all have that friend who’s constantly late — hello to most of The Real Housewives of New York City ladies ... except Bethenny Frankel. We see her repeatedly arrive on time, and grow increasingly upset with everyone else who isn’t. 

There are a number of reasons why people are late, besides just being rude. Psychology Today says “inconsiderate” is one personality trait of chronically late people, self-sabotage is another, while others just like the attention of making an entrance. Some “have a tendency to lose themselves in whatever they're currently doing and don't discover what time it is until it's too late,” they report. Sometimes, it really is just obstacles in your way, but people who aren’t always late tend to factor those in.

But, what if you’re the person waiting? You love your friend, but this is a real problem.
National Etiquette Expert Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, tells Personal Space to first assume they have a good reason, “perhaps a traffic jam, a long train or an unexpected emergency.”

If it’s a date, and you’re now sitting alone, waiting, Gottsman says you should get a phone call from that person telling you they’re running late.

“Assuming you have received a call, 15 to 30 minutes. Any longer than that and perhaps you should reschedule,” she says. That’s if you’re not mad.

For a meal with a friend, have a glass of wine, but don’t wait forever. And don’t let them make it a pattern.

“You are holding up a table so you might let your dinner date know you will be waiting at the bar,” she says. “If you have to wait for an extended period of time, consider giving up your table and rescheduling your reservation for a later time. Your dinner date should suggest you start on an appetizer and a glass of wine.”

What if someone (or you) is late for a job interview or important meeting?

“If it’s your meeting or client, you will probably want to wait as long as necessary as long as you don’t have a follow-up appointment with someone else. If it’s a job interview, 15 minutes. You have to wonder about their time management skills.

“You should never be the one running late if you are meeting a client or applying for a job. Consider potential obstacles and plan accordingly.”

And how should you handle it when someone is really late?

“You can give them a call or send a text and ask them if they are on their way,” Gottsman says.

As for the friend who is constantly late, Gottsman says “it says a great deal about how they handle their life.”

“It shows a lack of concern for the other person and their time. Ask them when would be the best time to meet. Let them know you are on a time schedule and have to be at another meeting at a particular time.”

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